San Giorgio Maggiore is the island just in front of San Marco, across the canal. I had read a lot about the view from there, and as I am passionate about panoramic views (and I still do not own a drone) we decided to go there. Decision not to be regretted. It is so much more than just the tower and the views. It is a place where you find history, luscious vegetation, art, culture and quietness. I recommend it to everyone, and do not stick with the tower, take a time to walk around the island.
It is a short vaporetto ride, as the island is located circa 400 m from Piazza San Marco. When you get there the view over Venice, from the ground, is already breathtaking.
The island was given to Morosini, a benedictine monk, in 982 AD by Doge Tribuno Memmo to found a monastery. The place was in the hands of benedictine monks until the beginning of the 19th century when Napoleon claimed it to be a military area. In the 20th century Count Cini bought the island and rehabilitated the monastery. The monastery is now the house of Fondazione Giorgio Cini, which is dedicated to art history, history, music, theatre, etc. The San Giorgio Maggiore Church was designed by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). The bell tower was built in 1791, almost 20 years after the collapse of the first one in 1774.
The church inside has a beautiful art collection with works of art from Tintoretto, Bassano, and Ricci, including the Fall of Manna, Last Supper and Coronation of the Virgin.
The ascension to the campanile is made by a lift (ufffff, no stairs thank God), and when you get there the views are absolutely incredible. For me, it is now my favorite panoramic view, that includes most famous landmarks, the islands, a gorgeous view over Piazza San Marco, as well as the beautiful gardens of San Giorgio Maggiore. We stayed there for quite some time, really awed with such immense beauty, before we descended and headed to the gardens of Cini Foundation.
The surroundings of the Church are a whole different world from the busy San Marco and Rialto. There you really feel relaxed, surrounded by green, fresh earth smell, the smell of rosemary that impregnates the area where a small cafe is (we had a not so good cappuccino there, expensive, but worth the ambiance). Walking around, I forgot to take pictures of everything, so absorbed I was by the luxurious vegetation, views and peace I could feel on that place. As describing it would be too time consuming, I post below the layout of the island and the different places you can see, taken from the site of Cini Foundation:
It was now time to go, and enjoy the rest of our day visiting Castello, and ending with a nice meal, tired but happy after a fantastic day.