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Looking for church, found cats

Happy 2011 everyone!

As I mentioned on my “hard-to-find” post, it took me a long time to find the entrance to the church of San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti, the church of the Ospedale Civile (public hospital) of Venice. The main door facing the canal is seldom open, so to visit this church, you need to enter from within the hospital complex and let me warn you, it’s a crazy maze in there. Very interesting though…parts of it are old and beautiful, parts of it look (and smell) more like a normal hospital, but there are lots of twists and turns. I had a general idea of where the church was but once I got into this place, I lost all sense of north/south/east/west. And so I wandered around for a long time looking for the church.

I walked in circles for a while, though I didn’t know it at the time, and I kept finding cloisters…at least four different ones. Then I was walking down a more normal looking hospital-type corridor and I passed a cat walking down the hall. A funny sight, for sure, even though I’d heard there was a cat colony living somewhere in the hospital complex but I wasn’t sure if they were still there. Then I passed this big room that looked like the hospital laundry….people were in there folding sheets on big tables with cats lounging around “helping” them. Then I came to this cloister with a huge vera da pozzo and a couple of cats sitting on it.

hospital cats

hospital cat

I'm not sure how many cats live here because a bunch of them ran and hid when I walked out into the cloister. A few of them did pose for photos. They look very well cared for, and it's a nice place for a cat colony with grass and trees and some old stone rubble for them to play on and hide in.

hospital cat

hospital cat

hospital cats

cat shelters

cloister rubble

hospital cat

hospital cat

While I was there, a woman wearing hospital scrubs came and started putting food out for them. I hope the patients in the hospital are able to come to this cloister for some feline therapy.

The other great thing about this cloister is this view of the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo which helped me get my bearings and headed in the right direction. I then found the church of San Lazzaro!

view from cloister

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Comments (10)


Lovely photos of the cats, Annie.
It just shows, it's sometimes better to get lost than to know where you are and where you are going. I think you saw more of the hospital than I did. I only saw one cloister, with a really good vdp, with a nice thingummyjig for hauling the bucket up. Did you see that too? But, for the benefit of other readers, to get to San Lazzaro, all you need to do is to keep going in a straight line parallel to the Rio dei Mendicanti outside. Don't turn left or right and you'll get there.

Bert, I think I did see the vdp with the "thingummyjig" (love that word!). I'll check my photos. Another cloister had a very big vdp that was octagonal, I think. I'll post those photos soon.

Happy New Year ! What a great post. The cats all look very healthy and happy. Fun seeing them in Venice.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, what a wonderful post. The cats that stayed and posed for you are very beautiful and they look really healthy and well cared for. That would be very cool if the patients in the hospital are able to visit with them.

I have to confess that I had to look up Cloister. One of the things I love about reading your blog is learning so many things. I would love to visit here next time I visit Venice.

Thank you so much for sharing your photos and your experiences. I am looking forward to reading more about your last trip.


The cats so look beautiful and pose so nicely for you! They must feel that you're sympatico.

Here's a rather pointless cat question: I can't recalling seeing photos of tuxedo cats (my favourite) from Venice. Lots with tortise-shell colouring, tabbies, all black, or mostly white, but not many tuxedo. Is this my imagination?

Thanks Carver. Venice used to have a huge population of street cats but thanks to a successful TNR program, there aren't as many any more. So I get excited when I find some.

Kathy, I'm glad you know what a cloister is now! There are a number of them in Venice; this one was especially nice because of the trees and grass.

Sandra, I'll check my photos when I get home. You might be right, not many tuxedo cats in Venice, but I did see one on Torcello this time (I'll be posting about that sometime soon).

Great cat photos! Funny, I am pretty sure this is the hospital I ended up wandering through on my first visit to Venice back in 1999 when I was completely lost. I had the crappiest map and constantly was lost the few days I was there. I don't think I ran into the church and don't remember cats though.


I love your cat photos. You were inspirational in my finding the San Lorenzo cats on my first trip to Venice.
I sent the link to these to a friend of mine who recently had knee replacement surgery in the hospital there. I told her that the feline guardian angels watched over her. She spent six days there and then on to a rehab center in Cannaregio. Home now at her apartment in Santa Croce but is blogging her experience.
She loved your cats.

Michelle, thank you! I'm glad your friend is recovering and that the feline guardian angels were looking out for her. Also glad that you visited the San Lorenzo cats.

I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. I'll have more "cats in Venice" posts coming soon including my first-ever kitten sighting in Venice!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 10, 2011 11:38 AM.

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