Home to the political nerve centre of Venice, the sestiere of San Marco, starting from the area of “Rivo Alto” which is divided between this sestiere and that of San Polo, has been the heart of Venetian life since the early days of the Republic. The great showpiece of the Serenissima, the Piazza San Marco, was later conceived as a grand theatrical setting for the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica.
The square, described by Napoleon as, “the most elegant drawing-room in Europe”, was the only one deemed fit to be called a Piazza; the others were merely campi, or fields.
The San Marco area has the majority of luxury hotels, restaurants and shops. It is also home to several imposing churches, three theatres, including the famous opera house, La Fenice and numerous palazzos.