San Marco is the most famous zone of Venice because of the importance of the history and architecture of Piazza San Marco, an area central to the history of Venice and the legacy of the Venetian Republic. When considering where to stay in Venice San Marco is a central area that can be crowded, yet nevertheless convenient and beautiful.
In the sestiere of San Marco in Venice you will find the breathtaking St. Mark’s Basilica majestically defining Piazza San Marco, the largest square in Venice, and the important monuments surrounding the piazza. Next to the basilica is Palazzo Ducale (or “Doge’s Palace), which was the center of the political power of the ancient Republic of Venice. The palace is attached to the ancient jail by the famous Ponte dei Sospiri (“Bridge of Sighs”), where prisoners had their last view of the lagoon before entering the dark prisons. The jail at the Doge’s Palace is also famous because this is where Casanova, the legendary lover of the 19th century, escaped from.
If you choose to stay in the San Marco area during your holiday in Venice, it is important to know that it is generally very crowded by tourists, but nevertheless has some beautiful hidden gems and is central to the most popular sites. Here are some recommendations for more local places to eat and visit during your stay in San Marco.
- Avoid the intensity of the crowds in Piazza San Marco and the small streets leading to it by visiting the Piazza and its monuments before 10:00 am or after 4:00 pm.
- If you need wifi in the area, you can find the Prontopia free wifi hotspot in St. Mark’s square at the Souvenir Kiosk Turchetto, the 4th kiosk from the right if you are going toward the Giardinetti vaporetto stop from Piazza San Marco.
- Drink a coffee at Caffe’ Florian: but be aware that if you enjoy a coffee while standing at the bar, it will cost you 1,10 euros, meanwhile if you sit outside for table service if can cost you up to 20 euros due to the location and live music. Our tip is to have it standing inside at the bar: you can see the beautiful interiors inspired by the cafe of 18th century and to not spend too much money. This same advice is valid for all the bars in Piazza San Marco.
Where to Eat
Rosticceria Gislon: This place is a simple rosticceria, hidden in a small calle (Calle della Bissa). It is one of the most favorite spots for a simple inexpensive meal among the Prontopia Locals. Here you can try a small cicchetto of Mozzarella in Carrozza (fried mozzarella), or even a fried ham and cheese panino. The prices are very reasonable and the food is fresh, homemade, high quality ingredients.
Osteria Sepa: This is another hidden gem, also on the tiny Calle della Bissa (which is pretty hard to find! Request a local from the Prontopia app to help show you cool local spots like these to eat, hidden nearby, after siteseeing in the piazza and you will pay less for much better food, and have more fun). At Osteria Sepa you can have a wide range of delicious cicchetti and great house wine for a little price. They also have a daily risotto special for only 7 euro, and have delicious fresh charcuterie or freshly made panini with quality prosciutto di San Daniele and amazing cheeses. There is only room around bar counters and wine barrels to eat and drink standing, in the typical Venetian way!
Bacarando in Corte dell’Orso: This is a great cicchetti place located at Piazza San Marco 5495 where you can also sometimes find live music. Here you can sit and have a spritz or two, and they have both outdoor and indoor tables.
Enoteca al Volto: Tthis historical osteria, hidden away from the main route at Calle Cavalli 4081, is very popular among Venetians. They serve you great cicchetti and wine with low and local prices.
Bacaro da Fiore: (on Calle delle Botteghe) This is another great spot for a glass of wine and a cicchetto because…why not, right? Here you can try classics such as fried calamari and scampi, fried vegetables such as zucchini flowers, meatballs, grilled calamari, and a variety of cicchetti topping served on bread. They also have a nice trattoria for dinner next door.
Kofler Venezia: (San Marco 3989) Koffler Venezia is strongly recommended for pizza as it has the only wooden oven in the whole city. Also a nice place for locally sourced roast meats, fresh fish, snacks, and beer.
