San Polo is the most central Sestiere of Venice, Italy. It takes his name from “Campo San Polo,” the second biggest town square (campo is the word for town square in Venice) in Venice located exactly in the middle of Venice. When considering where to stay in Venice San Polo is a central location with lots of local life to explore.
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San Polo is the sestiere where you will find Rialto Market, the city’s famous covered marketplace dating back to 1057. Next to the Rialto Market is the market’s church, the Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto, which is the most ancient church of the city said to have been consecrated as early as 421.
For more than 3000 years, San Polo has been the lively center of the commerce and life of the city of Venice. This sestiere has a lot to offer as far as culture, shopping and local dining to make your stay in Venice absolutely extraordinary.
Here some of our Prontopia Locals’ favorite spots in San Polo.
Osteria All’Arco (Sestiere San Polo 436): This small osteria reaches its peak on Saturday mornings when Venetians go to the fish and vegetable market and on their way back, before having lunch, pass by this small osteria to have a glass of prosecco and a small piece of bread with some amazing delicacies on top.
Ae Do Spade (Calle del Scaleter, 859): This is a historical cantina (said to be one of the oldest osterie in Venice), that was a favorite spot of the legendary lover Casanova. Cantina do Spade is great for cicchetti and wine, and is also a restaurant (but is always very crowded). If available try the Fiori di zucca fritti ripieni di baccala’ (fried zucchini flowers with stockfish filling).
Osteria Al Bancogiro (Campo San Giacometto, 122): In this osteria/restaurant situated in the porticoes of the ancient mercantile bank building you can sit outside and enjoy the view of Canal Grande sipping some nice wines and eating small bites, typical of Venetian cuisine. Late at night Osteria Al Bancogiro is a hip spot where young people meetup to have a drink or two as well.
La Bottiglia (Campo San Stin 2537): This is a nice small bar where you can enjoy a spritz with a quiet inner canal view in the middle of your stroll around the city. They also serve nice charcuterie platters, slicing the prosciutto di San Daniele fresh for each, and freshly made panini on delicious organic fresh bread.
Antico Pizzo (San Polo 814): On the site of an historic osterie serving Venetian cuisine for over 150 years just around the corner from Rialto Market, Antico Pizzo is a great spot for fresh and lively renditions of Venetian seafood favorites. It is tucked in a hidden corner and can be hard to find! Reservations are required, and patrons like to use Prontopia for help from a friendly Local arriving to their reservation on time.
Trattoria alla Madonna (Calle della Madonna 594): Trattoria alla Madonna is a restaurant that is mostly frequented by Venetians. Here you can find the most simple but authentic and delicious Venetian dishes, just like Venetian grandmas used to cook. Super recommended by the Prontopia Venice Team!
Rialto Market and Bridge: The Rialto Market and Bridge are not only about food and shopping, but also a lot of history! As mentioned before the church San Giacomo di Rialto is the oldest in the city. This area was one of the earliest to develop, and the city was built out from here. The market was the pulsing heart of the commerce of the city for centuries. The Rialto Bridge, of course, is a very important piece of the city as the oldest of the four bridges crossing the Grand Canal.
House of Carlo Goldoni: Carlo Goldoni is the maestro of the Italian theater and inventor of Comedia Dell’Arte. In San Polo, you can visit his house and learn everything you have to know about his genius. This museum also contains an ancient puppet theater, and is a fun place for families traveling to Venice with kids to visit.
Gloriosa Basilica dei Frari: this church is probably the most majestic in the city, just after St. Mark’s Basilica. Here you can find the amazing painting of the “Assumption of Virgin” by Tiziano (Titian), the monument with the tomb of Canova, and the tomb of Titian itself. The church is huge and full of amazing piece of art. A must see!
Fondazione Prada Venezia: Set in a beautiful palace on the Canal Grande, the foundation hosts collections of contemporary art all year around. Check the program on their website.
Rialto Fish Market and fruit & vegetables market: The Rialto markets are a must see and a must do experience in Venice, especially if you have rented a holiday apartment and you would like to cook a little something at home.
Il Baule Blu (2916/A San Polo): This is a cute and small shop full of vintage and more objects, made by hand, related to Venice and not.
Gilberto Penzo shop: Gilberto studied how to make gondolas and their story for many years. His shop is a magical place where you can find everything about gondolas but also about all the other typical Venetian boats that most people confuse with gondolas, although these diverse boats have super specific names and characteristics. Here you can buy gondolas and typical Venetian boats in scale to build them in 3D.
Rio Tera’ Dei Pensieri shop: This small shop sells beautiful bags and items made through a cooperative of incarcerated prisoners who through social works learn different skills to re-abilitate themselves by creating beautiful, and sustainable, items. Learn more on their website here.
Corte 1321: Our lodging partner Corte 1321 is a lovely local option for a boutique B&B in the San Polo sestiere of Venice. In a quiet yet central location, this hotel has only a handful of suites, and one apartment, all very comfortable for families. Breakfast is served in an ancient inner courtyard, and the rooms have views of the quiet inner canal. Corte 1321 recommends Prontopia to their guests for an easier and more enjoyable way to arrive, and get around the city in Venice, as the locals do.
Hotel Iris: Stay at Hotel Iris for a prime location in the historic center, convenient to visit museums, monuments and other sightseeings; an excellent connection with public transports.
Le Repubbliche Marinare: stay at Le Repubbliche Marinare B&B to stay in the true heart of the city, just few steps away from Rialto market.
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