Cannaregio, a trade route between past and present

Overlooking the Cannaregio Canal, the historic residence of Ca’ Bonfadini
preserves the splendour of the past,
a gift from the Bonfadini and Vivante families.

Canaletto's painting detail.
Rialto Bridge.
Town Of Chioggia
River Po, the Delta
Napoleon looting Horses of Saint Mark, Venice, 1797
Cannaregio, view from the bridge of Tre Archi


The story of Ca’ Bonfadini follows the path of two families: the Bonfadini, who lived there between the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and the Vivante, who subsequently gave new life to the building.


Both were merchant families; it is therefore not surprising that Ca’ Bonfadini overlooks the Cannaregio Canal, one of the main access routes to the city through which, goods were moving.


If the Grand Canal was reserved for the Aristocracy and the major institutional events, the other canals had a more pragmatic function: they were the routes to ensure the vital flow of the city.


The Republic of Serenissima was well aware of this peculiarity, and for this reason the government decided to fortify some areas of the city for protecting the hydraulic engineering works that still today guarantee the correct functioning of the waterways.


The Cannaregio Canal notably connects the northern area of ​​the lagoon to the Grand Canal: from this arterial route the goods moved between Venice and the mainland – in the area where nowadays is located Mestre continuing to Trentino.


And it is not surprising that from the heart of the Jewish ghetto, one of the liveliest places for commerce, located right in front of Ca’ Bonfadini, the boats passed under the Tre Archi bridge to quickly reach Chioggia and the Po delta, and continued up the Great River.



A  waterway of huge importance for the Vivante family, which had based its fortune on maritime trade, and in 1797 had the opportunity to be among the suppliers of the Napoleonic army.


Nowadays the canal still plays this important role of connection with the mainland.


Boats loaded with goods supply the premises featured in the district, and the proximity to the railway station further strengthens the commercial importance of this area, which over the centuries has represented a place of dialogue between the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie.

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