“Giudecca was originally an area characterized by large palazzos with gardens,” writes The Venice Insider. “In the early 20th century, it evolved into an industrial zone with shipyards, factories and even a film studio.” Lee Marshall at Christies notes that the island has also become a destination for “international curators and collectors thanks to its thriving contemporary art scene.” And even though it sits across the wide Giudecca Canal directly in front of San Marco, few visitors make the journey across.
Nobody's entirely sure how the island came upon its name. Nobles condemned into exile ('guidicato') were sent here in the 9th century, though some point to a possible 14th-century Jewish settlement. The island was originally called “Spina Longa” due to its fishbone-like shape. "It remains one of the city's few essentially working-class neighbourhoods," writes Fodors, "about as down to earth as you can get, and despite substantial gentrification.” But the area is slowly gentrifying as artists’ studios and galleries spring up in former industrial spaces and a regeneration scheme has brought a Soho feel to parts of the island, as students, Venetian families and a sprinkling of foreigners have arrived.
The 16th-century Palladian church of Il Redentore is “one of the most famous and venerated churches in Venice,” says Chorus Venezia. It’s also the centrepiece of Festa del Redentore, which features major fireworks lighting the night sky during the on the third Saturday and Sunday in July.
A network of bridges means you can walk the entire length of the promenade. A tourist favourite and worth the journey is to take in the view of Venice from the rooftop bar at the Hilton Hotel; it’s one the most glorious of Venice sightlines. And the public park at the end of Calle San Giacomo “with views over the southern lagoon is one of the most secluded spots in Venice for a picnic,” says Travel Insider.
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