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When you have had enough of the constant comings and goings of the busiest squares and narrow streets of Venice, you have the option of going a few stops on the vaporetto to La Giudecca, the long island that is just opposite the main city centre. In the past it was a holiday centre for the wealthiest and later a centre for industry, but today it is a peaceful retreat due to the fact that it has been long forgotten by many.
It is believed that the current name of the island, which used to be called Spinalunga, or “long spine”, comes from the word giudicato, which means “judge”. This theory makes sense if we remember that in the 9th century a series of Venetian families were judged and sentenced to live here in a kind of exile.
During the Renaissance, La Giudecca began to prosper, and a large number of small palaces with splendid gardens began to appear on different parts of the islet, as well as some convents, which made the most of the peaceful atmosphere of the place for meditation and prayer. The most significant change occurred in the 19th century, when some factories were built here.
Today the majority of these buildings have been turned into modern homes. However, one of them, the Mulino Stucky, which was once a flourmill and which, with its neo-Gothic style, leaves nobody indifferent, has been the object of a millionaire investment restoration that has turned it into a sophisticated complex made up of a conference centre, hotel with spa and diverse bars and restaurants.
On this island of contrasts, where you will come across a luxury 5-star hotel as well as a youth hostel in whose entrance there are always youngsters chatting livelily and playing the guitar, perhaps the best thing you can do is wander aimlessly alongside the jetty and enjoy the peacefulness that the setting offers.
If you prefer to complement the trip with a little culture, you can visit the different churches in the area, such as that of Sant’Eufemia or the Zitelle, although if you are a bit pressed for time and you have to choose, then do not miss the chance to see the Chiesa del Redentore, one of the great masterpieces of the 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio.
Gran Canal (1A)
Chiesa di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (22)
Palazzo Ducale (6)
Ponte dei Suspiri (10)
Santa Maria della Salute (42)
Basilica de San Giovanni e Paolo (36)
Columns of Saint Mark and Saint Theodore (8)
Palazzo Grassi (26)
Ponte dell’Accademia (3)
Torre dell’Orologio (9)
Basilica di San Marco (5)
Ca’Vendramin Calergi (19)
Fondaco dei Turchi (17)
Palazzo Labia (16)
Ponte di Rialto (2)
Chiesa dei Gesuiti (33)
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo (41)
Statue of Colleoni (38)
Calle del Fumo (30)
Chiesa del Redentore (47)
I Gesuati (43)
Malibran Theatre (35)
Palazzo Mocenigo (25)
Calle Larga XXII Marzo (14)
Chiesa della Madonna dell’Orto (31)
La Giudecca (45)
Mercato di Rialto (18)
Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni (39)