The Arty Side of Town – Dorsoduro
Trip Over to Venice
Piazza San Marco is often crowded in the morning, so that is the time to explore other areas of Venice. The Dorsoduro area is the creative side of town, full of shops, galleries, restaurants, bars, museums, many smaller canals and space – some of the palazzos even have gardens!
With the Basilica San Marco behind you, walk to the far end of Piazza San Marco, follow the lane out of the square to the left of the Correr Museum. Stroll past some of the high fashion shops, Chanel, Prada, Hermes and Dior, past beautiful old churches like Chiesa San Moise. Make sure you venture up some of the side lanes as they are full of surprises around every corner, photo opportunities and bars to have a coffee to refresh and keep you going. Occasionally look up to see that you are following signs that say “All’ Academia”, or as you get lost exploring, keep returning to the last sign you saw to get your bearings again. Through the Campo San Moise you will cross a little bridge – watch the skilful gondoliers weaving past each other on the narrow canal, with the occasional outstretched foot to push on the wall to manoeuvre quickly around corners.
Continue following the “Academia” signs, though lanes and over tiny bridges, eventually you will turn left into Campo Santo Stefano, walk past the gardens of the Instituto Vento Scienze Lettre ad Arti (The Institute of Wind, Science, Literature and the Arts), with a giant white spaceman floating through the gardens with a plant and a chair! Then you will be at the Ponte dell’ Accademia, the high arched wooden bridge crossing the Grand Canal to Dorsoduro.
After crossing the bridge you are spoilt for choice of museums and galleries to look at, or just wander around the lanes and canals. On the advice of the concierge at our hotel, we turned right over the bridge and went in search of Ca’ Rezzonico, a magnificent 18th century palazzo, now a museum, full of art and luscious furnishings, and views of all the surrounding canals and over the roof tops.
Continuing to explore this side of the Grand Canal, we had lunch in a little home style restaurant that we found on the edge of a canal as we worked our way back towards the Gallerie dell’ Accademia and further on past to the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery which is surrounded by many smaller galleries, where we came across The Beatles crossing Abbey Rd, classic symbols of Italy in the form of Andy Warholesc coffee pots and Fiat 500s, enormous plush roses on chairs and the most amazing collection of wooden sculptures by Loris Marazzi. Then on through more winding lanes over bridges, past glistening canal views and to on the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Punta della Dogana art museum.
After catching up with artists from centuries ago and some modern day artisans you can either take a slow walk back the way you came, or catch the vaporetto back across the Grand Canal to San Marco.
We chose the slow walk back so we could do more exploring – I was amazed/horrified as I looked down one of the historic lanes towards a cute little arched bridge to see an enormous cruise ship leaving Venice through the Guidecca Canal. When I saw where the Cruise ship terminal was from the top of the bell tower in Piazza San Marco earlier, I thought that was bad enough, but I at least thought they would have the manners to arrive and depart around the south side of the Guidecca Islands and stay as far as possible from the delicate foundations Venice sits upon. After speaking to a number of local Venetians it seems they all absolutely detest everything about the cruise ships coming into the lagoon, and bringing 2000 plus passengers on each ship that all descend on San Marco Piazza at once making life hell for everyone, they add nothing to the Venetian economy, they don’t eat in the restaurants, most go back to the ship to eat. Apart from the damage the ships do by stirring up the water in the canal, sure they move fairly slowly, but underwater is where the damage is done, and Venice relies on what is under the water in order for the city to stay above it. Having that many tourists all trying to be in the same space at the same time, ruins Venice for everyone, there are times when you can’t move or see anything for the people, and a lot of them don’t seem to be remotely interested in the magnificent history of what they are experiencing – they are just getting in the way! I imagine that Venice earns good money from berthing the ships, but they could get the same money if the ships berthed out at the entrance to the lagoon, the passengers would still have a great view of Venice from the deck and those who were interested to immerse themselves in the historic splendour of Venice, could catch a vaporetto in to the city. Then they might have more respect for Venice and its people, instead of treating the place as a shipping terminal, as boarding and disembarking from a ship is easily done in less fragile surroundings.
Itinerary for Trip Over to Italy – Milan, Como and Venice
Qantas flight (Emirates code share) to Milan (Malpensa) from Sydney via Dubai
Stayed in Milan, Airbnb, for a week before going to Como
Picked up in Milan by Como Limousines and driven to Como
Stayed in Como, Airbnb, for 3 weeks
Picked up in Como by Como Limousines and driven to Venice
In Venice, water taxi to Al Ponte Antico Hotel for 3 nights and water taxi back
Picked up in Venice by Como Limousines and driven back to Como
Picked up in Como by Como Limousines and driven back to Milan (Malpensa) Airport
Qantas flight (Emirates code share) to Sydney via Dubai