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The hidden treasures of Venice
THE ART OF GETTING LOST IN VENICE
Beyond the Grand Canal palaces and must-see monuments, there are many other stunning places off the beaten path in Venice: it's up to us to take the time to open ourselves to the charm of secluded calli (backstreets) and silent canals, looking with other eyes at what everyone sees.
Here are some suggestions for enjoying an unusual tour in Venice, off the beaten track, discovering museums, churches, Scuole Grandi but also Venetian craft shops.
FROM TITIAN TO TIEPOLO: THE MASTERPIECES OF THE MOST HIDDEN CHURCHES
Just enter the labyrinth of calli, corti and campielli to discover unexpected treasures.
You will find hidden churches, such as the Madonna dell'Orto, where Tintoretto is buried with his family (we are in the Cannaregio district), or the Church of San Sebastiano, Veronese's temple, in Dorsoduro.
The Church of San Giacomo dall'Orio, in the Santa Croce district, is one of the oldest in the city, and the Church of San Giobbe, is a treasure chest of the early Venetian Renaissance, in a secluded area of Cannaregio.
VENICE GARDENS, LITTLE PARADISES SET BETWEEN STREETS AND CANALS
Although it is a city built on water, Venice has more than five hundred gardens.
There are convent gardens, such as that of San Francesco della Vigna, in a quiet corner of Castello, or that of the Scalzi church, a stone's throw from the train station.
But there are also the gardens of ancient noble palaces, including the renowned garden of Palazzo Soranzo Cappello, and that of Ca' Zenobio, in Dorsoduro. And then there are the nineteenth-century gardens, many of which are now public parks, such as the Venice Royal Gardens and the Castello Gardens, both commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte.
THE SQUERI, WHERE THE GONDOLAS ARE BUILT AND REPAIRED
Gondolas, and all the other boats typical of the lagoon, have been built for centuries in the Serenissima.
This heritage of techniques and knowledge is still alive today thanks to the skilled craftsmen who work in the traditional squeri, such as Squero San Trovaso and Squero Domenico Tramontin & Figli, both in the Dorsoduro district.
Just a few steps off the usual paths, you will meet one of these last master squerarioli - they can now be counted on the fingers of one hand - who pass on the art of the ancient craft of building wooden boats.
BRIDGES WITH THE MOST UNUSUAL NAMES
Venice has more than four hundred bridges: why not go looking for the ones with the most unusual names?
Like the Ponte de le Tette, in the San Polo district, not far from the Rialto, where the courtesans exhibited their "graces" painted with carmine to lure passers-by.
Or the Ponte dei Pugni, in Dorsoduro, for centuries the scene of the traditional "wars of the fists" between Castellani and Nicolotti, inhabitants of two opposing factions!