Churches, campi, and the Rialto Markets

Maggie and friend in Campo San Polo

Venice neighborhoods map

San Polo is the smallest of Venice's six sestieri, but you're unlikely to miss it:

When you cross the Rialto Bridge from San Marco to visit the Rialto Markets, you'll arrive in San Polo as you step off the bridge.

The district is among Venice's oldest (it was settled around 800 AD). Its narrow streets are busy throughout the day as locals and tourists from San Polo, Dorsoduro, and Santa Croce follow ancient walking routes to the Ponte di Rialto.

A few things to see in San Polo:

  • San Polo is home to ten churches--among them, the Frari, a.k.a. the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, which faces a lively square with cafés and restaurants.

    If you prefer cozy to majestic, visit San Giacometto, or San Giacomo di Rialto, which is said to be the oldest church in the city. (It's right next to the food markets.)
  • Take time to explore the back streets of San Polo, where you'll find hidden squares like the Campiello Albrizzi with its Austrian artillery shell from the revolution of 1848-1849. (Look for a tiny calle at the western end of the Campiello, which may be the narrowest street in Venice).
  • Sit on a park bench or buy a gelato in the Campo San Polo, where you're likely to see dogs running in the morning or children playing in the afternoon.
  • Don't miss the Rialto food markets (open Tuesday through Saturday mornings), the Rialto Bridge, and the fondamente or pavements along the Grand Canal to the left and right of the bridge steps.