Unconventional Venice: walking tour from Sant’Elena
One of the key-features of Hotel Indigo Venice Sant’Elena is for sure its location. Quiet, green and less touristy, the island of Sant’Elena unveils to its visitors another side of Venice, that differs from the noisy and crowded one we are used to. You will appreciate its quiet, silent and in some ways more authentic atmosphere. Moreover, our large spaces are just perfect to unwind at the end of the day.
It therefore behoves us to suggest you an unconventional walking tour that starts from our hotel and that is just the best way to kick-off your stay in Venice. You will immediately discover how much our area (part of the larger Castello district) has to offer.
The Biennale Gardens
Not far to the north, you will find the well-known Biennale Gardens. Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte during the French domination of the Serenissima, the Biennale Gardens are a real open-air museum that hosts nearly 30 pavilions, each one from a different country. Here you will admire permanent cultural representations that tell the story of local art and architecture. This area gets extremely lively and vibrant during the Biennale exposition.
The Basilica of San Pietro di Castello
In a few minutes’ walk you can then reach the islet of San Pietro di Castello. Here you will find the co-cathedral, which is the church that until 1807 was the city’s Basilica, later replaced by San Marco. A wonderful structure, facing an irregular and surprisingly green campo (little square). Despite its importance, there are usually only a few visitors.
The Basilica was completed by Francesco Smeraldi, but the creator of the initial project was Andrea Palladio. The style of the façade is indeed clearly Palladian.
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi
Now go back the same way and walk along via Giuseppe Garibaldi. This street is pure Venetianness and it’s also the widest in Venice! Full of bars, restaurants and shops, this street still remains untouched by mass tourism.
A curiosity: the last house on the left, before the shore, is where the Caboto brothers were born. They are the first who have reached Canada on the coasts of the island of Newfoundland. A commemorative plaque marks the building.
The impressive size and the majestic entrance of the Arsenal of Venice are clear signs of the essential role it played, starting from 1100. For centuries it has been the heart of the Serenissima’s naval industry and it’s a cluster of workshops and shipyards. Note that the ships on which the Republic of Venice conquered the routes of Northern Europe and faced the Ottomans in the Aegean Sea were built here. An area where you can breathe an authentic atmosphere that conveys the grandeur of Venice.
A few steps away is the Ponte del Purgatorio (lit. Purgatory Bridge), located above one of the narrowest canals in Venice. The bridge is a clear homage to Dante, who described the Arsenale in the Divine Comedy.
Acqua Alta bookshop
If you wish to continue your walk, there’s another peculiar place you can visit: the famous Acqua Alta bookshop. No doubt one of the most photographed shops in Venice, as you might remember from the article dedicated to The 10 most instagrammable places in Venice.
Since you are in the area, what about passing by Piazza San Marco? From here you can then walk along Riva degli Schiavoni and, with a nice walk overlooking the lagoon, return to the hotel.
The Church of Sant’Elena
A few steps from the hotel we suggest you a last stop at the Church of Sant’Elena. To learn more about the legend around the origins of the island, have a look at the article Mysterious Venice: discovering myths and legends. The story of this church is pretty troubled: built around the 15th Century by the Benedictines, it was deconsecrated in the Napoleonic era, to be then reopened in the 1900s, recovering its original portal. It may look a bit bare (at the time of the desecration it was deprived of all its artworks), but it still preserves its elegance.
To conclude: a drink in our garden
After the walking tour, come into our garden to relax and recharge the batteries. There are very few hotels in Venice that can boast such a green space. Treat yourself to a drink and an excellent dinner at our Savor Bar & Restaurant to conclude your day.