Saturday, April 23, 2011



The furthest sestiere from St Mark’s, Cannaregio is overlooked by many visitors unless they’re leaving the train station and jumping on a vaporetto there for other parts of “La Serenissima”, the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Let’s just keep it our little secret that this is one of the most authentic areas of town with the biggest transportation hub. I consider it the real Venice and have walked the many side streets as far away from the main thoroughfares as possible, to discover the serenity that few visitors ever find.

Along with the thousands of workers who live in Maestre, tourists pour out of the Mussolini modern, Santa Lucia train station every day. It can be a madhouse. You may find yourself in a crush of people, if you come during commute hours. The first time I did that my heart sank at the thought of wall to wall crowds impeding my natural walking speed. Looking left they see the Ponte Degli Scalzi Bridge that is only one of three to span the Grand Canal. Many of them cross that bridge walking into San Polo to ultimately get to the Rialto Bridge and San Marco. The Scalzi looks rather anemic in this photo, but it’s very wide with steps going up one side and down the other.

For those tourists who hop one of the many vaporetti docked outside the train station, this is the photo op they are missing. On my very first trip to Venice I took a photo here and over the intervening years thought it had been taken at the Rialto Bridge. After a long absence, I revisited the Rialto and realized it would have been almost impossible to take a photo there because it’s lined with shops. There are no gondolas in this photo and the sun isn’t setting, but I hope to repeat that photo one day.

There is so much hustle and bustle outside the station, the Scalzi Church next door can easily get overlooked. It’s quite a little gem inside and it took me 5 visits to Venice before I finally went in, even though my favorite hotel is just around the corner. The former monastery behind it has been converted into a 4 star hotel, but I prefer the small family run operation just across the street.

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