Cannaregio, the northernmost of Venice’s six sestieri, is a charming and vibrant district that’s steeped in history and overflowing with local flavor. This often-overlooked area offers an authentic glimpse into the daily lives of Venetians, with its bustling markets, historic buildings, and picturesque Cannaregio canal. As you wander through its narrow streets, you’ll experience a sense of tranquility and charm that sets it apart from the bustling tourist areas of Venice.
Venice Neighborhood Series:
Cannaregio’s Rich History
The name “Cannaregio” derives from the historical presence of large cane plantations in the area. Cannaregio has a long and storied past, dating back to the 11th century when the first settlers built homes along its canals.
Cannaregio has been a hub of trade, craftsmanship, and cultural exchange throughout its history. From the thriving merchant activity along the Fondamenta della Misericordia to the vibrant community of the Jewish Ghetto, Cannaregio’s rich past is evident in its architecture, streets, and waterways.
The Jewish Ghetto
Established in 1516, the Jewish Ghetto of Venice was the first in the world. Jews were forced to live in the Jewish Quarter until Napoleon Bonaparte abolished the segregation laws in 1797.
Despite its tragic history, the Ghetto remains a testament to the resilience of the Jewish community, who continued to flourish culturally and economically even in the face of adversity.
Today, you can explore the Ghetto’s five synagogues, the Jewish Museum, and the Holocaust Memorial, which pay tribute to the community’s enduring spirit and the lives lost during World War II.
Must-Visit Places in Cannaregio, Venice, Italy
The Jewish Quarter is vast and winding, and you can spend a whole afternoon wandering the streets and admiring the architecture, people, and canals. However, there are a few sights and areas in the district that every traveler must visit.
Iconic Churches and Monuments
Despite a large Jewish population, the Cannaregio district is home to several historic churches, each with its own unique story and architectural style. The first two of the following churches stand out amongst the rest and made our list of the 15 most beautiful churches in Venice.
- Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo: Also known in Venetian as San Zanipolo, this impressive Gothic church is the final resting place of 25 Venetian doges and features stunning works by Veronese, Bellini, and Tintoretto.
- Church of Madonna dell’Orto: Boasting a stunning façade, this 14th-century church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and houses several masterpieces by Tintoretto, who is also buried here.
- Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli: The Church of Saint Mary of Miracles, also known as, marble church, is one of the most beautiful examples of colored marble in the city. From 1990-1997, the Save Venice organization faithfully reconstructed the church to its former glory as the famed architect Pietro Lombardo intended.
Must-Visit Museums and Galleries in the Jewish Quarter
Art and history enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in Cannaregio’s museums and galleries, which showcase the district’s rich cultural heritage. Be sure to visit:
- Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro: This renowned art gallery is housed within the Ca’ d’Oro palace and features an impressive collection of Venetian art, including works by Titian, Carpaccio, and Guardi.
- Museum of Natural History: Situated in the picturesque Fondaco dei Turchi, this museum offers a fascinating journey through the natural world, with exhibits on local flora and fauna, as well as exotic specimens from around the globe.
- Wagner Museum: Dedicated to the life and work of composer Richard Wagner, this museum offers a unique insight into his time in Venice and the profound impact the city had on his art.
- Jewish Museum of Venice: The Jewish Museum of Venice, or Museo Ebraico di Venezia, is a significant cultural institution located in the heart of Venice’s historic Jewish Ghetto in the Cannaregio district. Founded in 1953, the museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history, traditions, and cultural heritage of Venice’s Jewish community, which dates back to the 16th century.
Other Notable Sights in the Cannaregio District:
- Palazzo Mastelli: The Palazzo Mastelli, also known as the House of the Camel, is another intriguing spot in Cannaregio. This historic building is adorned with an unusual stone camel sculpture and is shrouded in local legends, adding to its mystique. The palace formerly belonged to three silk and spices merchant brothers who relocated from the Peloponnese to Venice around 1112 and then adopted the name Mastelli. They are traditionally associated with four statues of the three Moors and their servant on the Campo dei Mori.
- Tintoretto’s House: Located near the Madonna dell’orto church and Palazzo Mastelli, La Bottega Del Tintoretto is the former home of one of Venice’s most prominent Venetian Renessaince painters: Jacopo Tintoretto. Outside of Titian, Tintoretto is considered Venice’s greatest painter and you’ve likely seen his works in Doge’s Palace, Church of San Zaccaria, Church of Santa Maria della Salute, and other famous landmarks throughout the city. For any art lover, it’s almost a pilgramage to make your way over to Tintoretto’s house.
