Hidden History in plain sight – unseen Venice

Byzantine art on the walls in Venice

Anywhere you look, hidden history stares back at you.

An inconspicuous sign on a wall tells a story about long forgotten crafts and social welfare in the 15th century. Ancient graffiti under a portico reminds us how public transport worked in the 18th and 19th centuries. An oddly placed altar shows how faith was used to fight crime. History is all over.

The humblest of little signs on a wall hides a story worth being retold.

Even a short walk down the calli with a knowledgeable guide can teach you as much as a shelf full of guidebooks.

The Hidden History tour

I will meet you at your hotel, or at the restaurant where you’ve had lunch, or wherever it suits you in Venice, and we’ll walk around the city together, searching for messages from the past.

This is not a tour of great monuments and famous places. That’s all in the guidebooks, and you won’t need to for that. Rather, it is a search for all those little messages past Venetians have left around the city, that we don’t see even if they’re just in front of us.

We’ll talk about how social welfare worked in the renaissance, about the ancient links between Venice and the Byzantine Empire, about the Venetian trade on the Levant, and much, much more.

The hidden history is in front of our eyes, but we don’t always see it.

These articles cover some of the subjects we might cover on a hidden history walk:

  • Long live the doge

    Long live the doge

    Viva il doge – Long live the doge – the writing on the wall celebrating the election of Andrea Gritto…

  • Palazzo Morosini

    Palazzo Morosini

    Palazzo Morosini is a mixed Venetian Gothic and Renaissance palace in the Castello Sestiere which is unfortunately inaccessible to the…

  • Prostitution in Venice

    Prostitution in Venice

    In ancient Venice prostitution was considered a necessary evil, where more harm would come from a ban than from a…

What others said

November 22, 2021

I took every available tour of Venice during my three days here. Rene beats all other guides here 10 to 1, he is simply the BEST story teller, accurate research, curious facts and attention to detail, very passionate about the city and loads to learn even for a book worm like me. If I could give him ten stars I would. He will definitely be my guide next time in Venice. You can miss out on all the other tours here but you will not have seen Venice if you don’t go on his tour. Thank you so much Rene for making this visit so special!

Anna
November 9, 2021

Book this experience, you’ll thank me later! Rene is a phenomenal story-teller and possesses such a wealth of knowledge on the history of Venice. If you want something more beyond the basic facts you learn on the mainstream history tours, this is the experience for you. He opened our eyes to a Venice we would have never seen otherwise and kept us engaged the entire time and even long after we finished the tour. From climate-change and political/socio-economic forces that shaped the city to ancient graffiti and chips on a blank stone that mean way more than you would think they do. This was, hands-down, one of the most valuable experiences we had as first-timers and lovers of history in Venice.

Michael
June 9, 2024

René is very knowledgeable. history is a passion of his, he has deep knowledge and puts the info in historical context. fantastic tour

Leslie

Prices and booking

The hidden history walking tour can be two or more hours. The more time we spend together, the more we’ll see and explore.

Group tours

Groups can be from two to eight persons, so everybody can see and hear everything.

The price for group tours is €30/person for the first two hours, and €10/person for each additional hour.

Children under five can come for free, and children fourteen or younger for €10.

Private tours

Private tours are minimum €160 for the group. Otherwise, they’re priced as above.

A private tour can start at a time and place of your choosing.

You only pay for a private tour if you request a private tour.

Meeting place and time

I regularly do Hidden History walks starting at 10am in Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo, and if this will work for you, drop me a message.

If you’re looking for some other time or place, use this link to book an appointment directly into my calendar, and I’ll come back to you as soon as possible.