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March 2011 Archives

March 2, 2011

Titian's Annunciation in San Salvador


The church of San Salvador has two paintings by Titian – one that I absolutely love and another that I’m not that crazy about. The painting on the high altar (The Transfiguration) is the one I don’t love – some art historians think it was badly restored and maybe that’s true; it looks a bit flat to me and the colors look strange. But no worries, because the other Titian is a mind-blower – The Annunciation (third altar on the right). Titian was over 70 years old when he painted this one. Mary is being approached by Archangel Gabriel, who looks particularly powerful and androgynous, but all the action is in that impressionistic burst of energy, angels, and light above them.

There’s another Titian Annunciation in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, painted almost thirty years earlier, and it’s really interesting to compare them - the San Rocco one (below) is gorgeous, but it’s so quiet and serene while the San Salvador one is explosive.


There’s an interesting mystery connected to the signature on the San Salvador painting. Titian signed his name and then wrote “fecit fecit” (he did it, he did it). Some scholars think that he was being grouchy and addressing critics who might think that the painting was unfinished or had been done by artists from his workshop and not by him. But Lorenzetti (Venice and its Lagoon) says that Titian signed it that way “to emphasize the miracle of his activity” and that makes more sense to me. I think he knew it was a great painting.

Continue reading "Titian's Annunciation in San Salvador" »

March 7, 2011

San Salvador

San Salvador

One of the eight San Magno churches and therefore one of the oldest in Venice, San Salvador is well worth a visit not only because of its great art collection but also because it’s a perfectly elegant space. The Renaissance church we see today is probably the third church that’s been on this location; legend has it that one of the earlier incarnations had an iron grille for a floor and you could see the water rushing by below. Today in front of the main altar, there’s a hole in the floor with a clear cover, but it’s dark down there and I couldn’t really see very much besides old stones.

The interior is gorgeous and clean with amazing multi-colored marble floors, some of the best church floors in Venice. I’ve already mentioned my favorite things….Titian’s Annunciation, the relics of San Teodoro, and the cloisters next door, but there’s much else to see, including several impressive funeral monuments for various Cardinals and Doges, and also one for Caterina Cornaro, the queen of Cyprus who gave her island to the Republic.

Pretty much every church you visit in Venice has someone in attendance; old guidebooks call them “sacristans” but today they are more like security guards in most cases. But San Salvador has several ladies who seem more like docents, and they love to talk about their church. One of the ladies told me that San Salvador is the second most important church in Venice after San Marco – a debatable claim but I admired her loyalty and love for the place.

Anyway, when you visit, ask one of the ladies if you can see the sacristy – it’s an incredibly beautiful room with 16th century frescoes of trees, flowers, and peacocks. A nice and surprising change of pace, like walking into a secret garden. These frescoes were whitewashed over when the French suppressed the monastery and have recently been uncovered and restored.

Titian's Transfiguration on the high altar. The altar to the right is where San Teodoro's relics are.~

San Salvador

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March 9, 2011


Castello 6282

Shrines like this one just make me smile. It's got a funky art deco feel to it, and I love all the colors inside.

I'm still going through my photos from my November trip, sorting and putting tags on them. I was on the verge of having a big unwieldy mess, so in addition to sorting my most recent ones, I'm going back into the archives to tag ones from previous trips too. I'm also going back to old blog posts and replacing photos if I found I had a better one. Pre-spring cleaning!

Anyway, I'm starting to notice small or large changes in various things that I photographed more than once but in different years. It's especially interesting when I see changes in shrines that I might not have noticed right off the bat like I did with the poor little melting San Antonio shrine.

These top two photos were taken in November 2010 and the two down below were taken on my previous trip. This shrine was nice before but is even better now.

Castello 6282

Continue reading "Evolution" »

March 10, 2011

Madonna del Rosario

Dorsoduro 2237

Another sweet shrine. This one's in Dorsoduro, not far from the church of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, still one of my very favorite churches in Venice. The relief is degraded but you can see that Mary wears a crown and is holding a squirmy Baby Jesus, and both of them are holding rosaries.

I have a rosary with reddish-pink rosewood beads that I bought in Vatican City. It's beautiful and smells just like roses...I got it out recently to see if the scent had faded and it hasn't. I also have a string of Hindu prayer beads that were a gift from a friend who got them in India. Always interesting when traditions like prayer beads cross faiths. I think they are used in Buddhism and Islam too.

