It is certainly one of the most important directions and arteries in Venice. If interested in seeing the typical stalls of the fruit and vegetable and fish market (not to be confused with the most prestigious fish and fruit market in Rialto), the old and new Ghetto area, and enjoy a quiet walk on one of the streets larger than the city (10 meters wide), then this is the most suitable route.
As with other typically Venetian uniqueness, this long pedestrian street is actually made up of several "pieces": Lista di Spagna, Strada Nova, Mercerie.
However, it is common to call it only Strada Nova, even though it indicates the whole stretch. If you are not too loaded with luggage, and if the weather conditions are not so bad, it is certainly the best way to get some healthy exercise.
Tell me more
Strada Nova is one of the most important pedestrian arteries in the city.
Starting from the station, the first stretch you meet is the Rio Terà Lista di Spagna, built in 1844 above the pre-existing Rio dei Sabbioni, burying it. The origin of its name derives from the fact that here, in the Palazzo Frigerio or Friziero, which later became Palazzo Zeno in 1613 and now Grand Hotel Principe, there was the seat of the Spanish Ambassador to the Serenissima Republic. The term list derives from the Republic's custom of "listing" the residences of foreign ambassadors with lines in Istrian stone, to delimit the area within which some immunities could be enjoyed.
The end of the Spanish List is delimited by the Campo San Geremia and its church, where the remains of Saint Lucia virgin and martyr of Syracuse are kept. Also here is Palazzo Labia, which houses the regional RAI headquarters of Veneto. Continuing on the Salizzada San Geremia finally leads us to the Ponte delle Guglie which crosses the Cannaregio Canal.
Continuing the route you will cross other rio terà: San Leonardo and della Maddalena, and three salizades: Santa Fosca, San Felice and Santa Sofia, before entering "Strada Nova", before entering Campo Santi Apostoli.
The Mercerie (Marzarie in Venetian) were the main commercial artery of the city, still full of high-level shops. They are located in the San Marco district and connect Piazza San Marco to the Rialto area through a network of streets.
Depending on the area, going from Piazza San Marco towards Rialto, they are divided into Mercerie dell'Orologio, from the Clock Tower to Campo San Zulian; Mercerie di San Zulian, from Campo San Zulian to Ponte dei Baretèri; Mercerie del Capitello, a stretch of junction from the Ponte dei Baretèri to the final straight, and the Mercerie di San Salvador which lead to Campo San Salvador, near the Rialto bridge.
They have been the nucleus of the commercial activity of the lagoon city since the dawn of the Republic when precious goods arrived in port from distant markets were sold. In the past, the shops of fine canvases and fabrics were even open all night. Even today, the entire route is characterized by sumptuous and representative shops on the ground floor: there are in particular jewelers, leather goods, shoe and clothing shops, artistic glassworks.
By sharpening your eyes a little, at the beginning of the Mercerie dell'Orologio you can see a small bas-relief depicting a woman dropping a pestle on the first floor. This image recalls the episode linked to the failure of the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo, which took place in the 14th century. The rioters, in fact, were heading towards Piazza San Marco in full assault of the Doge's Palace when a woman slipped the stone pestle she was working with, while watching the scene from the window of her home. The tool fatally hit the leader of the rioters in the head, thus causing the end of the riot.
It was also in this way that, as a sign of thanks for the narrow escape, the Lordship of the Serenissima decreed the perpetual exemption from payment of the rent for the woman.