“Dorsoduro” means “hard back” and this refers to its clay foundations. It’s one of Venice’s six sestieri (these are, roughly, neighborhoods). It also comprises Giudecca Island and the Isola Sacca Fisola.
You can get there a number of ways, but perhaps the most scenic is to take the Accademia bridge. Dorsoduro boasts some of Venice’s finest museums, including the Accademia (founded by Napoleon in 1807), the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (the American heiress bequeathed her personal collection of mostly Dada and Surrealist art to her adopted city), Ca’Rezzonico (where Robert Browing lived, jet-setters celebrated, and Tiepolo painted some ceilings).
The new kid on the block is the Punta della Dogana, the former customs house, which now exhibits works from the private collection of the very wealthy Francois Pinault.
What else to see in Dorsoduro:
Basilica of Santa Maria delle Salute
Zattere (have a passeggiata)
Campo Santa Margherita