Giudecca is the longest island of Venice and of the whole lagoon and is separated by the rest of the city by the homonymous channel. Originally called the “Spinalonga” (long spine) because of its long narrow shape, its modern day name derives from the 13th Century when it was home to a Jewish community. Later it became the home of Villas built by rich Venetians that boast some of the most beautiful Venetian gardens still left intact.
Its shape is created by 8 small islands connected to each other with several bridges, with a long sidewalk on the northern bank that is running all along the island, facing the Zattere bank on the other side. The south bank of the island, boasting with gardens, private vegetable gardens and boatyards, is overlooking the open lagoon and from here is possible to admire the best sunset of all Venice.
Giudecca can be reached only with the public service boat (Vaporetto) and has 4 main stops: Zitelle, Redentore, Palanca and Giudecca Hilton. To start your ideal walking tour of the island you can start from the address 805 where is housed the historical production of textiles of Mariano Fortuny, Spanish artist and designer, funded in 1919 in a former factory that was producing pitch. Today is possible to visit the showroom and garden upon appointment.
A couple of steps distant there is the building with number 795 that hosts the Luigi Nono Archive, established in 1993 through the efforts of Nuria Schoenberg Nono for the purpose of housing and conserving the Luigi Nono legacy. Few steps down there is Harry’s Dolci where from a terrace table you can enjoy fine views of the city while indulging in some of finest cuisine to be found in Venice.
Heading west towards the Redentore stop there is the ancient church of Sant’Eufemia, another beautiful church on the island which was funded in the IX century. On special requests only, the church is opened up for a group of twenty or more people. Those who are travelling in large groups can make a request for viewing the church from inside. Others can admire the beauty of the church from outside, since it does have an admirable architecture.
One of the main attractions of the Giudecca is Palladio’s Redentore church built in 1577 to celebrate the salvation of the city after a terrible plague. The church is also known as Santissimo Redentore and was designed by Palladio in the 16th century and is the place where the famous Redentore festival takes place every year in July: this celebration began as a feast to give thanks for the end of the terrible plague of 1576 and is held every third Saturday of July and still today is considered one of Venice’s most popular and authentic festivals. Few meters distant from Palladio Hotel & Spa there is a fabulous gothic revival building called Casa dei Tre Oci (House of three eyes) which name comes from its facade, whose three great balconies look like eyes. This building dates back to the 20th century; it was conceived by the painter Mario de Maria, and became his residence once it was complete. In the following years, it hosted numerous artists and intellectuals becoming a place for debates, artistic production and where to meet. Today after a after a long and accurate restoration project, has become one of the most vibrant museum hosting photographic exhibitions.
After this long walk is possible to find an authentic Venetian trattoria still managed by the same family since 1889. At Altanella is possible to enjoy classic dishes of Venetian cuisine, which have been made more special over the years by the family’s recipes.
Being Venice the city of the bell towers, there’s one that shouldn’t be missed and venetian residents appreciate above all the other: San Giorgio bell tower has one of the most intriguing view over the whole city and the lagoon, with the sun setting on the back of the church and the IX century convent next to it. The island of San Giorgio has been in Benedictine hands since 982. It rose to glory between 1500 and 1600 with the works of Palladio, Carpaccio, Veronese, Tintoretto and Longhena. Together they transformed the early structures into the monumental works we have today. Since 1951 it has been run by the Giorgio Cini Foundation becoming a centre of various cultural activities.