What to Do in the San Marco Area
St. Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco are must see sites for Venice. The first view of the Basilica and the beauty of the architecture in the piazza is breathtaking. We strongly recommend booking your visit to the church in advance in order to avoid queues as it’s always crowded. Skip the line tickets can be booked here and are available from April 1 to November 2.
Palazzo Ducale is also a must-see monument in Venice. The Doge’s Palace was the center of the political power of the Serenissima (the Venetian Maritime Republic). Inside the palace there are masterful paintings by the most important Venetian artists – such as Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, and Tiepolo. Visiting the Doge’s Palace helps to illustrate all of the political processes that made the city of Venice the queen of the seas for centuries.
The Olivetti Showroom (Piazza San Marco 101) is truly a hidden gem within Piazza San Marco where you can experience an iconic example of Italian design and architecture from the 50-60s in the work of Carlo Scarpa. Our fabulous Prontopia Local Giacomo does free guided tours of the showroom, and loves to show visitors his favorite features of the design, as well as cool nearby places in the city to shop or eat and drink.
Palazzo Fortuny (San Marco 3958) Palazzo Fortuny is an historical palace that hosts exhibitions of modern art and is a great piece of architecture itself. Mr. Fortuny, the owner of the palace, was a rich entrepreneur of Venice who specialized in textile art.
Scala Contarini del Bovolo is a unique hidden gem – literally, as it is very hard to find… Request a Prontopia Local to help you get there and get ready for a WOW effect when you witness the unusual design of its external spiral staircase, gothic terrace, and small palazzo design. Tickets can be purchased in advance here, but walk-ins are generally okay.
Where to Shop
Feelin’ Venice is a fun local shop at Calle dei Fabbri 1007 owned by Venetian artists and designers with a passion for their city. In it you will find unique t-shirts, books, totes and gifts with a modern vision of the city. Great gifts and souvenirs that are beyond the ordinary and support local artists.
Via XXII Marzo is a chic street emanating from Piazza San Marco along which you can find all the premier fashion designers shops.
Where to Stay
Here are a few of our wonderful local lodging partners in the city, who recommend the Prontopia app to their guests as a way to arrive stress-free and enjoy a better experience in Venice with a little help from a Local. As you can imagine, the below hotels and apartments love offering extra special tips like this and a higher level of customer service!
Residenza Bistrot de Venise is a small charming b&b with only 4 rooms and lovely inner canal views, also hidden on Calle dei Fabbri, near the Feelin’ Venice shop. It sits on top of a nice restaurant where guests receive a discount.
Locanda Fiorita is located in a small square, hidden but close to everything, with beautiful views from elegant terraces in this historic building
Like Home In Venice is a great option if you are looking for a holiday rental apartment in Venice, as they can find you just exactly what you need.
Hotel Saturnia & International is a family-run 4 star hotel in Venice in an elegant historical palazzo just steps from Piazza San Marco.
Valentina is one of our Locals in Venice who is awaiting some travellers to help them get from the train station to their Airbnb in San Marco. Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is also one of the most complicated cities concerning means of #Transportation. In fact, here there are no cars and no common means of transportation such us buses, bikes, taxis etc.. If you’d like to enjoy a Stress-Free Day in Venice, Italy here’s a few steps to request a connection with a Local on-demand who’ll be there for you when you need it. 1⃣ Download Prontopia App 2⃣ Request for a Local to arrive exactly at the point you are. 3⃣ Wait a few seconds for your Local to accept your request. 4⃣ Now you can see the picture and the personal details of your local; you can text him or call him at any time. 5⃣Your local will arrive in a few minutes. Now, you can enjoy Venice with no stress. #MeetALocal #Prontopia #WithLocals #VeneziaUnica #Venise #Venezia360 #EnjoyRespectVenezia #Venetian #Lifestlye #Beauty #BeautifulGirl #TrainStationSantaLucia #SantaLucia #BeautiudlDestinations #HappyTravelling #Italy #TravellingVenice #TravellingItaly
*Photo credit: Bernard Tey (lion detail)