West of St Mark’s Square Are Many Other San Marco Attractions:
Piazza San Marco is the show-piece of San Marco sestiere, but just west of this main square are many alleyways and smaller squares that are home to many other Venice attractions, such as La Fenice and Campo di Santa Maria del Giglio.
Other San Marco Attractions
La Fenice Opera House
West of Piazza San Marco and about halfway down Calle Larga XXII Marzo turn right into Campo San Fantin where the Church of San Fantin stands. Chiesa San Frantin was originally built in the 9th century but was rebuilt in the 16th century by Scarpagnino. The famous La Fenice Opera House stands opposite. This was originally built in 1790 to a design by Selva.
The opera house burnt down in 1836 but like the phoenix (‘fenice’ in Italian) it rose again from the ashes and was rebuilt in the same style by Meduna in just over a year. The opera house reflects the spirit of the people of Venice. It was destroyed by a another fire in 1996 but with the determination of the Venetians it was brought back to ‘the way it was’ in December 2003.
Campo di Santa Maria del Giglio
From La Fenice, back-track to Calle Larga XXII Marzo and continue ahead until Campo di Santa Maria del Giglio or Zobenigo where you’ll find Chiesa Santa Maria Zobenigo, the church dedicated to this saint. ‘Zobenigo’ is a reference to the Jubenigo family, who built the church in the 10th century. The inside is a single room decorated with the works of many painters from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Fondaco dei Tedeschi
The Venetian Republic welcomed strangers and allowed individual foreign communities to have shops for their merchants and ambassadors. Calle del Fontego dei Tedeschi was the street where the German shops were concentrated. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi on the Grand Canal was built as the palace, headquarters, warehouse and trading post for the German merchants in Venice. The palazzo was turned into a customs house by Napoleon and it was later converted to a post office in the 1930s. Benetton bought the building in 2008 and plans to convert it into a shopping centre which conservationists strongly oppose.
Interesting Streets and Squares
Piazzetta dei Leoncini – On the north side of the basilica is this small square, named after two small marble lions that have been rubbed smooth by generations of children’s bottoms. The large palazzo at the far end of the square is the 19th century residence of the patriarch (cardinal) of Venice.
Calle dei Bombaseri – This street contained the shops and workshops of the cotton manufacturers (‘bombaso’ which is the Venetian dialect for ‘wad of cotton’).
Riva del Carbon – This was the only place in Venice in which the law of 1537 permitted coal to be unloaded.