- Ponte dei Tre Archi: Considered one of the most famous bridges in Venice, the Ponte dei Tre Archi spans the Cannaregio Canal. Although you should spend the time to walk there and see it, you’ll also likely see it if you take any of the vaporetto lines that run through the city: 3, A, 4.1, and 5.1.
- Calle Varisco – Venice’s Narrowest Street: Although most of Venice, Italy is narrow, Calle Varisco is the narrowest street in the city and some broad shouldered people have to turn sideways to get down it. While it’s not a make or break sight for your trip, Calle Varisco is a fun detour.
Local Culinary Delights
Cannaregio’s vibrant culinary scene offers an array of mouthwatering options, from traditional trattorias to contemporary restaurants. Sample authentic Venetian dishes and indulge in the region’s finest ingredients and local wines at some really good restaurants.
We recommend trying some of the following local dishes:
- Cicchetti: These small, savory snacks are a Venetian staple, often enjoyed with a glass of local wine called ombra.
- Risotto al nero di seppia: A classic Venetian dish featuring creamy risotto infused with squid ink for a rich, deep flavor.
- Sarde in saor: A delicious combination of sweet and sour flavors, this dish features marinated sardines with onions, raisins, and pine nuts.
The Best Restaurants in the Cannaregio District
There are tons of good restaurants in Cannaregio, but here are some of our favorites. For more information on eating in Venice, here’s our complete list of the best restaurants in Venice broken down by district.
Located off of the Jewish quarter on one of the busiest side streets in Cannaregio, Al Timon is perhaps Venice’s best steakhouse. The steak is tender, and the vegetables are cooked to perfection. The only downside is that they don’t take reservations, and the owner is rude.
I recommend getting the horse steak dinner (for two). The last time we went to Al Timon, we got steak for six people (three different types of steak), and the horse was by far our favorite.
They will openly tell you they do not have vegan options, so if you’re looking for that, you will have to find it elsewhere.
Crepes House by PePe (Cannaregio)
Crepes House by PePe is a delightful eatery located near the Crea water taxis terminal on the Cannaregio Canal. Specializing in both sweet and savory crepes, this charming café offers a diverse menu that caters to a variety of tastes and preferences.
The café offers an extensive selection of both sweet and savory crepes, ensuring that there is something for everyone. From indulgent Nutella and banana crepes to hearty ham and cheese options, the menu at Crepes House by PePe provides a diverse range of choices.
It also offers some fantastic espresso for 1 euro, which is amongst the cheapest in the city.
Ristorante Casa Bonita
Right next door to Crepes House by PePe, Ristorante Casa Bonita is one of the best seafood restaurants in the city at reasonable prices. In addition to its classic offerings, Casa Bonita also showcases a selection of traditional Venetian dishes.
These regional specialties, such as sarde in saor (marinated sardines) and risotto al nero di seppia (squid ink risotto), provide an authentic taste of Venice’s unique culinary heritage. For no other reason, you should visit Cannaregio for Casa Bonita.Booking.com
A Guide to Local Accommodation
Cannaregio offers a range of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget. From charming bed and breakfasts to luxurious boutique hotels, you’re sure to find the perfect place to rest and relax after a day of exploring. Some of our top recommendations include:
Address: Fondamenta Cannaregio, 929, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Phone: +39 041 244 0320
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Located right near the famed Tre Archi bridge and the Jewish Ghetto, Carnival Palace offers updated amenities in a boutique setting that is clear of tourists and the bustling main street.
Radisson Collection Hotel
Address: Fondamenta Cannaregio, 1105, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Phone: +39 041 884 2200
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If you’re looking to splurge, this luxurious hotel, housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century palace, offers a perfect blend of modern comforts and historical elegance. It is one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve been in.
Address: Fondamenta Trapolin, 2283, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Phone: +39 041 275 9333
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This stylish boutique hotel combines contemporary design with historic charm. It is a three star hotel, so it doesn’t offer the same level of luxury of the Radisson, but it’s more than suitable for me. It’s also right near the grand canal and offers easy access to Ca D’oro and ferry terminals.
