Venice - off the beaten path
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
More to Venice than gondolas and St Mark's Square
By: Elaine Vanderwerf
Impressive Della Salute Basilica along the Grand Canal built in 17th century. (photo: Eugene Sirianni)
Sure, tourists visit Venice for the gondolas and St Mark's square. But Italy's most unique city offers so much more if you head off the well-traveled cobblestones and explore areas just off the main waterways.
Along the Grand Canal you will find a Venetian jewel - Della Salute church.
Completed in 1687 as an homage to the Virgin Mary for saving the city after the second bout of Bubonic plague, this stunning Baroque church is well worth the visit and doesn't contain the crowds of St Mark's Basilica. It stands on the narrow finger of Punta della Dogana, between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, at the Bacino di San Marco, making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water.
Inside Della Salute Church. (photo: Elaine Vanderwerf)
The Fenice Theatre this is the setting of a non-fiction best seller The City of Falling Angels.
Built on the site of the famous explorer Marco Polo residence, after it was destroyed by a violent fire and opened its doors in 1678. Fire would remain very much a part of this world class theatre's history. The theatre burnt down three times, in 1774, 1792 and 1996. Each time, it was rebuilt respecting the original design. Ironically "La Fenice" means Phoenix, after the legendary bird which rises again from its own ashes.
La Fenice Theatre (Photo: Elaine Vanderwerf)
Bovolo Staircase is another must see for those looking for a unique spot in Venice. Pisa's world famous Leaning Tower's structure inspired the Bovolo's Tower with its columns and arches that spiral up to the top, housing its famous staircase. Built in 1499, this outer tower stands 28 metres high. From the top of the Bovolo Tower can you enjoy a breathtaking view of the domes of St. Mark's Basilica as well as its magnificent bell tower.
Bovolo Staircase (Photo: Elaine Vanderwerf)
Big Tip: Most tourists do not stay in hotels in Venice proper, in the evening they return to cruise ships and mainland hotels, leaving a beautiful and empty Venice for those night owls longing to explore. Listen to your footsteps echo in St Mark's square after dark!
Did you Know? There are no wood-burning ovens in Venice? Due to the risk of fire, and the challenges of battling a blaze from boats, all wood-burning ovens are banned. But don't worry, the pizza served here is still delicious!
Real Deal: DON’T spend money in Piazza San Marco! PSM is the main tourist attraction in Venice, although it might be tempting to dine al fresco or buy souvenirs in the square, the added cost of shopping and dining in the busy area isn't worth the price. Save your Euros and spend them a few streets away, you could save 20-50%.