It is uncertain whether the Cannaregio district’s name derives from the reed (canna) beds that exist here or from its Canal Regio but, with the exception of the railway station and a few nearby streets, the zone is largely unexplored by travelers.
Constructed on the site of a former church, the Santa Lucia railway station is the point of arrival for thousands of visitors, who typically head straight for the vaporetto stop opposite the station, or cross the highly trafficked Scalzi Bridge on a mission to San Marco.
Stretching from the base of the Scalzi Bridge northeast toward the Campo S. Geramia, the Lista di Spagna is a lively tourist thoroughfare marked by souvenir stalls, pastry shops and a handful of overpriced (albeit convenient) hotels.
But beyond this lies the heart of a humble district where Tintoretto, Titian and Marco Polo once lived, music drifts from open windows above storefronts and laundry is hung out to dry across alleyways.
Locals head to the outdoor fruit and vegetable market on the bustling Rio Terà S. Leonardo each morning. Just north of the market is the world’s first ghetto (a name that derives from the geti or foundries that once existed here) where Venice’s Jewish population lived for centuries.
The colorful, unhurried parts of the district stretch from the Fondamenta dei Ormesini and Fondamenta della Misericordia to the Sacca della Misericordia (a man-made basin). Cannaregio’s broad quayside, Fondamenta Nuove is the departure point for ferries to the northern lagoon islands.
Sightseeing in Cannaregio
Chiesa degli Scalzi
Most travelers pass this Baroque church (also known as Santa Maria di Nazareth) at the foot of the Scalzi Bridge, but few enter what Baldassarre Longhena designed for the Barefooted Carmelites in the 17th century. The church’s Carrara marble façade is the only one of its kind in the city and the church once housed beautiful frescoes by Tiepolo, largely destroyed when a bomb struck during World War I.
The sumptuous 15th-century Ca’ d’Oro, a Gothic palace whose façade was once embellished with gold, houses the Galleria Franchetti. On display in the museum are tapestries, antique furnishings and paintings, including the splendid San Sebastiano by Andrea Mantegna and Transito della Vergine by Carpaccio.
Several of Tintoretto’s magnificent works adorn the 14th-century Gothic church of Madonna dell’Orto, named after a miraculous statue of the Virgin and child found nearby in a garden (orto). Hidden away in his parish church, Tintoretto’s paintings include the Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple and the Last Judgment.
Museo Ebraico di Venezia
Venice’s Hebrew Museum contains a collection of objects from as far back as the 17th century that reflect religious and social Jewish life. The museum offers guided visits to the synagogues in English at half past each hour. There is also a bookshop and kosher eatery here.
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi - Casino Municipale
A prime piece of real estate along the Grand Canal, the Renaissance palace Ca’ Vendramin Calergi was built in the 16th century by Mauro Codussi and served as the home to several noble families. Tour the apartments where Richard Wagner lived (and died in 1883).
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