Carnival is the most popular festival in Venice, its origins in the city date back to the 13th century when the Doge made it a public holiday. Originally Carnival in Venice started on the 26th of December and lasted for several weeks until the beginning of Christian Lent. Carnival was an occasion of social release. People were gathering together celebrating by eating the most tasty food and dancing all day long.
How Carnival developed?
Throughout the centuries Venetian Carnival has become famous all over Europe. People from other countries arrived in Venice to enjoy the celebrations. That way, Carnival quickly turned into a luxurious festival with elaborated costumes and masks. In that period there were parties all over the city inside the beautiful palaces on the Gran Canal.
To attend those parties masks were mandatory! This way you didn’t know who the person in front of you was! You could party with a sailor, a nobleman, an actress, a commoner and you didn’t care! The idea was that of hiding your identity and your social standing in order not to judge or to be judged by anyone. You can guess that anything could happen in those occasions…and when we say anything, we really mean anything!
This general freedom also had some negative outbound. Crime began to raise. With the mask on criminals were unpunished, they couldn’t recognize them! That’s why the Republic of Venice started imposing some rules to control Carnival. They forbade to wear a mask in the streets after dark. They also abolished them inside churches, monasteries and convents. We can say that even friars and nuns enjoyed celebrating Carnival!
Carnival and masks
On the bright side that of producing masks became an actual art. Venetian mask makers used their talent and creativity. They made masks with papier mache and decorated them with pearls, feathers and glitters. They could be colorful, extravagant and lavish, never sober! This is a tradition that has survived up to current days. The mask is still the most typical souvenir in Venice. If you get lost in the little alleys you can find laboratory shops and even craft your own mask.
The most famous traditional Venetian masks
BAUTA: it is the quintessential mask of Venetian tradition. It was particularly popular inside casinos (houses for gambling and brothels). As a matter of fact, its beak like shape allowed people to eat and drink without taking it off. It was also a way to disguise your voice.
MORETTA: it was a small black velvet mask. It had French origins and it was exclusively for women. Guess why? In order to wear it, they must held it in their mouth. In this way it was impossible for those women to talk! This silence was a weapon of seduction as it added a huge amount of mystery to the game.
PLAGUE DOCTOR: originally doctors used this mask during plague epidemics. It has got a long beak where they put dried herbs and flowers to avoid breathing the bad smell of their patients! The length of the beak also allowed them to maintain some distance from the corpses.
After many centuries of fun and great celebrations Carnival in Venice ended with the Napoleonic invasion that started in 1797. The darkest pages of Venetian history corresponded to the end of this magnificent Festival. Venetians would have to wait until contemporary times to bring the spirit of Carnival back to life.
As a matter of fact, it was only in the 70’s that a group of students and local associations started organizing the first parades with music, costumes and masks. Today the main celebrations are held in Saint Mark’s Square. They still organize splendid balls inside the palaces on the Grand Canal. Tickets can be very expensive but we believe it is one of those lifetime experiences you must live at least once.
Unfortunately the covid-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of all public events. But don’t worry, Carnival 2021 will be an online event. For more info, check this link out!
Fingers crossed for next year! We are looking forward to meet you soon in Venice to host you in one of our tours and have a nice spritz together…who knows, maybe right during Carnival time!
You’re planning to come to visit Venice but all you have is a day? Don’t panic! It might seem impossible to learn something about it in such a limited time, but there are actually many things you can do and many places you can visit. We garantee this will turn your short staying into an unforgettable and intense experience. Here is a list of the six things you should include in your plans to exploit every minute in this amazing city!
VISITING SAINT MARK’S SQUARE AND THE DOGE’S PALACE: THE HEART OF VENICE
It might seem a little bit obvious but there are certain wonders in Venice that you really have to visit. It doesn’t matter the time you do or do not have, the crowds you may find in the city, the weather or your personal mood, Saint Mark’s square is a must!
Our suggestion is to go there early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Once you get there you’ll notice there is really a lot to see! Of course it would be great to have the chance to visit both the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Considering you limited time, our suggestion is to enter only the church so that you can admire the amazing golden mosaics and the beautiful byzantine architecture. The Palace is obviously an interesting museum but it will take a lot of your time away so decide accordingly. Anyway don’t worry because whatever you choose, the incredible architecture of the square as a whole is so overwhelming that simply looking around it, will make your day brighter.
