Tradition says a small church dedicated to St Demetrius, the martyr of
Thessalonica, was built here in
840. In 1170 the church was rebuilt and re-dedicated to San Bartolomeo,
being used from the 13th Century onwards by German merchants from the
nearby Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which is now the main post office, the
minister here being used for baptisms and funerals by the Germans as an
'official' front for their secretly-observed protestant beliefs. The church
is said to have been used as a civil service school in the 15th Century. A rebuilding of 1723 by Giovanni Scalfarotto
(possibly) is the church we see today. It was closed and deconsecrated in
the 1980s following decades of neglect, and reopened as an art gallery.
After a recent restoration it was being used for concerts.
The carving of the grotesque face over the entrance at the base of
the campanile (right) may be a reference to the suffering of St
Bartholomew, whose martyrdom involved being whipped and skinned alive.
All the art (including paintings by Palma Giovane and sculpture by
Heinrich Meyring) was removed when the church was deconsecrated, apart
from the sculptures by Meyring on the altar and the choir loft at the rear
of the church. A fresco over the altar also remains - Saint Bartholomew in
Glory by Morleiter.
Dürer painted the Madonna of the Rosary (see right) now in the
Národni Gallery in Prague,
for this church in 1506, as it was then the church used by the German
community. Commissioned by merchant Christopher Fugger, who is buried in
the church, it shows the
influence on Dürer of Venetian painting generally, and Giovanni Bellini in
Organ panels by Sebastiano del Piombo, showing Saints Sinibaldo, Alvise,
Sebastiano and Bartolomeo, were taken from the old organ, destroyed
sometime between 1733 and 1771. They are now in the Accademia following much-needed
restoration by Venice in Peril, for the Genius of Venice exhibition
at the Royal Academy in London in 1983.
(S. Sinibaldo (Sebald) is the patron saint of
Nuremberg, where he lived as a hermit. One of his miracles was using
icicles as fuel on the fire of a poor man who had given him shelter but who had no
Vincenzo Catena lived in Campo San Bartolomeo, and died there in
I did not go to look at the works of Sabastian del Piombo which it
contains, fully crediting M. Lazari's statement, that they have been "Barbaramente
sfigurati da mani imperite, che pretendevano ristaurarli."
(barbarously disfigured by inexpert hands, which
claimed to be restoring them) Otherwise the
church is of no importance.
50 m (162 ft) manual bells
Dates from building of 1170, but rebuilt following damage during the
earthquake of 1688 by Giovanni Scalfarotto
1747-54 with an octagonal drum and onion dome, based on Tirali's campanile
for the nearby church of Santi Apostoli. The old spire is just visible in
Marieschi's The Rialto Bridge from the Riva del Vin (detail right).
In Guardi's The Rialto Bridge from the North... of about 1768-9 you
can see the new dome at far left.
website for San Salvador says
Tue/Thur/Sat 10.00 - 12.00 am
Wed/Fri 7.00 - 9.00 pm (only for prayer and worship)
I think that it lies.
Facing the side entrance to the Basilica San Marco, the original church on
this site was built in 1076. The church was rebuilt after the fire of
1105, which destroyed 23 churches in total. It was again damaged by fire in
1661, when the altar decorations caught fire, and rebuilt in 1665. This
the current building, was probably designed by Giuseppe Benoni
with the facade (left) added 10
years later by Baldassare Longhena, but never finished - its
upper part was never built. A small campanile was built but later
demolished. Closed by the French in 1810, the church was later used to
house and restore works of art belonging to San Marco, and as an antique shop.
It was restored in 1951 and has since hosted
exhibitions and Vivaldi concerts. It needs a good clean.
The Piazetta dei Leoncini, which the church faces onto, also contains
the Palazzo Patriarchale. Begun in 1837 this was the last (so far) major
new building in the Piazza San Marco area. In the monumental neoclassical
style, it roughly but noticeably echoes the the facade of San Basso
The church in art
The Piazzetta di San Basso by Michele Marieschi (San
Basso's façade is
to the right) (see left).
The church is also visible in the background of Daniele Manin and Niccolò Tommaseo
freed from prison and carried in triumph to Piazza San Marco by
Napoleone Nani in the Querini-Stampalia
Vaporetto San Zaccaria
The church is first mentioned in the 10th Century as being founded by
the Caloprini, Burcali and Falier families.
It was given in 1013 to the Benedictine monastery of
Santissima Trinità e San Michele Arcangelo in Brandolo near Chioggia by Giovanni and Domenico Falier.
In 1167 a fire destroyed the original church and the second church, as
seen in the Barbieri map (see below), was built. It passed to
Cistercians at the behest of Pope Gregory IX in 1229. The order
neglected the church, however, and in 1435 the first Patriarch, Lorenzo
Giustiniani, made it a parish church. The structure of this church became dangerous
following the collapse of the campanile and so the current building, the
third, which dates from 1619-1629, was built under Patriarch Giovanni Tiepolo, architect unknown.
