To climb St. Mark’s bell tower is a great experience. The view from the top of campanile is beautiful but you have to know that there is another campanile, not far from St. Mark square, from which you can enjoy a (maybe more) amazing view. The bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore is located on San Giorgio Maggiore Island, San Giorgio Vaporetto stop, line 2 (about 5 minutes from San Zaccaria).
The island was once called Cypress Island because of many trees of that kind found there. It was then called San Giorgio when the small church dedicated to San Giorgio was built (790).
The construction of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore began in 1566 by a design of Andrea Palladio, but when he died in1580, the construction continued until 1610 under the direction of Baldassarre Longhena.
The church is beautiful (free entrance, from May to September 9.30am-6.30pm; Sunday 8.30am-11am, 2.30pm-6.30pm. From October to April 9.30am-closing at dusk; Sunday 8.30am-11am, 2.30pm-closing at dusk). The façade, in the form of a classical temple, is similar to the one of the Basilica del Redentore, located on the Giudecca island and designed by Andrea Palladio too. The interior of the Basilica of San Giorgio is bright and majestic, formed by a latin cross with with three naves supported by huge pillars. Inside you can admire beautiful works by Tintoretto such as The Last Supper and The Fall of Manna, and also works by Carpaccio, Bassano, Palma il Giovane and Sebastiano Ricci. The famous painting Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese was commissioned in 1562 by the Benedictine Monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore. It hung in the refectory of the monastery for 235 years until it was stolen by Napoleon in 1797 and transferred to Paris, where it is today.
San Giorgio’s bell tower collapsed in 1774 and was rebuilt in 1791, by a design of Benedetto Buratti. Today you can rise via lift to the belfry and from there you will admire scenic view of all Venice, including St. Mark’s Square and the surrounding lagoon. It is a breathtaking sight. Opening time: 9.30am-12.30pm/14.30pm-18pm, ticket 5€.
In front of the dock is located Bar Rosa Salva. Rosa Salva is an historical bar and bakery with several locations all around Venice. The one at San Giorgio is a very nice place with a terrace from which you can enjoy a great view. (Summer opening hours: 11am-7pm; Winter: 11am-5 pm, open daily).
There you can taste some very well made Venetians desserts such as the famous tiramisu, the zaletti cornmeal cookies to be dipped in vin santo (an Italian dessert wine), the zabajone (custard mixed with sweet wine dessert), and the baicoli biscuits. They also prepare artisanal ice cream and great finger foods. A place to go.