Venice boasts one of the most confusing address systems in all of Italy, and in a country where each city has its own unique way of denoting addresses, that’s saying a lot!
Venice is divided into several districts or sestieri: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Marco, San Polo, and Santa Croce. Within each district addresses are numbered consecutively, so a typical address might read “Dorsoduro 3652,” meaning that it is building number 3652 in the district of Dorsoduro.
Sometimes streets have a name, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they have more than one.
Sometimes they are written in Venetian dialect, sometimes in Italian.
The Corte del Remer in Cannaregio (remer is the Venetian dialect for an oarmaker–remero in standard Italian)
Sometimes even and odd numbers are located on the same side of the street, and sometimes they are on opposite sides. And some are just, well, custom-made for Venice…
By all means, consult a map, but prepare to get lost anyway, and enjoy!
We learned this the hard way first time in Venice. Took literally half a day to find the apartment we’d rented. Even now, we find it can be challenging finding where you want to go. Thank heavens for GPS maps!
I know! It’s amazing how we were all so lost before Google! 🙂 –Laura
Corte del Remer–one of my favorite restaurants is there. We always visit the oar-makers studios when we are in town. We have now found all four of them. We also visited the private collection of Darzana in Canneregio. Loved seeing the thousands of items collected by lovers of Venetian traditional boats. Our guide spoke in Italian and I had to translate for my husband.
Hi Kris, awesome! You have really gone deep into the history of Venetian boats. So glad this is something you appreciate and have loved to explore! Happy travels, Laura
I visited Venice for the first time as a tourist in the early 90’s. I was traveling alone and from everything I’d read, I fully expected to be be lost half the time. But for some odd reason, I had no trouble negotiating the city on foot and even ended up helping a couple of people who were worn out looking for their hotel. I somehow felt at home, as if I knew the city already by heart. About three years later, on a whim and on the suggestion of a dear friend, I agreed to have a “past life regression” with a reputable hypnotist therapist since I was going through a quite difficult personal situation. I’m a skeptic by nature, so I was very surprised that the recording made during my hypnosis revealed that I had indeed been a resident of Venice in the 16th century. In fact, I recalled and verbalized specific details about my employment as a musician at San Marco under Andrea Gabrieli. Make of it what you will, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! Venice still holds an irresistible attraction for me although unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to return.
Hi Wayne, holy cow! That is an amazing story! I too have had the experience of going to a new place (in this case, a tiny medieval town in France) and somehow knowing my way around to the point that it was ridiculous and eerie. Who knows? Hope you get back to Venice someday. All the best! –Laura
My wife and I have Visited Venice nearly 50 times now (average two weeks each stay) but still we get lost – but that us the fun of it. There is so much to discover that we still find new things each time we stay.
Hi John, yes, you are absolutely right! We now have a generation of people who have never experienced Venice without Google Maps. What a shame! 🙂 Happy travels, Laura
I love getting lost in Venice. When I help people plan their trips to Italy, I have a mind them that Venice is living Museum and the best way to see it is to avoid the people who try to get you to take a tour and just lose yourself in the beauty. And of course I always tell them to sit down and have a coffee at the Florian café
I hope it has not been destroyed in the latest flood
Hi Janet, totally agree! Getting lost is half the fun. Happy travels, Laura
We took our four boys (ages 7-13) to Venice at the end of a very long road trip around Italy in 1999. We had been traveling for three weeks and only had one day left to make it back to Germany before the end of the school holidays. It was raining so hard we almost decided against the bus ride from our hotel outside of Venice into the city. But it had long been a goal for us, so we just went for it. No GPS, no map that I remember (and certainly no umbrellas!) — we just knew that once we had been to Piazza San Marco and visited the Basilica, we wanted to escape into the side streets and out of the crowds.. We let the boys take turns choosing which way to proceed, and every time it started to pour, we just dove into a church. We were enchanted when we discovered that you could drop a coin into a little box in a side chapel and an extraordinary work of art would appear, seemingly out of nowhere! The boys loved picking which chapel they wanted to light a candle in. Eventually — cold, hungry and completely drenched — we stumbled upon a lovely restaurant, down a small stairway, somewhere I’m sure I could never find again, where we were warmly welcomed by a waitstaff that knew exactly how to rescue the meal for a small American boy who had his heart set on an impossible ham sandwich. Hours later, our clothes dry, our appetites sated, and our moods completely bouyed, we climbed back up that little stairway into the most dazzling sunshine. What a miraculous place Venice is!
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story!
The very first time I visited Venice I arrived by train which required a water taxi ride down the Grand Canal to get to my hotel. As the taxi made the turn into the canal, my breath was taken away and I had the oddest sense of deja vue. Wandering the streets during my 1 week stay I was visited by that same sense over and over again. I have since had the opportunity to return to Venice over a dozen times. Each time I am overwhelmed with the feeling that I have lived here in the past. It is truly the most magical city in the world!
Thanks, Marsha, for sharing your story. I love it! –Laura
I arrived in a brown fog, so I couldnt see any signs anyway, a local policeman guided me through the streets…
We decided to go exploring and list our way, of course, but found the most wonderful fish market. And going around and around found La Fenice and so many other lovely places.
One day while wandering in Venice my husband and I came upon a church that had an advertisement for a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons that evening. We bought tickets, found the church again that evening and had a most amazing time listening to Vivaldi in the city where he composed. Another small church, somewhere 🙂 had a collection of antique musical instruments. Venice is so special!