VISITING THE RIALTO BRIDGE AND THE POPULAR MARKET
Another must do: The Rialto Bridge! There are more then 400 bridges in the city and each one of them has its own charm and allure but none of them is as impressive and romantic as the Rialto one. The version you can admire today dates back to the 1500’s but they built the original bridge in the 1200’s. The purpose was connecting the market area (Rialto) to the political one (Saint Mark’s Square). Our suggestion is to get there early in the morning so that you can also visit the traditional fish market. Walking through the different stands selling from fresh fish to fruit and vegetables, from meat to cheese, you will be able to breath an authentic Venetian atmosphere. It will allow you to take part of one of the most traditional and ancient experiences in the city.
HAVING A SPRITZ WITH A COUPLE (OR MORE) OF CICCHETTI
Visiting the city will carry you on a different dimension, so much so that you will not feel the tiredness and you’ll want to walk and explore more and more.
But, if you can forget the fatigue, what about the hunger? Well, that is a much more complicated issue! 😉 Since walking with your belly empty is not an option, our suggestion is that of stopping in one of the thousands bars of the city and trying a truly Venetian traditional food: the Cicchetti.
They are pieces of bread similar to the Spanish tapas with many ingredients on top of them. For example: cheese, fish, meet, vegetables and other types of finger food like meatballs, salty muffins and little pies. The most traditional ones are the Baccalà Mantecato (marinated codfish) and the Sarde in Saor (fried sardines marinated in a bitter sweet vinegar sauce). For a truly Venetian experience, remember to combine your cicchetti with a glass of good wine or a Spritz. Drinking and eating are two very important aspects of the Venetian life so you cannot say you deeply enjoyed Venice without having stopped in one of our Bacari (bars).
GETTING LOST IN VENICE
Venice is such a people-friendly city, that you can wander around it just walking. This will allow you not to spend extra money for the public transportation, which is wonderful because that way you will save it for your spritz…or better..your many spritzes!!
Joking apart, be prepared, as walking in Venice is often a synonym for getting lost; don’t worry tough, just do it! It is actually the best possible way to enjoy the city. Venice is like an open air museum. Every corner, little alley, canal, every palace and piece of stone tell you a story and dive you into the history and the beauty of the city. So take a couple of hours where you just explore Venice without a purpose, walking, taking pictures, looking around and filling your eyes with its incredible beauty.
One of the best areas to get lost in the city is probably Castello district, the biggest and one of the most residential we have. Our suggestion is that of taking a nice walk on the breathtaking Riva degli Schiavoni, which is a long bank facing Saint Mark’s basin. The view from there is one of the best you can find in the city and once you arrive at the end of the long street you will reach the green area of Sant’Elena. From there, you can have fun exploring the inland areas, reaching San Pietro di Castello and simply enjoying the feeling of being lost in Venice.
We promise you sooner or later you’ll find your way back to the central areas and with a bunch of amazing pictures you wouldn’t be able to take otherwise! 🙂
BOAT TOUR ON THE GRAND CANAL
The Grand Canal is the main road in Venice. The most important and breathtaking palaces dating back to different periods and mirroring the different architectural styles, are all there. Missing this water perspective is really a shame as the real essence of the city lies there.
Venice is inextricably and inevitably both land and sea so you really need to combine walking and sailing. Our suggestion is that of taking regular public transportation. The best Vaporetto (water bus) is line number 2 as it is the fastest one on the Grand Canal. You can either start from Piazzale Roma (the bus station) or from Saint Mark’s Square. The number is always the same, you just have to check for the direction. Lido if you start from Piazzale Roma, Piazzale Roma if you start from the Square. It will take you half an hour more or less and the tour will definitely take your breath away!
Last but not least, book one of our Touring Different Tours! They are the best way to learn a lot about the city in a relatively short time! We are all passionate, young, fun, professional guides! Our crew is more than committed into giving you plenty of information about the interesting history of Venice. The guides will also talk about how the city was built, its popular churches, the great artists and traditions that contributed to turn it into the amazing place it is today. Last but not least we will tell you many more fun stories, legends and give you good tips on how to experience Venice as a local.
