Our stroll to the discovery of the largest Sestiere of the city begins from Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Under commander Bartolomeo Colleoni’s eyes, depicted in the Verrocchio’s monument that dominates the campo, we can admire the refined façade of Scuola Grande di San Marco, planned by Pietro Lombardo and the Byzantine-relieves portal of the massive gothic church that gives its name to the campo.Once inside, we discover the Venice Pantheon built by the Dominican Order in the XIII century, which houses 25 funeral monuments of the Doges of the Serenissima Republic, commanders and noblemen.
Let us proceed to the basin of San Marco (Saint Mark). One after the other, we come across Campo Santa Maria Formosa with its picturesque and popular market, San Lorenzo Church, where we pay tribute to Marco Polo’s memory – the most renowned Venetian merchant and explorer – buried in this church, according to tradition, and finally San Zaccaria Church, that guards the wonderful ‘Madonna in trono col Bambino e Santi’ (Enthroned Virgin and Child) by Giovanni Bellini.
In a few steps we finally reach Riva degli Schiavoni, one the most enchanting places of Venice. This long scenic walk, crowded with visitors, links Bacino San Marco to Giardini, venue for the Venice Biennale and owes its name to the Dalmatian merchants (Schiavonia), who in ancient times used to berth here their ships.
The more we move away from San Marco, the more we penetrate the popular area of the Sestiere, once inhabited mainly by the “arsenalotti", Arsenal’s workers who thanks to their skills, contributed to making Venice a sea power.
We decide to visit the Naval History Museum, wanted by the Austrians in 1815, where, among the model ships of the ancient republic, we are dazzled by a scale model of the legendary Bucintoro, the ceremonial gold-plated barge on board of which the Doge celebrated the Wedding of Venice to the Sea on Ascension Day.
We end our long walking tour in San Pietro di Castello, where, unconcerned with the leaning campanile of the church, we decide to sit on a bench immersed in the green enjoying a deserved rest. Back