July 19, 2014

Capella del Santo Chiodo

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Nails," so I decided to share this 2011 post about the "Chapel of the Holy Nail" in Venice. Happy Photohunting and have a nice weekend.


San Pantalon

The Capella del Santo Chiodo (Chapel of the Holy Nail) in the church of San Pantalon is such a wonderful little place. Admission to the church itself is free, but they ask for a one euro donation to visit this chapel. It's well worth it not just to see the altar that housed one of Venice’s most revered relics but also because of the amazing treasure trove of early Venetian art that’s tucked away back there.

Let’s start with the relic, the holy nail, which began its Venetian journey in the now demolished church and convent of Santa Chiara (it was in the sestiere of Santa Croce where the Piazzale Roma police station is now). How the Franciscan nuns of Santa Chiara came into possession of this relic is another charming Venetian story.

In 1270, a pilgrim visited Santa Chiara and gave the nuns a box and a ring, instructing them to keep the box safe without opening it, and to only give the box to someone who came along with an identical ring. Three hundred years passed, no one came, and I guess the nuns couldn’t take the suspense anymore and decided to open the box where they found a sacred nail used in the Crucifixion. A letter in the box revealed that the pilgrim who had brought the holy nail to the nuns was St. Louis IX, King of France, who had gotten the nail from Sant’ Elena (who had traveled to the Holy Land and found the True Cross). None of the dates in this story add up, by the way, but no worries, it’s still a great story. All that matters is that Venice ended up with an incredible relic.

When Santa Chiara was demolished, the sacred nail and its Gothic altar were moved to the church of San Pantalon. The altar is fantastic especially the little niche housing an exquisite early 14th century carving of the Deposition scene (top photo, you can click to see it larger).

I couldn’t see the holy nail and thought that perhaps it was only revealed on Holy Days, but then my UK blog friend, Andrew, told me that when he visited San Pantalon and asked to see the nail, someone told him that it had been stolen!


San Pantalon

On an adjacent wall is a glorious painting, Coronation of the Virgin (1444) by Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d'Alemagna (brothers-in-law who were both part of the Vivarini workshop and often painted collaboratively). This painting was commissioned for San Pantalon’s high altar where it hung for a couple of centuries. I guess than in the 17th century when the church was rebuilt and “went for Baroque,” they moved it since it’s small and would be lost in the huge and imposing altar that’s there now. Fine with me, it’s much easier to see in this little chapel. This painting was restored by Save Venice in 1996 and it looks wonderful.


San Pantalon

And then on the opposite wall are three paintings by Paolo Veneziano. In the middle is the lovely and haunting Madonna of the Poppy (1325). I love her!


A few more photos from the chapel are below the jump (click “continue reading”).


San Pantalon

Continue reading "Capella del Santo Chiodo" »

July 14, 2014

Corte de Ca' Sarasina revisited

More and more vintage photographs of Venice have been scanned in and made their way onto the web; I love looking at them.

I was excited to find this one which shows this Castello shrine and the Venetians in the neighborhood over a hundred years ago.

Click on the photo to see it larger, so you can see the smiling faces and all the laundry!

Castello 1194

This is one of the most fantastic shrines in Venice - more of a small chapel than a shrine and so well-cared for and loved. This shrine has been in this corte since the 17th century at least.

The Ca' Sarasina shrine even has a YouTube video complete with Mozart! And more laundry!

More photos are in my previous posts about this shrine:

My first post

My second post


There's another nice image of the Madonna in this corte - this one is more modern than the Byzantine icon inside the shrine.


Castello 1220


Castello 1220

May 31, 2014

PhotoHunt: Jewelry

Last month I did a post about the Madonna Nikopeia and her missing jewelry which would have been perfect for this theme too.

Wasn't sure I had more Venice-related jewelry photos but I found a couple (I guess that rosaries are jewelry, of sorts. Sacred jewelry?)


Love the colors of these rosaries - they remind me of Mardi Gras beads.


Venice


And here is Santa Lucia (St. Lucy) with rosary beads in her hand. This is inside the church of Santi Geremia e Lucia in Cannaregio.


Santa Lucia


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

May 23, 2014

PhotoHunt: Mirror

In the Galleria Franchetti in Venice, there's a painting by Titian called "Venus with a Mirror."

What's wrong with this picture? Well, despite the title, there's no mirror in it because someone cut off the right side of the painting (where the mirror used to be). Why? No clue. Maybe because the painting was too big for their frame? Hard to imagine cutting up a Titian!


Venus with a Mirror


This was a popular subject that Titian painted more than once. There's another "Venus with a Mirror" in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The mirror survives in this painting (a cute cherub is holding it for her).


Venus with a Mirror

Titian did this painting in 1555, five years after the Venice version. When he died, his son inherited the painting but then sold it along with all the other contents of his father's house to Venetian nobleman, Cristoforo Barbarigo. In 1850, the Barbarigo family sold the painting to Czar Nicholas I of Russia, and the painting was in the Hermitage until 1931 when it was purchased by Andrew Mellon who later gave it to the National Gallery in DC. A long strange trip!

The Galleria Franchetti is in Ca' d'Oro, one of the most beautiful buildings in Venice.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

May 2, 2014

Campiello San Antonio

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Flowers."

This stately large street shrine has a small pot of live flowers in front, and several bright and blowsy artificial blossoms stuck into the grate. While some of the shrines in Venice seem abandoned and neglected, the floral offerings show that this one is clearly cared for and loved.


Cannaregio 4933


It just makes sense that a campiello named for St. Anthony of Padua would have a shrine dedicated to him. As I've written before, San Antonio is the second most represented saint in the shrines of Venice after the Virgin Mary. The campiello was quiet and deserted the day I visited this shrine.


Cannaregio 4933


This shrine dates back to at least 1600 or so and has been a focal point and gathering spot for the neighborhood ever since.

The shrine originally contained a "bella" statue of San Antonio but at some point, it was stolen. The statue inside today is a relatively modern replacement. There are more flowers inside the shrine too.


Cannaregio 4933


I like the colors and random placement of these fake flowers~


Cannaregio 4933

Speaking of colors, Venice has the most beautiful bricks I've ever seen.

Cannaregio 4933


Cannaregio 4933

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 18, 2014

Still Life

When I saw this week's PhotoHunt theme, I immediately thought of Tom Robbins' great novel, Still Life with Woodpecker, which begins with a quote from Erica Jong: "There are no such things as still lifes."

I guess it depends on how you define "still" or inanimate. When I think of still life in art, fruit and flowers come to mind. They can't get up and walk around, but they are alive and changing, not really still.

Anyway, here's an interesting painting by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) called "Still Life in a Venetian Landscape." The apples are "still" but the lagoon landscape is not! This was done during the artist's neo-Baroque phase; a couple of his more surrealist paintings are in the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice. I like the colors - you can click on it to see it larger.


Still life in Venetian landscape


I found very few photos I'd taken in Venice that work for this theme. Though I guess technically a street shrine might be called still life? I did find a few more classic still life views.

A basket of pomegranates and squash at a trattoria by a canal~


still life


Still Life with Digital Clock, taken at the B&B where I stayed the last time I was in Venice.


still life


Another scene from the B&B~


still life

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 10, 2014

Madonna Nikopeia

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "stones."

Here's a Venetian mystery concerning precious stones and a beautiful icon of the Madonna.

The Madonna Nikopeia can be found in the Basilica di San Marco. The Venetians love her and even when the Basilica is filled with tourists and seems more like a museum than a church, you will see people praying to the Nikopeia in her chapel to the left of the high altar where St. Mark lies. I always visit her soon after I arrive in Venice - she's one of my favorite things in that city.

She came to Venice in 1204 as one of the many treasures the Venetians stole from Constantinople when they sacked that city during the infamous Fourth Crusade. Even before she arrived in Venice, she was believed to work miracles and was much revered by the Byzantines who would carry her along as they marched into battle (Nikopeia means "bringer of victory"; it's sometimes spelled Nicopeia or Nikopoeia).

Legend has it that she was painted by St. Luke.

Jan Morris wrote,

"the Nikopeia, the most holy prize of empire. If she served the Byzantine emperors well and long, she served the Venetian Republic better and longer. The Venetians adopted her, like the Byzantines, as their Madonna of Victory; before her image supplicatory masses were held at the beginning of wars, masses of thanksgiving after victories."

For several years, I wondered about her jewelry and its story. The photo below shows what she looks like today. There are precious stones embedded in the frame around the icon, but none on the icon itself.


Madonna Nikopeia


But up until about 1980 or so, she looked like this (the image was adorned with many gem stones and pearls, votive offerings from Venetians whose prayers she had answered).

What is that large blue stone above her head? Gorgeous! It looks like she's wearing a diamond necklace and even Baby Jesus has a necklace.


Madonna Nikopeia


At some point, the jewelry was removed from the icon and moved into the Basilica's Treasury where it is on display. Behind plexiglass, unfortunately for photographers!


Madonna Nikopeia

Why did they remove the jewelry? It was a mystery to me, but not long ago I might have found the answer while reading Jan Morris' "The Venetian Empire - A Sea Voyage".

Morris writes that in 1979, the Nikopeia's jewels were stolen by two young Italians (from the mainland, not from Venice) who managed to hide at closing time and get themselves locked inside the church overnight. They rushed out the door with the gem stones when the Basilica opened the next morning.

The thieves were later caught and the jewels were returned. My guess is that the Basilica decided to move them into the Treasury for safe keeping instead of returning them to the icon. And they must have restored the icon which was probably damaged when the jewelry was removed.

Jan Morris also shares a great personal story about the theft:

"I happened to be in Venice on the day of the theft and went along to the Basilica to attend the Mass of repentance and supplication that the Patriarch immediately held. Never was history so poignantly played out. A profound sense of sadness filled the fane, nuns sighed and priests blew their noses heavily, as they mourned the desecration of that particularly cherished piece of stolen property."

Madonna Nikopeia


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 4, 2014

PhotoHunt: Rocks

Rocks line the canal on the beautiful island of Torcello~

Torcello


Another view. The handpainted sign says "Rio Chiuso" (canal closed). I think there was some maintenance or repair work going on.


Torcello

Also on Torcello, one of my favorite shrines. The Madonna is standing in a rock garden. The plants look like hens and chicks (that's what we call them here in the USA, not sure what the Venetians call them). They look happy growing in the rocks.


Torcello


The same shrine, two years later. The blue paint has faded, but the plants in the rock garden are doing fine (the hens have had some chicks).


Torcello


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

March 29, 2014

PhotoHunt: Trees

There aren't a lot of trees in Venice, but there are more than you might expect. Here are a few.

A sweet little tree next to a vera da pozzo~


trees in Venice


A sculpture surrounded by trees. Not sure who this guy is (he looks like he's doing calisthenics)~


trees in Venice


Several trees plus the bell tower of San Vidal.
This one was taken from a vaporetto going down the Grand Canal~


San Vidal


And here's my favorite. One of my walking tour guide books mentions in passing that "at the 17th century Palazzo Surian, a tree can be seen sticking out from a window."

Yes, it can but why? Another Venetian mystery!


trees in Venice


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

March 6, 2014

Two More Reliefs

Earlier this year, I wrote about Campo Do Pozzi and showed a photo of the relief on the side of the vera da pozzo (well head) that shows two wells.

There are a couple of other reliefs on that same well. There's something poignant about these weather-beaten saints (and I learned their identities from one of my books; I didn't recognize them on sight).

Both of these images are related to churches in parishes close to Campo Do Pozzi. The church of San Martino is still standing, but Santa Ternita was demolished in the 19th century. I've started looking for info about Santa Ternita and hope to do a post about that church soon. :)

San Martino

Campo Do Pozzo


Three Angels symbolizing the Holy Trinity (Santa Ternita)


Campo San Pozzo

March 1, 2014

PhotoHunt: Steps

There are so many steps in Venice (all those bridges!), but I didn't have a lot of photos of them. I did find a few though.

Here are some steps with a wooden barricade at the bottom. Check out all those green plants growing from the stones. Nature prevails!


Venice steps


Steps leading up to some apartments. More green plants here. It's good to live in upper stories in Venice since ground-level apartments can fall victim to acqua alta (flooding).


Venice steps


A set of steps in this photo and also the high rise sidewalks that you walk on when acqua alta rises. Stepping up onto these platforms can be challenging!


Venice steps


These steps look slippery~


Venice steps


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

February 15, 2014

PhotoHunt: Vertical

The campanile of San Marco is the tallest bell tower in Venice and is a strong vertical that's visible from many parts of the city.

San Marco

San Marco

San Marco

San Marco


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

February 8, 2014

PhotoHunt: Water

A charming piece of street art in Venice showing The Baptism of Christ. I love how the artist carved those squiggly lines to represent the water.


Venice


This carving is very small and can be found above the entrance to a home, in between the street number and an electric light.


Venice


A carving of John the Baptist can also be found on this unusual cube-shaped vera da pozzo (well head) in the campo behind the church of San Giovanni in Bragora ~


Venice


And here's a well surrounded by water in a flooded campo. I wasn't able to get close to this one to see if any saints were carved on it.


Venice


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

January 24, 2014

PhotoHunt: Wine

These big glass jugs of wine are familar sights in Italy. I'm not sure what the Italian word for them is, but maybe someone else will know.

The four jugs in the first photo were empty, sitting outside in a campo in Venice. My guess is that someone picked them up and brought them back refilled. When you order the "house wine" in Italy, it often comes from one of these glass jugs (and the glass is protected by the basket surrounding it).

Vino Venice


Here's another one, sitting on a barrel outside Osteria da Alberto (a great place to eat if you're ever in Venice).


Vino Venice


This is a half bottle of wine - nice for when you are dining alone and don't want to get completely sloshed.


Vino Venice


And last but not least, a glass of prosecco. It's light and bubbly and delicious!


Vino Venice

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

January 17, 2014

PhotoHunt: Two

Campo Do Pozzi

"Campo Do Pozzi" translates to a campo with two wells. But as you can see in the photo below, there's only one well there today. What happened to the other one?

(Kudos to the resident of this campo who was trying to stuff his trash into the trash can despite the fact that his neighbors had dumped their trash alongside the well.)


Campo Do Pozzi


But check this out. On the side of the one remaining well, there's a relief that shows two wells! This well dates back to the 16th century, and the fact that they chose to honor the existence of two wells shows us how important wells were back in the day before modern plumbing (a time I can't and don't want to imagine!)~


Campo Do Pozzi


There's a beautiful shrine in this campo too with an image of Titian's Assunta inside~


Campo Do Pozzi


Campo Do Pozzi

Campo Do Pozzi


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

About Me

Seven trips to Venice so far and I’ve been inside 79 of the 149 churches. Now blogging about my November 2010 trip, church visits, street shrines, and art in Venice as well as life in the Tar Heel state. Read more

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