You can find us every morning in Campo della Carità, in front of the entrance of the Academy Gallery of Arts, for an adventurous and artistic tour of the southern Dorsoduro district. In the afteroon you can find us in Campo delle Fava, one step away from the Rialto bridge, for an historical and introductory tour in the northern area of Venice.
We simply love our city! Our team is determined to convey our passion to you and really turn your staying in Venice into an unforgettable experience. Each guide really wants to fill you with good memories and interesting stories that you can share with your families and friends.
It would be unnecessary to say that a lifetime in Venice wouldn’t be enough to explore all of its hidden corners and to learn all of its secret stories. Nevertheless, following our personal mini guide you will be able to take home with you the perfect mix between the conventional and the unconventional sides of the city. You’ll feel like you lived three full days of explorations and enrichment all condensed into one.
Rialto bridge was the first one built on the Grand Canal and it is the most famous bridge of the city. Why?
It all began with the foundation of Venice. The first settlements took place in this very area that was called Rivoalto, literally high land. With the development of the city, Rivoalto became the headquarter of the political and commercial life. The area was full of markets, storehouses, shops of jewels, precious fabrics, spices and so on. At that time people used a boat, called “traghetto”, to cross the Grand Canal. They had to pay a toll for this service; they built the first bridge in this location in 1180 and it was called the “toll bridge” because people still had to pay in order to cross it.
The bridge was made with boats that were connected together with some wooden tables and in the middle it was a drawbridge, in order to allow big boats to pass underneath it. They completely rebuilt it in 1255, with wood, piles as foundations, the drawbridge in the middle and with shops on both sides. People started calling it the Rialto bridge, from the contraction of the area’s name Rivoalto.
This bridge will remain unaltered until 1310, this year sadly became famous because of the conspiracy of Bajamonte Tiepolo: some Venetian aristocrats organized it as they wanted to rebel against the Doge.
Their plan was to attack the Doge’s palace (headquarter of the government) and to kill the Doge but it failed: the army of the Doge discovered the conspirators and forced them to retire. They crossed Rialto bridge during their escape and, in order to stop the army that was after them, they set the wooden bridge on fire. The army caught all the members of the conspiracy and exiled them from Venice; they condemned the leaders to death and repaired the Rialto bridge.
The bridge was then able to survive until 1444 when Venice hosted the wedding of the marquis of Ferrara; they set a beautiful parade of boats on the Grand Canal and everybody wanted to see the bride. A lot of people gathered on the bridge to see the parade… so many that the bridge collapsed! Luckily there were no victims, except for the bridge
Antonio da Ponte
They rebuilt the bridge with wood in 1450 but still, it wasn’t so stable, so the Republic of Venice finally thought: why don’t we built a bridge made of stone, that maybe will be stronger than wood?
They announced a contest to choose the architect that would have been in charge of the entire project. There were different participants, a lot of them were great names of Italian architecture such as Palladio, Michelangelo and Sansovino.
The winner was Antonio da Ponte (it’s ironic that its surname actually means bridge in Italian) who proposed the best solution to all the requests of the Republic. They completed the bridge in 1591, they made it with Istrian stone and based it on 12000 wooden poles; the arch measures 28 meters and there are 24 shops (12 per side).
Rialto bridge is divided in three lanes: the central lane is 10 meters wide and with bigger steps; the two lanes on the sides are 3 meters wide. Here the steps are lower and smaller in order to facilitate the transit of men with carts that transport and deliver goods all over Venice. To built this bridge the Republic of Venice spent 250,000 ducats. That means 10 times the price that they paid for the previous wooden bridge.
Today you can admire the bridge in all its magnificence because they recently restored it. It is also one of the most photographed sites of Venice and a must-see for all visitors. Come and discover more curiosities and legends about Rialto bridge and the area nearby during one of our tours! We have plenty of stories to share with you!
Redentore festival is very popular among Venetians. The celebrations start on the Saturday. In the evening they close the Giudecca Canal to public transport and you can only go there by private boat. Then you must stop there for a few hours until traffic is opened again. Why? Well, there is a unique show on that night! Venetians decorate their boats with balloons, flowers and candles. People have dinner on the boats or they organize long tables all along the canal side on Giudecca island.
