When I was in Venice last November, I was happy to see that the façade of this formerly grungy former church had received a cleaning! There’s still some scaffolding around it and who knows what else is going on, but it looks much better now as you can see in the “after and before” photos below.
San Basso faces the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, just north of the Basilica di San Marco. This piazzetta used to be called Campo San Basso and for centuries, there was a vegetable market there. The name was changed to “dei Leoncini” when the two red marble lions were added in 1722.
Founded in 1076, San Basso is one of the most ancient churches in Venice. It burned down along with 22 other churches in 1105, then burned again in 1661 and was rebuilt in 1670 as we see it today. Longhena is sometimes credited with the design of the façade but there seems to be some doubt about that.
Along with many other churches, San Basso was closed and deconsecrated in 1810. It was privately owned for a while and then later in the 19th century, it became the property of San Marco which used it as a warehouse and restoration workshop, then as a museum for a while, and now uses part of it for people to check their big bags before they are allowed to visit the Basilica. It’s also used for Vivaldi concerts and lectures.
The interior looks mainly like a lecture hall, but there are a few traces of church decoration and a nice Madonna mosaic. Other fragments from the church are on display in the courtyard in front of the church of San Teodoro, behind the Basilica.
A schedule of upcoming musical performances in San Basso including New Year's Eve 2011/2012.