25 million tourists visit the tiny island of Venice every year – that’s a lot of people! While it’s hard to avoid the crowds, it’s possible. Venice holds more secret corners and hidden gems than you might think. Here are five hidden gems in Venice beloved by locals. Keep reading to discover 5 must-see hidden gems in Venice tourists usually don’t get to know.
1. Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana is one of the major national libraries in Italy, and the most prestigious in Venice. It was built in 1400 thanks to a significant donation by cardinal Bessarione. Consequently, Venice soon became the cultural heart of Europe, recognized all over the world for its heritage. Because of the outstanding architecture and interior, it ranks among the best hidden spots in Venice. In addition, the collection of ancient greek, latin, and eastern language manuscripts truly makes it invaluable! Divided between two buildings, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana was desinged by architect Jacopo Sansovino.
10a.m. – 7p.m. (from April 1st until October 31st). 10a.m. – 6p.m. (from November 1st until March 31st). Closed on Sundays.
2. The Secret “Pala d’Argento”
Thousands of people every day get to see the monumental Pala d’Oro,an alter decoration made up of rare and precious stones that depicts several saints placed in St. Mark’s Basilica. But not even Venetians know of the existence of an equally marvellous Pala d’Argento, hidden in the close by Chiesa di San Salvador
The Pala d’Argento is displayed only three times during the year, at Christmas, Easter and the Transfiguration, on August 6th. The rest of the year, “The Transfiguration of Christ” painting by Titian, hides that silver masterpiece! Among the hidden gems of Venice, this is among the best. You have to see it with your own eyes to believe how jaw-dropping it really is.
3. Serra dei Giardini
Caffè La Serra is a cozy secret spot in the middle of the Biennale gardens, concealed inside an ancient greenhouse. Built with glass and iron, this unique structure was designed to accommodate palm trees and decorative plans used during the globally known International Exposition of Arts in 1895. Today, it’s a cafe and flower shop. Furthermore, this is a favorite among locals and an awesome place to take a break after visiting the Biennale Gardens favorite and a great stop to take a break after visiting the Biennale gardens!
Tue, Thurs – Sat: 10am – 6pm. Wed and Sun: 10am – 1pm. Closed on Mondays.
4. Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries
Did you know there’s an underground portion of Doge’s Palace with dungeons and torture chambers? Members of the general public may access the main floors of the palace or admire it’s Venetian Gothic exterior, but few get to access the secret restricted areas. Hence, few of them get to embark on a real adventure in a secret restricted area! Linked to the Palace’s prison, the Chamber of Torment, tells the stories of 18th century prisoners in Venice. Most noteworthy, the Italian adventurer and author Giacomo Casanova was imprisoned here.
If you’re looking for a local Venetian guide taking you through time and history in Venice, take our Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries tour!
5. Atelier Pietro Longhi
In the Frari area, not far away from S. Polo district, Atelier Pietro Longhi is the most popular address among locals for historical costumes and masks. Artist and tailor, Francesco Briggi, still crafts by hand unique reproductions of traditional Venetian gowns by studying original paintings. In addition, every year during Carnival, the Atelier hosts a secret hot chocolate party in one of the most sumptuous palaces in Venice, the Nani Mocenigo.
Insider tip: buying a traditional gown isn’t affordable for most people, but you can also rent a Carnival costume for one night
Mon-Fri: 10am – 2pm. Closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
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