San Polo, Venice, Veneto, Italy

San Polo is one of the six sestieri of Venice, the district takes its name from Campo San Polo, the largest in Venice after Piazza San Marco, and from the church of the same name. The western part of the neighbourhood is known for its remarkable churches. While the east side of the district houses striking palazzos. The Basilica dei Frari houses masterpieces by Titian and other Renaissance artists. Some of the best things to do in San Polo include visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, and the famous Rialto Bridge.

San Polo is a vibrant district in Venice, packed with stores, markets and top attractions. It is well-known for its famous fruit and vegetable markets in the mornings and lively bar scene in the evenings.The district centered around the shop-lined Rialto Bridge, and the Rialto Market, where stalls sell fish, fruit and vegetables. Nearby, in the canalside Erbaria area, locals meet for aperitifs and “cicchetti,” or small plates, before heading to dinner at trendy eateries. The district richest in artisan shops and small typical Venetian taverns, the bàcari.

It is one of the oldest parts of the city, having been settled before the ninth century, when it and San Marco formed part of the Realtine Islands. San Polo was founded in the surroundings of the ancient Rialto Bridge. The city’s first inhabitants believed it to be a good location to settle in since the land was higher and never flooded.

The San Polo district borders to the north and west with that of Santa Croce, having as its demarcation line the Rio di San Stae, the Rio Marin, and the second part of the Rio della Frescada, up to the whole parish of San Pantalon. The San Polo district is also bordered to the south by Dorsoduro, while the remaining perimeter is surrounded by the Grand Canal. The most historically important area is Rialto, once one with the current San Marco district to which it is connected via the Rialto Bridge.

The area covered by the current San Polo and Santa Croce districts at the beginning of the history of Venice constituted a single large area called Luprio. In this area the Serenissima had its salt marshes. The current sestiere takes its name from its most important church, the church of San Paolo Apostolo, San Polo for the Venetians.

The district has been the site of Venice’s main market since 1097, and connected to the eastern bank of the Grande Canal by the Rialto bridge since the thirteenth century. The western part of the quarter is now known for its churches, while the eastern part, sometimes just called the Rialto, is known for its palaces and smaller houses.

Main Attractions
Attractions in San Polo include the Rialto Bridge, the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto (according to legend the oldest in the city), the Campo San Polo with the Church of San Polo, the House of Goldoni, the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the Church of San Rocco and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

Religious architecture

Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
The basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the largest church in Venice, a fine example of Venetian Gothic architecture. The plan is a Latin cross, and the style is Venetian Gothic in terracotta and Istrian stone. It has three naves with pointed arches resting on six columns on each side. It measures 102 meters in length, 48 meters in the transept and is 28 meters high; it has 17 monumental altars and inside there are many works of art, including two paintings by Titian. It also houses tombs and funeral monuments of numerous personalities linked to Venice, including Claudio Monteverdi, Titian himself, Antonio Canova, as well as numerous doges.

It was built by the minority monks of the Franciscan order, called the Friars, helped by a donation from the Doge Jacopo Tiepolo. The first version of the church was completed in 1338 and was much smaller than the current one. Other donations from important Venetian families helped the expansion and decoration of the church. However, this church was demolished in the early 15th century to build a new church. The imposing façade is in late Gothic style and is divided into three parts by pillars surmounted in the Venetian-Byzantine style. The interior is equally magnificent, and you can admire the grandiose altarpiece of the Assumption and the Madonna di Ca ‘Pesaro painted by Titian, as well as a triptych by Giovanni Bellini.

San Giacomo di Rialto
The church of San Giacomo di Rialto is a religious building in the city of Venice. This church is perhaps the oldest church in Venice built around 421. It was built thanks to the faith and talent of a Cretan carpenter, around the 5th century, even when the first people settled on this group of islands. It is best known for its 15th-century clock above the church entrance. It is also recognized for the red pillars and gorgeous gold accents around the church itself. The church is very small, but very beautiful. The exterior with the bell gable, the large clock (useful for the market, which took place opposite) and the Gothic portico, one of the last examples of its kind left in the city. The interior follows the traditional cross pattern with a central dome, later imitated in the Renaissance.

Church of San Rocco
The San Rocco church is a religious building, built by Bartolomeo Bon between 1489 and 1508 to house the remains of its titular saint, the beautiful Church of San Rocco received a Baroque reconstruction between 1765 and 1771, which included a large portal surrounded by the statues of Giovanni Marchiori. Bon’s pink window has been moved to the side of the church, near the architect’s original side door. On the sides of the main altar there are four enormous paintings by Tintoretto depicting the life of San Rocco.

The four niches of the façade house as many statues of Venetian saints and blessed: in the lower register Gerardo Sagredo and Pietro Orseolo by Giovanni Marchiori, in the upper register Lorenzo Giustiniani and Gregorio Barbarigo by Giovanni Maria Morlaiter. Between the two statues of the upper register is the imposing relief with San Rocco heals the plague victims always by Morlaiter. Crowning the attic is the statue of San Rocco flanked by other statues of Venetian saints, Pietro Acotanto and Jacopo Salomonio. On the bezel of the doorSan Rocco carried up to heaven by angels, a modern bronze copy of the original by Marchiori walled up in the right apsidal chapel.

Church of San Polo
The church of San Paolo apostolo vulgo San Polo is a religious building in the city of Venice. According to ancient chronicles, the church was probably built in 837, at the behest of Doge Pietro Tradonico and his son Giovanni co-regent. Starting from 1804 until the rededication of 1839, the church underwent the heavy interventions designed by David Rossi: on that occasion the columns of the central nave were replaced, some openings closed to open others and to give them a neoclassical layout. The restorations of the recent 1930 have partly restored the fifteenth-century elements, in particular the ship hull ceiling. Incorporated by other modest buildings, part of the apse facing the homonymous field and the sides remain visible.

Along the right side there is the large late Gothic portal by the workshop of Bartolomeo Bon adorned with two angels holding cartouche on the entablature and culminating in the floron holding a half figure of St. Paul beyond the eaves line. Later in the narrowest part of salizada the classical facade of the Oratory of the Cross, refined structure marked by Corinthian columns with openings type serliana. The original rose window on the ancient facade is barely visible from the adjacent Corte del Cafetier. Over time some marble works were walled up here and there on the outside: the most recent is the neoclassical aedicule with the statue of St. Paul in the center of the main apse; on the left, on the minor apsidal chapel, the fifteenth-century aedicule of the Scuola del Santissimo Sacramento is surmounted by a baroque drapery; on the walls of the old rectory that incorporate the other apse chapel are two primitive bas-reliefs, the upper one with the Baptism of Christ, the lower one with the Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints Demetrius and Peter.

Church of Sant’Aponal
The church of Sant’Aponal is a deconsecrated Roman Catholic church in the sestiere of San Polo in Venice, Italy. The church was founded in the 11th century, by refugees from Ravenna and dedicated to St Apollinare. Restored over the centuries, it underwent major reconstruction in the 15th century. The facade retains the original Gothic features, such as the bell tower. The interior is the result of an eighteenth-century renovation. A small side entrance made it accessible from the Rialto ruga. The parish functions were interrupted in the mid-twentieth century. The façade was adorned with a marble decoration in high relief returned to its original seat in the church of Sant’Elena after its reactivation. It was re-closed in 1984, and is now mainly an archive. The facade retains bits of gothic architecture decoration.

Palaces and civil buildings

Barbarigo Palace of the Terrace
Palazzo Barbarigo the Terrace is a palace in Venice, was built around the years 1568 – 1569. The building has an unprecedented “L” -shaped map, due to the presence on the first floor of a large terrace overlooking the Grand Canal and the Rio di San Polo: this element is the peculiarity that distinguishes the building. A façade not very developed in width overlooks the Grand Canal, where it borders Palazzo Pisani Moretta: it, unadorned, has two single – lancet windows with balustrades for each of the two noble floors. The main façade, which overlooks the river, is symmetrical and Renaissance-like, with two orders of four-light windows with balconies on the main floors and, on the ground floor, a large round portal with a mask in key, the same as the one overlooking the canal, below. The terrace. On the sides of the terrace there are two other smaller portals. On the left there is a lower body, of only two floors, dominated by the terrace which is bordered by a white balustrade.

