Venice – a walk around Cannaregio

As a predominantly residential neighbourhood, Cannaregio doesn’t have many grand buildings, but it’s still a great area to walk around. My map here.

You can click on the pics in the galleries to go to slideshow view.

A lot of people come to see the Jewish Ghetto which is the oldest in the world. It was created in 1516 when the Jewish community were compelled to move from the Giudecca to a small island in Cannaregio.

In fact, the very word ‘ghèto’ is from Venetian dialect meaning ‘foundry’, as the island was used for metal-working before the Jews arrived. At its peak in the 17th century, more than 5,000 Jews lived here but now the community has shrunk to about 500 with only around 20 Jewish people still actually living in the area due to property prices.

The Museo Ebraico di Venezia is located here, along with a couple of historical synagogues that can be viewed by appointment at the museum. On the street, the most noticable aspects of Jewish life are the bakeries and restaurants. I ate at Osteria Al Bacco, which I review in the following post on food and drink in Cannaregio.

A short distance away in Campiello de l’Anconeta is Despar Teatro Italia, a supermarket located in a converted theatre.

It was voted Europe’s most beautiful supermarket a few years back.

A little further on and you come to Ponte Santa Fosca, one of four fighting bridges dotted around Venice. This particular bridge was the location for the ‘guerra di canne’ where from the late 1300s mobs of working men wielding sharpened bamboo sticks and wearing leather armour would fight each other for the honour of their district. Naturally this led to many injuries and occasional deaths, leading to the tradition banned in the early 1700s.

The four footprints marked in the corners of the upper tier of the bridge were the starting points for the district champions who were backed up by hundreds of fighters behind them, as this incredible painting shows.

Over at the eastern side of Cannaregio, in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, is the Scuola Grande di San Marco Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo,, one of the six ‘great schools‘ of Venice.

The Rennaisance marble facade features a beautiful entrance with some nice carvings on the columns. There’s also a medical museum inside which I believe is quite impressive.

In the same square there’s a famous, but for me uninteresting, church called San Zanipolo (aka San Giovanni e Paolo), along with a beautifully carved well head and an equestrian statue.

The statue depicts Bartolomeo Colleoni, a mercenary who became captain-general of the Republic of Venice.

The locals pun on the fact that the Colleoni coat of arms features what looks like pairs of coglioni (balls)!

Nearby Campo Santa Maria Nova is a picturesque little square where you could take a break after visiting nearby Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli, another famous church (see my seperate post on churches).

Over on the opposite side of Cannaregio, in the far north-western corner of Venice, you can get some nice views of the Dolomites on the horizon.

There’s a modernist estate here which is interesting for architecture buffs like me.

Food and drink in Cannaregio next!

2 thoughts on “Venice – a walk around Cannaregio”

  1. Extraordinary! We too spent the first week of October in Venice, our first visit in more than 20 years, and we too stayed in Cannaregio, although in our case in the far north of the sestiére near the Sant’ Alvise vaporetto stop. It was an AirBnB in one of several blocks of apartments that dated from the late C19 or early C20. I had originally found the area 20 years ago after visiting the Ghetto. Strada Nuova was very different back then: almost exclusively Venetian rather than touristified like today, and a favourite place for locals to take a Saturday morning passaggiatta, We had been given a heads-up by some friends of ours from Rome who had been there a few weeks earlier, who said that it was now an ideal time to visit as both the cruise ships stopping and cancelled flights had greatly reduced the number of visitors to the city. Indeed it had and it was a marvellous time to be there. Our friends had liked it so much that they came and joined us. A small window of opportunity that closed soon after we left and, as they are talking about resuming the cruise stops when it becomes possible, may not happen again.

    I’ll post again when you write about the food but I have to say that three of us managed to blag a walk-in for lunch at Il Gatto Nero in Burano (where tables are usually reserved months ahead). We all had the famous risotto, of course.

    1. Great minds ay Iain? We probably passed each other on the street 😀 I stayed for 8 nights but would have happily stayed longer. I have several other posts about Venice in the pipeline, one of which will cover Burano, and contain a review of Il Gatto Nero! Unfortunately I forgot about the risotto and had the mixed seafood grill instead, which was also excellent. Looks like I’ll have to go back then…

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