The hidden gems in Venice are as mysterious as the crypts underneath the city itself. Here is a list of 5 hidden gems that you can discover for yourself in Venice.
1) Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour:
You might be wondering why the Doge’s Palace would be on a list of hidden gems, but it is this tour specifically that many tourists overlook.
The Secret Itineraries Tour brings you to areas that are off-limits during the regular visits, such as secret passageways, torture chambers, an interrogation room, and the infamous Bridge of Sighs.
These spaces offer you an interesting insight into the political and civil history of the Venice Republic, it's public organizations, and its institutional bodies deputed to government and justice.
The price of this tour is 28 Euros, while the tickets for children aged 6 to 14 will be 15 Euros. The tour has a specialized guide and has a fixed group size of a minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 8. The tour takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are specific timings for tours that will be conducted in Italian, English, and French. More information is available on their website.
2)T Fondaco dei Tedeschi's Rooftop Terrace
T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which was built in the 13th Century, is one of the most important fixtures in Italy, linking the East and the West in terms of both culture and commerce. Following its reconstruction in 1508, the Fondaco became the epicenter of Venice’s economy.
In fact, the volume of transactions, which includes imported furs, wools, and leather and also locally produced Murano glass, lace and velvet, was so immense that Venice was deemed Europe’s capital of commerce.
It was recently reopened with the DFS group as its tenant, thus congregating luxury goods from around the globe here in this iconic building. Not only has the Fondaco been refined into a modern marketplace, but it is also a space for Venetians and visitors alike to revel in the celebratory spirit of the city,
However, the plethora of luxury brands is not a unique feature. The rooftop terrace presents an amazing view of the Venetian canals that are unmatched. What makes this even better is that entry is free!
However, due to high demand, you have to make a booking before going. A visit cannot be guaranteed for walk-ins.
Each visitor is limited to 15 minutes on the terrace, and the maximum capacity of the terrace is 40 people. Please note that in the event of adverse weather conditions or other safety concerns, the management reserves the right to close the terrace without notice and regardless of reservations.
3) Island of Sant’andrea:
Sant’Andrea is known to the locals as the “Isola nell’ Isola” (which means the island within the island) because it is so far away from the other main tourist locations.
Its geographical conformation and unique granite rocks provide good protection against attacks, shielding from the wind off the sea, and acts as both a gateway and a refuge. This is proved by the ruined 17th-century fort that is on the island. The top of the island’s stuffy ruins makes for a scenic picnic spot with unbeatable views over the lagoon and city.
However, it is perfectly capable of hosting tourists, with its supermarkets, bars, restaurants, and many other accommodations. Due to the modern phenomenon of tourism, the rather secret and unspoiled part of the island has become its unique feature and many people recognize the importance of keeping the history behind the landscape of a location intact, as seen by the warm and friendly welcome they receive.
4) San Francesco del Deserto
San Francesco is a four-hectare island-monastery, located between Sant’Erasmo and Burano and it houses an exclusive monastery.
In 1220, St. Francis landed on the island from the Holy Land during the Fifth Crusade and founded a hermitage here. According to legend, he planted his stick into the ground and it grew into a pine tree, then the birds flocked in to sing to him.
After his death, the Venetian patrician gave the island to the Minorities to found a convent. The island was then abandoned during the Austrian rule of Venice, and a convent was reestablished by the friars in 1858.
Hence, San Francesco del Deserto has had a long history of being a place of meditation and spirituality, making it unique among all the islands of Venice. It is not equipped with services for visitors and any accommodation is reserved solely for those who go there for spiritual reasons. However, the friars will take you on a guided tour of the island every day, except Monday, at 1500 hours. Do note that the tour will be in Italian.
5) The Orsoni Furnace:
The Orsoni furnace has been active since 1888 and it is the only one still in the historic center and it has the merit of having revived Venice’s sublime Byzantine mosaic art production and the Renaissance technique of Murano pure enamels.
Orsoni is the only real-fire furnace active in Venice, and it is the oldest enamel, mosaic, and gold leaf furnace in the world. It is located in the heart of the sestiere of Cannaregio, a few steps away from the Jewish Ghetto.
The true treasure of the furnace is its “The Colour Library”, which is the place where smalti, which is traditional hand-cut mosaic glass, are kept. It displays more than 3,500 graduations of tones and offers endless color combinations. The collection includes thirty-two variations of the precious “mosaic gold” that Orsoni is known for around the world, and impressive palettes such as the one entirely dedicated to human skin, with over one hundred hues obtained by mixing glass and liquid gold.