Tales and mysteries pervade every corner of the lagoon city and its legendary history, which Alberto Toso Fei knows all too well. The author has covered this subject comprehensively for over 10 years, which he shares in his latest book “Misteri di Venezia, sette notti tra storia e mito, leggende, fantasmi, enigmi e curiosità” (Studio LT2, 2011).

The book actually describes the area around Campo Santo Stefano as particularly curious and mysterious, starting with the church itself, which the campo was named after: did you know that this church has been re-consecrated six times? Perhaps that’s because of the acts of violence carried out inside the church, although many believe it’s because of the bloodstains that continue to appear on the ceiling.

Next, turn into Calle delle botteghe, once a very popular area among the Germans who were mainly “calegheri” (cobblers): this fact is confirmed by a gravestone and the capital of a column where you’ll find examples of footwear from the 6th and 7th century. Speaking of antiques, while you’re in the area, do visit the Kleine Galerie – Federico Gorini’s art gallery and antique store – and discover rare books, precious ancient prints and majolica; the Giorgio Mastinu Fine Art gallery (drawings, prints, photographs, modern and contemporary art documents); and find original ancient rugs and fabrics, as well as oriental art at Augusto Rillosi.

From Calle delle botteghe, turn right into Campiello Novo o dei Morti. Its name, translating as the ‘little campo of the dead’, is rather ominous… and it’s not the only place with a gloomy name: the little campo was once a cemetery, prior to the edicts of Napoleon. Mainly friars from the Santo Stefano Church were buried here. The campiello is notably raised and this led people to believe that bodies were buried here, for hygienic reasons, after the plague in 1630.

We’d be pushing it if we told you that the nearby skull-shaped mirrors by Stefano & Sandro Zanin – whose shop is only a minute away in Salizada San Samuele – were inspired by this story. However, trust us, the shop is definitely worth a visit. Go along and admire their other creations too, which combine the glass art tradition with modern and creative figures.