This cheery, picturesque square in the district of Dorsoduro is a hive of activity day in, day out. It owes its name to the Christian martyr St Margaret of Antioch, possibly a fictitious figure, but highly popular in medieval times. Patron saint of expectant mothers, she is depicted in a niche on the square’s northern wall with her emblem, the dragon. The square’s capacious form, exploited by local children on bicycles and in-line skaters, is due to an ambitious enlargement project in the 1800s which opened up the south end by filling in canals.


Campo Santa Margherita


prac_info Scuola Grande dei Carmini, Dorsoduro: 041 528 94 20 • www.scuolagrandecarmini.itOpen 11am–5pm daily • Adm €5

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  • Numerous pizza-slice outlets and bars serving tramezzini (sandwiches) and panini (rolls) make for a cheap lunch option.

1. Ex Chiesa di Santa Margherita

A writhing 14th-century dragon symbolizing the martyrdom of the saint enlivens the foot of the bell tower of the former church. It has been restored by the university as the Auditorium Santa Margherita.

2. Palazzo Foscolo-Corner

This beautiful palace is virtually unchanged since the 1300s and instantly distinguishable by its deep overhanging eaves. A striking Byzantine-style lunette, bearing an inset with the family crest, tops the entrance portal.

3. Scuola Grande dei Carmini

Glorious rooms, decorated with Tiepolo’s masterpieces, are highlights of this confraternity. The upstairs ceiling shows St Simon Stock Receiving the Scapular from the Virgin.


Glorious interiors of Scuola Grande dei Carmini

4. Calle del Forno

An unusual series of medieval-style projections from a first-floor dwelling, partly held up by brick columns, is one of the most interesting features of this busy thoroughfare leading to Piazzale Roma and the bus terminal. The street is named after a long-gone forno (bakery).

5. Scuola dei Varoteri

A splendid bas-relief of the Virgin sheltering a group of trades-men in adoration adorns the former tanners’ guild dating from 1725. Because of its isolated position, it was once mistakenly thought to be the house of the city’s executioner.

6. The “House of the Moor”

Shakespeare’s Othello was based on Cristoforo Moro, who was sent to govern Cyprus from 1508. This house at No. 2615 is his former home.

7. Altana Terraces

These timber roof platforms were common in Venetian palaces, used by women for bleaching their hair in the sun. They are now used for laundry and partying on summer evenings, and can be seen around Campo Santa Margherita.


Roof platforms made out of timber

8. Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Carmini

This richly adorned church survived Napoleon’s suppression of the Carmelite order of monks in the adjoining monastery. Many of its 13th-century features are intact, such as the sculpted entrance porch.


Exterior of the church Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Carmini

9. Corte del Fondaco

A charming covered passageway leads through to this minor courtyard where curious, low, bricked-in arches indicate the former site of a 1700s flour store. The name fondaco – or store – is derived from the Arabic word fonduq.

10. Rio Nuovo

Excavated in 1932–3 to form a shortcut from Piazzale Roma to the Grand Canal, the canal has been closed to vaporetti since the 1990s, due to building damage.


Rio is a common name for canal, while terrà means filled-in. Dating back to the 1300s, the practice of filling in waterways was wide-spread in the 1800s to provide extra pedestrian space. Some were covered with low-slung arches to keep water flowing, exemplified by Via Garibaldi in Castello. Later campaigns encouraged the reverse procedure.

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