Walking around San Polo
The “ Sestiere di San Polo”, the name comes from the Church of Saint Paul Evangelist, is in the heart of Venice. In the beginning of Venetian history, the “ Sestiere di San Polo” and the “Sestiere di Santa Croce” were as one and called “Luprie”. The whole area was the Salt deposit of the City.
Now the “Sestiere” confined to the north and west with Santa Croce, to the south with Dorsoduro, all the other side with the Grand Canal and it is linked to with Saint Marks by the Rialto bridge.
Our little tour begin from here, from the top of Rialto bridge, here you find the first civic numbers of “San Polo” together with the first numbers of Saint Mark’s area.
Rialto and the market area are undoubtedly the most important parts of this area, walking down the bridge towards the market on the right we find the church of “San Giacometto” (the oldest of the city). In front of the church there is a part of a column, this was the town crier stand where laws were exhibited to the citizens, a short marble stair hold by the statue of an hunchback lead to the top of the column this is the Rialto hunchback (1541), this statue was kissed by wrongdoer that were taken all along the way from Saint Mark and there were flogged, this custom was then moved (1545) on the corner of “Ruga dei Orosei” a cross surmounted with the Sain Mark’s lion (still there) was raised since the it is called “dei frustai” (the flogged).
The area is characterized with the presence of Rialto market, here every day (except Sundays) fish, fruits and vegetables stalls open. The Rialto market is quite characteristic if you decide to spend a visit we suggest to do that in the morning.
On our way to San Polo we get to “Campo Sant’Aponal” in the are called “Carampane” this was the “Red Light” quarter, prostitute were authorized to show. To remind the past of this area are the names of bridges an streets (how to forget the “Ponte delle tette” bridge of tits).
Near "Campo Sant’ Aponal" there is the porch of Mother Mary there you can see a capital
Representing a sleeping pope, he is Alexander III fugitive from Federico Barbarossa, and secretly arrived in Venice in 1117 (it is said that on the first night he had to sleep in the street). He remained unknown in the city for six months, then thanks to the doge Sebastiano Ziani, he reconciled to his enemy.
Legend wants that the pope, to repay the help, gifted doge Ziani with a ring and the authority to get “marry with the sea”. The ceremony of the wedding is held on the ascension day. It is the symbol of the domination over the sea. The doge dropped then into the sea a sacred ring saying, we marry you sea. The truth is that the celebration is to commemorate the conquer of the Dalmatia by doge Pietro Orseolo II.
Then we get to Campo San Polo, the very centre of the “sestiere”, here is the church of “San Paolo Evangelista” Saint Paul Evangelist” founded in 837 by doges Pietro and Giovanni Tradonico.
Right after San Polo there is the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (gothic), one of the biggest in the city. Inside are kept magnificent operas.
Behind the church of Frari we find “Campo San Rocco” there are the “Scuola Grande” (painter school) and the homonymous church.
The roof is decorated with an outstanding paintwork of Tintoretto. Not many are aware that Tintoretto won the contract…cheating.
Another curious corner of this “Sestiere” (linked to a fascinating story) is the foundation of Donna Onesta (honest woman) in one of those houses lived a beautiful woman married with a smith, Marchetto Rizzo felled in love with her and to meet her he ordered a dagger to her husband, the woman refuses the courtship and once the dagger was made he abused of her, the woman deeply ashamed and frustrated committed suicide with the dagger her husband made.
In memory of her there still is on a wall a sculpture representing a female face, the sculpture of the Honest woman.
We are ending this little tour at the “Scuola grande di San Giovanni Evangelista” another important school few steps from San Rocco and Frari, there is possible to admire paintworks by Tintoretto, Tiepolo and Palma Il Giovane.