Santa Croce is one of the main sestiere, or districts, in Venice, and there is no shortage of things to do here. Tourists can choose to spend their days lounging in beautiful gardens, exploring museums, discovering the cuisine or gliding through the canals all without straying from this exciting neighborhood. Below is a list of the top activities in Santa Croce.
San Giacomo dall’Orio
San Giacomo dall’Orio was founded before the 10th century, so it has been around for a while. No one knows exactly who San Giacomo dell’Orio is is, which adds a touch of intrigue when visiting the building. Inside, some of the almost-bare walls contrast heavily with a green marble column and the Renaissance-style marble that decorates the altar. The ceiling is a work of art, and there is only one other like it in Venice. The paintings too are stunning examples of Venetian art, making this church an excellent stop whilst in the Santa Croce district.
Address: Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio, Venice, Italy +39 041 275 0462
Natural History Museum
When visiting Venice the Natural History Museum may not first jump to mind, but it is truly one of the highlights of this part of the city. The building in which it is located is elegant and sophisticated, and the museum does not take up too many rooms, keeping the visit doable and not at all overbearing. It is a great stop for kids, who are sure to enjoy learning about the things that the museum exhibits; be warned however that all explanations are in Italian.
Address: Santa Croce 1730, Venice, Italy +39 041 275 0206
Located behind San Stae, this Palazzo looks onto a narrow canal. It belonged to the wealthy Mocenigo family, whose last descendant left this building to the city of Venice. It can be accessed from the canal or from the street, and inside visitors will be guided up the grand staircase where there is a large reception hall, decorated with paintings of the Mocenigo family. There is a museum that takes up several rooms and explores the dresses that people wore in the past, so each room has different costumes as well as some pieces of furniture and remarkable stucco decorations or frescoes.
Address: Santa Croce 1992, Venice, Italy +39 041 721798
San Stae is a church dedicated to San Eustachio, and it faces the Grand Canal. It was built by the Mocenigos in the 1670s in order for it to serve as the family crypt, and it was decorated in the late baroque Italian style. The façade has beautiful Corinthian details and some imposing statues, whilst the interior is pretty simple compared to most churches that were built around that time. The ceiling above the choir area is one of the most beautiful features in the church, with a beautiful painting that brings color and brightness to the building.
Address: San Stae, Venice, Italy
Venetian cuisine is renowned throughout the country for its fabulous seafood recipes and innovative pasta dishes, so those who are in the Santa Croce area have no excuse to try out some of the area’s best restaurants. Smoked chicken with radish and sweet corn, succulent pizzas, chocolate cakes, cheese and mayo wraps and fine wines are just some of the things this neighborhood has to offer. For dinner visitors can go to some of the typical bacari bars and taste the renowned Venetian bar snacks, ciccheti.
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Parco Pubblico Papadopoli
Venice has a lot of things to offer: cultural events, a delicious gastronomic heritage, magnificent buildings, antiques, gondolas…but what it lacks is big parks or green spaces, due to the obvious layout of the city. The Papadopoli gardens are one of the best places to go and get a daily dose of fresh air, whilst relaxing and taking in the views. There are beautiful statues to be admired and the atmosphere is very calming, making this park a great first or last stop in Venice due to its proximity to Piazzale Roma.
Address: Giardino Papadopoli, Venice, Italy
Hop on a gondola
There is no better way of exploring Venice and its architecture than by water. From the low viewpoint that visitors have on a gondola, the buildings acquire an even more majestic air, and the whole feel of the city changes. It is pleasantly soothing and relaxing to glide by the grand palazzos and admire their exterior whilst listening to some of the explanations that most gondoliers will give. Tourists should however beware of the many scams that surround gondola-rides and ask around before committing to hiring one.
Five minutes from the edge of the Santa Croce district stands this Franciscan church, finished in 1492 and built to replace one that was formerly on the same site. It has many fascinating features, such as 12 columns that are representative of the apostles, stunning choir stalls, beautiful statues and some curious graves. However the real highlight of this Italian-brick church is the Assumption of the Virgin (15-16-1518), which is one of Titian’s most famous works of art. In it the colorist depicted Mary reaching towards the heavens and escaping Earth, and it is a radiant and touching painting. The master himself was buried in this church after he died of the plague in 1576, at the age of 94.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Next to the Basilica dei Frari, this building was dedicated to the patron saint of the plague-ridden, and since the plague had such devastating effects in this part of Italy, many artists wanted to be in charge of the decoration of this magnificent construction. Tintoretto ended up getting the commission, although some say he cheated by donating a panel of the saint and thus winning over the people in charge. He ended up painting several scenes from the New and Old Testaments depicting Mary and Christ’s life. The frescoes date from the late 16th century and are well conserved.
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