Venice Myths: Is There Only ONE (or TWO)(or THREE) “Canal”?

Canale di San Pietro  (c)2009 R.D.Bosch

Canale di San Pietro (c)2009 R.D.Bosch

Articles and reviews continue to pop up in fairly high volume on the internet and in published materials stating that Venice has only one waterway actually named a “Canal” – or maybe two, or maybe three.

The lack of originality in repeating this myth is boring!

Certainly, names change over the course of history, yet these articles are being published in the 21st Century!  A review of current maps of La Serenissima reveals, at the very least, the following waterways named “Canal” (or “Canale”, an alternate and very Venetian usage) within the main body of the City:

  1. Canale Grande (the one referred to as the “one and only” by those determined to perpetuate that myth)
  2. Canal de Cannaregio (the usual “one of two and only two”)
  3. Canale di San Pietro (separating the eastern island of San Pietro from the main body of Castello)
  4. Canal de la Misericordia (in Cannaregio, leading south from the Sacca della Misericordia)
  5. Canale de la Galeazze (within the Arsenale, north from the Darsena Vecchio)
  6. Canale di Porta Nova (leading east to the Lagoon from the Darsena Grande in the Arsenale)
  7. Canale Scomenzera – (between Stazione Marittima and Santa Marta) which extends the old…
  8. Canale de Santa Chiara (the extension of the Grand Canal between the station and Piazzale Roma and the old island of Santa Chiara)
  9. Canale della Giudecca (separating the Giudecca from Dorsoduro – not considered by some to be part of the “main City…)
  10. Canale di San Marco (between Castello and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, leading east from the Bacino di San Marco)
  11. Canale della Grazia (between Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore and la Giudecca)
  12. Canale Columbuola (between Stazione Marrittima and Tronchetto, and from the railroad yard to Canal de Cannaregio – formerly a “perimeter” canal)

Some maps refer to several other Rii as Canale ( or vice versa…), but those occurances might be considered drafting and editing conceits.

Canal de Cannaregio (c) 2009 R.D.Bosch

Canal de Cannaregio (c) 2009 R.D.Bosch


A whole perimeter of Canale surrounds the main archipelago of the City, plus a whole network criss-crosses the Lagoon, as well as canals within the Burano, Murano and Torcello island groups.  Two examples along the north side of the main City are the Canale delle Fondamenta Nuove (north of Cannaregio and Castello) and Canale delle Sacche (northwest of Cannaregio)


These days, the Canale Contorta San Angelo is in the news as a proposed route for an ill-advised major cruise ship channel from Marghera to the Giudecca Canal to access the Stazione Marittima.

Even for the historically minded – after all, “History begins where memory ends” (Aldo Rossi), there are more than a half-dozen named Canals in the main City of Venice.

If you hear someone say, or read that there is only one canal (or only two) (or only three) in Venice, please gently disabuse them of that false notion.

It is the real myth.








About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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