Get away from the crowds and walk to the Arsenale. You can't go inside, but the gates are pretty spectacular with ancient lions guarding the shipyard that was once the lifeblood of the city.
Walk about 15 minutes East of San Marco into Castello - the arsenale is signposted.
Murano not only has glassworks, it also has churches: Santa Maria e San Donato has a stunning apse (from the outside) and an extraordinary marble mosaic floor on the inside; and San Pietro Martire contains my favourite Bellini.
If you do want to escape the tourist areas head for eastern Castello and the island of San Pietro where you will find the oldest church of Venice, San Pietro di Castello, which was the cathedral of Venice untill the XIX century.
The island, connected to Venice by two bridges, is the oldest settlement in the city of Venice and a church was built there already in the XIII century. The church you will find there now has been remodelled over the centuries but it features a facade by Palladio and a splendid leaning bell tower clad in candid white stone which was built during the renaissance.
The "Campo" in front of the church is a heaven of tranquillity and the silence is broken only by the activity of local fishermen and by occasional boats sailing along the canal.
Nearby you will find the busy via Garibaldi still a pretty authentic street full of locals and lively bars and restaurants. Stop for a light lunch at Bar Mio, in front of the public gardens gates and try their delicious "Tramezzini". The area is perfect for a relaxing break, especially when visiting the nearby Biennale exhibition and you will have the chance to see how the "last" locals live.
Good restaurants in the area are "il Giorgione" or the Pizzeria "Ai tosi", and obviously the fantastic "Corte Sconta", just a short walk away.
Eastern part of the Castello district, past the Arsenale. Ferry stop: Giardini or Arsenale.
My favourite Island in Venice. Every house is painted a different, bright colour so it's like walking down the streets of a giant toy town. It's supposedly famous for it's lace, but in all honesty I was more taken with the houses.
Palladio's church on the island of the same name in St Mark's Basin. The church has a fine facade, two terrific Tintorettos, and a monk-operated lift up its campanile where you can get the best views of Venice and beyond.
San Giorgio Maggiore accessible by vaporetto no.82
It's this amazing tower with an external spiral staircase. As well as being an amazing and unusual piece of architecture, the view from the top is beautiful. I was thrilled to see the top of people's homes - with gardens and washing - rather than just the top of official buildings.
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