In Venice, across the Grand Canal from St. Mark’s and the doges’ palace, in the Dorsodoro neighborhood near the Salute church, there’s a little square, the Campiello Barbaro, that I’ve taken a shine to.
To the west, it’s bounded by a small canal, the Rio delle Torreselle, “of the towers,” named after a palazzo with towers, no longer extant, belonging to the Venier family. A sweeping staircase descends from the bridge over the canal, grand on a miniature scale. Foliage from a hidden garden overflows an old brick wall.
To the north of the square there is a famous palazzo, the Ca’Dario, with its rosette facade and ‘carpaccio’ chimneys, built — or restored, we’re not sure — by Giovanni Dario in the late fifteenth century. Giovanni’s daughter, Marieta or Marta, married her neighbor Vincenzo Barbaro, who lived in the Palazzo Barbaro Wolkoff next door.
The square is named for this famous Barbaro family, although their main residence was by the Accademica.
On the other side of Ca’Dario, Wake Forest University runs a residental study abroad program from Casa Artom on the site of the former Venier palazzo, “of the towers.”
There are shops below an apartment building on the south side, and more apartments to the east. There are a few forlorn saplings in the green at the center of the square. The whole thing is, perhaps, a tennis court or two in size.
[2 April 2011 update: there’s a scene in Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You set in the Campiello Barbaro, about 32 minutes into the film, when he ‘accidentally’ runs into the Julia Roberts character.]