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San Marco district of Venice: curiosities, gems and details to note

The San Marco district is the beating heart of Venice , and its square of the same name is the most visited place in the city. However, among well-known symbols such as the Campanile of San Marco and the Basilica, details, corners and curiosities that deserve attention often escape us. This part of the city embraces the most important panoramic points of Venice . Among its streets are the Fondaco dei Tedeschi , Scala Contarini del Bovolo and the Bell Tower of San Marco. It should be noted that the bell tower of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, despite being on the island of the same name, is part of the same district. Exploring San Marco means changing point of view several times, offering a unique experience of Venice from above.

Some curiosities to note when visiting the San Marco district of Venice

At the foot of the Rialto Bridge, in the San Marco district, stood an ancient apothecary known as “Alla testa d'oro”. Celebrated for “ Theriaca d'Andromaco ”, an opium-based remedy, this apothecary produced the best quality in Venice. Today, although almost disappeared, it remains a historical symbol of Venetian medicine and of the traditions linked to the treatments of the past.

Furthermore, few know that the San Marco district has the prestige of being the homeland of the first woman graduate in the world, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia . Born in 1646, she graduated from the University of Padua in 1678, paving the way for women in academia. Her memory is honored with a plaque on Palazzo Loredan , the current seat of the Municipality of Venice.

An interesting anecdote? In front of the Basilica of San Marco, three red flag bearers with the Lion of San Marco represent the kingdoms conquered by the Serenissima: Cyprus, Crete and the Peloponnese. These symbols, modified during the Napoleonic era to represent Freedom, Virtue and Equality, are witnesses of the glorious history of Venice.

The banishment stone and the Acritani pillars

Near the exit of the Doge's Palace, the " Balance Stone " is a trunk of a column from Syria which, since 1256, was used to read laws and proclamations to citizens. This piece of history is also linked to the collapse of the Campanile of San Marco in 1902, as it protected the column of the Basilica from irreparable damage.

Between the Basilica and the Doge's Palace, two Acritan pillars from the basilica of San Polieucto in Constantinople represent spoils from the Crusades. These ancient decorative artefacts, without a specific location, testify to the times in which the city was enriched with treasures from distant lands.

The pink columns of the Doge's Palace

Looking at Palazzo Ducale from Piazzetta San Marco, two pale pink columns stand out on the first floor. These columns, intentionally of different colours, represent the place where the death sentences were read, offering a distinctive and solemn element to this important Venetian building.

Palazzo Ducale hides a curious tradition: a column on the ground floor was linked to an ancient ritual. Before a final sentence, a condemned man could try to save himself by going around the column without falling into the water. An impossible attempt, as the protruding column made the task arduous. Today, many still try it for fun.

The San Marco district has hosted many films

The San Marco district of Venice, rich in history and charm, has often been the protagonist on the big screen. One of the most iconic places is the Marciana Library , among the largest collections in the world of Greek, Latin and Oriental manuscripts, made famous by the scene filmed in the film “ The Tourist ” with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. In particular, the police station where the protagonist throws a policeman into the lagoon was filmed here. Another notable film set is the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music , where a shooting of the film “ Casino Royale ”, a chapter of the 007 series, took place in the courtyard.

To visit Venice, discovering district by district , just one day is not enough and this is why it is always advisable to establish a starting budget and respect it by booking an apartment online in advance , so as to discover all the wonders of this unique city.


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