Far from the Santa Lucia train station and the dizzying, centripetal force of San Marco, Castello is utter sanctuary within Venice. This low-key, residential neighborhood modestly presented me with its quiet treasures: Isola San Pietro (with a beautiful 17th century church), sneak peeks of private gardens, and a labyrinth of footbridges that moved my entire being like musical notes across intimate canals.
Sauntering through certain quarters felt tight at times, but each turn revealed an unexpected find. Handwritten signs on makeshift materials choreographed me to duck my head (“Attenzione all testa!”) when approaching low clearance passageways.
With all its quirks and humility, Castello bears a superlative for housing Venice's largest public green space; the Giardini breathes jasmine into the air in fragrant pulses throughout the day. Private moments seemed to be the norm here, except that somehow this sleepy sestiere regularly plays host to the contemporary art world for the Venice Biennale. In anticipation for the opening events, the rhythmic tapping of hammers began to hasten and espressos on via Garibaldi were more anxiously consumed. When Castello fulfilled its bi-annual art world duties, it undoubtedly reverted to its preferred pace.