Tuesday, 6 November 2018

A few days staying in
an old palace by the
Grand Canal in Venice

Gondolas tied up and waiting for the tides to fall at Rialto Bridge, just a five minute walk from the Palazzetto San Lio in Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018; click on image for full-screen view)

Patrick Comerford

I am in Venice for a few days, having arrived in Treviso yesterday [5 November 2018] on a Ryanair flight from Dublin.

I am staying at the Palazzetto San Lio in the heart of Venice, between the Rialto Bridge and Saint Mark’s Square. It is at the end Calle del Frutariol in the sestiere or district of Castello, and just a stone’s throw from Rialto and the Grand Canal.

Palazzetto San Lio is a splendid Venetian palace built in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is owned by an old Venetian family which for generations has been committed to keeping alive the traditional splendour of the palace and its Venetian style.

All the apartments have canal views, and are furnished with Venetian antique furniture, Murano chandeliers and upholstered walls in the grand Venetian style.

The careful restoration of the building’s exterior last year has given new life to the external façades, while maintaining the original architectural features.

The sestiere di Castello is in the eastern part of Venice, known as the ‘tail of the fish’ because of its shape, and overlooks the Grand Canal. It is the largest district in size in Venice, and the second in terms the population. It was one of the first residential areas in Venice, and its name comes from a mediaeval fort that stood in the area of the island of San Pietro.

Gondolas at the Palazzo Ducale, with San Giorgio Maggiore on the other side of the canal (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

This is also one of the greenest areas of Venice. It includes the Gardens and the park of Sant’Elena, and in many parts of it are tranquil, away from the main flow of tourists, making this a favourite area for the residents of Venice.

Wandering around as darkness was about to close in yesterday, I realised that this promises to be a central location, allowing me to reach all the major sites in a short time on foot. This area also has a promising choice of restaurants, small cafés, pastry shops and shops.

We strolled from Rialto to San Marco, marvelling once again at the basilica, the tower, the square and the Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace, watching the gondolas bobbing up and down in the water with San Giorgio Maggiore on the opposite side, as we crossed the Bridge of Sighs, and continued on along Riva degli Schiavoni, past Santa Maria della Pieta, the church where Vivaldi was first recognised as a composer, stopping for coffee before we reached Arsenale.

There are several places of interest and historical-cultural importance of this lively sestiere, including the imposing Arsenale, the venue for the Venice Biennale, with its exhibition venues, gardens and pavilions, churches, cathedrals, the Palazzo Querini Stampalia, and unusual Libreria Acqua Alta.

Although I was in Italy twice last year [2017], visiting Rome and the Vatican in January, and Bologna, Ravenna, Rimini and San Marino in November, it is ten years or more since I was last in Venice.

Last week’s high waters that flooded Saint Mark’s Square seem to have abated, so join me this week as I find explore Venice through the canals, the bridges, and the side streets.

A canal view from the Palazzetto San Lio (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just how does Venice plan to deal with the sea level rise which accompanies global warming? See Venice before it is submerged?