Dorsoduro & San Polo: the district of plague, health and finances

A 3 hour walking tour of the Dorsoduro, the 20th century Anglo-American neighborhood, including the church of plague, the Custom House, galleries and art museums, followed by the most beautiful gondola yard. You can experience the masterpieces by the Venice painting geniuses: Titian and Veronese. Finally, visit a unique private town house: Palazzo Zenobio.

This itinerary of Dorsoduro & San Polo unfolds while visiting the elegant Dorsoduro district, one of the favorite areas among Anglo – American visitors in Venice at the turn of the 20th century. Starting from the small campo of Santa Maria del Giglio, we’ll catch a gondola across the Grand Canal in order to step foot in the Dorsoduro district where the Church of Santa Maria della Salute welcome us. This church is commonly known as the church of health. It was built as a vow to Virgin Mary to save Venice from the 1631 plague epidemic! Its balloon-like dome has become an iconic part of the Venetian skyline. 

This magnificent church houses the paintings by the grand painters Tiziano, Salviati and Tintoretto. Next to the church stands the Custom House on an edge of land that is shaped like the prow of a boat, offering vistas of Giudecca and the Grand Canal as they merge into the St.Mark Basin. We later pass by the house of Peggy Guggenheim, today a world class modern art museum, and continue in the direction of the Zattere, the most popular place for a promenade in Venice. From there we’ll reach an ancient gondola workshop. 

As the tour proceeds, passing by the Accademia Galleries and San Barnaba church – once used as a “library” by Dr. Indiana Jones – we get into the lively campo Santa Margherita. Both locals and young university students like to gather in this spacious “field” where the numerous scattered cafes can be found. 

From here we have two choices: either visit the huge Franciscan church of  Frari to admire the worldly famous paintings by Tiziano and Bellini, or proceed to the Medieval church of the Carmelites.Tiziano and Bellini were the grand masters of the Venice Renaissance painting school and their works have resided in this stunning medieval architecture since its origin. This art tour will be followed by a stroll along the Grand Canal to finish by the Rialto Bridge, the past and present heart of the commercial and financial life of Venice. You’ll learn about the banking and financial systems of the Venetian Republic. 

The alternative is to proceed to the Medieval Church of the Carmelites that preserves some of Venice’s painting masterpieces created by the colleagues of Tiziano and Bellini : Lorenzo Lotto and Cima da Conegliano. A few steps away we’ll visit the 17th century Palazzo Zenobio, today owned by the Armenian diaspora, with its unique garden and ballroom. The walking art tour will be followed by viewing the grand jewel of Venetian Renaissance painting: the Church of San Sebastiano, decorated entirely with frescoes by Paolo Veronese. The itinerary of Dorsoduro & San Polo districts will end there, a few steps from Zattere near the water bus stop of San Basilio.

Highlights: S.Maria della Salute church, exterior of Peggy Guggenheim house, Accademia Galleries, Zattere, gondola yard, S. Barnaba and S. Margherita squares, Frari or S.Sebastiano church.

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