I like how this shrine has two vases for flowers - they look much more modern than the shrine itself, but whoever added them put them to the side so the flowers wouldn't block the view of the sacred image.

Dorsoduro 2237

Dorsoduro 2237

March 11, 2011

PhotoHunt: Machines


This week's theme is "Machine(s)."

Not the easiest theme in the world since I don't take many photos of machines. I did find a couple in the archives. Both of these made me nostalgic and that's why I took the pics.


My family had a VW Bug when I was a kid.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people in Japan and others dealing with this latest weather disaster.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


March 15, 2011

Mulino Stucky

Mulino Stucky

This is the rear view of the humongous Mulino Stucky, a former flour mill on Giudecca that’s now a Hilton hotel. You’ve seen this place (you can’t miss it) if you’ve ever walked along the Zattere and admired the view of Giudecca across the canal. It was built in 1895 by a German architect hired by the Swiss businessman who owned the factory. Most people found it an eyesore when it was built and some probably still do, though others think that it’s not so bad as far as 19th century industrial architecture goes. The flour mill was in operation until 1955 and at its peak, employed 1500 people and is credited with bringing electricity to Venice.

The ancient church and convent of Ss. Biagio e Cataldo were destroyed to build this factory. This religious complex began as a refuge for pilgrims on the way to the Holy Land and later became a convent for Benedictine nuns, founded by Blessed Giuliana di Collalto (1186-1262). She was revered as a saint in Venice and credited with working miracles both before and after her death. For centuries, migraine and headache sufferers came to her church to seek healing from her.

Her painted sarcophagus is one of the oldest examples of Venetian painting still in existence; it’s now in the Correr Museum and you can see a photo of it here (scroll down to "Venetian school").

When Ss. Biagio e Cataldo was demolished, the relics of Blessed Giuliana and some of the art were taken to the nearby church of Sant’ Eufemia; its side portico was built with materials from the demolished church.

Mulino Stucky casts a huge reflection - looks like the paint has run off the building and into the canal.

Mulino Stucky

March 17, 2011

Annunciation (Ponte di Rialto)

Ponte di Rialto

This is for Sandra (her blog is A Journey of a 1000 Miles), who "collects" Annunciations and will be able to add this one to her collection when she returns to Venice this summer!

So when you are looking at the side of the bridge shown in the photo above, Archangel Gabriel is on the San Polo side and the Madonna is on the San Marco side. I had a photo of the angel but not the Madonna (I found her on Wikipedia).

This isn't the only Annunciation scene on this bridge; I'll post the other one tomorrow.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!



March 18, 2011

The other Ponte di Rialto shrine

San Marco, Ponte di Rialto

Oops! Sorry guys, I was wrong. There's not another Annunciation but there is an Assunta! I messed up when translating one of my books but found another (in English) that identified this relief as an Assumption scene.

There are two shrines on the Rialto bridge - one on the San Polo side and this one on the San Marco side. Mary is being lifted up to Heaven by the crowd of cherubs below.

San Marco, Ponte di Rialto

The wine bar next to this shrine is a fun place to sit and watch all the traffic on the Grand Canal. A photo of this bar was posted all over the Internet after the especially high acqua alta of December 2008. My photo shows it dry; click through for the wet view.

San Marco, Ponte di Rialto

Continue reading "The other Ponte di Rialto shrine" »

March 21, 2011

What's Going On?

"There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear..."

Dorsoduro 103 or 108

I love a good mystery and of course, Venice is full of them. Bert of VDP and I have been emailing about this shrine and as Bert noted, we have more questions than answers. Maybe someone else can shed some light into the intriguing scene on the relief inside this shrine.

There are three characters (from left to right)....a naked man sitting down, a naked woman standing up facing him, and a clothed bearded gentleman with his hand on the woman's head.

Dorsoduro 103 or 108

Both my Capitelli book and Venezia Museo identify it as a "Purgatorio" scene in which St. Peter (?) is trying to get a reluctant woman to leave Purgatory. The book does have a "?" next to St. Peters name and as Bert noticed, the bearded guy doesn't appear to be holding the keys that usually identify St. Peter.

A Lover of Venice captions it as "Carnal Love Behind Bars, Dorsoduro." Perhaps the woman is so carnal that she doesn't want to leave Purgatory?

Then Bert noticed that PreserVenice identifies the scene as the Creation of Eve. But look at Bert's photo below...the naked guy's hand is inside her belly and she looks pregnant. Not part of the Adam and Eve story as far as I know.

Any ideas?!


