Toto Bergamo Rossi, an impossibly well-connected and respected art restorer who comes from an old Venetian family, has devoted a good portion of his life to preserving the cultural riches of his native city. Deeply involved with the nonprofit Venetian Heritage, he has worked on Tiepolos and Veroneses and basilicas all around the city. And Rossi knows Cannaregio—he was born there. “Parts of Cannaregio are very commercial and overrun with tourists—along the Strada Nova, for example,” he says. “But in Venice you can always avoid the human traffic and head for some secret treasure.” Many of the best can be found, Rossi notes, in sacred spaces. “I always tell friends to visit the churches,” he says. “You see paintings and sculptures in their original locations, as the artist wished them to be.”
Church of the Scalzi
Right next to the train station, this Baroque gem, also known as Santa Maria di Nazareth, has an amazing Carrara marble façade (the only one in town, as all others are Istrian stone). The interior features precious colored-marble decoration and ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo. A curiosity: Two of the last doges are buried here in a discreet way—no big altars or funerary monuments, just simple slabs in the floor. At 54 Cannaregio, Fondamenta degli Scalzi.
Now an office of RAI national television, this grand palace has a famous ballroom that Tiepolo painted with scenes from the lives of Cleopatra and Marc Antony—one of his masterpieces. In the fifties, when it was the home of Charles de Beistegui (known for his lavish theme parties), it was a destination for the jet set. At 275 Cannaregio, Campo S. Geremia; 39-041/524-2812; palazzolabia.it.
Pasticceria Dal Mas
When walking on the Lista di Spagna, this authentic Venetian pastry shop is a great place to stop for an espresso and a sweet. Tasty and quick. At 150A Cannaregio, Lista di Spagna; 39-041/715-101.
Church of San Giobbe
At the north end of the Canal di Cannaregio lies one of Venice’s most important early-Renaissance buildings, often empty. The simple façade is pink stone, while the interior features major works by Pietro Lombardo (also the church’s architect), Antonio Vivarini and Girolamo Savoldo, and a chapel with ceiling terracottas by Luca della Robbia. In Campo San Giobbe.
This simple local trattoria, near the Ponte dei Tre Archi and overlooking the Canal di Cannaregio, offers a limited menu that changes daily: antipasti and typical Venetian seafood and meat dishes. It’s especially lovely sitting outside in the summertime and enjoying the views. $ Dinner, $35. At 652 Cannaregio, Fondamenta di San Giobbe; 39-041/720-211.
San Leonardo Market
Crossing over the Canal di Cannaregio on the Ponte delle Guglie (named after the obelisks on both ends), there’s a square that hosts an open-air greenmarket in the morning. It looks like a scene from a painting by Canaletto or Guardi. At Rio Terà San Leonardo.
Not far from the Ponte delle Guglie is the Ghetto, Venice’s old Jewish quarter. After visiting the synagogues and museum, this kosher bakery is a required stop for almond cookies—very special. At 1143 Cannaregio, Calle del Ghetto Vecchio; 39-041/715-178.
Several minutes on foot from the Ghetto (it’s a zigzagging route, so a map is helpful), this casual restaurant is on the Canal di San Girolamo. Very Venetian and very much for locals or well-informed travelers, it serves delicious frittura mista and the softshell crabs called moleche. Dinner, $40. At 3054 Cannaregio, Fondamenta delle Cappuccine; 39-041/721-415.
Just off the Grand Canal, the Strada Nova is a human river of tourists, but it is lined with lots of everyday shops for Venetians. A favorite is Benevento: a smart place to buy fabrics for drapes or upholstery, including the beautiful linens that have been used on the arches of Piazza San Marco for centuries as protection from the sun. At 3991/45 Cannaregio, Strada Nova; gbenevento.it.
Church of the Gesuiti
This ornate Baroque church, also known as Santa Maria Assunta, is famous for its white-and-green marble trompe l’oeil walls and Titian’s Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, one of his final masterpieces. In Campo dei Gesuiti.
Venice’s only department store has a nice, if unexceptional, selection of clothing and accessories, but it’s worth a visit to the top floor, which is devoted to everything for the house. There you find great candles, tableware and decorations—as well as gifts to take home from your visit. At 5787 Cannaregio, Salizada San Giovanni Crisostomo; coin.it.
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.