Venice is divided into six districts, known as “sestiere”. Each of these districts has a distinctive style and history, and we’ve provided a brief overview so that you can choose the area that best suits you, or holds your interest more than another. Whichever area you choose,Venice is a small city, where you can walk from one end to the other in about an hour. On the other hand, you could stay forever, and never know all her secrets, or see all her treasures. Getting lost is one of the most pleasurable treats here in Venice.
San Marco, Venice heart
Saint Mark’s Square is Venice’s only square. It consists of an artistic complex of buildings in different styles that over time have created a harmonious setting to the square.
Not to be missed in Saint Marks district >>
The sestiere of Castello
Castello was one of the earliest parts of Venice to be settled (fifth to sixth centuries). The district takes its name from the castle that stood there and which provided defence from attacks from the sea. Here is the ancient Arsenal, that was an essential part of the life of the repubblica.
Not to be missed in Castello district >>
The sestiere of Cannaregio
The name has two possible origins: it may derive from Canal regio, i.e. the main canal for communicating with the mainland or else it may refer to extensive reed beds found there in the past. The railway station is named after Santa Lucia because it was built in the area of the church of Santa Lucia, destroyed following napoleon’s edit in 1806. The building is number 1 of the district.
Not to be missed in Cannaregio district >>
The sestiere of San Polo
This is the smallest area. In this district it was customary to ‘live over the shop’, i.e. dwellings and workplaces were often combined. On the Rialto and everywhere else we find an old and noble Venetian vocation: that of good food. the enjoyment of food is honoured here, even in its most simple and popular forms. All around the area we find ‘osterie and bacari’, taverns that also provide ready-made dishes including saòr, bigoi, in salsa, tripe, liver alla veneziana, fish fries, as well as the typical ‘cicheto’ (a morsel on a stick).
Not to be missed in San Polo district >>
The sestiere of Santa Croce
It is the north-east of the city and via Piazzale Roma it connects Venice to the mainland. All this area has been subject to many demolitions and transformations, starting in 1810 with the demolition of the church and monastery of of Santa Croce, which gave their name to the district. The Papadopoli gardens were laid out in the area. The gardens were designed by Bagnara in the likeness of English gardens. they are now open to the public but have been completely changed.
Not to be missed in Santa Croce district >>
The sestiere of Dorsoduro
It extends over the southern part of the city, starting with Punta della Dogana that juts out into the San Marco basin like the prow of a ship. The ‘dogana da mar’ (sea customs house) of the Venetian Republic was built in the seventeenth century and consists of many warehouses that are hidden behind the facade. It ends with the square tower on top of which there are bronze statues that support the golden ball on which Fortune stands. After the tower, the Zattere begin: this is a long jetty that goes as far as Santa Marta. It was built in 1516 to unload the timbre which rafts (zattere) brought down the rivers from the Cadore area.
Not to be missed in Dorsoduro district >>
Where to stay in Venice
There are many hotels, apartments, B&Bs and guesthouses available in Venice, search and make reservations here.