“Venezia nei campielli”, a book and a photo exhibition for Venice’s 1600 years

17 September 2021

Venice, 14th September 2021 – The toponymy of the municipality of Venice contains a serious mistake: in the sestiereof Castello, what is known today as Campo di Santa Giustina detto de Barbaria should actually be called Campiello, following the classification of the Napoleonic and Austrian cadastres. This is just one of the many quirks written inside Venezia nei campielli, a book that has now become a photo exhibition too, in honour of the celebrations of Venice’s 1600 years. As a matter of fact, for the whole month of September, the Ateneo Veneto will be the backdrop of a special journey through the venetians campielli, the beating heart of the city: a site-specific exhibition of 10 photos, chosen among the most important in the book (one per sestiere and island) and printed in large size, will be displayed in the Sala Tommaseo.

The book, written by Giorgio Crovato and Franco Mancuso and enriched by the photos of Franco Vianello Moro, is a wonderful catalogue that investigates an essential but almost unknown aspect of Venice: the minor public places. As a matter of fact, the toponymy of the campielli itself is proof of the urban and historical transformations of the city, as it unveils not only the presence of ancient professions and institutions, but also religious aspects, public figures to remember, or even the attention and hospitality of Venetians towards foreigners. The book Venezia nei campielli is therefore a one-of-a-kind guide to the “lesser-known” Venice that helps the reader to put back together the history of certain places, beginning with their names.

Starting from the famous guide written by Giulio Lorenzetti, and confronting it with the official road map of the municipality of Venice and the Napoleonic and Austrian cadastres, the authors managed to classify an astonishing 217 campielli, always keeping in mind the structural transformations undergone over the centuries and including the islands of Murano, Burano, Pellestrina and Lido-Malamocco. Each campiello has been photographed and accurately researched. As far as the photos are concerned, a selection of 60 shots was made following specific criteria (like being able to be photographed in a wide-spectrum shot).

Nevertheless, photographing the campielli has not always been easy, as Vianello Moro highlighted during last week’s presentation at the Ateneo Veneto. As a matter of fact, places like Campiello della Pietà in the sestiere of Castello, or Campiello de la Madona in San Polo are just few-inches-long strips of land, and they do not offer great choices for photo framing. However, it is here that research plays an essential part: what today may appear as nothing more than a cul-de-sac, in the cadastres is remembered as a much wider space, often comprising even a canal, that was later restructured.

The photo exhibition will be displayed until the 27th of September, from Monday to Friday (10AM to 1PM, and 3PM to 6PM). Three guided tours (for groups of maximum 10 people) with the authors of the book are programmed on Thursday 9th, 16th and 23rd of September, from 5PM to 6PM. Reservation is mandatory (info@ateneoveneto.org