Walking in Venice off the Beaten Path
Cannaregio, Giudecca and Burano, three places in Venice off the beaten path, where walking is beautiful.
I love Venice, its beauty, sometimes just dazzling, sometimes made slightly more mysterious and melancholic by the patina of time. But to me, Venice really reveals itself when you go off the beaten track, when you make a sudden turn from the busy Strada nova, its fancy boutiques, the tired tourists dragging trolleys along and the street vendors of cheap venetian masks. When you wander in the back streets of Venice you almost always discover something incredibly beautiful: often it’s just a corner, a glimpse, a reflection on the water. And I like to walk in the evening. Many day-trippers leave with the last train at 7 pm. And after it leaves, the city suddenly seems empty, and stops looking like a kitsch open-air museum as it sometimes does. In Venice, in short, I like to walk.
Walking in Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto
From Guglie, a short walk from the station, turn left, pass by the Gam Gam restaurant, serving traditional Jewish dishes (quite nice), and then turn right to enter the old Jewish Ghetto. I believe it’s one of the most beautiful areas of the city. There are only 250 jews still living in Venice, and they are quite old. You will frequently see Orthodox Jews around here, but they are foreigners, usually staying at the nearby Kosher house. Then walk through an alley which suddenly opens in an unexpected space. The campo del Ghetto Nuovo might not be as unique as piazza San Marco, but it has a collected, delicate, beauty. The trees, somewhat rare in Venice, add magic to this place.
From here you cross an iron bridge to find yourself on Fondamenta degli Ormesini and then on Fondamenta della Misericordia. Maybe it’s because its full of bacari, the traditional venetian bars, but this is one of my favorite areas. You can stop for an ombra (a glass of wine) or cicheti (appetizers), one euro each, at the Al Timon bar, or sit at the laid back restaurant Paradiso Perduto. I love this area in the evening, when the reflections on the canal flicker with the sound of chatter and laughter.
Getting there: walk from the station. Or take a vaporetto (water bus) and stop at Guglie.
This long, narrow island is a place of quiet, detached beauty. It is just in front of San Marco, separated by the sea. From here you can see the city, with its churches, its domes and bell towers. And you imagine the crowds, so close and so distant. It looks like a mirage.
Once this part of Venice wasn’t considered too safe. These times are long past. Now it’s a serene, quiet place. I remember the light colours of the buildings, the blue of the sea under a clear sky. If you are lucky you will be let on top of the Molino Stucky for one of the best panoramas of Venice even if you are not staying there: the place is and old factory that has now been transformed into a Hilton hotel.
If you are hungry here is one of the best and cheapest restaurants in Venice, La Palanca.
Holidays: Festa del Redentore (the third Sunday of July).
Tip: the Giudecca island can be easily combined with a visit to San Giorgio island, on its western side. From the top of the bell tower of the church of San Giorgio you can enjoy an incredible panorama.
Getting to this island takes more than forty minutes by boat from San Marco or Zattere. Yet it’s worth it. There isn’t really much to do, unless you want to stock up on lace and buranelli, local sweets. It’s just beautiful walking along these canals and the colorful houses (perfect for instagram) and the leaning tower of San Martino, a bit unsettling to tell the truth. You can see it from many points of the island, it becomes like a compass to find your bearings as you wander through the narrow streets.
Getting there: water bus line 12 to Fondamenta Nuove (or Murano Faro)
Other links on Venice
- How to do Venice film festival on a budget