Redentore festival is a chance to party together, to celebrate the sense of community that is still surviving in Venice. During the Redentore festival night friends, neighbours and relatives organize their dinner together. The most typical food consists of bigoli with onion and anchovies, sweet and sour sardines, stuffed duck, escargots and the most typical summer fruit: watermelon! Wine is another protagonist of the night, together with music and celebrations.
Redentore festival in Venice is related to the homonymous church. It is one of the most outstanding buildings that define the skyline of Giudecca island. Yes, in Venice we do not have skyscrapers, we have churches and bell towers that define our landscape! As regards the above mentioned church, the story of its foundation is related to one of the plague epidemics that affected Venice over the centuries.
We were in 1575, the plague hit the city, in two years there were almost 50,000 victims, if you think that at that time the population of Venice consisted of 150,000 people, this means that one third of the city was killed by the plague. They didn’t treat the disease and people were so desperate that they started thinking that the plague was a punishment sent from God in order to redeem them from their sins. In 1576 the Senate made a vow: they would have financed the building of a church in exchange of God’s help.
In 1577 they started the works, the architect in charge of the project was Andrea Palladio, an important name, today we consider him one of the most influential individuals in the history of architecture. They positioned the first stone in May and soon the miracle happened: the plague stopped on the 20th of July 1577! It was a huge relief for the city, they organized a procession to celebrate this event. The Doge and the members of the Senate leaded it and nobles, members of the clergy and Venetian citizens followed them.
They had to reach Giudecca island and there was only one obstacle: the island is separated from Venice by the homonymous canal. The solution was simple: they created a temporary bridge made up of wooden boats, connected together by some ropes. The procession reached the church and people went inside in order to pray and thank God who stopped the plague. The procession became a ritual that the Venetians repeated yearly, this tradition has survived up to the present days.
Every year, on the third weekend of July, they built a temporary bridge on the Giudecca Canal. Today they no longer use wooden boats, the bridge consists of a metal structure that can easily be transported and assembled. It is a unique experience to cross it: the view is astonishing and it is very odd to walk and cross the canal, usually you must use the boat to reach the other side!
We have to say that today Redentore is a festival both religious and spectacular! On the Saturday night at 11Pm the fireworks start, it’s a really beautiful show. Fireworks continue for almost one hour! You can admire them in the sky and you can also see their reflection on the water. It’s a colorful show that makes Venice even more magical. The Giudecca canal on that night is full of boats where people are celebrating all night long. Venetians and tourists gather along the canal sides hours in advance to find the best spots to see the fireworks. The luckiest people are those who own a balcony or a terrace on the rooftop. They have a unique and privileged view!
After the Covid-19 epidemic they were thinking about cancelling Redentore festival. It was a surprise for the Venetians when the mayor confirmed the festival on the18th and 19th of July! Of course, they will take all measures and precautions necessary to protect everybody’s health. There will be restrictions on the number of people who can access the canal side to see the fireworks. Boats will have to reserve their spot on the Giudecca Canal. Social distancing and masks will be mandatory. It will be a strange festival! But at the same time it will be one of the first chances for Venice to go back to local traditions and events! After the lockdown we all need some fireworks!
A JOURNEY AT THE DISCOVERY OF THE BEST FOOD IN VENICE
“The only way to understand a city is to eat there” if there was a saying to define our beautiful Italy it would certainly be this. Our territory is in fact small in size but it is rich in different climates and landscapes. This has given rise to a varied and complex cuisine over the centuries. Food in Venice is one of the best examples of it.
They often identify Italy as the home of pizza and pasta, of course both perfectly summarize the spirit and the essence of italianness. However, it would be a mistake to believe that these two delicious dishes are the mirror of the traditions of each italian region. If Emilia Romagna is famous for its sliced salami and its sublime Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, if Tuscany is the land of Chianina meat and Chianti wine, if Calabria is known for its spicy chillies and Sicily is the mother of Arancini (little fried rise balls with ragù sauce inside) and blood oranges, Veneto is home to radicchio, rice and Prosecco wine.
As you can see in a few lines and with a few examples we have already highlighted so many differences. Above I mentioned Veneto, the region which is lucky enough to have Venice as its capital. Moving now from a regional plan to a more specific one, that we could define Venice-centric, what are the culinary wonders that this splendid city give us?
