The smallest of the six neighborhood (called “sestieri”) in Venice San Polo is also one of the oldest parts of the city. Spending a few hours here is like stepping back in time to discover La Serenissima’s past.
Cross the Rialto Bridge, the oldest one to span the Grand Canal, from San Marco to explore the Rialto Market that has been here since the end of the 12th century. Make sure you arrive early in the morning before the hordes of tourists arrive, so you can enjoy a peaceful stroll between the stalls piled up high with fresh local fruit, vegetables, fish and listen to vendors banter with locals.
The Campo San Polo is the second-largest square in Venice, after Piazza San Marco, once the venue for bullfights, masked balls and a market. Spend a few minutes here to admire the elegant palaces and 9th century Church of San Polo, which gave name to the sestiere and where you will find works by Tiepolo and Veronese.
|San Giacomo di Rialto|
The city’s oldest church is located in this neighborhood. The Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto was supposedly consecrated in the 5th century, although it was re-built in 1097. Other attractions in the area are the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari with its important paintings by Titian and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco decorated with a famous cycle of paintings by Tintoretto.
San Polo is renowned for its small artisan shops, typical venetian osterie called bacari and some excellent restaurants. Make sure to do a bacari crawl to taste the best “cichetti”, local appetizers, accompanied by “ombra”, a small glass of wine. All’ Arco (Calle Arco, San Polo, 436) is located a few steps from the Rialto Fish Market and serves delectable appetizers with prawns, shrimps and squid. Cantina Do Mori (Calle dei Do Mori, San Polo, 429) is one of the oldest bacari in the city that
the famous Casanova used to frequent.
Photos via Flickr by: Paul Arps, Damian Entwistle, Sam Posnick.