Fondaco Benetton or dei Tedeschi

Former trading house of the German merchants

If you look along the canal from the Rialto Bridge, you will see the remarkable Fondaco dei Tedeschi on the right-hand side. The trading house was built in 1228 and is one of the oldest buildings in Venice.

 (Marco Secchi)

The building in its present form dates from the 16th century and was built entirely according to the Venetian architectural tradition. Even from a distance you can see the five large gates at the canal side which allowed merchant ships to be loaded and unloaded easily. The 4-floor building contains some 160 rooms – including 80 bedrooms and numerous magazines. It is perfectly designed for its function as a trading house on the Rialto. Unfortunately, only fragments survive from the magnificent facade which was once decorated with frescoes by Giorgione and Titian. It used to house the General Post Office of Venice. Now sold (once again ) to the Benetton Family this is the proposed transformation...

Does Venice really need a new departments store...?? Does it really need such a transformation on an iconic building?

20 Great Things to do in Venice 6/20 - Art

Tour the Venetian masters of art

Venice is a unique and precious repository of art. From the late Middle Ages until the mid 18th century, artists of the highest caliber left thier mark all over the city and works by Venice's grand masters Titian (c1488-1576), Tintoretto (c1518-94), Canaletto (1697-1768) and Tiepolo (1727-1804) can still be viewed in situ today. See Titian’s glorious 'Assumption' above the high altar at I Frari, Tintoretto's epic masterpiece 'Crucifixion' at Scuola Grande di San Rocco, and Tiepolo's monumental frescos at the Pietà and Ca’ Rezzonico.

For a one-stop-shop of Venice’s foremost artistic treasures, head for the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

VENICE, ITALY - NOVEMBER 23:  Two women admire two different paintings by Lorenzo Lotto at the press preview of Tribute to Lorenzo Lotto - The Hermitage Paintings at Accademia Gallery on November 23, 2011 in Venice, Italy. The exhibition which includes two very rare & never seen before paintings opens from the 24th November 2011 to 26th February 2012 in Italy. (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

On the trail of Tintoretto

An exhibition honouring 16th-century Venetian master Tintoretto opens in Rome today Saturday, following the painter's career from his days as an ambitious disciple of Titian to a bitter old age. "Tintoretto was the most controversial painter of his time," Melania Mazzucco, one of the organisers, told reporters in the Italian capital.  Tintoretto, whose real name was Jacopo Robusti, owed his nickname to his father who was a manufacturer of dyes ("tinta" in Italian). He became one of the greatest practitioners of the Venetian style. Images from Venice  - Fotografie di Venezia...***Agreed Fee's Apply To All Image Use***.Marco Secchi /Xianpix.tel +44 (0)207 1939846.tel +39 02 400 47313. e-mail sales@xianpix.com.www.marcosecchi.com (Marco Secchi)

Tintoretto used to live meters away from Campo Dei Mori where he used to walk probably every day

The exhibition, which runs until June 10, begins with one of his monumental works "The Miracle of the Slave" (1548), measuring 4.16 metres by 5.44 metres (14 feet by 18 feet) and normally jealously guarded in Venice. The choice of putting a slave at the centre of the painting instead of the saint who is rescuing him was considered scandalous at the time.Another masterpiece in the show is "The Theft of the Body of Saint Mark" (1564) showing a group of Christians in Alexandria taking away the saint's body from a bonfire that has been miraculously extinguished by rain. Apart from religious and mythological subjects, Tintoretto also painted hundreds of portraits -- a source of revenue from aristocrats, writers and celebrities that he used for contacts and protection. Tintoretto's pride was legendary: he once turned down a knighthood from French king Henry III because he did not want to kneel down and he refused to allow his beloved daughter Marietta to leave his home. His final years were cruel to the painter. Marietta died in 1590, followed by his son Giovanni Battista. His last self-portrait shows a somber and humbled Tintoretto, his face marked by the harshness of life. His last child died in a convent in 1652, leaving him without descendants.

Christmas in Venice

While preparation are taking place in Venice and the Lagoon for Christmas here are few tips:A wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve is to attend midnight mass at St. Mark's Basilica. But remember, midnight mass starts at 10:30 p.m. and you should get there early to get a seat (no tickets are needed). Try to enter through the north entrance and not the west entrance often used by tourists.

VENICE, ITALY - DECEMBER 08:  Three gondoliers chat near a Christmas decorated Rialto Bridge on December 8, 2011 in Venice, Italy. HOW TO LICENCE THIS PICTURE: please contact us via e-mail at sales@xianpix.com or call our offices in London   +44 (0)207 1939846 for prices and terms of copyright. First Use Only ,Editorial Use Only, All repros payable, No Archiving.© MARCO SECCHI (Marco Secchi)

Venice's main Christmas market is at Campo San Stefano and ends on Christmas Eve. I have been told that is going to open also this year....at today there is no trace of it! There is a small market and an ice rink in Cpo San Polo

Even though December 26th is a national holiday (St. Stephen's Day), most of Venice's museums and sites will be open.

Several Venice restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and even on the 23rd and 26th. Most hotel restaurants and Harry's Bar are open. Be sure to do your homework and make reservations ahead of time for Christmas meals. We hear Caffe Quadri and the restaurant - Piazza San Marco's famous cafe - is open on Christmas Day. Good place for Christmas breakfast and coffee!

Remember that the vaparetto schedule changes on major holidays. Check the signs posted on the platforms for schedule information.

Each year on December 26, the Frari Church in San Polo (in the Campo dei Frari) offers a free concert at 4:00 p.m. The church is filled with magnificent art, including Titian's Assumption of the Virgin, Canova's Tomb and a carved monk's chair from 1468.

For an incredible seafood dinner and a warm celebration at midnight, go to Trattoria Antiche Carampane on New Year's Eve. (San Polo 1911; (39) 041 524-0165) The price for dinner runs about £70 per person. No matter where you go that night, you must make reservations.

Another restaurant recommendation: Antica Trattoria Poste Vecie (Rialto Pescheria Venezia; (39-041-721-1822) is open on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. This restaurant also has excellent fish and a larger menu as well. The soups and Venetian-style calf's liver are terrific. Fireplaces keep the restaurant warm on cold nights.

If you're in Venice on January 6, don't miss the Befana races. Men clad in long skirts, wigs and babushkas climb into boats for races on the Grand Canal. The best views are from the Rialto Bridge.