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Hearts in Venice

Since there’s not a church in Venice dedicated to San Valentino, I'm going with a “heart” theme instead.

San Marco

This heart is on the floor of Basilica di San Marco and marks the place where the heart of Doge Francesco Erizzo is buried. His body is in the church of San Martino but his heart is here, as he requested in his will. There’s no name, just the little doge hat on top. He was doge from 1631-1646, a traumatic time in Venetian history that included 16 months of plague that killed 46,000 people, reducing the population by a third. Not many doges are buried in San Marco so I guess he must have been much loved to have his wish honored.

I read about this heart in a book, but it was many visits to San Marco before I finally stumbled across it and for some reason, it really moved me when I saw it for the first time, maybe because that church has my heart too. Anyway, if you want to see it, it’s in the high altar area to the left of the saint’s crypt.

San Felice

Another heart, this one on the floor of the church of San Felice. I assume someone’s heart is buried here too but I don’t know who.

And then there's the "heart in brick" (cuore in mattone) which I wrote about here.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!


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Comments (12)

Very cool heart pictures! My favorite is the heart on the floor of Basilica di San Marco. Interesting story also.

Happy Valentine's Day!!


Very beautiful photos!

Wonderful pictures. It really makes me wish I was returning to Venice this year!


Annie, your whole blog makes me wish I was returning to Venice this year! I love the story of Doge Erizzo too.

Your blog is wonderful. I love how you show us the quiet secrets of the churches.

Great photos! I never knew the story of Doge Erizzo's heart being buried there.


Excellent story - I love how you tied even Valentine's day into Venice!


Nice. Doge Erizzo was very old when he agreed to lead the Venetian Fleet in the liberation of Candia (Crete), which was under Ottoman seige. Norwich tells the story beautifully...Erizzo died en route and his heart is indeed in a crystal box under the marble plaque, as confirmed during 18th century restorations! S. Marco...I especially enjoy visiting the baptistry. The Altar is a Roman stella from Aquelia and there are reminants of early frescoes behind the left wall as you enter; these predate the mosaics. The mosaic arabesques are especially fine. And there is potential access to the Capella Zen (forever closed). Have you been in the crypt?

Hi Christian,

I enjoyed the baptistry too. It was closed the first several times I was in Venice, but then finally several years ago, I found it open. At that time, they were holding the 10 AM daily Mass in there. There's a HUGE stone on the altar that is supposed to be where Christ stood when he gave the Sermon on the Mount. There's also a very nice Gothic Pieta sculpture in there too.

I haven't visited the crypt or Capella Zen (will it ever open?!). I'd love to visit both.

This past November, I found the Chapel of St. Isidore open for the first time; it's gorgeous!

Thanks so much for your comments. I love chatting about Venice!


The S. Isodore chapel is often accessible during mass, but I think the baptistry mosaics are the finest (must admit I haven't been to Ravenna which is celebrated for its mosaics...as you know the masters who worked on S.Marco originally came from there). The crypt is a disappointment following heavy-handed restorations, I think in the 1980's. I understand they had to completely re-sheath the crypt with an impermeable synthetic membrane because it is below sea-level. The atmosphere down there is a bit sterile now, but still worth a visit. I recall walking along the galleries when I was a boy and would dearly love to do that again, but alas they are closed...maybe next time. I could discuss Venice for hours...paradise of cities indeed.

The galleries were open?! I'd love to go out on those!


The galleries have been off-limits for some years. You know, not so long ago (late 1970s) there were no metal railings around the Basilica and Piazzetta columns, and you could get up close to the ancient stones and mosaics. But I guess preservation is always a good cause. I like your passion for the street shrines, which are so charming and distinctive. Your recent post on the madonnas in S. Pantalon is great; a fascinating church which has undergone a lot of resoration recently. I love those "hidden" features, like Erizzo's heart, Bragadin's skin, and the Madonna del Scoppio, which are querky yet so characteristic of Venice...one of my favourites is the "Spy" in the Scuola San Rocco. Nice blog Annie.

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