This square in front of the chuch of San Polo is vast and one of the liveliest neighbourhood spaces in Venice, where children play and old men sun themselves. In summer, it becomes a 2,000-seat outdoor cinema showing Italian-dubbed films every evening.
Overlooking the action are several interesting palaces, which once faced a small curving canal that has since been filled in: the Palazzo Tiepolo by Giorgio Massari, covered with masks, and its red neighbour, the Palazzo Soranzo, once the residence of the nobleman who adopted Casanova as his son, and now the Institute of Chinese Language and Literature.
Campo San Polo was the scene of a famous assassination. Lorenzino de' Medici (nicknamed Lorenzaccio, or 'bad Lorenzino', for his habit of decapitating statues) who in 1537 had murdered his cousin Duke Alessandro de' Medici of Florence, had taken refuge in France, Turkey, Bologna and Venice after writing an Apologia, comparing himself to the tyrannicide Brutus. It didn't convince the new Duke, Cosimo de' Medici, who sent hired assassins after him. In 1548, they caught up with him and his uncle Alessandro Soderini in Campo San Polo, just as they were leaving the church on the way to Lorenzaccio's mistress.
Just off the campo, past Palazzo Soranzo, Calle Bernardo is named after Ca’ Bernardo, one of Venice’s most beautiful Gothic palaces, overlooking the canal.
vaporetto San Silvestro/San Tomà.
Cinema Arena Campo San Polo: +39 041 524 6756
Image by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls