Churches Archives

September 30, 2007

Why churches? And why Venice?


I wasn’t that interested in churches or even in Venice, strangely enough, when I went to Italy for the first time. That trip (September 2002) wasn’t slow (it was a guided tour of the major cities starting in Milan and ending in Rome) and at that time, I was mainly interested in art museums and food/wine. I was very excited about seeing Florence and Rome and was only going to Venice because it was part of the tour.

Well. I fell hard for Venice and especially for the Basilica di San Marco. It was love-at-first-sight; I was just blown away by that church. I went in a bunch of amazing churches all over Italy, but it was the Basilica that completely captured my heart, and I came home eager to get back to Venice (and back inside that church) as soon as possible.

My second trip a year later was a slow one (two weeks in an apartment in Venice) and that’s when the “church quest" really began. It all started with buying a Chorus Pass and setting out to visit the 16 churches included on that pass. What fun that was! The Chorus Pass includes churches in all six of Venice’s sestieri (districts or neighborhoods) and finding these churches is such an adventure with many amazing sites along the way. And the process of finding them helps you get your bearings (as much as is possible in Venice!).

Continue reading "Why churches? And why Venice? " »

October 4, 2007

So how many churches are there in Venice?

San Zaccaria

Well, here’s the short answer: there are 149 churches in Venice and its lagoon.

But it’s not quite that simple, so here’s the long answer!

Continue reading "So how many churches are there in Venice? " »

October 8, 2007

The churches of San Marco

Carpaccio San VidalThere are 19 churches in the sestiere of San Marco (which includes the island of San Giorgio Maggiore).

My favorites in this sestiere are the Basilica, of course; San Salvador (a beautiful church with an amazing Titian Annunciation); and San Giorgio Maggiore (awesome views from the campanile and a gorgeous church with some great art).

I also like Santo Stefano with its leaning tower and wooden ceiling.

San Vidal has a painting by Carpaccio on the high altar (see left); the saint is riding a horse that was supposedly modeled on one of the four horses of San Marco.

Chorus Pass churches in this sestiere are Santa Maria del Giglio and Santo Stefano.

Churches in San Marco

Basilica di San Marco
San Bartolomeo (San Bortolomio)
San Basso
San Beneto (San Benedetto)
San Fantin (Madonna di San Fantino)

San Gallo
San Giorgio Maggiore
San Luca
San Maurizio
San Moise
San Salvador
San Samuele
San Teodoro
San Vidal (San Vitale)
San Zulian (San Guiliano)
Santa Croce degli Armeni
Santa Maria del Giglio (Santa Maria Zobenigo)
Santi Rocco e Margherita (Ss.Rocco,Stefano e Margherita)
Santo Stefano


Sant’Angelo (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata)

At the top of my “wish list” for this sestiere is San Fantin which is very close to the newly reopened La Fenice. I’ve been by this church many times but it’s never been open. It supposedly has (or had) a miraculous image of the Virgin that was brought to Venice from somewhere in the East.

Currently, there are three campanili (bell towers) that you can go in (and up) in Venice, and two of them are in this sestiere (San Marco and San Giorgio Maggiore); the third one is on the island of Torcello. There are plans to open the campanile of the church of San Salvador soon, which will give us another view from above with a different perspective since San Salvador is closer to the Rialto Bridge. I’m psyched about this! I hope it's open in December.

Update, Dec. 2007: Learned that San Fantin is closed indefinitely for restoration. I also learned that San Teodoro is a church not an oratory so I've moved it into the church list.

A lady at San Salvador told me that their campanile project is stalled. Oh well, stay tuned.

Continue reading "The churches of San Marco" »

October 10, 2007

The churches of Santa Croce

CatenaThere are 10 churches in this sestiere which was named for an 8th century church that was demolished in the 19th century; a granite column and piece of that church’s wall can be found today in the Papadopoli Gardens.

San Giacomo dall’Orio is my favorite campo in Venice, and I love its church a lot, both inside and out. It looks so ancient from the outside but is surprisingly elegant inside with a nice collection of art. San Zan Degola is a sweet little church with some frescoes that might be the oldest works of art in the city; formerly Catholic, this church has recently switched to Russian Orthodox.

Santa Maria Mater Domini is one of my very favorites – a small and very charming church with some gorgeous paintings including the one on the right (The Vision of Santa Christina) by the mysterious Venetian painter Vincenzo Catena. More about him later.

Chorus Pass churches are San Giacomo dall'Orio and San Stae.

Churches in Santa Croce

San Giacomo dall’Orio
San Nicolo da Tolentino (Tolentini)
San Simeon Grande (San Simeon Profeta)
San Simeon Piccolo (Ss.Simeone e Giuda)
San Stae (Sant'Eustachio)
San Zan Degola (San Giovanni Decollato)
Sant'Andrea della Zirada
Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Mater Domini
Santissimo Nome di Gesu (SS. Nome di Gesu)

At the top of my wish list for this sestiere is San Simeon Piccolo (the church with the big green dome across from the train station). It was deconsecrated and closed for years, only opening for occasional concerts, but it’s now reopened and reactivated as a church, and it's the only church in Venice that celebrates the traditional Latin Mass.

Continue reading "The churches of Santa Croce" »

October 11, 2007

The churches of Castello

negroponte.jpgThere are 27 churches in this sestiere; only Cannaregio (with 32) has more.

San Zaccaria is a must because of its drop-dead gorgeous Bellini altarpiece, but there’s much else to see including a nice gothic chapel and a crypt that you can visit if it’s not full of water.

Another favorite is San Francesco della Vigna with its beautiful Madonna (see left) by the Franciscan friar Antonio da Negroponte, another mysterious artist. This is his only known painting. If you’re only going to bat once, you might as well knock it out of the park as he did. I also love Cima da Conegliano's Baptism of Christ that's on the high altar of San Giovanni in Bragora.

San Giorgio degli Schiavoni is a former scuola and church that’s now a museum; it contains some of my favorite paintings in Venice – the Carpaccio cycle which includes St. George and the Dragon and St. Augustine in his Study (the saint’s dog must be the cutest dog ever painted).

Chorus Pass churches in this sestiere are San Pietro di Castello and Santa Maria Formosa.


Cristo Re alla Celestia
San Biagio
San Francesco della Vigna
San Francesco di Paola (Santi Bartolomeo e Francesco di Paola)
San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
San Giorgio dei Greci
San Giovanni di Malta (Gran Priorale; San Giovanni Battista)
San Giovanni in Bragora
San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti
San Lio
San Lorenzo
San Martino
San Pietro di Castello
San Zaccaria
San Zaninovo (San Giovanni Novo; San Giovanni in Oleo)
San Zanipolo (Santi Giovanni e Paolo)
Sant’Antonin (Sant'Antonino)
Sant'Isepo (San Guiseppe di Castello)
Santa Guistina
Santa Maria dei Derelitti (Ospedaletto)
Santa Maria del Pianto
Santa Maria della Fava (Santa Maria della Consolazione)
Santa Maria della Pieta (La Pieta)
Santa Maria Formosa
Valdese e Metodista (Chiesa Valdese)


Beata Vergine Addolorata
Ca' di Dio (Santa Maria della Ca' di Dio)
San Gioachino
San Marco in Vinea (near Francesco della Vigna)
Santa Maria della Salute (next to Santa Maria Formosa)

I’d love to visit San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti which is inside the hospital complex (formerly the Scuola San Marco, with a gorgeous recently-restored façade). I’ve read that there’s a cat sanctuary in a courtyard inside the hospital which fascinates me too. But I’m not sure how easy or even possible it is to visit – do they really want tourists roaming around their public hospital? UPDATE 11/10: Visited this church!

I’ve tried to visit Santa Maria della Fava at least five times but never found it open. It’s another church with a miracle-working Madonna of some sort. San Zanipolo is one that I want to re-visit; I wasn’t that wowed by it the first time, but I’ve learned a lot about Venice since then so it might be a different experience. It’s an enormous church with the tombs of forty-some doges.

And I want to go check out Sant’Anna, not only because she's my name saint but also because I’m not sure this one is still standing.

Update Dec. 2007: Sant' Anna is there, crumbling and closed, but it IS there. I went inside three new churches in this sestiere: San Martino, Santa Maria della Fava, and San Francesco di Paola.

San Lazzaro remains on my wish list as does Pieta (I think it closes in the winter) and San Lorenzo (still closed but the cats are doing fine!).

I found out that San Giorgio degli Schiavoni is still a consecrated church! The nice man who works there told me that it's primarily a museum but that they do hold Mass there three or four times a year.

Sant' Antonin is deconsecrated and closed. UPDATE: it reopened in 2010 after 20 years of restoration. :)

Discovered two new oratories and added them to that list: San Gioacchino and Ca' di Dio. One source says that they are churches not oratories, but I've put them on the oratory list for now.

Update Dec. 2008. Went inside Sant' Elena. Found out that San Giovanni di Malta is closed for restoration but will re-open at some unknown time in the future.

Continue reading "The churches of Castello" »

October 16, 2007

The churches of San Polo

Titian Pesaro altar in the FrariThis sestiere has 10 churches, including one of the greatest of all. The Frari is one to visit over and over – I can’t imagine being in Venice and not going to see the Bellini altarpiece and those gorgeous Titians (Titian's Pesaro altarpiece to the left).

San Giacometto is a very charming little church nestled in the midst of the Rialto Market; this is probably the site of the first church in Venice, built around 421. San Cassiano has three Tintorettos which John Ruskin thought were among the artist’s finest works anywhere. The high altar of San Giovanni Elemosinaro has a nice Titian that was recently returned to the church from the Accademia.

Chorus Pass churches are the Frari, San Giovanni Elemosinaro, and San Polo.

Churches in San Polo

Frari (Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari)
San Cassiano
San Giacometto (San Giacomo di Rialto)
San Giovanni Elemosinario
San Giovanni Evangelista
San Polo (San Paolo Apostolo)
San Rocco
San Silvestro
San Toma (San Tommaso Apostolo)

I’ve been in 8 of 10 these; the two I’m missing are San Toma and Sant’Aponal which are deconsecrated and seem to be permanently closed.

The church of San Rocco is a blur because both times I’ve visited it, I’d just come out of the scuola next door and was in complete and utter Tintoretto overload. Next time, I’m going to visit the church first.

Continue reading "The churches of San Polo" »

October 17, 2007

The churches of Dorsoduro

Veronese Coronation of the VirginThe sestiere of Dorsoduro includes the island of Giudecca across the canal; there are 28 churches in this sestiere, seven of them on Giudecca.

The most visible and famous church in this sestiere is Santa Maria della Salute. I wonder how many zillions of photos have been taken of this church from the Accademia bridge? San Pantalon has one of the most amazing church ceilings anywhere, and San Sebastiano is beautiful, filled with paintings by Veronese (see right). My personal favorite in this area is San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, an ancient and lovely Veneto-Byzantine masterpiece. It’s not the easiest church to find but it’s so worth the effort.

Chorus Pass churches in this sestiere are Gesuati, San Sebastiano, and Redentore.

Churches in Dorsoduro

Angelo Raffaele (San Raffaele Arcangelo)
Carmini (Santa Maria del Carmelo)
Gesuati (Santa Maria del Rosario)
Le Eremite (Gesu, Giuseppe e Maria delle Eremite)
Salute (Santa Maria della Salute)
San Barnaba
San Gregorio
San Nicolò dei Mendicoli
San Pantalon
San Sebastiano

San Trovaso (Ss. Gervasio e Protasio)
San Vio (Ss. Vito e Modesto)
Santa Margherita
Santa Maria della Carita (now part of the Accademia)
Santa Maria della Visitazione
Santa Marta
Santa Teresa (Le Terese)
Spirito Santo
St. George's Anglican

Churches in Giudecca

Le Convertite (Santa Maria Maddalena)
Redentore (Santissimo Redentore)
San Gerardo Sagredo
Santa Croce
Santi Cosma e Damiano (Ss. Cosma e Damiano)
Zittele (Le Zittele; Santa Maria della Presentazione)


Oratorio Stella Maris
San Giovanni Battista ai Catecumeni
San Ludovico Vescovo (Oratorio dell Ospizio Pruili)
Santa Maria del Soccorso

On Giudecca:

Santa Maria degli Angeli
SS. Trinita

I’m intrigued by Sant’Agnese (which has just recently reopened after being closed for decades) and San Vio (Jan Morris says that it’s only open one day a year but I don’t know which day!).

Ognissanti, Le Eremite, and Spirito Santo are on my list for December, as I think that they’re still consecrated and visitable, but there are a number in this area that are “status unknown” for now. I plan to do a lot of walking in this sestiere in December.

Update: San Vio is now privately owned and not visitable. Santo Spirito is closed for restoration.

Update 11/10: visited Ognissanti and Sant' Eufemia. Le Eremite remains closed but might reopen?

Continue reading "The churches of Dorsoduro" »

October 19, 2007

The churches of Cannaregio

AgnesThere are 32 churches in this sestiere; most of them are Catholic but there are also an Evangelical Lutheran church and five synagogues.

So many great ones here, including the most beautiful Gothic church in town (Madonna dell’Orto), the most beautiful small church in the world (Santa Maria dei Miracoli), and the most crazy over-the-top Baroque church in the universe (Gesuiti).

There are Tintorettos galore in this sestiere (his Saint Agnes altarpiece from Madonna dell’Orto is on the left) as well as the second most famous relic in Venice (the body of Saint Lucy in San Geremia).

Chorus Pass churches in this sestiere are San Giobbe, Miracoli, and Sant’Alvise.

Churches in Cannaregio

Gesuiti (Santa Maria Assunta)
Madonna dell’Orto
Miracoli (Santa Maria dei Miracoli)
San Bonaventura
San Canciano
San Cristoforo
San Felice
San Geremia (Santi Geremia e Lucia)
San Giobbe
San Giovanni Grisostomo (San Giovanni Crisostomo)
San Girolamo
San Leonardo
San Marcuola (Santi Ermagora e Fortunato)
San Marziale
San Michele in Isola
Santa Caterina
Santa Fosca
Santa Maria dei Penitenti (Le Penitenti)
Santa Maria dei Redentore (Chiesa delle Cappuchine)
Santa Maria Maddalena (La Maddalena)
Santa Maria Valverde (Santa Maria della Misericordia)
Santa Sofia
Santi Apostoli (Ss. Apostoli)
Scalzi (Santa Maria di Nazareth)
Volto Santo (Santa Maria dei Servi)
Scuola dell'Angelo (Chiesa Evangelica Luterana)


Scuola Canton
Scuola Italiana
Scuola Levantina
Scuola Spagnola
Scuola Tedesca


Crociferi (next to Gesuiti)

I have a long wish list for Cannaregio: San Marziale (another church with a miracle-working Madonna statue, this one supposedly traveled to Venice on her/its own power); San Marcuola (the church on the Grand Canal with the unfinished façade, it has one of seven Tintoretto Last Suppers in Venice), and San Michele in Isola (the first Renaissance church in Venice, it’s out on the cemetery island which is traditionally considered to be a part of this sestiere). I also want to visit the synagogues, which you can do on a guided tour that begins at the Museum Ebraico.

At one time, San Marziale had a Titian Tobias and the Angel, but I’ve read that the painting’s been moved to Madonna dell”Orto so I want to check that out since I don’t remember seeing it the last time I was in that church.

Six weeks from today, I’ll be in Venice!

Update, Dec. 2007: Went inside San Marziale and San Marcuola, two of the churches on my wish list above. San Michele in Isola was closed for restoration but I learned that there are actually two churches on the cemetery island; I've added the beautiful San Cristoforo to both the church list and my personal list.

The Titian painting has been moved from San Marziale to Madonna dell' Orto; it's in the second chapel on the right.

Update, Dec. 2008: Found the Evangelical Lutheran church open. San Michele in Isola is still closed for restoration and remains at the top of my wish-list.

Update 11/10. Visited Santa Fosca. Beautiful little church.

Continue reading "The churches of Cannaregio" »

October 20, 2007

Churches on the Lagoon Islands

torcelloSome of the oldest, most beautiful, and most magical churches are out in the lagoon - the two ancient churches on Torcello and Santi Maria e Donato on Murano are among my all-time favorites. This photo of Santa Fosca was taken from the Torcello campanile - one of three campanili in Venice that you can go into and up for an aerial view. And this particular one does not have an elevator/lift like the ones in San Marco and San Giorgio Maggiore do! It's not a bad climb though - you climb on ramps rather than stairs.

Go to Torcello! (That's what I tell anyone who asks me about visiting any of the lagoon islands).


Churches on the Lagoon Islands

Santa Maria Assunta (Torcello)
Santa Fosca (Torcello)

San Pietro Martire (Murano)
Santa Maria degli Angeli (Murano)
SS. Maria e Donato (Murano)
Santa Chiara (former church, now a glass factory)

San Martino (Burano)
Santa Maria delle Grazie (Burano)
Santa Caterina (Mazzorbo)

San Francesco del Deserto
San Lazzaro degli Armeni
San Clemente
San Servolo
Sacca Sessola
Santa Maria delle Grazie (Isola di SM delle Grazie)

Cristo Re (Isola di Sant’Erasmo)
Sant’Eurosia alle Vignole (Isola delle Vignole)

Santa Maria della Vittoria (Lido)
Santa Maria Elisabetta (Lido)
San Nicolo del Lido (Lido)
Sant’ Antonio (Lido)
Sant’ Ignazio (Lido)
Santa Maria Assunta (Malamocco)
Santa Maria della Salute Alberoni (Alberoni)

This list came from the Patriarch of Venice website.

January 24, 2008

Church Vibes

Most churches are welcoming and just have good vibes overall; even after looking at the art, you want to linger because it feels good to be there. Sometimes I sit down and just soak up the overall energy, and end up leaving refreshed and restored. Isn’t that what a sanctuary is for? Plus, you can’t underestimate the importance of resting your feet in Venice, and a church is good place to do it.

Some churches actively recruit visitors (the 16 Chorus Pass churches, for example), and even some of the smaller neighborhood churches are very cordial to tourists with helpful signs and brochures in many languages. I visited the church of Ss. Apostoli one evening… music was playing, and the priest came up and introduced himself, thanked me for coming, and told me that he loved Beethoven. That church’s pamphlet describes all the art and then adds this nice little message:

Sister, Brother, now resume your way in peace. May you admire many other beautiful things created by men, but above all may you be a worker for peace, recognizing God's face in every man's face....

Most of the sacristans/attendants in the churches are very kind. On several occasions when I didn’t have coins for the light boxes and I’ve asked them for change, they’ve just turned the lights on for me for free. A very sweet monk in San Giorgio Maggiore let me go upstairs to see their Carpaccio. He didn’t speak any English – I showed him a postcard of the painting, and he smiled with recognition and took me to it. A lovable old lady in San Cassiano took me by the hand and walked me around the church, pointing out the Tintorettos and explaining them to me in a pretty incomprehensible mix of Venetian and English, but I appreciated her time and just kept smiling and nodding. The people who do speak English seem to love to talk about their churches. I had lots of questions about San Salvador, and the wonderful lady docent talked to me for about half an hour and then took me to the closed sacristy to see the recently restored frescoes.

But there are a few churches that don’t seem quite so thrilled about tourists tromping through. San Marcuola, for example, has a bunch of signs in many languages that say, “This is a church. It is NOT a museum or an art gallery, so shut up” or something to that effect, very stern! And the sacristan or attendant would not smile at me and watched me closely to make sure I didn’t deface a painting or something.

And then there’s San Moise, which has this big sign on the door that made me laugh! I tend to speed through the grouchy churches and linger longer in the nice ones.

San Moise

February 2, 2008

Fantasy Art Game

A recent Daily Telegraph article listed the writer’s choices for the 30 Best Things in Italy. Three of them are in Venice, and two of those three are church-related: Santa Maria dei Miracoli (the church as a whole) and the Bellini altarpiece in the Frari. The third thing is “Venice at midnight.” All great things, for sure, though I’d have a tough time narrowing my Best of Venice list down to only three.

The writer also offers an interesting fantasy game:

“It's an idle game, but one I'm often tempted to play in Italian churches: if you could walk off with one painting, which would it be? It's a tough one, especially in Venice, where you're not exactly short of options.”

Hmm. This IS a tough one. There are a few paintings that I really love but I’d feel horribly guilty about taking, just because they belong in Venice and nowhere else. The Madonna Nicopeia in Basilica di San Marco; Titian’s Assunta in the Frari; any of the Bellini altarpieces…as much as I love these, I’d have to leave them where they are.

I’d probably choose Vincenzo Catena’s Vision of Santa Christina in Santa Maria Mater Domini. Or perhaps Carpaccio’s St. George and the Dragon in San Giorgio Maggiore (since there’s another one of the same subject in San Giorgio degli Schiavoni).

Or Titian’s Annunciation in San Salvador. Or the Negroponte Madonna and Child Enthroned in San Francesco della Vigna. It’s a hard choice!

Anyone else want to play? You don’t have to limit yourself to Venice. What painting in any Italian church would you bring home?

February 13, 2008

Fossils in the floor

San Canciano

Yesterday I wrote about finding fossils in the floor of San Giacomo dall’ Orio.
That was the first church where I saw one and I’ve since spotted them in several other churches. I don’t always remember to look for them (sometimes I get distracted by the art and architecture!) but when I do remember, I almost always find at least one. They are usually embedded in the red marble and look like big swirly shrimp. They are so fascinating to me.

In December, I found fossils in San Canciano (the one in the photo is from that church), Santa Maria Formosa, San Francesco della Vigna, and even in the Salute. I wonder if marble with a fossil in it was more valuable, back in the days when they were building these churches?

There’s just something so satisfying about finding them. It’s the same feeling I’d get as a kid when we’d look for four-leaf clovers out in the yard - it feels lucky! And yes, I realize that I probably look like a dork walking around a magnificent church staring at the floor. :)

Another part of it is that these churches all seem so ancient and holy to me, and they make me think about time (and long passages of time), and then the fossils connect it all back even further to pre-history.

Of course, “ancient” is relative….everything in Venice seems so old to me but I’m coming from the American perspective. Here in the USA, a church or building that’s 100 years old is “historic” while a church the same age in Italy would be considered “modern.” But the fossils are ancient no matter what.

Another thing I look for in every church is a Byzantine icon of the Madonna. Almost every church in Venice has at least one of these. Some of them are famous with legends about miracles and such, but some are just regular old beautiful icons. Even the more “modern" baroque churches usually have an icon somewhere, probably carried over from previous and older incarnations of the church itself. Some of them sit in big fancy altars while others are tucked away in the sacristy, but they are usually around somewhere. They are easier to find than the fossils!

February 14, 2008

Hearts in Venice

Since there’s not a church in Venice dedicated to San Valentino, I'm going with a “heart” theme instead.

San Marco

This heart is on the floor of Basilica di San Marco and marks the place where the heart of Doge Francesco Erizzo is buried. His body is in the church of San Martino but his heart is here, as he requested in his will. There’s no name, just the little doge hat on top. He was doge from 1631-1646, a traumatic time in Venetian history that included 16 months of plague that killed 46,000 people, reducing the population by a third. Not many doges are buried in San Marco so I guess he must have been much loved to have his wish honored.

I read about this heart in a book, but it was many visits to San Marco before I finally stumbled across it and for some reason, it really moved me when I saw it for the first time, maybe because that church has my heart too. Anyway, if you want to see it, it’s in the high altar area to the left of the saint’s crypt.

San Felice

Another heart, this one on the floor of the church of San Felice. I assume someone’s heart is buried here too but I don’t know who.

Continue reading "Hearts in Venice" »

April 21, 2008

Paolo Veneziano in the Frari


This painting by Paolo Veneziano is in the Chapter Hall of the Frari. From the main sanctuary, walk through the Sacristy (where the great Bellini altarpiece is) and into this Hall which has windows overlooking the former monastery’s cloisters. The painting is over the funeral monument for Doge Francesco Dandolo and shows the Doge and his wife being presented to the Virgin and Child by Saints Francis and Elizabeth. The Christ Child’s hand is raised, blessing the Doge. Painted in 1339, this is probably the first portrait of a Doge that was painted from real life and also might be the oldest painting in Venice that remains “in situ” (in the place for which the artist painted it).

Paolo Veneziano (Paul the Venetian) isn’t the first Venetian artist but he’s the first with a name and a recognizable style. Before him, there were a number of anonymous artists making mosaics, and painting frescoes and icons. He lived from 1290-1362 and was a contemporary of the Tuscan artist Giotto who revolutionized painting a few miles away in Padua.

Paolo’s paintings are colorful with lots of gold and brocade and show elements of both the older Byzantine and the emerging Gothic styles. He was one of the first artists in Venice to paint on panel and make altarpieces and polyptychs instead of painting frescoes right on the church walls. He painted lots of "Madonna and Childs" and "Virgins Enthroneds" as well as crucifixions on panels in the shape of a cross.

Continue reading "Paolo Veneziano in the Frari" »

May 12, 2008

Campanile di San Marco

san marco

In my December restoration report, I mentioned that they were putting scaffolding around the San Marco bell tower, and I found a couple of articles that explain what they are doing.

This article states that, “The bell tower was built after the existing 16th century structure collapsed in 1902. But the new tower was found to contain a fissure, discovered in 1939, which is very slowly spreading. The work will involve wrapping a titanium belt around the tower's foundations, between 1 meter and 3.5 meters (3 and 11 feet) below the ground, at a cost of 6 million euros.”

Another article says, “Experts were called in after a survey revealed the 99-meter bell tower is sloping by seven centimeters, a sign that its foundations - thousands of wooden posts driven into unstable ground - are failing to provide adequate support. Surveyors also reckon the foundations of the tower are cracking by a millimeter a year.”

The first article says that the restoration work will take a year and a half while the second says it will take two years. It’ll be interesting to see – maybe we should have a “guess the completion date” contest. I’m betting on three years. Someone on Slow Talk said that the tower is still open to visitors, but I don’t think I’ll be going back up until all scaffolding is gone and that titanium belt is in place!

Below is an old photo of the rubble after the 1902 collapse. There’s an interesting eyewitness report about this collapse reprinted on Venice for Visitors.


The golden statue on the top of this campanile is Archangel Gabriel, and legend has it that when the tower collapsed, the angel miraculously survived the fall and landed gracefully right in front of the main door of the Basilica.

May 15, 2008

More about the bell towers

SS Apostoli campanile

There’s something so magical about that first view of Venice after arrival, when you see the towers and domes in the distance as you make your way across the lagoon. It really looks like some kind of unearthly fairy tale city, and those bell towers are so very beautiful.

Jacopo de Barbari’s famous 1503 map shows 103 bell towers in Venice proper (the six sestieri). Today there are 66 in the historic center plus a few more on the lagoon islands, and the history of these towers is a fascinating but rather hair-raising tale of one disaster after another. The most famous collapse was the campanile di San Marco, but that’s only the most recent one - they’ve been falling for centuries due to earthquakes, subsidence, and old age. A bunch of them fell on the same day during a 1347 earthquake and legend has it that earlier in the day, their bells mysteriously rang on their own, announcing their impending doom perhaps?

A few were blown down by high winds, several collapsed when people tried to straighten them, and others were demolished when they became unsafe. A number of towers were struck by lightning and burned. A recent lightning strike was at San Giorgio Maggiore in 1994 – the wooden angel on top of the campanile caught on fire and its charred remains are now inside the church. Andasamo took a great photo of it. The angel that’s now on top of the tower is new.

Quite a few priests, monks, and innocent bystanders were killed by these falling towers over the centuries. Of course, it wouldn’t be Venice without another miraculous story, and this one concerns the tower in the photo above which is from the church of SS. Apostoli. This tower was built in 1450 and then in 1659 during a violent storm, the belfry blew off. During the reconstruction in 1672, an old priest named Domenico Longo climbed up the tower to check on the work and slipped and fell, but his robes were caught on the arms of the clock on the side of the tower, where he dangled until he was rescued.

Many bell towers were destroyed along with their churches when Napoleon conquered the Republic and “embarked on a policy the savagery of which, even now, sends shivers down the spine. It took the form of a frontal attack on the religious institutions of Venice.” (John Julius Norwich in Paradise of Cities).

So many churches and monasteries were closed at that time and while some of the churches later reopened, a lot of them were demolished during the French and Austrian occupations. Le Chiese di Venezia (by Umberto Franzoi and Dina Di Stefano) lists 39 churches that were demolished in the historic center, and more were destroyed on the islands. Some of them were torn down to make way for public works like the train station and the public gardens in Castello, but others were destroyed because they were old and there simply wasn’t interest in or money for restoring them. It’s hard to get too indignant about all the art that was looted from Venice because the Venetians had been stealing art for centuries, but way too many beautiful and historically important churches were torn down, in my opinion.

Continue reading "More about the bell towers" »

May 27, 2008

St. Luke, patron saint of artists

nikopeiaSt. Luke (San Luca) is the patron saint of artists because supposedly he was a painter himself. Legend has it that he painted a portrait of Mary from life, with her actually sitting there, making it the equivalent of a photograph, I guess. Some versions of the legend say that he did the painting on a wooden table top that Joseph and Jesus had made. The story goes that Mary infused the painting with her blessings and grace, turning it into a miracle-working icon that would carry her power across the centuries.

Now I’m not sure if Luke did one painting of her or many, but there are churches all over the globe that claim to have a St. Luke painting of the Madonna, and these images have been revered for hundreds of years with lots of stories about miracles, healings, and deliverance from wars and disease. In the Middle Ages, people made pilgrimages to visit these paintings which were just as venerated as the relics of any saint.

Well, Venice has not one but three icons that were supposedly painted by St. Luke. One is the Madonna Nikopeia in the Basilica di San Marco (that’s her in the photo above), the second is the Madonna de Pace icon in San Zanipolo, and the third is the Virgin Mesopanditissa icon on the high altar of Santa Maria della Salute.

These icons were legendary before they were brought to Venice (and actually, that’s why the Venetians stole them). The Nikopeia was brought to Venice from Constantinople in 1204 as part of the spoils from the Fourth Crusade; she quickly became the most revered image in the city and she still is today. It's interesting that most of the Masses celebrated in the Basilica are held in her chapel rather than in front of the high altar where San Marco lies.

The San Zanipolo icon came from Constantinople in 1349 about one hundred and fifty years after the Nikopeia. The Salute icon was brought from a church in Crete in the late 1600’s shortly after the church was completed. Crete was a Venetian territory at that time so technically I suppose they didn’t really steal that one, but they were on the verge of losing Crete to the Turks (and Venice had a beautiful new church that needed a Madonna icon).

All three of these icons are very interesting but in truth, they don’t look like they were done by the same artist, and Mary looks quite different in each of them. Plus most historians estimate that they are closer to 1000 years old rather than the 2000 they would be if they were really painted by Luke. But it's a nice legend, and it seems that in the Middle Ages, if you had a miracle-working icon of the Madonna, you should be worried that the Venetians were going to steal it from you. :)

Other places that claim to have a St. Luke Madonna include churches in Rome, Bologna, Germany, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Egypt, and India. There’s also one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The most famous is probably the Black Madonna of Częstochowa in Poland. The only one of the Venetian icons that is a Black Madonna is the one in the Salute (photo below isn't great since I didn't use a flash but you can kinda tell what she looks like).

Icon Salute

May 29, 2008

Going to Mass...

San Marco, side door

A few weeks ago, Girasoli asked me if I go to Mass when I'm in Venice. Thanks to her for this blog topic!

Yes, I do go when I’m there, almost everyday. I’m not Catholic and really, I know very little about Catholicism although I’m learning a lot as I research these churches. I admit that my motives weren’t the highest when I went for the first time – I just wanted to be in the Basilica di San Marco after hours so that I could sit down and take the whole place in without being stuck in that crowded, roped-off “tourist herd” line that runs through that cathedral.

But then I discovered that I really enjoy the service. I like the music and the incense and the part where everyone shakes hands and wishes each other peace. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should be going or not - I always sat on the back row and tried to be invisible, and I never went up for the communion part, thank goodness. Then I found a copy of this “Memo for Tourists” in one of the churches (it's also published on the Patriarch of Venice website) which basically says it’s fine for non-Catholics to attend Mass as long as we act right and are dressed properly, turn off our cell phones, and don’t receive Communion. So I’m more relaxed about going now.