Continue reading "What's Going On? " »

March 23, 2011

Cappella Votiva

cappella votiva

I wish I knew more about this place especially whether or not it's ever open. This votive chapel is in Cannaregio on Calle del Forno, not far from the church of Santa Sofia. It was built in 1806 to house a miracle-working image of the Madonna and San Rocco that had been in a nearby street shrine. If anyone knows more, please let me know!

cappella votiva

March 25, 2011

PhotoHunt: Cage(d)


This week's theme is "Cage(d)."

Birds for sale in a shop window in Venice. Seeing animals in cages makes me sad. These little guys look very crowded in there. I hope they ended up in better living quarters later on.

birds for sale

When looking through the archives trying to find something for this theme, I noticed that some of my Venetian street shrines look like cages. Free the saints!

The statue inside this shrine is Santa Teresa di Lisieux. She's sometimes known as "The Little Flower" or as the "Saint of the Little Ways," and you've probably received an email about her (it's been floating around the web for years).

A couple of other photos of this shrine are here. It has a beautiful purple marble frame around it.

Dorsoduro 1523

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. Happy Spring!


March 28, 2011

Sant' Andrea della Zirada

Sant' Andrea della Zirada

It’s hard to imagine what this part of Venice used to be like. At one time, this was the western-most part of the city, very quiet and undeveloped, and this church and its convent were surrounded by orchards and kitchen gardens. Sant' Andrea della Zirada is a Gothic church so, of course, John Ruskin loved it and he also praised the view:

“Well worth visiting for the sake of the peculiarly sweet and melancholy effect of its little grass-grown campo, opening to the lagoon and the Alps.”

What would Ruskin think today if he saw the view of the highway bridge with cars zipping across and all the modern buildings of Piazzale Roma that surround this little church now? We can no longer see the Alps, instead we see the People Mover!

The real name of this church is Sant'Andrea Apostolo but like many other churches in Venice, it acquired a nickname. “Zirada” means “bend” and refers to the curve of the canal in front of the church. This curve was at one time one of the important milestones of the historic Regatta; boats turned around here at a pole (paleto) in the canal.

The church was founded in 1329 by four Venetian noble-women along with a convent and a hospice for poor widows. The church we see today was built in 1475 and according to reports, still has an elegant barco or singing gallery for the nuns. At one time, the church housed a fine altarpiece with a painting by Veronese of St. Jerome, now in the Accademia. The convent is mentioned a number of times in Mary Laven’s "Virgins of Venice", which recounts various escapades of the noble-born Sant’ Andrea nuns (at one point, the bell tower door was locked by decree after the nuns allegedly climbed to the top and “flaunted” themselves to the neighborhood). The whole complex was suppressed in the early 19th century, and the convent was demolished. Recently the church was the studio of sculptor Gianni Arico.

2015 Update: see a peek inside this church!

And another peek with crazy modern art (thank you Yvonne!).

The lunette above the entrance has two reliefs; the lower one shows The Calling of Apostles Peter and Andrew (14th century) and above is an image of Christ (late Gothic, 15th century).

Sant' Andrea della Zirada

Continue reading "Sant' Andrea della Zirada" »

March 30, 2011

Return to Torcello

I was so happy to return to Torcello for so many reasons, and one of them was that I was eager to see if the cats were still there. When blogging about Torcello last year, I got a comment from someone who had just been there and hadn't seen a single cat, which had me wondering if perhaps Dingo (the rescue organization) had moved the Torcello cats somewhere else.

Well, not only were there plenty of cats....there were three kittens! Someone must have fallen between the cracks of the spay/neuter program. These three babies were adorable. The two tabbies were shy, but the little black-and-white guy let me pick him up and hold him for a while.

Torcello kittens

The Torcello cat houses had big white bows on them....was that to announce the birth of the kittens? More likely, someone who got married in one of the Torcello churches stuck those bows on there. Very festive.


There were plenty of adult cats too....some I recognized from previous visits and a few new faces too. But I didn't see the two cats I met in the cathedral in 2008 or the soulful tabby who took a walk with me. I hope that means that someone adopted those cats and they are now lounging on a sofa somewhere in a loving and comfortable home.

Torcello kitties

A cute little tabby posing with Attila's throne~


The last time I was on Torcello, I kept running into goats. No goats this time but chickens galore, including a flock of them hanging out with the cats in a grassy area next to the fondamenta. Lions and lambs, chickens and cats....Torcello is a peaceful place.


This page contains all entries posted to Churches in Venice in March 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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