Venice: Secret Venetian Palace & Hidden Corners of Venice

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Step into a Venetian palace, visit an unlikely yet breathtaking staircase, explore the most hidden corners of Venice and experience the thrilling atmospheres of the Acqua Alta bookstore.


  • See Marco Polo House, Malibran Theater, Grimani Palace and Scala Del Bovolo (external)
  • Look inside the Acqua Alta bookstore and meet its 4 cats
  • Visit the Contarini Bovolo Staircase, one of the most unique examples of Venetian architecture


This tour is a gem among Venice tours designed to step into a real and hidden Venice, the one that still exists but not many people see during their trip. Prepare a journey between the present and past, stepping from an old palace to the thriving Acqua Alta bookstore, from the traditional 'campi' to the architectural miracle of the Bovolo Staircase. A local guide will take you along this walking tour sharing stories and historical facts of Venice. The tour will let you discover the most beautiful and least known areas of Venice. Discover gems such as the Marco Polo’s House, learning about the famous Venetian traveler and his epic journey. Malibran Theater (external) will be another must-see stop, the theater that was inaugurated during Carnival in 1678 and quickly became one of the main and most extravagant Venetian stages. The walking tour will proceed to one of the most beautiful and thriving 'campo' of Venice: Campo Santa Maria Formosa. From here, a tiny alley will lead you to a particular bookshop named Acqua Alta (meaning 'high water' in Italian). This name perfectly incarnates the essence of this place and Venice itself, with piles of books (new and used) arranged in unusual shelves: boats, gondolas, canoes, tanks and wherever it is unthinkable to store them. Book piles almost reach the ceiling and its old looking chandeliers, while the old encyclopedias, those you now do not buy anymore, have become steps of a creative staircase or wrap the walls of the external courts transforming them into colorful surfaces. Strolling along the 'shelves' will also run into the bookstore’s 4 cats, who roam and peacefully rest on the printed books. After this unusual and almost unreal experience, you will proceed to a picturesque, yet almost unknown, palace of Venice: Palazzo Grimani. This beautiful palace was the residence of the Doge Antonio Grimani, which was expanded in the mid-16th century by the patriarch of Aquileia, Giovanni Grimaldi. An educated man and avid collector of classical art and archeology, it is said that he personally designed the building’s features. You will then proceed to an architectural beauty hidden into a tiny alley not far but away from the crowded areas of Venice - the Contarini Bovolo Staircase. It is one of the most unique examples of Venetian architecture in transition from Gothic, well rooted in the local culture, to the Renaissance. Its spiral staircase is impressive, and the view that opens from its top is amazing as well: St. Mark’s Bell Tower, Basilica, Doge’s Palace, a 180 degree view over Venice’s wonders and roofs that will hardly be forgotten. This impressive staircase was commissioned by Pietro Contarini presumably around the end of 1400 in order to decorate the façade of the adjacent Palace of San Paternian owned by the illustrious Venetian family.


Tour guide

Important Information

  • Unfortunately this tour is not wheelchair accessible.

Easy cancellation

Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund


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