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Sant' Angelo


Sant’ Angelo is a very spacious campo in the sestiere of San Marco, and one reason it’s so large is because there used to be a parish church here, San Michele Arcangelo (dedicated to Archangel Michael). The church is gone but you can still find an oratory and a very cool vera da pozzo (wellhead).

The carvings on the wellhead are connected to the name of the oratory (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata) or oratory of the Annunciation. Archangel Gabriel is on one side of the well holding his lily, and Mary is on the other side, receiving the good news.

Annunciation (Gabriel with lily)


Oratory of the Annunciation


The sweet little bell on the roof of the Oratory:


The church of Sant’ Angelo (or Sant’ Anzolo in Venetian dialect) was founded in 920, rebuilt several times, closed by the French in 1810, and then used as a warehouse for a couple of decades before finally being demolished by the Austrians in 1837.

The campanile (bell tower) of this church had quite an exciting history. It was one of many towers that fell on the same day during an earthquake in 1347 (legend has it that the bells of all these towers inexplicably rang of their own accord before they all collapsed). The Sant’ Angelo tower was rebuilt but began leaning dangerously - a tower-straightening expert from Bologna attempted to set it straight but right after he’d “fixed” it, the tower fell again, killing two monks in the adjacent monastery of Santo Stefano. It was rebuilt again and then twenty years later in 1487, it was stuck by lightning and partially destroyed. Rebuilt once more and survived for several more centuries until it was demolished at the same time as the church.

The little pink oratory is supposedly open occasionally, but it’s been closed every time I’ve walked by. UPDATE: I found it open in 2010. Photos here.

The church, campanile, and oratory are all visible in a couple of paintings. The first is by Canaletto.

Canaletto Sant Angelo

The second is by Gabriele Bella and can be seen in Venice in the museum La Querini Stampalia along with many other charming scenes of Venice by the same artist.

This painting has a hair-raising title, Bear-Baiting in Campo Sant’ Angelo, and truly, I don’t want to know what bear-baiting is or even think about it. But it's cool to see the demolished church next to the little oratory.

Bella Campo Santangelo

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Comments (10)


Really lovely post, Annie. Brings back some wonderful memories - I'm pretty sure Maria and I walked through Campo Sant’ Angelo last October!


What a fascinating history! (although I'm sure the poor monks that were squashed by the falling tower didn't think so.)

Still, the carvings on the well-head are absolutely delightful!

Your photos are beautiful, as are the paintings (but I'm glad we can't really see the bear-baiting; a terrible "sport" or exhibition from medieval days.)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, wonderful looking campo. And that is a cool looking well head and oratory. Interesting background about Church Sant' Angelo. How sad that it had such a difficult past before it was finally demolished. I loved seeing it in the paintings that you posted. I really enjoy looking at how Venice was back then and often thought of that while I was there.

Thank you for writing this great post and for sharing your wonderful photos Annie.

It is always so interesting to see the before and after photos. great post, Annie.

I agree it's sad that some of its history is gone, but thankfully we have skilled researcher, travelers and avid lovers of Venice to keep it alive for all of us:-)

Funny story about 'campanile' as mentioned in your blog - on my first trip to Italy, my fellow traveler was looking for a small charm of a bell to bring home as a souvie -- my brother-in-law, who had taken some Italian courses, became our interpreter. It took us awhile and few blank stares and some disgusted comments before we realized he was asking retailers for a campanile to purchase and not a small bell!

I always enjoy reading the history behind the churches in Venice, in particular those that have been demolished. I wonder if the construction materials from demolished churches were recycled like they did in Rome with many of the monuments (and sections of the Forum) that don't exist anymore.

Interesting painting although the second is a bit disturbing.

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Menehune, that is such a great and funny story about your brother-in-law. They must have thought he was a wealthy eccentric who wanted to live in a bell tower!

Maria, I know that the Venetians rowed out to Torcello and recycled materials from there after the island was abandoned (they hauled the marble and other materials back to Venice). But I'm not sure what happened to all the materials in the 19th c. when Venice was under French and Austrian rule....it might have been reused but not in Venice.

Great post Annie!
I really like this campo and the rio that passes under Santo Stefano. I know someone who actually visited the oratorio. You can see pictures of it at this address:
It was part of the 2009 rallye, see question 93.
Take care,

AnnaLivia, thanks so much for the link. It's a sweet little place...love that wooden ceiling. I just read a trip report on Slow Travel and a lady found it open on Easter, so maybe I'll get lucky one day. :)

Wonderful post. I am not sure if I have been in this campo before. Love the photos of the paintings also. Will definitely have to visit Sant' Angelo the next time I am in Venice. I think I will need at least a month to see all that you have posted that I have not seen yet :)

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