Dorsoduro, Venice’s “Hard Ridge”:
Dorsoduro‘s (literally ‘hard ridge’) refers to the character of the land in this part of Venice, which is a bit higher and rockier – or at least, more solid – than the other less firm areas of land that emerged from the lagoon over the centuries. It’s a sprawling sestiere that extends over a large chunk of the southern part of the city, beginning at Punta della Dogana, a v-shaped promontory that juts out into the San Marco basin like the prow of a ship, and stretching up to the Piazzale Roma, where the cars and buses are.
The seventeenth century ‘Dogana da Mar‘ (Maritime Customs House) of the Venetian Republic consists of numerous warehouses concealed behind a substantial facade and sits at the point of the “V”. At the end is a square tower on top of which some bronze statues support a large golden globe, with a statue of the goddess “Fortuna” standing on it. After the tower, on the Giudecca side of the promontory, the Zattere begins: this is a long jetty that goes as far as San Basilio. It was built in 1516 to unload the timber which rafts (zattere) brought down the rivers from the Cadore area. No more timber now, but a pleasant walk with great views.
Close to the main Venice sights, but less touristy
This sestiere is one many visitors choose to stay in, and there’s a reason for that. Dorsoduro is characterised by many narrow streets and little channels, still very close to the main Venice sights, but less touristy and quieter than some other areas. It’s best to stay south of Campo Santa Margherita; closer to Piazzale Roma and the cars it becomes a bit ordinary. Around Campo Santa Margherita itself there’s a fresh fish market early on, a vegetable market all day, and the famous Tonolo bakery.
Cà Rezzonico, the Guggenheim and the Ponte dei Pugni
The Palace of Cà Rezzonico, which hosts the 18th century Venice Museum with many works of art by Canaletto and Tiepolo is a must see. Nearby is Campo San Barnaba and the famous Ponte dei Pugni, a bridge where traditional fights used to take place between rival factions (see next page). The area is very rich in art and has several important churches, such as the Church of San Sebastiano, a Renaissance jewel, and the renowned Scuola Grande dei Carmini. The eastern part of Dorsoduro is charmingly attractive and both the Accademia museum and the Guggenheim museum are located here. The Zattere, the wide walkway along the canal referred to above, is a wonderful place to laze away an entire afternoon.
More places stay open late around Campo Santa Margherita
Venice’s University, Ca’ Foscari, and the Architecture University are in the heart of Dorsoduro, so the surrounding areas cater to a student crowd with bars and shops that are a lot different from those around San Marco! If you like the night life, you’ll find more places stay open late around the lively Campo Santa Margherita than anywhere else in the city. There are plenty of good restaurants and pizzerias in every price range.
If you are looking for a quiet area, very close to Venice’s main attractions, this is the right place!
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