The church was closed in the early part of the 20th Century.
Said to contain works by Carlo Maratta, Jacopo Guarana, Sebastiano Mazzoni
(two painting of St Benedict), Antonio Fumiani, Giambattista
Tiepolo (St Francis of Paola, said to be 'rather faded and
over-cleaned') and Gaspare Diziani. Also the 'boldly painted' St
Sebastian having his wounds washed by holy women by Bernardo Strozzi,
a Genoese priest.
For the second church Jacopo Tintoretto painted an altarpiece for the high
altar, a Nativity of Christ for the Contarini chapel and the
organ's shutters and two works to decorate the organ gallery. The two
altarpieces disappeared during the 17th Century rebuilding, but the four
canvases painted for the organ have survived, albeit cut down, and are now
elsewhere. The Annunciation from inside the organ doors is in the
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The scenes from the exterior are in the Uffizi
in Florence. The organ canvases survived into the third church but were
removed in 1730 and sold to pay for the restoration of the organ.
Controversy surrounds the assertion that the painting from the high altar
is the Tinteretto Madonna and saints (see right) now to be
found in the Galleria Estense in Moderna.
(65ft) manual bells
The original campanile, with a sugar-loaf spire and four pinnacles, can be
seen on the Barbari map. It collapsed on the 26th November 1540, severely
damaging the church. It was
replaced during the 1619-95 rebuilding by the current one, which has an octagonal drum and onion
Has undergone comprehensive restoration quite recently but remains closed.
Vaporetto S. Angelo
The marriage of Contessina Marina Volpi di
Misurata (see left) and Prince Carlo Ruspoli at San Beneto in September 1927
Said to have been founded in the 9th Century but the earliest documentary
evidence dates from 1134. Rebuilt 15th Century in nave-and-two-aisles form
clearly visible on Barbari map. This church was demolished in 1506 and a new
one begun the following year. This was to a design by Scarpagnino, who
worked on the building until his death in 1549. Jacopo Sansovino took over
(with help from Alessandro Vittoria), designing the domed
apse, and the building was completed in 1564.
This was the guild church of the Scaleteri (vendors of biscuits and
sweets) whose patron saint is San Fantin.
A plain exterior of Istrian stone. The exterior view of Sansovino's apse
was blocked by some 'poor houses' which were cleared away in 1931, as a
tribute to Luigi Marangoni, Procurator of San Marco, and paid for by a group
of his friends.
Monumental and made of squares, I've read. A monument to Vinciguerra
Dandolo by Tullio Lombardo and paintings by the likes of Corona
and Peranda, and several by Palma Giovane. Also a 15th-century Tuscan
polychrome wood crucifix the restoration of which was paid for by Venice
in Peril in 2002. This crucifix was the one that was carried in front of condemned
prisoners from the Doge's Palace dungeons to the place of execution between the two
columns on the Piazzetta.
A visit (2011)
Open for a Biennale exhibit. The darkness and the largeness of the art
make appreciating the interior difficult. But it looks like an odd and
interesting space made of cubes. Grubby dark grey stone detailing, with a
couple of altars visible towards the back (see photo left). The art
masked the view of of the apse end pretty comprehensively but enough was
visible to whet the appetite, and I avidly await an opportunity to have a
look inside this one when it's artless.
Said to contain a John Bellini, otherwise of no importance.
This was probably the Virgin, Child and St Joseph 'in front of a
landscape and damasked curtain' which Crow and Cavalcaselle in their
History of Painting in Northern Italy in 1871 described as being by 'a nerveless
follower of Bellini in his last days'.
Except Summer 2011, when it was open and
housing some Biennale stuff, and then after that stuff was removed, until Jan 2012, when it
remained open. And Yvonne T took some photos (below left and below).
Vaporetto Santa Maria del Giglio
Built in 1582 as the chapel of the Ospizio Orseolo, it acquired its present form
in 1703. The Ospizio was demolished in 1872, a hotel being built in its
The painting above the altar has been attributed to Tintoretto, but most
authorities are sceptical.
One of the sites of the 2007 Art Biennale, housing an installation
by Bill Viola called
Ocean Without a Shore. I
visited in October but as it's a video thing nothing of the church inside
could be seen due to the darkness, which was a shame. Played host to
something called 'Georgia' during the 2008 Architecture Biennale, but was
closed when I took the photo (right).
Originally built before 1072 by the Dandolo and Pizzamano families, the
present church dates from a rebuilding in the mid 16th century. The
collapse of part of the façade in 1827 created an urgent need for more rebuilding in
1832, by Sebastiano Santi, with further major work in 1881.
Tucked away just North of Campo Manin, opposite a
long-disused cinema, it's orangey pink on the outside and not entirely
fascinating on the inside. An aisleless nave with deep apsidal chapels, there is a worse-for-wear Veronese,
The Virgin Appearing in Glory to Saint Luke, over the
high altar and a Palma Giovane, of course.
The church's main claim to fame now is the fact that Pietro Aretino
(who lived nearby on the Riva del Carbon) was buried here in 1556, but his tomb
got covered over during the 19th Century restoration. This church is also the last
resting place of his friend Ludovico Dolce, who died in 1568. He was a 16th Century writer
who was something of a hack but very famous in his own
time. He is now most known for Aretino and Venetian Art Theory, a
book taking the form of a dialogue, with discussions taking in Giorgione,
Michelangelo, Sebastiano del Piombo and, mostly, Titian. Aretino and Dolce
were said to be so close that they were buried in the same tomb, but this
is not true. A German painter called Carlo Loth who died in 1698 was also
The dissolute librettist
Lorenzo Da Ponte, later Mozart's librettist, was a priest here in the
1770s. Whilst living in a nearby boarding house he met Anzolletta Bellaudi,
who became his mistress and matched him in dissolution, reputedly
indulging in mutual fondling by young men in public, even in church. She
bore Da Ponte two children. In 1779 he was tried for living a debauched
life, basically, although his borderline heretic views may have been more
a factor. The Council of Ten found him guilty and he was banished from
Venice for fifteen years.
Campanile 22m (72ft) manual bells
Original erected in 1072, damaged by fire in 1105 with the top rebuilt
in 1462. Reinforced with girders in 1966.
The church in art
San Luca turns up oddly often in the sketchbooks of Turner, possibly
because it's on one the common canal routes from the San Marco area (where
he usually stayed) to the Grand Canal. The church is to the right of centre in
the luminous watercolour sketch (below) from the London Tate Gallery's collection.
Vaporetto S. Angelo
My idea of fun on a trip to Venice is to suddenly come upon a deserted
campo with an obscure
church that's usually closed with its doors open. At the
other end of the scale is a trip to San Marco, involving as it does long
queues, the opposite of solitude and an all-round pretty unspiritual
experience. Also I'm not a big fan of mosaics. So, as there are more than
a few places where you'll find loads of stuff about the Basilica, I'm not
going to bother, if that's alright with you.
Monday to Saturday: 9.45-5.30 (-4.30 October-April)
Vaporetto Vallaresso (San Marco)
Tradition says the original church was built in the 9th century, but the
earliest recorded mention is dated 1088. Rebuilt after the fire of 1105 and
in 1590. The present neoclassical church dates
from a rebuilding of 1795-1806, for patrician Pietro Zaguri,
Giannantonio Selva - the façade and altars being by Selva. The work was finished after Selva's death
in 1819 by Antonio Diedo and the
church consecrated in 1828. This rebuilding was carried out so that the
church could thereby replace Sansovino's demolished church of San Geminiano, with
design of the interior supposedly inspired by that church, and the work of
Severely classical façade with Ionic portal and rectangular
reliefs by Bartolomeo Ferrari and Luigi Zandomeneghi. A relief of the life
of the saint in the pediment.
The church having been deconsecrated, the interior has been stripped and the church is now full of old violins in display
cases - this is now a Vivaldi-related baroque music museum, but is still quite a
pleasing square space and worth a visit. It has a Greek-cross plan with a
central cupola surrounded by four bays each with their own blind cupola. The shop in the foyer is also a good source for obscure baroque
CDs that you might not find back home.
The De Barbari map shows a tower from after the 1105 fire, on the
opposite side of the calle, topped with a cone-shaped spire and four
pinnacles. Demolished to make way for the house of oil and flour
merchant Dionino Bellavite, who from 1564 onwards paid a fee 'for the
demolished campanile'. Roman-style bell tower built in 1795.
(The leaning campanile in my photo belongs to Santo Stefano.)
Alessandro Tremignon/Heinrich (Enrico) Meyring 1632
Photo above by David
The first church on this site was said to have been built of wood in
797 and dedicated to San Vittore. The second was built in 947 by Moisè Venier and
dedicated to his name saint (St Moses). This church was renovated
after the fire of 1105.
The current church dates to a rebuilding of 1632. Work on the façade began
in 1668 to designs by Alessandro Tremignon.
The reconstruction was paid for by the Fini family and it's Vincenzo Fini,
who was made Procurator of San Marco in 1687, whose bust sits atop the
central obelisk on the facade, propped up by angels, saints and a pair of
camels. In the order above you'll find four virtues, with sibyls at the
top. The whole theatrical thrust of the facade is to the glory of the Fini,
and represents the mercantile lives of the brothers. All the decoration is
by Flemish sculptor Heinrich Meyring (sometimes Italianised to Merengo)
who also carved the massive sculpture on the altar inside, with the help
of Tremignon, seemingly out
of a rock. It shows God handing the tablets to Moses. The grave of John
Law, the man behind the Mississippi Bubble, is in this church, near the
Baroque churches can
often be more than a little overwhelming in the
profusion of their decoration, but San Moise just makes your jaw drop.
And that it stands next to the modernist plainness of the Hotel
Bauer-Grünwald just exaggerates the effect even more. Meyring's altar
inside gives some idea where Walt Disney got the idea of dioramas from.
It has all the good taste of the exterior, but the rest of the interior
is somewhat less overpowering with some good art.
The church in art
John Piper produced a lithograph of the façade in 1961
The late-renaissance use of the facade to glorify generous benefactors
was said by our man to be a manifestation of insolent atheism.
He also called it one of the basest examples of the basest school of
Campanile 47m (153ft) electromechanical bells
14th Century with fired brick spire.
Daily 3.30-7.00 officially, but it actually seems to be open most of the time.
Traditionally said to have been first built in the 7th Century, by St
Magnus, to whom the Saviour (Salvatore) had appeared in a dream
and sent him a sign - a red cloud this time. This church is said to have
had an iron-grating floor with running water beneath. A
rebuilding of the 12th Century after a fire can be seen on De Barbari's
famous map of 1500. The present church was begun in 1506 to designs by
Giorgio Spavento, with Tullio Lombardo supervising following Spavento's
death soon after work began. Lombardo died in 1532 and Jacopo Sansovino was
responsible for the completion of work from 1530-34 and for the lovely
frescoed side entrance onto the Mercerie. The façade was rebuilt 1649-63
to a design by Giuseppe Sardi with sculptural decoration by Bernardo
Falcone. It has an Austrian cannonball embedded in the bottom left hand
The church has a lovely dark grey interior, which reminded me of some
favourite churches in Florence, although the triple-domed interior is
supposed to hark back to the Byzantine and to San Marco. Despite the darkish stone it's
a well-lit church - large and imposing, but restrained and not
overpowering. The interior is designed on mathematical principals, based
on the proportion 2:1.
The great Titian Annunciation
(see below right)
sits on an altar by Sansovino, next to his tomb of Doge Francesco Venier,
it's one of the few late Titians in Venice.
The other great Titian is the Transfiguration over the high altar,
which hides a 14th Century silver reredos revealed only at Christmas,
Easter and at the feast of San Salvador on the 6th of August.
Then there's The Supper at Emmaus
a stiff piece of work which might be by Giovanni Bellini, or a pupil of Bellini called Benedetto
Diana (who seems the safest bet), or it might be a copy by Carpaccio, or
by Bellini's studio, of a Bellini original - it depends on which book you read,
which art historian you trust. The church itself used to cover its options
by having both the famous artists' names scribbled in biro on masking tape stuck on the
plastic sign nearby, with question marks.
There are also works by Paris Bordone,
Palma Giovane (of course) and, on the inside of the organ doors, two
paintings by Franceso Vecellio, Titian's brother, who is also said to be
responsible for the frescoes in the side entrance. The sacristy, which I
missed, has more frescoes by him, discovered in the 1920s and swiftly
restored. In 2003.
It's a monumental and plain church, as well as being historically
important, with the words 'big' and 'dark' applying too. The late Titian
Annunciation is becoming a favourite of mine. And in case you're
wondering why Mary is lifting up her scarf and showing the angel her ear
it's because that was evidently the organ through which God...well, you
know. There's another Titian over the high altar but the truly bad
restoration job done on this one means that you'd probably never guess.
The remains of St Theodore, Venice's original patron saint, are in the
chapel to the right of the apse. And the right hand wall of the apse has a
large painting of something nasty happening to a naked chap. (The
labelling is a bit patchy in this church.) Many tombs and altars,
including an altar to the lunganeghi (sausage makers) with statues by
Vittoria of Saint Sebastian (with a metal arrow embedded in the
stone) and Saint Roch (with a very discreet sore on his leg). I
went to see if they'd changed the label on the painting that may be by
Bellini, Carpaccio or, more likely, neither of them. Last time there had
been some confused scribbling on some masking tape, this time there was no
label but the young woman attendant was saying it was definitely by
Carpaccio, to some rightly sceptical people who were enquiring. (And why
are the attendants in San Salvador always young women?)
Two very early Bellinis, a Crucifixion and a Transfiguration,
both still looking very
indebted to Mantegna (and both in the Correr Museum) may have been
painted for San Salvador. A Giambattista Tiepolo altarpiece depicting four
saints, painted for the Cornaro family for the right transept's right-hand
altar, was destroyed in a fire.
Campanile 23m (75ft) mechanical bells
De Barbari's map shows a chunky detached tower that was a 14th Century
renovation of the original. Restoration in 1881 saw the tower raised.
The shaky structure had its foundations broadened in 1903 and 1911.
The church in art
Canaletto, Campo San Salvador, around 1736, Private collection,
London. (see below)
The attached monastery, with its restored cloisters (with the red banner
over the door in the photograph above right) is said to be Sansovino's
work too. Suppressed by Napoleon in 1810, it is now the HQ of a phone company and open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm.
In the interior of the church are some of the best examples of Renaissance
sculptural monuments in Venice. It is said to possess an important pala of
silver, of the thirteenth century, one of the objects in Venice which I
much regret having forgotten to examine; besides two Titians, a Bonifazio,
and a John Bellini. The latter ("The Supper at Emmaus") must, I think,
have been entirely repainted: it is not only unworthy of the master, but
unlike him; as far, at least, as I could see from below, for it is hung
Monday-Saturday: 9.00-12.00 and 3.00-6.00,
The afternoon hours are shorter (4-6 pm) in the summer (June-August).
A photo from the Biennale website. As to
what and when...
San Samuele is another of the Old Testament prophets which
Venice, unique among cities in Italy, have venerated as saints, due, it is
said, to its strong ties with Byzantium and the Near East.
The original church was built in the 11th Century by the Boldù family,
and repaired after fires in 1105 and 1170. The current
building dating from a rebuilding of 1685. The façade and the statue of the Virgin over
the door date from this rebuilding. In 1952 the façade was rebuilt and
the original, but much changed, porch was restored. At this time the
loggia on the upper storey was also opened up.
Said to contain a Crucifixion by either Paolo or Domenico Veneziano,
and a 14th Century icon (see photo below). Frescoes in the apse, by
an unknown artist, show Christ, the Four Evangelists, the four
fathers of the church -Saints Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and Gregory -
and the eight sibyls. The frescoes are thought to date to the 1490s and
were discovered under a coat of whitewash in 1882
A visit (2011)
Open, for once, for the Biennale. You enter under an organ loft that's
lost its organ. There are four almost identical altars, two on each side
at the back and one either side of the high altar facing forwards. It has
a triple nave four arches long with good-looking oil paintings set into
the spandrels (see far below). No really good art amongst the
paintings over the altars or at ground level. The frescoes in the apse are
pretty spectacular, though (see left), having been restored by Save
Venice in 2000.
28m (91ft) manual bells
Byzantine in style, made of Istrian stone and dating from the 12th
Century. One of Venice's oldest, but reported to be in a very poor state of repair.
Off of Campo San Samuele, to the right of the church, is Calle Malpiero,
where you can see the house in which Casanova was born. This whole area is
Casanova-ville. He played in the orchestra of the San Samuele Theatre (now
a school). The parents of Casanova got married in this church on 17
February 1724. He was baptised there. And in 1740, at the age of 15, he
gave his first two sermons in this church. The first was a great success
the offertory plate came back not just full of money but with some love
letters in it. But the second one was a disaster hed eaten and drunk
too much, and not prepared properly, and rather than do the brutta figura
he pretended to faint. And that was the end of his ecclesiastical career.
The church in art
Grand Canal at San Samuele, an impressionistic watercolour by John
The parish in poetry
Contrada piccola, grande bordel;
Senza ponti, cattive campane,
Omini becchi e donne putane.
This old poem about the parish of San Samuele translates as...
Small as it is, its a great big brothel
Without bridges, its bells all jangly
The men are cuckolds and the women whores
Opened during 2011 for the housing
of the exhibit of Andorra for the Biennale.
Vaporetto San Samuele
1696-1700 Antonio Gaspari/ Andrea
Founded in 1084 by Doge Vitale Falier who is
thought to have built it in honour of his name saint. Rebuilt after the
fire of 1105, and again from 1696
to a design by Antonio Gaspari, commissioned by the Morisoni family as a
memorial to Francesco Morosoni, who defeated the Turks at Morea and then
served as doge from 1688-1694.
Long deconsecrated, the church spent some time as an exhibition hall for
the Catholic Union of Italian Artists and now hosts concerts. Restoration
work in 1902-3 and in 2000.
Palladian-style façade (1734-7) modelled on that of San Francesco
della Vigna, by Tirali, and paid for by Doge
Carlo Contarini. Busts of Contarini
and his wife on the façade, and of Teodoro Tessari, the parish priest whose efforts lead to
A single nave with side altars. Deconsecrated and formerly used
as an art gallery, the church has the stripped-bare look that churches
acquire when cleaned out for the purposes of (Vivaldi) concerts and the
selling of CDs. But every cloud...at least it's now almost always open, so
you can get in to see the art highlight.
San Vidal on horseback, a late and handsome Carpaccio (see
right). Also the Guardian Angel with St Anthony of Padua and St Gaetano
of Thiene by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta restored by Venice in Peril
the Glory of Venice exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in
29m (94ft) electromechanical bells
Originally of 1084, rebuilt after the 1105 fire, like the church. Further
restored after an earthquake in 1347, and again in 1680.
A door in its base (see far right) is surmounted in an almost
convincing fashion by a fragment
of a 12th Century cornice and a 15th Century relief roundel of St Gregory.
The church in art
Canaletto's Campo San Vidal and Santa Maria della Carita (The
Stonemason´s Yard) (see below) in the National Gallery in London is
said to depict masons working on the stonework for San Vidal's rebuilding.
Tradition says that the church of San Zulian (San Giuliano in Venetian dialect) was
founded in 829, but the church is first documented in the 11th Century, and some sources claim it was
rebuilt after the fire of 1105, at the expense of the Balbi family. By the
mid-15th Century this church is said to have been in a poor state.
The current church dates from a rebuilding
commissioned in 1553 by Tommaso Rangone, a physician and astrologer from
Ravenna who could not be accused of undue modesty. He made his fortune
from syphilis cures and wrote a book on how to live to 120 which was based on his
observations regarding the longevity of Venetians. (He lived to the age of
84, since you asked.) His obsession with longevity may explain his
ceaseless quest for immortality in paint and stone. He is depicted in
major roles in Tintoretto's paintings for the Scuola di San Marco (now in
the Accademia) for which he became Guardian Grande. He had also wanted to
be commemorated by an effigy on the façade of San Geminiano, the parish
church which used to face the Basilica across Piazza San Marco, but this
request was refused by the Signoria as too vainglorious.
Jacopo Sansovino was put in charge of this rebuilding, but while he was
building a new façade the roof collapsed and he had to start again from scratch.
Alessandro Vittoria collaborated with him towards the end, and the church
was finished and consecrated in 1580, ten years after Sansovino's death. Rangone kept the
architect's model and made arrangements for it to be carried in procession
during his funeral. He's buried in the chancel here. His marble coffin is
said to have been made in the shape of his body. It's also said that his
bones were transferred to the island of Sant'Ariano in 1822.
That's a bronze statue of Rangone by Sansovino, made in 1554, in the arch
over the door (left). Rangone is depicted holding sarsaparilla and
guaiacum, two of the ingredients of his syphilis cure. The portico is set
back, rather than sticking out, because of space constraints. The façade
also features odd symbols and inscriptions in Latin, Greek and Hebrew
telling us what a great and generous man Rangone was. This is one of only
two freestanding churches in Venice (i.e. that can be walked all around). The other is
Angelo Raffaele. Much work was carried out here by Venice in
Peril in the early 1990s. This included cleaning and applying protective
substances to the façade and the statue of Rangone, which also
needed protecting from pigeons. Much work was done on the interior too.
A square aisleless nave almost totally, and oddly, free of the usual
architectural detailing, having just two Corinthian pilasters framing the
Square and aisleless and very dark. The only substantial architectural
details are the Corinthian pilasters either side of the chancel, but
there's lots of gold and works by Palma Giovane including, I have to
admit, quite a nice Assumption. Appreciation of the painted ceiling
is much improved by putting some coins in the light, but this is verily a
light of most stingy duration.
Saints by Vittoria and four paintings, including the cross-shaped
ceiling painting The Apotheosis of Saint Julian, by Palma Giovane. The
first altar on the right has a 1584 Pietà by Veronese, with saints
below by his assistants. Also a Last Supper formerly attributed to
Tintoretto but now said to be by the studio of Veronese.
Since visiting I've read about Boccaccio Boccaccino's Virgin and Child
with saints which has a sweet air of Bellini and Giorgione about it,
but it didn't make an impression when I was there. Next time.
A triptych featuring paintings of St Christopher and St Sebastian by
Antonello and his son Jacobello da Messina either side of a wooden statue of St
Roch was recorded here in 1581 by Francesco Sansovino. The St Sebastian
panel (see left) by Antonello, is now in the Dresden Gemäldegalerie.
De Barbari's map shows a tower, presumably built during the second
rebuilding, topped by a sugar-loaf spire and four pinnacles. The current
tower dates from the demolition of this old campanile in 1775 and is the only
one in Venice that rests on
the roof of its church.
