Neighborhood Essentials: Cannaregio


The second-largest of Venice’s six sestieri, Canareggio holds many gems for visitors keen on a neighborhood walk that includes some important sights as well as lesser-known finds. It’s also the northernmost of the Venice neighborhoods leading up to Fondamente Nove from which the vaporettos to the islands (Murano, Burano, Torcello and St. Michele) depart. Here is how to make the most of a visit of this beautiful quarter where it is easy to get lost in narrow calles and experience slivers of the city away from the crowds.


The most atmospheric and historic place to visit is the Venetian Ghetto. In the 16th century, a government edict confined Venice’s Jews to this neighborhood, creating the world’s first ghetto on what used to be an outer-lying island where the foundries were located. (One of the numerous etymological theories posits that the word “ghetto” itself derives from the venetian word “geto” meaning foundry). The Jewish population grew rapidly and, without permission to expand beyond the boundaries of their allotted quarter, were forced to build up, creating what New York Times journalist David Laskin called “the tallest buildings with the lowest-ceilinged apartments” (Read his article here. To this day, the buildings in the Venetian Ghetto are among the highest in the city. With Renaissance and Baroque exteriors, they create a densely picturesque cityscape but it is sobering to consider the background of this beauty.

Today, the Venetian Ghetto remains the heart of Jewish life in the city, with a synagogue (run by Chabad of Venice), a yeshiva, several shops, a bakery, restaurant and two beautiful squares. To enter, look for the narrow, wood-framed entrance off the Fondamente de Canarregio, near the Guglie vaporetto stop. Note: if you opt to go with a guide, which is highly recommended to learn about the Old and the New Ghetto, you can only tour with a guide with special accreditation.

From the peaceful Campo del Ghetto Nuova, it’s a short walk to Madonna dell’Orto,, the soaring red-brick church where Jacobo Robusti lies entombed. The artist known as Tintoretto (“son of a silk dyer”) lived in the church’s parish and several of his works can be found here. The colossal paintings The Adoration of the Golden Calf, The Last Judgment and The Virtues adorn the choir; but it was *The Presentation of Mary in the Temple) (in the right knave) that moved Rainer Maria Rilke to write one of his most sublime poems in which he asks the viewer to imagine him/herself by the child’s side: To grasp how she was then, try if you can/to place yourself where pillars mount to ceilings. (Fans of the German poet should read Birgit Haustedt’s fascinating Rilke’s Venice – The City in Eleven Walks. Maybe even bring it to this church that hardly ever draws the crowds its more famous counterparts in San Polo or San Marco do.) Fans of Tintoretto might carry on to Fondamente di Mori 3399 where the artist was born, or to see the nearby present-day artisan workshop (classes are offered) La Bottega di Tintoretto.


Take a break with a delicious, homey lunch at Vini Da Gigio, a favorite with families as well as couples (it’s a sister restaurant to Venice star-classic Antiche Carampane). The postage-stamp-sized Osteria alla Frasca, meanwhile, is fabulous for foodies who are happy to order the dishes of the day and wines are local and mostly organic.


If you’re looking for a young and fun scene, linger until the early evening and join for a cichetti at any of the eateries along the Fondamenta de la Misericordia. Hot spots include Vin Vero or La Sete. For an afternoon tea, cakes and pastries, head to the charming Sullaluna, a children’s bookshop and café. For a sweet treat, there Bacaro del Gelato where the small batches of ice cream are made with only the top ingredients.


Strolling back in the direction of San Marco, seek out the workshop of master glassmaker Vittorio Costantini and don’t miss Gianni Basso, home of bookplates, business cards and stationery printed on antique printing presses.


For traveler who wish to be based in Cannaregio (the sestieri that is closest to the Santa Lucia train station), there is the grand and luxurious Ca Sagredo or, for a younger, more design-oriented visitor, the hip boutique hotel The Venice Venice. Even if you're not staying at the latter, a drink on the Grand Canal–facing terrace of its all-day M'Art restaurant is a must.

Contact Indagare’s team to arrange for a knowledgeable guide who can lead you through this fascinating neighborhood.

Written by Simone Girner

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