Over the years, the palace became the seat of an important private art gallery. In 1845 it consisted of 102 canvases made by artists such as Giorgione, Giovanni Bellini, Palma il Vecchio, Rubens, Guido Reni and Tiziano, but was sold in 1850 by Nicolò Giustinian.Despite the nineteenth-century dissipation of the Barbarigo art gallery, which led to the dispersion of a large part of the artistic heritage, stuccos and decorations from different eras are preserved inside the palace, including works by Vincenzo Guarana, son of the more famous Jacopo. The most valuable paintings are The coronation of Doge Marco Barbarigo and Doge Agostino Barbarigo receives the crown of Cyprus from Caterina CornaroIn particular, the first floor preserves original decorations and a collection of paintings with portraits of doges enclosed with wooden frames.

Carlo Goldoni’s House
The house of Carlo Goldoni, the birthplace of the famous playwright Carlo Goldoni. From 1953 it housed the “Casa Goldoni” Institute of Theater Studies, which has been refurbished and restored as museum in recent years. Various educational events take place here and a puppet theater of Ca ‘Grimani ai Servi, which was previously part of the Ca’ Rezzonico collection. Important the archive and library (over 30,000 works), including theatrical texts, researches and original manuscripts.

The palace is organized on a courtyard with a well decorated with lion heads and a covered staircase from the 15th century. The museum itself is located on the first floor, spread over three rooms. The life and work of Carlo Goldoni, and the context of the 18th century Venetian theater and society, are represented through relics, furnishings, paintings, illustrations of Goldonian comedies and explanatory panels. A hall dedicated to puppets stands out in the setting, in which the theater of Palazzo Grimani ai Servi is reconstructed, including about thirty original 18th century puppets.

Cultural space

Great School of San Rocco
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is an ancient building in Venice, Inside is a masterpiece by Tintoretto, this house is an exquisite example of Mannerist art at its best. In order to allow a comfortable admiration of the detailed ceiling, mirrors are offered to visitors. Cycles of allegories, life and passion of Christ, scenes from the Old and New Testament are represented. In 1564 Tintoretto was commissioned to decorate the School. The marvelous cycle of canvases, created in the three rooms between 1564 and 1588, represents for Venice what the Sistine Chapel is for Rome.

On the second floor of the building, in the premises built by Giorgio Fossati in 1773, there is the Treasury of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The rooms of the Treasury are set up with large eighteenth-century cabinets that house objects intended for religious worship. Intended for the custody of silver and sacred relics, the large room was opened to the public in 1899 and took the name of Sala del Tesoro. The hall will be closed during the First World War to reopen only since 2009. Among the objects kept are of particular value the Altarolo with the Madonna and Child, and a candlestick made from a coral branch.

Great School of St. John the Evangelist
The Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista is a school in Venice, it is a monumental complex with notable examples of Venetian Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture from Codussi, Lombardo, Massari, Morlaiter, Palma Giovanni, Tintoretto and Longi. For over seven centuries the School has housed the homonymous brotherhood of laity, as well as a museum open to the public. Today, conferences and concerts are held here and the School is open to the public when it is not being used for events. To see the monumental staircase by Codussi, the splendid Salone di San Giovanni, the Oratory of the Cross with precious reliquaries.

The Scuola Grande complex is accessible through the portal of the septum, the septum is the architectural element that gives artistic importance to the exterior of the complex, impressing, with its Renaissance sculptural decorations. To the right of the septum is the building, which is structured first on two floors in the building where the atrium is located, and then later expands into the large three-storey building, where the Chapter Hall takes place. Inside, the place of greatest interest is the Sala Capitolare, Massari’s masterpiece: a 11 meter high room, illuminated at the top by twelve large oval windows, decorated with polychrome marble surfaces, culminating in the altar of San Giovanni Evangelista. The oratory inside the Scuola Grande is the place where the relic of the Holy Cross has been kept since the fourteenth century, the object of the community’s cult over the centuries, as well as the inspiration for Bellini’s large canvases.

State Archives of Venice
State Archives of Venice is a research and conservation institute of MiBACT, One of the largest archives in the world, in an ancient Franciscan monastery. Manuscripts, texts and documents relating to the history of the Venetian Serenissima. The documentary heritage preserved in the Venetian archive is immense, going from the origins of the city to the modern era. According to data from the official website, the State Archives contain 70 km of shelves full of documents that affect the entire history of the Republic of Venice and the entire world with which it had political, economic and cultural relations.

