After arriving at the main railway station of Venice, most people take the first bridge and follow the yellow signs for the Rialto bridge. However, turning left here will soon take you out of the main tourist area and into almost forgotten canals of Venice. The sun was just rising in the sky as I walked towards the Canale di Cannaregio. Street traders were setting up their stalls, Venetians were getting out of their houses to get to work, sea gulls were nervously flying over the canal in search of food and diving . For a long time, Jews were only allowed to live on this island, which became an international word for a neighbourhood where an ethnic or other minority lives. Since the streets here were still dark, I continued further north.
When I reached the Fondamenta delle Cappuccine, I stopped walking and started exploring. Here, I saw early risers walking their dog, a woman opening the shutters of her window, someone preparing his boat for the day. But otherwise, the sometimes surprisingly wide streets and alleys were empty. Every canal seemed to have its own atmosphere: the Fondamenta Misericordia later turned out to be the shopping street with comoparatively more people, the long Fondamenta delle Cappuccine was more like a thoroughfare, while the Fondamenta della Sensa was a quiet canal with a narrow street only on one side. I found a small park tucked away behind a fence, remarkably well kept, and after crossing yet more small streets, I found myself on the edge of the island, with a view of the Isola di San Michele and, a little further, Murano. Here, at the boatstop of Sant Alvise, boats reminded me of how busy Venice can be. As I left the lagoon behind, I continued my exploration of the canals and the hidden corners of Cannaregio.
Cannaregio was home to Tintoretto, the 16th century painter, and I saw the house where he lived, close to the Campo dei Mori. The latter has 4 statues of Moors - not, as might be expected, Arabs, but merchants from the south of Greece who lived in Venice. Especially after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Greeks established themselves in Venice - they must have felt at home in this city on islands. After a short stop for a downpour of rain, I went straight to the Madonna dell'Orto, the slender belltower of which I had seen looming over the houses of Cannaregio. The church proved, in fact, to be like a local museum for Tintoretto: not only does it have some great works of the painter, Tintoretto is also buried here. Interestingly, the church was initially dedicated to the traveler - situated close to the end of the city, its aim was to protect the gondoliers who would set off to the northern islands close to here. A statue of Madonna found in a nearby orto or vegetable garden, according to legend responsible for several miracles, was transferred to the church in the 14th century.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cannaregio (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cannaregio. Read more about this site.