After a full morning of touring the Palazzo Ducale and taking in magnificent views of Venice from the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, we were looking for a quiet area to grab a bite to eat and explore. Our goal was to experience Venice like a local, in a neighborhood away from the tourist bustle (however, those who have been to Venice will understand that there’s no such thing as a “faraway” place on the tiny island).
We pointed to a spot on the map that looked nice and far: Fondamente Nove, on the northeastern side of the city. We hopped in a No. 4.1 vaporetto and were on our way.
A Wee Bit of History
Did you know that the word “ghetto” comes from the Venetian word geto, which was the name of a metal factory in Cannaregio? The neighborhood was the location of the Jewish ghetto in Venice from the 1500s through Napoleon’s arrival in 1797. During that time, Jews were limited in where they could live, where and when they could leave, and what kinds of jobs they could hold. The neighborhood still bears the marks of a historically Jewish community: synagogues, a kosher restaurant, a Jewish baker, and more.
Cannaregio was also home to famous artists and explorers including Marco Polo, Tintoretto and Titian. Despite those names, Cannaregio has a far more humble history than neighboring sections of the city. It is worth exploring if you want to see a more authentic, but no less historical, part of Venice.
After exiting the vaporetto, we immediately began to look for a place to eat. We were in luck, because the first street we ventured down took us to a restaurant with the most charming patio and a large menu of Italian favorites.
We decided to embrace the Italian culture and order a Spritz like the locals. I was surprised that I enjoyed it despite its bitter flavor. There was just enough sweetness to make it refreshing and not overly bitter.
Next came the main course. I was all in on pasta in Venice, and the seafood pasta I ordered did not disappoint! Francois had salmon gnocchi.
After lunch we got lost in the winding streets. The neighborhood was far quieter than Dorsoduro. On most streets we didn’t see a single person.
Despite its humble roots, Cannaregio’s architecture was no less impressive and picturesque. This was the part of Venice where I most felt like I was on a movie set as I roamed the streets.
We even found grapes growing in the middle of a street!
My takeaway from our afternoon in Cannaregio is that it is a part of Venice that definitely flies under the radar, but is just as lovely as any other part of the city. Don’t expect it to be buzzing with people, though – we found ourselves alone for most of the afternoon. But whether you are there to see historical sights, of which it has plenty, or just to enjoy the architecture and ambience, you will not be disappointed!
Have you been to Cannaregio? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments!