Once the home of a noble Venetian family, the Palazzo Querini Stampalia is one of the most handsome and ornate examples of canal-side mansions in Venice. The foundations of the palace were laid in 1514 and centuries later the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa carried out a complete overhaul of the palace in the early 1960s, at the same time reworking the courtyard gardens overlooking the canal, which provide a tranquil respite from 21st-century Venice. Its doors were first opened to the public in 1869 and today it serves as both a testament to an aristocratic way of life long extinct and as a community center as well as being home to the Querini Stampalia dynasty’s collection of fine art. The highlights of this 300-strong collection include works by Bellini, Veronese and Tiepolo, all exhibited amid stuccowork, Meissen porcelain and fine tapestries in 18th-century ducal apartments.
The Querini Stampalia Foundation also holds a full program of workshops, classical concerts and often-changing art exhibitions. Its 700-year-old library of 350,000 books and manuscripts is open to the public until late at night and is arguably the most beautiful place to study in Venice, housed under vast frescoed ceilings in a decorative suite of rooms. A bookstore and pretty café with a reputation for quality menus complete the visitor experience.
Santa Maria Formosa, 5252, Sestiere Castello, Venice. Open Tue Sun 10am–6pm (library open Mon–Sat until 12am, Sun until 7pm). Full ticket €10; temporary exhibitions €8 each. Free entry with the Venezia Unica Card. Take the Vaporetto watertaxi to Rialto or San Zaccaria.