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San Barnaba

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If my nephews were writing this, they’d tell you that this is, by far, the most important and most interesting church in Venice because of the fact that it was featured in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and they would also tell you that it’s not really a church, it’s a library, and that Indy found some important clues in the “norman numerals” on the floor and that when Indy came up from underground and realized where he was, he said, “Ah, Venice!”

Because of the Indy connection, my nephews have developed an interest in going to Venice with me someday and I fear they’d be sorely disappointed when they visited this church and found no trace of the great Indiana Jones anywhere…no statue of him in the campo, no photos of him inside the church. :)

This church was founded in the 9th century though the big white neo-classical building we see today dates back only to the mid-18th century. The gently leaning Gothic campanile is much older than the church; it’s one of the oldest bell towers in Venice (parts of it are a thousand years old) and is one of a handful of towers with a pine cone steeple or “dunce cap” on the top. There are some nice photos of this church on Maria’s blog ( and a great story about her son making the Indiana Jones pilgrimage!).

IMG_0788

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In the campo in front of the church, there’s a large 16th century vera da pozzo (well head) with a couple of weathered saints on the sides:

San Barnaba (aka St. Barnabas)

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San Antonio (St. Anthony of Padua with a lily):

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In one of his “Venice for Pleasure” walking tours, JG Links points out this church but adds, “There is no need whatever to enter it” and I have to agree with him unless you are very interested in “The Machines of Leonardo di Vinci” (an exhibit the church has been hosting for the past several years).

But the campo itself is well worth a visit…...to see the famous vegetable market in a boat, to see where Katharine Hepburn fell into the canal in "Summertime" (A Lover of Venice has a great page about that movie here), and also to eat at one of several wonderful and not outrageously expensive osterie in this neighborhood. Many of them have been reviewed on Slow Travel, and I really enjoyed having dinner at Oniga, La Bitta, and especially Osteria Enoteca San Barnaba (the place where I had dinner with the campo cat named Mustapha). These are the kind of places that have handwritten seasonal menus posted outside and last December, I went to this campo and wandered around looking at menus and ended up choosing La Bitta because of its potato, leek, and gorgonzola soup (another advantage of traveling to Venice in the winter is that you can roam around without dinner reservations; all of these places are pretty small and reservations are probably a must at other times of the year).

On my wish list for my next trip is a visit to Pantagruelica food shop which I recently read about in “Brunetti’s Venice” by Toni Sepeda who says that this place has the best bread in the city and identifies it as the store that Brunetti and Paola visited in Donna Leon’s “Blood From a Stone”:

"Ten minutes later, they emerged with an entire loaf of the Pugliese bread, a wedge of pecorino, and a jar of the pesto sauce the owner swore was the best in the city.”

Ms. Sepeda adds, “Pantagruelica gourmet store, so popular that bread is gone on Saturdays before lunchtime closing, also has excellent white truffles for the holidays.”

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A view of the campanile, the side of the church, and Rio di San Barnaba in John Singer Sargent’s painting Venetian Canal.

Venetian_CanalSargent.jpg

Comments (14)

Will you also please take my son with you when you visit Venice with your nephews? LOL Pablo might be 30 but he's still a kid when talking about Indiana Jones.

I remember very well our hurried visit to the campo and how excited Pablo was to find it. I went back there with Anne last October and we both enjoyed sitting down in one of the outdoor cafes and enjoying a spritz before heading to Casin dei Nobili for dinner.

I'm looking forward to re-visiting this campo, now that I know a bit more about it and its connection to Summertime and Brunetti. Finding Pugliese bread in Venice must be a real treasure.

Love the painting. I sigh each time I see Sargent’s Venice.

sandrac:

What a great post, Annie. It makes me long to return to Venice -- I've rushed too often through Campo San Barnaba, going somewhere else.

Yet I loved Summertime, and now I'd love to return to San Barnaba and look at again through the lens of the film. (I thought it was a really bittersweet film and probably a lot more realistic than most Hollywood films today!) Thanks for the link to the page on the film by A Lover of Venice. Interesting parallels with the Woody Allen film (which I also loved, for all its goofiness!)

Plus, as an Indy fan, I have to see San Barnaba -- and finally, the mystery of those never-ending Leonardo posters is explained!

Great post, Annie! And how cool that your nephews have interest for visiting Venice now because of Indy:)

I love your photos and the painting, just wonderful!

Such a great post - will you take me when you take your nephews? From viewing this, OLD is beautiful - thankfully:-)menehune

Great post and love the painting!

Barb Cabot:

Thank you for this post. As a very young child I saw "Summertime" and was enchanted by this faraway then unknown to me place called Venice. I wanted red goblets and I longed to go to this magical place. I own that movie now and still love to rewatch it every now and then. I love that look as Katherine Hepburn leans out of the train and sees Venice for the first time.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, wonderful post. I think it would be so cool for you to take your nephews to Venice one day. And as a fellow Indy fan I can honestly say that it will still be exciting to see this church and to imagine the scene in the movie while there. I think your nephews would love it.

I enjoyed reading more about this wonderful campo and about the leaning campanile. That's a beautiful painting. I don't think I've watched that movie Summertime yet. It sounds like a great movie. And I also enjoyed discovering the Vegetable Barge near the campo. I actually spent some time here because I used the Internet cafe that is on the corner on the far end of the campo next to the wine bar/restaurant. :)

Thanks for the memories and this wonderful post Annie. Have a great day today.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, I forgot to thank you for sharing your wonderful photos. I really love the well head close ups, especially the one with San Antonio of Padua holding the lily's.

Also, for future reference, I'm definitely making note of the Pantagruelica food shop and the delicious bread you wrote about.

LB:

The Indy reference made me laugh!

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Maria, I'd love to be sitting there drinking a spritz right now! Can you believe I haven't even seen the Indy movie yet? I've heard SO much about it from the boys and am sure I'll watch it with them someday.

Sandra, I loved seeing the Woody Allen parallels too. The first time I saw Summertime, I was in Venice and it was on TV dubbed in Italian. I couldn't understand most of the dialogue but I watched the whole thing. When I got home, I rented the English version and watched it again. It's a beautiful movie (you are right about it being bittersweet).

Kathy, you might want to rent Summertime from netflix; I think you'd enjoy it. And I didn't know there was an Internet cafe in this campo too (I remember when you were blogging on your trip!).

LB, you'll be heading to Venice soon, right? Have a wonderful trip!

Amy:

You crack me up.

Man, I haven't been back to Venice since my first visit, five years ago. Must, some day.

Thanks Amy, I hope you make it back to Venice someday soon!

sheri:

Hope that you get to visit Venice with the boys one day - perhaps when they are a little older. They might be disappointed in the Church, but I am sure that it would be a memorable trip.My kids were 13 & 16, and they would have been content to feed the Pigeons in San Marco for hours if we let them - as though they never saw pigeons before!

Sheri, thanks for your comment. The pigeon/kids thing is so funny; several people who took their kids to Venice have said that feeding the pigeons was the highlight for their kids!

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