When in Venice, Do as the Venetians Do…Get Away from St. Mark’s Square!
Look, St. Mark’s Square is iconic. You know you’re going to do some serious sightseeing here on your trip to Venice. The Basilica San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, the Campanile (Bell Tower). Fabulous! What’s not to like? Well, quite a bit actually, particularly the crowds, the high prices, the endless souvenir shops, and the plagues of cruise ship day trippers. So don’t miss San Marco to be sure, but do yourself a favor and also visit the areas of Venice where the locals live, work, eat and hang out. Here are three for you to explore to earn the admiration and envy of your friends back home and prove your credentials as a traveler not just another tourist.
Dorsoduro: Situated across from San Marco on the south side of the Grand Canal, Dorsoduro has the best arts scene in the city and is home to the Academia Gallery and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Better yet are the wine bars that line the back street canals here where you can sip a glass of wine or a Campari or Aperol spritz while sampling cicchetti (venetian tapas) and watching workmen refurbishing gondolas in the tiny boatyard on the other bank.
Castello: Including the area comprising the Arsenale, the former naval fortress of Venice, Castello is one of the oldest sestiere (neighborhoods) in Venice and one of the most authentic. Home to many locals, this is an area for people watching and pretending you’re a local. As an added bonus try to find the wine bar and gin palace, highly prized by locals, where TripAdvisor reviews are banned.
Cannaregio: Located in the north of the city, Cannaregio is old school Venice away from the bustling crowds of tourists in St. Mark’s Square. This was the local neighborhood of our water taxi captain and you don’t get more Venetian than that. Of particular note is the Jewish Ghetto, the oldest in the world and the origin of the word ghetto. Today Cannaregio is a residential neighborhood filled with local restaurants, bars and cafes.