Just to the northern border of the Grand Canal, Dorsoduro is the Venetian “sestiere” for visitors in the know. While artists and designers push into the working-class districts to the east, this area lets out the siren call for students and nightlife lovers. Until the sun goes down, however, it’s a thinner crowd, lower-cost lens to the Venice tourists dream of.
While Castello gets its share of living and working artists, plus the lively Biennale, Dorsoduro houses some of Venice’s best art museums. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection covers most of the 20th century masters, where Jackson Pollack gets his own room. For more historic and local works, opt for the Gallerie dell’Accademia, where Tintoretto and Titian are a mere couple of the Venetian greats on display. The splendid Ca’ Rezzonico is a work of art in and of itself. The neighbourhood is also something of a foodie haven, with inexpensive “cichetti” bars dishing out small plates on seemingly every corner. Gourmand visitors can also treat themselves to a traditional Venetian cooking class.
Venice is defined by its calles and canals, making it an ideal, if somewhat labyrinthine, location for pedestrians. The best way to access Dorsoduro from neighbouring areas like San Marco is via the Accademia Bridge. Vaporetto stops around the sestiere include Accademia, Spirito Santo, Zattere, and S. Basilio.
It’s hard to imagine Venice without the Grand Canal, but when Dorsoduro was first settled in the 6th century, it was that neighbourhood’s Giudecca Canal which formed the heart of the city. It was only hundreds of years later that the city moved across the Grand Canal, and far later still when the Accademia was founded.