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:

  • 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…

  • 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

July 7, 2021

Above and beyond expectation! We’ve done many historical tours, but René’s was truly exceptional! He has a true passion for his métier and goes way beyond the standard Venice history trip. A true historian that can link ancient to contemporary sociology-economic and political history to every inch of the city. And anything else that may interest you 🙂 He is humble, professional, fun and flexible to accommodate any special requests. A truly perfect way to kick-off a Venice adventure! With his insights you will spot endless details that otherwise you would walk past. Anything from ancient graffiti, security markers, revolutionary building structures, geological and climate effects, political organizers,… fascinating! No matter if you are an absolute history beginner of well versed in the literature, you will certainly be mind blown! Don’t hesitate for a second to book René’s tour!

July 6, 2021

Rene is very knowledgeable. He introduced the history of Venice to me through many details which you may never find it by yourself. I learned how to look at Venice in a more specific way.

July 6, 2021

This was a unique tour that showed me some history of Venice away from the normal tourist spots. Fun activity, got to see more local Venice and explore areas I would not normally have visited. Rene is passionate about the history and a good storyteller.


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.