The complex consists of several buildings arranged around two cloisters adjacent to each other and adjacent to the Basilica dei Frari. The entrance to the Archive is in Campo dei Frari, on the right side of the facade of the Basilica. However, it is on the north side of the complex that an enormous structure shows itself with three high floors and a neoclassical setting, with the inscription ARCHIVIO DI STATO depicted in large letters. This facade, developed in length, is on three levels and tripartite, of great importance and sobriety: the two “noble floors” of the building are characterized by long rows of rectangular single- lancet windows, which in the central part are separated by pilasters ending in the massive architrave surmounted by a large pediment containing the effigy. On the ground floor seven large round-arched portals (of which the first from the left has been walled up) provide access to the building.

Public space

Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges cross the Grand Canal in the city of Venice. The first passage on the Grand Canal consisted of a pontoon bridge with the growing importance of the Rialto market, on the eastern bank of the canal, increased traffic on the floating bridge. Around 1250, it was replaced by a structural wooden bridge. In 1503 the construction of a stone bridge was proposed for the first time. The present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, began to be constructed in 1588 and was completed in 1591. It is similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded. Two ramps lead up to a central portico. On either side of the portico, the covered ramps carry rows of shops.

The bridge has become one of the most recognizable icons of Venice and has a history spanning over 800 years. The current Rialto Bridge was built in Istrian stone by Antonio da Ponte and cost 250,000 gold ducats, becoming the first stone construction on the Grand Canal. Decorated with stone reliefs depicting San Marco and San Teodoro on the north side and the Annunciation on the other, the bridge crosses the Grand Canal at its narrowest point, connecting the outskirts of San Polo and San Marco. Interestingly, it was da Ponte’s grandson, Antonio Contino, who designed another famous bridge, the Ponte dei Sospiri.

Hunchback of Rialto
The Hunchback of Rialto is a sculptural complex consisting of a statue in Istrian stone flanked by a red granite column located in front of the church of San Giacomo di Rialto in Venice. Sculpted by Pietro da Salò in 1541, the statue represents a crouching man who supports a small flight of stairs. It was used as a podium for official proclamations. It is said that he communicates with Pasquino, one of the talking statues of Rome. The complex is now enclosed by an octagonal metal balustrade. Some scholars say that the characters of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Lancelot Gobbo and father Old Gobbo would be inspired by this traditional symbol Rialto.


Handicraft shop
The San Polo district is full of charming little shops that still promote Venetian handicraft. Alberto Sarria and his shop of authentic handmade masks, however, stands out amongst other shops in the area. Since 1980, owner Alberto Sarria has been producing traditional Venetian masks and experimenting with different techniques in order to achieve a personal, distinct style. Even though there are a wide range of masks and other traditional decorations available in the shop, the masks for the Venetian carnival are the most famous.


Rialto Market
For seven centuries the main market of Venice has whetted the appetite, and the fruit and vegetable shops are adjacent to the fish. To see it at its best, come in the morning with the buyers and you will be rewarded with pyramids of colorful seasonal products such as castraure di Sant’Erasmo (artichokes), radicchio trevisano (bitter red radicchio) and dense and juicy white asparagus. The area is most alive during the day, when locals do their weekly shopping and enjoy a glass of wine and delicious snacks in the traditional trattoria and osteria in the area.

Fish market, next to the famous Rialto market. Opened in 1907. The Rialto area is particularly well-known amongst locals for its famous market, open every day, from the San Polo area to the famous Rialto Bridge. The market is frequented mostly by Venetian locals with a continuous passage of boats and carriages full of fish specialties from the Adriatic sea.

Just off the Rialto Market, the Rialto daytime bar, All’Arco, is a truly authentic place to enjoy a glass of wine or spritz during the day. Aside from a tiny two-person table on the street in front of the bar, All’Arco offers standing space only. White and red wine are the drinks of choice with an excellent selection of Italian wines, mostly front small vineyards and individual producers in the north-east of the country. All’Arco is a great place to experience local culture and mingle with Venetians.

Dai Do Cancari
Professional wine tasting in the famous “Dai Do Cancari”: cozy wine bar, run by Venetians and close to the Accademia bridge, in the heart of the historical Venice. The owners have more than 20 years of experience in the wine sector and perfectly understand the peculiarities of the wines. A unique experience where you will taste different Italian wines, red and white matched with some some yummy “cicchetto” prepared with seasonal ingredients.