After a slow inspection of the interior of Santa Maria della Salute, it was time to head back to my hotel near Ferrovia. Rather than walking back along Giudecca Canal, my return path was to take me along the alleyways of Dorsodouro to the bridge over the Grand Canal, the Ponte dell’ Accademia. As the map of the route above shows, I added a side track over the Grand Canal to Campo S. Stephano for a very necessary late lunch in this fascinating Campo.

The photo above shows the start of my return walk from Santa Maria della salute which took me over a wooden bridge across the Rio de Salute Canal. The curved end of the building on the left hand end of the photo is the back of Ex- Chiesa di San Gregorio.

Chiesa San Gregorio is a former church built in the 9th century which then became a Benedictine Abbey from the 13th century. It was rebuilt in the 15th century but was closed in the 18th century. Churches were not treated positively by the Napoleonic administration in the early 19th century and San Gregorio was deconsecrated and converted to other uses. It sits empty today. Like most church buildings in Venice, San Gregorio has a campo in front of it containing the essential well that for many centuries provided the locals with water.

From ex-San Gregorio my path took me along the alleyway that ran behind the Peggy Guggenheim Art Museum that has a significant frontage on the Grand Canal. The building started life as an 18th century palace (Palazzo dei Leoni) and was the home of the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim for 30 years. She began exhibiting her artworks from 1951. After her death, the collection was administered by the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation. This museum is one of the most visited attractions in Venice.

As can be seen from the map at the start of this blog, the walk through the Dorsodouro Sestiere provides little access to the Grand Canal until you reach the Gallerie dell’Academia that sits beside the Grand Canal facing the bridge of the same name. The Galleria is today a famous art gallery that houses a collection of 19th century art; the building was once the Scuola della Carita and in the 19th century housed the Academy of Art in Venice. It was one of the first institutions that ran courses on Art Restoration in the late 18th century.

Getting across the Grand Canal always poses a problem for Venetian locals because there are only four bridges across this central ‘highway’ of the city. The Ponte dell’ Accademia was originally designed as a steel structure in 1854 but was eventually demolished and replaced by a wooden bridge in 1933. Like all such significant pedestrian traffic bridges around the world, visiting and local lovers have attempted to attach locks to this bridge to announce their recently discovered never-ending love. When their love doesn’t survive the first few months, they carelessly don’t return to cut the lock off in some ‘end-of-love’ ceremony! This is left to the Venetian council who have been reasonably successful at keeping ‘love-locks’ from burdening this beautiful bridge. Not many bridges have views like the one below; this view also illustrates the distance I walked from Santa Maria della Salute…through the alleyways behind the buildings on the edge of the canal.

My plan was to cross the Accademia bridge and walk the short distance to the Campo Santo Stefano and treat myself to a late lunch. The other side of the bridge is a very impressive area. To the right is the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti and to the left is another deconsecrated church, San Vidal. This church was erected a little less than 1000 years ago but today is an event and concert hall.

The fog had returned to make my photos of Campo San Stefano look a little mysterious in the late morning light. Every square of this size apparently has to have a memorial statue in the middle of it and this campo was no exception. The statue to the left below is of writer and patriot, Niccolo Tommaseo and his statue was erected in 1882. He was a serious scholar symbolised by the rolls of paper clutched to his chest and the books piled up behind his legs. The sculptor (Francesco Barzaghi) decided the statue needed a bit more support and he disguised this support by placing a pile of marble books at the back of the legs. Unfortunately, the locals noted the books and discourteously dubbed the statue, ‘Caga Libri’, “Bookshitter”!

The Chiesa di Santo Stefano (St Stephen) covers most of the northern end of the associated campo. It was first built in the 13th century but was rebuilt the following century and was significantly altered in the 15th century. It has art works by Antonio Canova and three works of art by Tintoretto

After a relaxing time over coffee and cake watching the passing throng in Campo San Stefano, it was time to head back to the Academia Bridge and make my way back to the Ferrovia area. I didn’t have to make my way as far across Dorsodouro as the route I took earlier in the day along the Giudecca canal. As the map below shows, my route had me walking reasonably parallel with the Grand Canal for a time as it curved around heading towards the Rialto Bridge. My next landmark was the San Barnaba church (St. Barnabas)

In the photo to the right can be seen the bell tower (Campanile) of San Barnaba in the distance as I made my through this area of Dorsodouro where there are plenty of canals and lots of locals and visitors wandering along. Chiesa di San Barnaba is another example of a church that has been deconsecrated and repurposed and used for exhibitions. The original church in this area was built in the 9th century and destroyed by fire two centuries later before being rebuilt in 1350. San Barnaba’s claim to more modern fame is that it was used as a backdrop in the 1989 film, ‘Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade’

Not that far from San Barbara is a large square called Campo S. Margherita which we had visited in a walk around the area the previous Saturday. It was the morning of the market and we enjoyed feeling like a local in this large campo. At the end of the market square there was large church dedicated to Saint Pantaleon. One of its claims to fame is the presence of an immense ceiling painting presenting the martyrdom of the Church’s saint. Unfortunately, the painter, Gian Antonio Fumiani fell to his death in the church from his scaffolding.

Below is a section of the ceiling painting that the artist died in trying to finish!

By the time I reached the Rio del Tolentini in the Sestieri of Santa Croce, I wasn’t too far from my starting point earlier in the day. The Church of San Nicolo da Tolentino stands here with a Corinthian portico that is the only one in Venice. It has its own spacious campo and there a couple of cafes here where the locals enjoy the sun. From the campo it is a short walk to the edge of the Grand Canal and so not far from my hotel

I was very pleased with my day’s walk which got me up close and personal with some very interesting parts of Venice on my way to and from Santa Maria della Salute.

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