Centro Storico Venice
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The Centro Storico is a very important term in Venice. It is the name of the main island of Venice, that is the historical center or the whole island with the old town. The Centro Storico is the real Venice. Almost everyone who says "Venice" means the Centro Storico.
Actually, the term main island is not quite correct. The big "island" of Venice consists of many small islands separated by canals and connected by many bridges. All together is the Centro Storico.
The present city of Venice consists of six districts. One of them is the Centro Storico, which is Venice for most tourists. The other districts are either on the mainland or are archipelagos other islands such as respectively Lido or Murano.
The Centro Storico is in turn divided into six parts, the so-called Sestieri, translated as sixths (similar to the term neighborhoods in our country, only sixths).
Image: Plan entire Centro Storico and the 6 Sestieri in different colors: purple Cannaregio, blue Castello, yellow Dorsoduro, gray San Marco, green San Polo, red Santa Croce. The white line at the top right represents the long bridge to the mainland (Venice Liberty Bridge).
The central sestiere (plural sestieri) is San Marco with the central St. Mark's Square, Doge's Palace, etc. The main train station, Santa Lucia, for example, is in another sixth of the Centro Storico, Cannaregio. The division of Venice into six sestieri is 800 years old. It is still valid today. There are no street names in Venedug. All houses have a house number. In each sestiere all the houses are simply numbered. So the adrsse consists of the name of the sestiere and the house number.
Overview Centro Storico Venice
The main island Centro Storico is about 4 kilometers long and 2 km wide. You walk from west to east without stopping for a good hour. Apart from walking, the only way to get around the main island of Venice is by boat. Instead of roads there are canals, all other means of transport as well as bicycles are forbidden. As a pedestrian, you can get everywhere in alleys and over bridges, but you will quickly get lost. Because you often have to go up and down bridges, walking in Venice is quite strenuous.
The old town of Venice is extremely densely built. Even parks and the like hardly exist. Today, the Centro Storico still has about 60,000 inhabitants, more and more hotels, restaurants, etc. have to make way. A few decades ago, there were many more.
The area of the Centro Storico is about 5.2 square kilometers, or about 520 hectares. But because there are no wide streets, Venice's main island and old town seems much larger.
Some tourists walk everything in the Centro Storico (see our article Venice on foot). However, this is very tiring, especially if you want to see all the sights in a few days. There are public ferries that run about like city buses in other cities. These go around the Centro Storico island, stopping every few hundred meters. Ferries also run on the Centro Storico's largest canal, the Grand Canal, which divides the Centro Storico into 2 parts. These ferries are called vaporetti in Venice, in German also water buses. There is scheduled service with fixed route numbers and departure times. There are often not enough seats on the water buses, but there is additional standing room. Everything is the same as on city buses elsewhere.
City map Venice
Directions Centro Storico Venice
You can reach the Centro Storico by train, streetcar and by bus from the mainland over a bridge several kilometers long. The only train station and the bus station are almost next to each other. It takes about 40 minutes to walk from here to the central Piazza San Marco. With the vaporetti it is faster and more comfortable.
There are also ferries from the airport to the old town Centro Storico. However, the bus ride is cheaper from the airport.
You can also drive over the long bridge to the Centro Storico. But then you have to use one of the four parking garages. Only a very small part of the island of Venice can be accessed by car. The parking garages are quite expensive, especially for longer stays. One should definitely book a space in the parking garage in advance: