Venice Guide: Getting around Venice on foot

What’s the best way to explore central Venice? That’ll be on foot given that there are so few roads (it is a city built on a lagoon, after all) and no underground rail network (again… it’s a city built on a lagoon.) Walking the city’s maze-like network of streets is a great way to see the “real Venice”.

But before you go off exploring Venice on foot there are a few terms you’ll do well to familiarise yourself with: 

Calli are streets, or what Italians would normally call ‘vie’ or ‘strade’;
Campi are squares, known to most Italians as ‘piazza’. Also known as ‘campielli’ to cause further confusion. St. Mark’s Square is (perhaps understandably) the only exception;
A rio is a canal;
A ruga is a street surrounded by ‘palaces’ (not by water).

Calle Varisco

Walking through the calli of Venice can be a cramped and claustrophobic affair, but nowhere more so than the Calle Varisco. We’re not sure that the Venetian word for ‘alleyway’ is, but it’s probably a more appropriate word than ‘street’ to describe this particular calli. Caletta Varisco is the narrowest street in Venice and is just 53 cm wide in parts. At times, you may even be required to walk sideways to get through it! Follow it and you’ll end up at the Rio del Gesulti, so you’ll either have to turn around or hop on a gondolier.

Address: Calle Varisco, 30121 Venice, Italy

Calle Stretta Morosini

If you enjoyed Calle Varisco, then we should probably recommend paying Calle Stretta a visit. Only slightly bigger than the smallest calli in town, Calle Stretta is just 65 cm wide and connects Campielle Albrizzi and Sottoportico della Furatola. If it turns out that exploring really narrow alleyways is your thing, then also head for Calle San Zusto (only 68 cm wide at times) or Calesela dell’Occhio Grosso (only 58 cm wide.)

Address: Calle Stretta Morosini, 30100 Venice, Italy

Campo Santi Apostoli

You’ll find Campo Santi Apostoli in the Cannaregio district of Venice, one of the city’s largest and most populated quarters. The campo itself is fairly unremarkable, but is worth a visit because it marks the starting point of the Strada Nuova. The longest street in Venice, the Strada Nuova is one of the city’s main arteries and one of its most distinctive streets. In a city built on canals and calli, a boulevard lined by uninterrupted stretches of shops and restaurants is an unusual – but welcome – sight.

Address: Campo S.S. Apostoli, 30100 Venice, Italy

Calle Larga XXII Marzo

Located close to St. Mark’s Square, Calle Larga XXII Marzo is one of the best shopping streets in Venice. Venice is a city with a reputation for luxury and opulence and this major street is no exception, with the likes of Bulgari, Burberry, Montblanc and Salvatore Ferragamo setting up shop here. So, if you want to come to Venice and splash some cash on expensive clothes, handbags and all the rest of it, this is the place to go.

Address: Calle Larga XXII Marzo, 30100 Venice, Italy

Salizada San Moisè

But… Calle Larga XXII Marzo isn’t the only place to go for a spot of retail therapy. Salizada San Moisè – also rather conveniently located close to St. Mark’s Square – is one of the best destinations for shopping in Venice. Here you’ll find big-time Italian luxury brands like Versace, Miu Miu and Etro.

Address: Salizada, Salita S. Moise, 1464, 30124 Venice, Italy

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