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:

  • Differentiated rubbish collection in Venice

    Differentiated rubbish collection in Venice

    Venice had an organised system of differentiated garbage collections from the 1400s, to keep the city clean and the canals…

  • 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…

  • Daghe adosso, Nino!

    Daghe adosso, Nino!

    An Austrian admiral giving orders in Venetian, in a naval battle against Italy, which eventually led to Venice becoming Italian

What others said

April 11, 2024

Although we’ve barely scratched the surface, the tour was a fascinating introduction to Venice history, culture and complex society. René is extremely knowledgeable, very articulate and most importantly, a passionate storyteller. This experience has triggered our curiosity and I immediately purchased a couple of books to read more about the city. I also recommend René’s numerous blog posts, articles, newsletters, lists and translations, providing an idea of the range of possible subjects for discussion during the walks.

Ofer
April 4, 2024

Excellent encyclopaedic knowledge. I wish I had prepared a list of questions, because I’m sure Rene would have had the answers!

Brona
April 1, 2024

René is SO knowledgeable about history in the area. René also does an outstanding job of connecting events and movements from around their world and their connections to Venice.

Sarah

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.