Daily 8.30 - 7.00
Vaporetto San Zaccaria
Santa Croce degli Armeni
A house on the site was supposedly given to the Armenians around 1253
by Marco Ziani, the son of Doge Pietro, grateful
for the fortune he'd made in their country. An oratory was built in 1496 as Santa Croce di Cristo (the Sacred Cross
of Christ). This was rebuilt as a church in 1682-88 and renovated in 1703.
small Armenian population of Venice later began attending services at the monastery
on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni and this church fell into
disuse. It has recently come into use again.
entrance is off the Sotoportego dei Armeni - the farther of the two doors
in the photograph of the sotoportego (see right). The church has a small square interior,
richly decorated in a classical style with a central cupola. Sardi and
Longhena are sometimes suggested as possible architects. The altar paintings
date from the period of the restoration.
Campanile 24m (78ft) manual bells
Hard to see (see right) dating from 1682-88 too, and with an onion dome.
For mass only, in Armenian, on the last Sunday in the month at 10.30.
Vaporetto Vallaresso (San Marco)
Santa Maria del Giglio
Giuseppe Benoni/Giuseppe Sardi
The original Byzantine-basilica style church was said to have been founded
by the Slav Jubanico family, a name corrupted over time to Zobenigo. Hence the
church's other name Santa Maria Zobenigo. The church burnt down in 966 and
in 1105. This church survived until the present church, whose name translates as Our Lady of the
Lily, was built in 1680 by Giuseppe Benoni, with the façade and side
altars by Giuseppe Sardi. Similarly to the nearby Santo Stefano this
church has its side onto a broad campo with its façade facing a narrow calle.
Restored in 1833
The façade is another of the irreligious self-glorifying displays that
Ruskin condemned, along with San Moise, as a 'manifestation of insolent
atheism'. Here it's Antonio Barbaro who left 30,000 ducats in his will
with precise instructions as to how Sardi was to celebrate his political
and military careers. The heavily populated facade has Barbaro's four
brothers, clothed according the public offices they held, on the lowest
level, with Barbaro himself on the next level up, over the door, all
sculpted by Giusto Le Court. Hoards of allegorical figures and putti keep him company.
Also some angels because this is, you know, a church after all. The plinths under the pairs of Corinthian columns
on this upper level show battle scenes, whilst the plinths under
the Ionic columns at ground level show plans of the cities of Antonio's
military triumphs: Zara, Candia (Crete), Padua, Rome, Corfu and Spalato
There are two unusually under-populated early Tintorettos of evangelists
on either side of the altar which were originally organ doors. The
contract for these doors survives and gives Tintoretto just sixteen days
to finish the job. It's dated 6 March 1557 - exactly 400 years before the
day I was born! There's also a
Virgin and children by
Rubens (much rarer in Venice - this is the only one). Although some guide books use words like
'alleged' and 'attributed'.
A compact and aisleless space, with three shallow altars either side.
There's an impressively detailed big arch over the high altar, with an
organ behind. The Molin Chapel (entrance to the right) has the only Rubens
in Venice - a somewhat fleshy Madonna and Child, not really in
keeping with its surroundings. The chapel has a ceiling painting by Son of
Tintoretto and lots of extravagantly designed reliquaries with bones,
nicely labelled with the name of the saint they came from. Remains also
include hanks of hair and other hard-to-identify bits that it's probably
best not to know or enquire about. Elsewhere there's a Tintoretto
altarpiece, looking a bit 'studio of'. The Evangelists by
Tintoretto, taken from a destroyed organ and hung at the back of the apse,
are much better, and you can walk around behind the altar to get a better
look. Also an impressive Last Supper by Giulio Del Moro on the
inside front wall, with four cute sibyls by Il Salviati ranged below.
There's also a sweet little carved high relief panel of St Jerome, and an
overpowering carved baptistery crawling with putti. A church whose
cumulative pleasures sort of creep up on you.
Visible in the Canaletto painting (see below). Was leaning a
lot when it was demolished in 1774. Rebuilding began in 1805 but work
only reached 26 feet - this stump is now a gift shop. Barbari's famous map shows
a stump too, but here it's because it was being built, suggesting that an earlier tower had toppled too by 1500.
The church in art
Santa Maria Zobenigo by Canaletto (see below) from 1738/40 with the
demolished campanile then still intact. Guardi painted an almost identical
view thirty years later, even copying some of the figures and groups.
So incensed was he at their vainglorious and atheistic appropriation of
this church's façade that when he learnt, during his visit of 1851, that
the last members of the once-great Barbaro family, two old brothers,
were then living in the garret of the nearby family palazzo Ruskin wrote
to his father So they have been brought to their garrets justly.
Monday to Saturday: 10.00 to 5.00
A Chorus Church
Vaporetto Santa Maria del Giglio
Photo above by Vicky Greig
1294-1325/early 15th Century
Photo by Val
A convent church was founded here around 1264 by the Augustinian hermits
of Sant'Anna in Castello and named for Saints Augustine and Stephen. Work
on the current building began in 1294 and was finished in 1325, with rebuilding in the
early 15th Century and restoration in 1743. The church has had to be
reconsecrated six times because of, according to Jan Morris, 'repeated bloodshed within its walls'.
The first being when Girolamo Bonifazio wounded a monk called Fra
Francesco Basadonna on Whit Sunday 1348. Further such incidents occurred
in 1556, 1561, 1567, 1583 and 1594.
The facade, with a fine carved doorway said to be
by Bartolomeo Bon (below left) faces onto a cramped calle, which does not make viewing it,
or photographing it, very easy. The interior is one of
Venice's most memorable and impressive. Divided into a nave and two
aisles, the walls are painted and guilded in a pleasing diamond and acanthus-leaf
pattern and above all is the richly-decorated ship's keel (carena di
nave) roof probably made in the Arsenale. The columns are alternating
red and white marble, with frescoed arches, and the floor pleasingly compliments the colour scheme.
The sacristy is chock-full of paintings, with some characteristic late
Tintorettos, including an impressive and large Last supper, one of
many by him in Venice. In the
small cloister beyond you can get close to some sculpture by Pietro
and Tullio Lombardo amongst others, including Canova's tombstone for Senator Giovanni
Falier (below left). Canova's first Venetian studio was in the
cloister of Santo Stefano.
The St Jerome polyptych by Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni
d'Alemagna, originally on the right hand wall here, is now in
the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, where it's called
The church in art
The Church of Santo Stefano, from the Rio del Santissimo, a
watercolour by J.M.W. Turner. The church and its campanile feature often
in his sketchbooks too.
An interesting building of central Gothic, the best ecclesiastical
example of it in Venice. The west entrance is much later than any of the
rest, and is of the richest Renaissance Gothic, a little anterior to the
Porta della Carta, and first-rate of its kind. The manner of the
introduction of the figure of the angel at the top of the arch is full of
beauty. Note the extravagant crockets and cusp finials as signs of
The monastery was suppressed in 1810 and the buildings now house the Ministero delle Finanze.
The large cloister, off of Campo Sant'Angelo, can be visited on weekday mornings. It's a handsome
but the wires and air-conditioning units, amongst other impositions, show
it to be what you might call a working cloister. Some nice steps, corners
and bits of stonework though, so worth a visit. Beyond is a second and smaller
cloister (see below left).
Campo Santo Stefano was used for bullfights until 1802, when the last
one held in Venice took place here.
Late Renaissance (1544) and leaning, with a newer top. On 7th August 1585
it was struck by lightning, collapsed onto nearby houses, and the bells
melted. Replacements came from England, where Catholic churches were
being stripped under Elizabeth I. Rebuilt in 17th and 18th Centuries The
base was reinforced between 1902 and 1906 due to subsidence and
consequent leaning. Still said to be unstable.
Monday to Saturday 10.00-6.00; Sunday 3.00-6.00
Cloister: Monday to Friday
Photo by Val
Santi Rocco e Margarita
In 1485 the Scuola di San Rocco briefly moved to an oratory on this
site with the intention of building a church to house the relics of St
Roch, its patron saint, but soon moved to their present premises
near the Frari.
The oratory and some adjoining houses were given
to the Cistercian nuns from the derelict Monastery of Santa Margherita on Torcello who began construction of the church and convent in April 1488,
with contributions from the Augustinian friars of Santo Stefano and the Lezze family (Luca Lezze was Procuratore
di San Marco in 1464) The church was consecrated in 1547. In 1597 an altar
was built for the holy icon of the Madonna brought here from Lakonia in
The monastery was suppressed in 1806, and the
church closed in 1810. After some years' use as a music venue both were
acquired in 1822 by the priest Pietro Ciliota, who founded a school for
girls. Two of the five altars were sold, and the
other furnishings dispersed. The Istituto Ciliota (since restoration in
1999) offers accommodation in the monastery.
A single nave with side altars- a functional little space with charm, some
unspecial art, a stage and projection screen at the back, and a TV and
video player on the altar. I'd heard that there had been some talk of
turning it into a supermarket some time back - not the most imaginative
fate for what must have been a sweet little church in its day.
Amongst the lost art a painting once above
the main altar was by Francesco Montemezzano, highly praised by Boschini,
who also lists two more altarpieces: an annunciation by Matteo Ingoli and
another by Girolamo Pilotti. A bas-relief showing the trinity and the
annunciation is now in the collection of the Patriarchs.
The church in books
In her book The Virgins of Venice Mary Laven, writing about the
lengths enclosure went to, tells us that Patriarch Vendramin told the nuns
of SS Rocco e Margarita to block up the holes ventilating their
toilets, lest they catch a glimpse of the street below whilst going about
Accessible through the Istituto
Photo above by Brigitte Eckert