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February 2014

Taking a coffin to a Venice undertaker

In Venice, most goods are delivered or taken away in boats. That rule also applies to caskets and human bodies, not just to souvenirs, soda pop, or cornflakes.

One day, when we were walking along the Fondamente Nove, we saw a delivery boat pulling in toward shore:

Fondamente Nove, Venice

As the boat landed and one of the men on board leaped onto the fondamenta with a mooring line, we noticed a pair of coffins on board:

Coffin boat in Venice, Italy

The boatmen unloaded one of the coffins:

Coffin and boat in Venice

Next, they picked up the casket...

Coffin delivery in Venice, Italy

...and delivered it to an undertaker's unmarked storeroom:

Venice mortuary

For the boatmen, the delivery was all in a day's work.

For the coffin's future occupant, it meant a resting place for the next 12 years. (And if you're wondering why we say "12 years," read our article about San Michele, Venice's island cemetery at Veniceforvisitors.com.)


Campo San Simeon Grande (or 'Profeta,' if you prefer)

Campo San Simeon Grande, Venice

ABOVE: This view of the Campo San Simeon Grande was taken from room 303 of the Hotel Ai Due Fanali (see below). The wooden structure at upper right is an altana, or roof terrace, where hotel guests can have breakfast on warm and sunny days.

One of our favorite squares in Venice is the pretty and peaceful Campo San Simeon Grande--or the Campo San Simeon Profeta, depending on which map you're using.

The Campo San Simeon Grande is tucked away in the sestiere or district of Santa Croce, less than 10 minutes on foot from the Santa Lucia Railroad Station and the Piazzale Roma. It's one of the few squares in Venice that face the Grand Canal.

As a bonus, the small campo has several park benches next to the canal, making it the perfect spot to take a break from sightseeing or to enjoy a picnic with views of passing water buses and other boat traffic.

The square also has three excellent hotels--two directly on the Grand Canal, and the third with views of the canal from most rooms:

  • Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort (four stars), where you can have breakfast or drinks in a large walled garden next to the water.
  • Canal Grande (four stars), where many rooms overlook the Grand Canal, the campo, or both.
  • Ai Due Fanali (three stars), with most rooms facing the square. (See our illustrated review with step-by-step walking directions to the Campo San Simeon Grande).

We think the Campo San Simeon Grande is a wonderful place to stay if you want to be near the railroad station or the Piazzale Roma, don't mind crossing a couple of bridges, and prefer to avoid the tourist crowds. But even if you don't stay in the campo, be sure to pay it a visit when you're out and about in Venice. 

More photos and a video:

BELOW: Another view of the campo, showing the Hotel Ai Due Fanali (back of square) and the adjoining Church of San Simeon Profeta.

Church of San Simeon Grande and Hotel Ai Due Fanali

BELOW: The square has not just two, but three different names. This one (shown on a faded wall sign) is in Venetian dialect.

Campo S. Simon Grando sign, Venice

BELOW: This video shows what you might see while sitting on a park bench in the Campo San Simeon Grande: