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Gesuati (Santa Maria Rosario)


This is the church that the Dominicans built on the Zattere when they outgrew Santa Maria della Visitazione. Built in 1726-43 by architect Giorgio Massari, this is one of many (too many?) big white Baroque churches in Venice. But this is probably the most refined and elegant of them all, not over-the-top or garish in any way.

It's another church that I like better from the side than from the front, but this façade is not ugly or overloaded with sculpture – it contains just four statues representing the Four Cardinal Virtues (justice, prudence, strength, and temperance). There are twin turret-style bell towers, though only the one on the right has bells.

Gesuati facade

A view from a vaporetto is here.

The interior is remarkably harmonious and contains works by all the greatest masters of Venetian 18th century art. The Tiepolo ceiling is the best – three vividly-colored frescoes featuring scenes with Our Lady of the Rosary (Santa Maria del Rosario) and St. Dominic.

There are mirrors in the church so you can study this ceiling without craning your neck but looking at art in a mirror gives me vertigo! These frescoes are gorgeous, and the paintings themselves are surrounded by these medallions that on first glance, look like carved stucco reliefs but they are really painted – a very cool optical illusion.

One of the nicest altarpieces is also by Tiepolo: The Virgin Appears to Three Female Saints (Rose of Lima, Catherine of Siena, and Agnes of Montepuliciano). The saints are lovely and sweet but the Madonna is very imperious-looking. Unusual. Other 18th century works include paintings by Sebastiano Ricci and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, and tons of sculpture by Gian Maria Morlaiter.

The oldest painting in the church is Tintoretto’s Crucifixion. It’s not a dramatic epic view like the one he did for Scuola di San Rocco, but a simpler scene with a beautiful richly-colored pile of well-dressed women fainting at the foot of the cross. The fabrics and colors of their dresses are wonderful.

I’m not madly in love with this church because I’m just not a huge fan of Baroque overall (and really, I like garish Baroque better than the elegant because it cracks me up!). But if you’re strolling along the Zattere (highly recommended) and have a Chorus Pass (also recommended), pop into this church and check out the ceiling.

Gesuati side

To Visit This Church

A Chorus Pass church, so it’s open Monday - Saturday from 10-5.


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Comments (7)

I love the photos. I remember passing by this church on the vaparetto. Next time, I am going to definitely stop and check this church out.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Great post Annie, Other than the Maria Salute chruch this was the first church I saw last year on my trip and really loved it! I've been sneaking peaks at all your blogs and couldn't resist commenting here! I bet you're looking forward to your trip next month!

Girasoli, thanks. It's definitely worth checking out.

Kathy, good to hear from you! Yes, I'm starting to get very excited (only a couple of weeks away now!). Sounds like you are having such a great time in Spain -I'm really enjoying reading your blog!


Annie, I do love this church and your photos are great. When I was last in Venice and stayed on the Zattere, I would walk past this church all the time and thought it so majestic -- it really dominates the waterfront.

When I was there two years ago in October, there was some flooding and I remember "the boards" were up in front of the church. I thought they were tables for some outdoor bake sale or flea market! I hadn't before seen "the boards"
and hadn't realized they really are basically high tables. I was expecting maybe sheets of plywood across big puddles. I certainly learned the hard way.....

Sandra, that is funny about "the boards." I just noticed the stack of them in my second photo! I've experienced acqua alta in Piazza San Marco but never on the Zattere - I imagine it was quite a sight!

Great post - I am learning so much as usual! Wish I were going with you to Venice, you'd be the best guide ever.

Mutuelle santé:

Having churches with fantastic photos, It draw us in a respect of the building itself and make us be in awe before such picture and it is like a journey in the ancient times.

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