Typical food in Venice
Talking about food in Venice means making a leap into its old history. I always like to define the city as the most oriental that you can find in the western part of the world. This link with the East is in fact visible on every stone and on every mosaic of what they once called the Serenissima. The merchant traffic, the ships that sailed the seas of the known world, the waves of foreign merchants who stayed in the famous Fondaci (literally houses with wearhouses) to take care of their business, have in fact allowed the city to become a mix of different cultures and traditions.
This link between different cultures has inevitably manifested itself also in the venetian cuisine. Thanks to the numerous influences it has undergone, Venetian food could be defined as one of the most varied in the world. But let’s not waste time chatting, on the contrary let’s go straight to the list of some of the most typical food in Venice. In other words, let’s analyse those delicacies that you absolutely cannot think of not tasting once you set foot in the lagoon.
It is probably the symbol of the city. There is no bacaro, restaurant or tavern that has not placed it on its menu. Its presence on the venetian tables is due to Captain Pietro Querini. In the 15th century, after a shipwreck he ended up staying for a few weeks in the Lofoten Islands, in Northern Europe. There, he got to know the tradition of stockfish, codfish dried in the air and in the sun. On his return to the Serenissima, he made sure to take some samples with him. From that moment cod went straight into the culinary tradition of Venice. The recipe requires the boiling of the fish with bay leaves and lemon for about twenty minutes. After you cook it, cream the cod with oil in a thin stream, salt and pepper. The result is a soft and velvety cream perfect on bread croutons or on a slice of grilled polenta. A real treat!
Sarde in Saor (Sweet and Sour Sardines)
Saor, which in venetian dialect means “sapore” so taste in english, consists of a sweet and sour preparation based on onions, vinegar, pine nuts and raisins. This delicious dish has ancient origins. In fact, the presence of vinegar allows food to be kept for many days. Considering the lack of refrigerators, the saor was therefore the perfect method to consume even that fish (not only sardines) which was not really fresh. The recipe requires the frying of sardines and on the side the preparation of the saor. In a pan, brown the onions (a lot of them) with a drizzle of oil. Once dried, add sugar to caramelize and deglaze the whole thing with vinegar (the more vinegar you add the more intense the saor will be). Lastly, fire off, put in pine nuts and raisins. Finally proceed with the preparation of the dish. Alternate a layer of saor with one of fried sardines, as if it was a lasagna, until the ingredients are used up. It is better to prepare saor a couple of days in advace so the fish absorbes all the flavors and it becomes a real treat!
Polenta e Schie (Polenta with little shellfish)
Polenta in Veneto is really eaten in every possible way, but if served with schie it becomes even tastier. First of all, what are the schie? They are very small shrimp typical of the venetian lagoon. Despite their small size, their taste is really intense. You can taste them fried but the version you’re going to prefer is the boiled one. In fact, if boiled and seasoned with a drizzle of oil, pepper and parsley and served with hot and soft polenta, they will simply be somptuous.
Risotto al nero di seppia (Squid ink Risotto)
Here two great venetian products are combined: rice and squid ink. Risotto is certainly a widespread first course in all of the northern regions of Italy. Whether you prefer it soupy or dry, it is a truly versatile dish that can be prepared with the most varied ingredients: vegetables, meat and of course in Venice with fish. If you love the strong and at the same time delicate taste of squid, you definitely have to try their ink. The colour might seem uninviting for a dish but the taste will amaze you!
Pasta alla Busara
If you love shellfish, especially shrimp, you should definitely try the pasta, usually spaghetti, alla Busara. Its origins probably date back to after the war and could be sought in Istria (present day Croatia). Today the dish is perfectly framed in the tradition of the city. The name busara has multiple meanings. Some claim it was an earthenware pot they used on board ships. Others say it means “lie” because of the presence of tomato sauce which somehow covered the taste of shrimp. Today one thing is certain, the shrimp in the busara sauce are definitely the protagonists and their taste gives the tomato a unique flavour.
Bigoli in Salsa (Bigoli in sauce)
It is a dish with very poor origins. Bigoli in sauce were considered a lean option. They would consume them during those days when the precepts of religion imposed abstinence from certain food. The ingredients to make the sauce are actually poor: onions and anchovies. Don’t be fooled though, the taste on the contrary is an explosion of rich flavors. The realization of the recipe is really simple. For the sauce, brown the onion with a generous dose of oil and add the anchovies. While cooking, these will flake off and create a mouth-watering sauce. Boil the bigoli, a type of long pasta similar to spaghetti but much thicker, drain them and finally whip them with the sauce.
Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian style Liver)
Don’t worry, if you don’t like fish, here’s a traditional venetian meat dish: liver…venetian style of course. Why is it defined like this? Because inside the dish there is an ingredient which is very dear to the city: onions. You simply have to cut the liver, usually from veal but also from pork, into strips and cook it in a pan with oil, butter and onions. A sprinkle of vinegar is also inevitable! It is excellent to dampen the strong taste of the meat and the sweet but intense taste of the onions.
Buranelli (Burano cookies)
You don’t want to live Venice without having tried some typical sweets, do you? In addition to being delicious, the Buranelli are also the perfect souvenir for friends anf family. These cookies are typical of the island of Burano. Is is one of the three main island of the venetian lagoon together with Murano and Torcello. The ingredients are among the most classic for sweet preparations: flour, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla flavouring. The recipe is very simple. Just assemle everything and create donut-shaped cookies. Bake them for about twenty minutes in the oven and you’re done. Try them, they are amazing!
Frittelle (fried donuts)
If you are in Venice during the Carnival period, you absolutely have to stop in one of the many historic pastry shops and taste the famous frittelle (in Venetian dialect fritole). Unfortunately, or fortunately for those who want to keep in shape, you can only enjoy them in those weeks.
Their origins are very ancient, they probably date back to the 14th century. It is very easy to make them: you just have to put together eggs, butter, milk , flour, yeast, sugar and flavourings. Then fry the batter “spoon by spoon” in boiling oil and then stuff it.
The classic venetian frittella actually has no filling but only raisin which you put directly in the row dough. The sweet tooth can taste the many variations with chocolate filling, classic cream, pistacchio cream and a bunch of other flavors. The whole city, at Carnival, smells like frittelle… it is the scent of joy!
Baicoli are typical cookies of the venetian tradition. They have ancient origins and they say the sailors consumed them during their long periods of absence from home. The dough is very simple.You make it with water, flour, yeast, butter, sugar amd egg whites.The consistency of these sweets is very different from the above mentioned Buranelli. If those are buttery and crumbly, the Baicoli are “hard” and crunchy. They are perfect together with mascarpone cream, eggnog or an excellent sweet wine.
We could mention many other dishes that make Venetian cuisine a real Italian gem, but surely the above mentioned onces are already enough to let you have a real deep dive in the most authentic Venetian essence.
Travelling doen’t just mean moving from one place to another. Travelling means opening your mind and heart to new experiences, it means living different cultures and traditions and knowing stories of exciting characters. But there is more, travelling also means experiencing the local cuisine because there is no monument nor museum that can convey the soul of a country, or a city, or a people as perfectly as the dishes that its inhabitants traditionally consume do.
Food is history, it is life, it is culture, it is art and beauty, it is sharing and joy so what would Venice be without its baccalà mantecato or its frittelle?
What more can I say? Fasten your seat belts, set the navigator towards Venice and…enjoy your meal!
There are 137 churches in Venice, they can be considered as museums of the city. They contain works of the greatest artist, were designed by the main architects and reflect all the different architectural styles that affected buildings in Venice over the centuries.Some of them have mysterious legends, myths about their foundation, secrets hidden inside their paintings and statues.
Come and discover them during our tours! In the meantime, here’s a list of the best 10 churches that you can see in Venice.
Saint Mark’s basilica
This is the most famous churches in Venice. The construction started in 828 but the works to add magnificence to this church will last a few centuries more. The Basilica today reflects different styles: Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance; it’s a treasure chest of all the most important facts and victories of Venice. The marbles, the gold imported from the East, all the statues and columns brought back as spoils of war, they all contributed to create the gorgeous Basilica that became one of the symbols of the city. Visit the inside, with its 4,000 square meters of mosaics, it will be an astonishing experience! You will learn more about the church during our paid tour of Saint Mark Square. Entrance: FREE. Inside specific sites you need a ticket: Saint Mark’s Treasure, Golden Pall, Museum on the first floor.
Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: or simply Basilica dei Frari. Frari in Venetian dialect means friars. It is one of the biggest churches in Venice. The Franciscan Friars built the church in 1250. That’s why from the outside the style looks pretty simple: Italian Gothic style with red bricks and few decorations, to respect the rules of the Franciscan order, based on poverty and simplicity. But on the inside this church is an authentic jewel: it contains artworks of Titian (Pesaro Madonna and Assumption of the Virgin), Giovanni Bellini, Bartolomeo Vivarini and Donatello. Titian is buried here, his grave is in front of the funeral monument of another great artist: Antonio Canova. Entrance: 3 €
Santa Maria della Salute
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, also known as the Salute: the most beloved by Venetians. This Basilica was built as a vow after the plague that struck Venice in 1630. Designed by the architect Baldassare Longhena, it was completed in 1687, today with its beautiful Baroque style it dominates the final part of the Gran Canal. You will learn more about the church during our free tour in the Southern part of Venice. Entrance: FREE.
Chiesa dei Miracoli
Church of Miracles: a hidden treasure in the middle of Venetian alleys. They built this church between 1481 and 1489 to host a painting of the Virgin Mary. They considered it to be responsible of some miracles. The church is a masterpiece of Renaissance style, decorated with precious marbles and stones. Today it’s the favorite church for weddings. All brides want to get married inside it because of the gorgeous pictures they can take there. But the waiting list is very long, you need to book the church at least two years in advance! You will learn more about the church during our free tour in the Northern part of Venice. Entrance: 3€
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta or dei Gesuiti: located in Cannaregio district, they built this church thanks to the religious order of the Gesuits during the 18th century. The inside is really astonishing, ceiling and paving are decorated with baroque style with green and white marbles, the altar is the masterpiece of the church. Inside there are paintings of Titian, Tintoretto and Palma il Giovane. A lot of visitors miss this church because of its location. You will learn more about the church during our free tour in the Northern part of Venice. Entrance: 1€
Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo: the biggest church in Venice. They also call this church “the Venetian Pantheon”. Inside there are the graves of some heroes of the Republic of Venice: soldiers and commanders, Doges and other important members of Venice society. If you are interested in the history of the city and want to know more about it, this is a good place to start! The campo in front of the church is one of the most beautiful in Venice! Entrance: 3 €
Chiesa della Madonna dell’Orto: another jewel of Cannaregio district, built during the 14th century and originally dedicated to Saint Cristopher. There is a legend that explains why the name of the church was then changed into “Madonna dell’Orto”, literally “Virgin of the garden”, discover it during our tours! This church contains a lot of paintings made by the great painter Tintoretto who lived nearby and this was his favorite church in Venice. His grave is inside the church, close to the main altar. Entrance: 3€
Chiesa di San Pantalon: one of the most simple churches from the outside. The facade is still incomplete, but on the inside there is a surprise: it contains the biggest canvas in the world. A huge ceiling painting represents the history of the martyrdom of Saint Pantalon, made by Giovanni Antonio Fumiani who painted it from 1680 to 1704. Entrance: FREE
Santa Maria del Giglio
Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio: they first built it in the 10th century and then rebuilt it in the 17th century. The nobleman Antonio Barbaro financed it. They represented him together with his brothers on the facade of the church. There you can also see six columns, their bases are decorated with the maps of the six cities where Antonio worked during his life. Inside the church there is only painting in Venice made by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. Entrance: 3€
San Simeone Piccolo
Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo: with its green dome, this church will be the first thing that you see when you arrive in Venice from either the bus or the train station. The church is very simple, but we recommend that you ask the custodian to visit the crypt. The crypt of this church is a unique example in Venice, with a small candle you can walk around the small tunnels and see the old frescoes on the walls…an experience that you won’t forget! Entrance: FREE, to visit the crypt the entrance will cost 3€.
If you are interested in visiting many churches, you can buy the Chorus pass: it’s a ticket that will give you access to 18 churches. The pass costs 12€ for adults (8€ for students) and you can buy it inside the churches, at the tourist information offices or online.