Small squares bloom behind labyrinths of narrow streets and mask and glass shops give way to bakers and bacari (local inns) to offer tourists, daring to step off the beaten track, the opportunity to experience a real slice of the true spirit of this amazing city.
Castello OrientaleIf you want to get a genuine taste of Venetian life, this is the first place you should go to. Located surprisingly close to Saint Mark’s Square, this quiet neighbourhood enjoys tourist-free streets and cafés.
Once the prosper centre of activity, thanks to the shipyard, it now offers a haven of tranquillity for locals who wish to hide away from the more touristic areas and buy fresh products, home goods and enjoy aperol spritz (liquor with white wine), bellini (prosecco wine and peach) and traditional sweets such as fritelle and galani.
Before the city of canals became known for its glamour and opulence, its richness laid in the waters of the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea that surrounds it. A wide variety of fish and seafood caused markets to flourish in the area of Rialto. Today, the only replica of their grandeur is the 19th century Pescaria but it’s a must stop for anyone wishing to see a traditional Venetian market and savour the best regional products.
Near the Rialto Bridge, you can celebrate the carnival like, and with, the locals as they gather around Campo San Giacomo di Rialto.
Ever heard of the Venetian Ghetto? I for one hadn’t, but this quaint area of Cannaregio is worth a visit thanks to its history and delicious restaurants serving superb Kosher cuisine.
After seeing the simple but touching Venice Holocaust Memorial Wall, or flickering through rare books in the marvellous Old World Books shop, you can walk towards the residential quarter around the Ormesini and Sensa canals at the northern end of Cannaregio to enjoy the little joys of life like a true Venetian.
Here, locals still enjoy their early caffe coretto con grappa in the terraces of quirky cafés before heading to work and authentic bacaro serve house wine for less than €1 and cichetti (Venetian tapas) for less than €2! And what’s more, you won’t find more romantic and intimate canal side dining than here!
Young, bohemian and with a vibrant cultural life, Dorsoduro is the Montmartre of Venice. That is why the Guggenheim Musem and the prestigious Accademia Galleries are found here.
The streets are filled with a relaxed ambience and if it weren’t for the canals and bridges, visitors would wonder if they are still in Venice or in a small Italian town.
There are impressive buildings like Basilica de Santa Maria della Salute and the views of the lagoon are spectacular from this side of the city.