Venice – a walk around Dorsoduro

Dorsoduro is another great neighbourhood to walk around. It’s the university district so it has a vibrant, youthful feel while retaining its historical atmosphere.

I found myself in the area a few times, for the following reasons…

– to eat cichetti and drink wine at the bars along Fondamenata Nani (for lunch and dinner)
– to visit the art museums (both the Guggenheim and the Gallerie dell’Accademia are here)
– to have drinks in the evening in buzzing Campo Santa Margherita
– to visit the Ponte dei Pugni and generally walk around soaking up the scenery in the daytime

I’ll write about the first two in the next two posts, this post is about the last two. Everything is in geographical order so you can follow my suggestions as a walk. You’ll find everywhere mentioned, and many more, on my Google map.

On my walk from San Polo, I stopped for a coffee and a cake at Pasticceria Tonolo, a 120 year old patisserie at 3764 Calle San Pantalon For a design fiend like me it was worth searching them out just to admire their typeface above the door.

Campo Santa Margherita is the main nightlife area in Venice (ie student central) but it’s also busy in the daytime. If you’re lucky you might be able to snag a table at Caffe Rosso, a cool little bar at Campo Santa Margherita 2963, (its name comes from its political outlook) but if not there are heaps of other bar terraces to choose from.

One famous place of interest is the Ponte dei Pugni which crosses over the Rio de San Barnaba. This is the most famous of the ‘fighting bridges’ dotted around town.

Beginning around 1600, the rival clans of the Nicoletti (from the west of Venice) and the Castelanni (representing the east) would gather en masse on small bridges without railings and have fist fights with the view to knocking their opponents into the filthy canal below. The punch ups were hugely popular spectacles as the painting La Guerra Dei Pugni by Antonio Stom shows. The marble footprints in the four corners of the upper tier of the bridge mark the starting points for the clan champions.

While quite vicious, they were an improvement on the deadly stick fights that had gone on before. The purpose of these battles was firstly to maintain a fierce populace that were trained to fight (unlike other cities there were few places to practise) and secondly to divide that populace in case they tried to mount an insurrection. The fights were prohibited after 1705, when a fight at the Ponte dei Pugni ended in stone-throwing and stabbings, and were replaced by less violent games such as the ‘forze d’Ercole‘ (where teams competed to build human pyramids) but as late as 1810 even one of these ended in a riot with ten people killed!

Right next to the bridge there’s a floating greengrocer’s most days.

They’re open daily from 8am to 1pm, and again from 3:30 to 7:30pm, except on Wednesday and Sunday.

I was intrigued to see fresh Bergamot for sale as I know they can’t be eaten raw.

Nearby Campo San Barnaba is a nice little square to hang out in, smaller and more peaceful than Campo Santa Margherita. Enogastronomia Pantagruelica on the west side of the square is a deli that does cheap tasting menus of the products on its shelves.

The alleys around the square have some pretty little nooks and crannies.

Here are some other shots from walking around Dorsoduro.

Some places to eat cichetti and drink an aperitivo in Dorsoduro next…

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