Getting to Cannaregio from Marco Polo Airport
There are several ways to reach Cannaregio, each with its own charm and advantages. Let’s take a look at the most popular options (as always, you should refer to Google Maps because Venice can be tricky to navigate):
The most direct way of getting to the Cannaregio district is by taking the Alilaguna from Maro Polo Airport to Tre Archi, Crea, or Guglie ferry terminals.
The Alilaguna Water Bus operates from 6:00 Am to midnight and a one-way fare is €15 per person. The downside is that it takes about 50 minutes to get from Cannaregio to the Venice airport, which you have to consider if you’re trying to make a flight.
By Water Taxi
If you’re looking for a faster and more private mode of transportation, consider taking a water taxi. While more expensive than the Alilaguna, water taxis offer a flexible and convenient way to reach Cannaregio directly from the airport or Santa Lucia train station.
You can book a water taxi in advance or find one at designated taxi stations throughout the city. They can cost anywhere from €50-200 depending on where you are going and the time of day you’re trying to get there.
By Bus from Piazzale Roma
The quickest of the public transportation options is taking the ACTV or ATVO bus line from Marco Polo to Piazzale Roma. A one-way trip takes about 15 minutes and costs €8 per person.
Getting from Piazzale Roma to Cannaregio is fairly straightforward. Just cross the Constitution Bridge, past the Santa Lucia train station, and continue on the main walkway along the Grand Canal until you come to the Bridge of Spires (Ponte delle Guglie).
Getting Around Cannaregio
Navigating the streets and canals of Cannaregio is an essential part of the Venetian experience. There are several ways to get around:
- Walking: The best way to explore the district’s winding streets and hidden corners is on foot, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of Cannaregio. By walking, you will get to find out about the real Venice and the world-famous Jewish Ghetto.
- Vaporetto: Venice’s public water bus system is an efficient and affordable way to travel between the main attractions and districts, including Cannaregio. The district has several ferry terminals, but the Tre Archi, Crea, and Guglie stops will drop you off in the heart of Cannaregio and its version of main street.
- Gondola: While most opt for a gondola ride near Piazza San Marco or the Rialto Bridge; for a truly iconic Venetian experience, consider a gondola ride along the picturesque canals of Cannaregio.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Cannaregio a Good Place to Stay in Venice?
Cannaregio is an excellent choice for accommodations in Venice, thanks to its authentic atmosphere, vibrant local culture, and convenient transportation links. As it is a little further away from the touristy areas, the prices of hotels are more affordable. So if you’re looking to save some money and still be in an amazing location, Cannaregio is a great choice.
How Far Is Cannaregio from the Venice Train Station?
Santa Lucia Train Station is built on the northern edge of Venice on the borders of Cannaregio and Santa Croce. As you exit the train station and see the stunning Grand Canal, simply turn left and you’ll enter Cannaregio.
Are There Any Notable Events in Cannaregio throughout the Year?
Cannaregio hosts several events, including the Festa della Madonna della Misericordia in November and the Jewish Ghetto’s Hanukkah celebrations in December.
What Is the Best Way to Explore the Canals of Cannaregio?
The most popular way to explore the canals is by gondola or vaporetto. Both options offer unique and enjoyable experiences, allowing you to admire the district’s picturesque scenery and historic buildings. The main Cannaregio vaporetto stops are S. Marcuola Casino, Guglie, Crea, Tre Archi, S. Alvise, Madonna dell’Orto, and F.te Nove.
Are There Any Shopping Opportunities in Cannaregio?
While the high-end stores are located near Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge, Cannaregio offers various shopping opportunities, including local open-air markets, artisan boutiques, and specialty food shops, where you can find unique souvenirs and delicious local products.
Is Cannaregio, Venice Worth Visiting?
Yes, Cannaregio, Venice, is definitely worth visiting. As the largest and most populous district in Venice, it offers a unique and authentic experience for travelers seeking to explore a less touristy side of the city. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant local culture, Cannaregio provides a captivating glimpse into the everyday life of Venice.
Cannaregio offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and authentic Venetian charm. From its storied past to its vibrant present, this enchanting district provides an unforgettable experience for every visitor. Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Cannaregio, and discover the true essence of Venice.
Have you been to the Jewish Ghetto? Do you recommend others visit Cannaregio? Let us know in the comments below.