What to See in Venice: Interesting Sights and Monuments in San Polo Sestiere:
San Polo may be the smallest of the six Venetian sestieri, but many visitors find their way here because of the iconic Rialto Bridge. As one of the oldest parts of Venice, the area naturally is home to many historic places, monuments and churches. On the western part of San Polo there are many churches (which are listed on the next page), whilst the eastern section has palaces and smaller houses.
Places to see in San Polo:
The iconic Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal. This stone bridge is the oldest bridge in Venice, probably dating back to 1172 and was originally built of wood. The covered ramps on either sides of the portico carry rows of shop.
When the Venice market moved to its San Polo location in 1097 the Rialto area grew in importance, resulting in the Rialto Bridge being built. As the retail and wholesale markets grew, warehouses such as the Fondaco dei Tedeschi were built and these were followed by banks and insurance agencies. Soon even the city’s tax offices were located in the area.
Palace of Camerlenghi
This palace, located on the right of Rialto Bridge, takes its name from the Camerlenghi, officials who were responsible for raising revenue for the Venetian Republic. The lower floor contained cells for the incarceration of tax evaders and insolvents. Today the palace houses the regional office of the Italian Comptroller and Auditor General.
Designed by Sansovino in 1555 the Fabbriche Nuove used to house the government departments that supervised trade. These days this elegant building is the seat of the law court.
San Polo Square
San Polo may be the smallest of the six Venice sestieri, but its main square, the Campo San Polo is the second largest of the Veneitian public squares. The square gives its name to the district and it is a popular venue for Carnevale masked balls, open air concerts and movie screenings during the Venice Film Festival. Around the Campo San Polo are many palazzi which offer fine views of events held in the square.
Casa di Carlo Goldoni is a 15th century Venetian Gothic palazzo where playwright Carlo Goldoni was born. It was the Goldoni family home until 1719. Today it is a theatre-museum and contains documents on Goldoni’s life and work.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco (Confraternity)
Located in the Campo di San Rocco, Scuola Grande di San Rocco is located next to the San Roco church, from which it takes its name. St. Roch was the protector against the plague swept through Venice. Founded in 1478 as a charitable institution, the present building was started in 1489 and after a number of architects, it was finally finished in the 16th century by Giangiacomo dei Grigi. Scuola Grande di San Rocco is famous for a series of paintings by Tintoretto who in 1564 to provide paintings for the Scuola.
Scuola Grande di S.Giovanni Evangelista (Confraternity)
S.Giovanni Evangelista is the oldest of the six Scuola Grandi in Venice. Established in 1261, Scuola Grande di S.Giovanni Evangelista, like the other Scuola Grandi, provides a range of charitable functions in the city and is also a patron of the arts. San Giovanni Evangelista is famous for housing a relic of the true cross and it also commissioned a series of paintings by famous Venetian artists, depicting the Miracles of the Holy Cross. During the Napoleonic era, these came into public ownership and are now housed in the Accademia Gallery. Scuola Grande di S.Giovanni Evangelista is a regular venue for classical concerts in Venice.
Some more places to see in San Polo
Riva dell’Ogio – Under the Venetian Republic, the largest stores of oil for heating and lighting were stored here (‘ogio’ is a dialect term for oil).
Sotoportego del Banco Giro – The first public bank started here.
Fondamente de la preson – Minor offences like debt were punished here (‘preson’ is a dialect term for prison).
Calle dei Boteri – This was where the master coopers made the oil barrels. The Doge greatly appreciated these coopers (‘Boteri’ is a dialect term for ‘cooper’).
Campo de le Becarie – There were many different butchers’ shops here. ‘Becaria’ derives from ‘Becco’ or ‘billy goat’, which was meat that was butchered and sold here (‘becher’ is a dialect term for ‘butcher’).
Rio Terà de le Carampane – The ‘carampane’ were ‘ladies of disrepute’ who plied their trade in this area from the 15th century.
Ramo del Forner – This refers to the legend of Fornaretto, a young baker’s boy who was unjustly accused of murder. It probably served as a reminder to the Dogal authorities of the unjust execution of Fornaretto.
Calle dei Saoneri
In sixteenth century Venice there were more than 25 soap factories. This industry was the envy of the whole world (‘saoneri’ is a dialect term for ‘soapmakers’).