I do have a kinda funny, kinda embarrassing story to tell. One afternoon I went into the Basilica and it seemed that Mass was starting over in the chapel of the Madonna Nikopeia. It wasn’t a time when Mass usually happens, but I thought it might be some special holiday Mass so I went over and joined in. There were lots of people there, all very dressed up. I sat there for probably 10 minutes or so, daydreaming and enjoying the music, and all of a sudden, I looked up at the altar and saw a BRIDE!

Well, I was mortified. It’s supposed to be good luck to see an Italian bride, but I have a feeling that the luck doesn’t happen if you crash the poor girl’s wedding. So I quietly crept out of the chapel and then when I got to the front door of the Basilica, I was locked inside! At that point, I was struggling not to laugh out loud and I know my face was bright red. Fortunately I found a security guard who let me out – he was very nice about it and was laughing at me too.

BSM mosaic detail

Continue reading "Going to Mass..." »

June 5, 2008

San Vio

San Vio

I was so charmed by this place when I first saw it on my way to the Guggenheim museum during my first trip to Venice. So cute and I love those stripes! San Vio is a lovely little campo and one of the very few with a Grand Canal view – the red park benches are a nice (and free) place to sit, rest your feet, and watch the world go by on the canal.

This church was founded in 912 and it's another church with a nickname – San Vio is short for Santi Vito e Modesto, a couple of Sicilian saints. In 1310, there was an attempt to overthrow the Venetian government, and the rebels were squashed on June 15, St. Vito’s feast day, and so the Republic rebuilt and expanded this church to honor and express gratitude to the saint. Decorative elements from the defeated rebel Bajamonte Tiepolo’s palazzo were removed and used to decorate the façade of the church. And every year on June 15 for the next 400-plus years, the Doge and the Senate visited this church in a grand processional parade to thank the saint some more.

Continue reading "San Vio" »

September 7, 2008

Vera da pozzo

Corte ZorziA vera da pozzo is a well or well-head, and there are so many of these things all over Venice that it’s easy to stop noticing them after a while. They aren’t true wells, they're cisterns that were used for collecting and filtering rainwater and until the mid-1800’s, they were the only source of fresh water in the city. During times of drought, the Republic would haul water in by barge and fill these up. After Venice was connected to an aqueduct on the mainland, many of these were removed and the remaining ones covered over, but there are still a bunch of them around and many of them are very beautiful.

In “Strolling through Venice,” John Freely writes that there used to be 6,782 of these wells; today, there are hundreds still to be seen in public places. He identifies and dates many of them in the walking tours in his book. Some of them are decorated with carvings and reliefs, and I try to remember to look at the ones close to churches because they usually have some art connected to the church’s name saint.

According to Freely, this one used to be a baptismal font in a church.

former baptismal font

This very worn but sweet relief shows Tobias and the Angel (Archangel Raphael) and is on a well by the church of Angelo Raffaele in Dorsoduro.

Raphael and Tobias

This relief of Archangel Gabriel carrying the annunciation lily is on the vera da pozzo in Campo Sant’ Angelo in sestiere San Marco.

Annunciation (Gabriel with lily)

This relief shows Saint George and the Dragon; it’s on the well next to the church of San Giorgio dei Greci in Castello.

vera da pozzo

A 19th century photo by Carlo Naya showing folks getting water from one of the bronze wells in the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale.


Update: here's a link to Anne's wonderful post about "The Lady of the Well" that we were discussing in the comments below.

November 10, 2008

Chorus Pass

Venice’s Chorus Pass organization is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with a series of concerts and also a redesigned website.

The Chorus Pass is a ticket that provides admission to 16 of Venice’s churches. Current cost is nine euros and since the ala carte price at the door is three euros, the pass is a bargain if you intend to visit more than three of these churches.

In the latest Donna Leon mystery, The Girl of His Dreams, Commissario Guido Brunetti pops into the church of San Giacomo dall’ Orio and is surprised to learn that the church has an admission fee, but then he’s told that Venetian residents can enter for free. I’ve met a few people who were somewhat indignant about having to pay to visit a church, but it doesn’t bother me at all. There are other churches where admission is free but then you have to spend several euros feeding the light boxes to see the paintings, so I’d just as soon pay at the door. The paintings in the Chorus Pass churches are well-lit plus the money goes towards restoration and maintenance, so it seems reasonable to charge a small fee.

Another great thing about the Chorus Pass is that you will find these churches open 10-5 Monday-Saturday, so if you decide to trek all the way out to San Pietro di Castello, for example, you won’t find a closed church. The 16 churches are spread out across all of the six sestieri of Venice - it’s such a great way to get an overview of the city and you'll see many wonderful things along the way as you wander from church to church.

These photos show both sides of a Chorus Pass tote bag that I bought last December. These graphics are very cool; they are so simple yet each church is clearly recognizable. I'm thinking about taking this thing apart and framing it!

Chorus Pass Churches

Continue reading "Chorus Pass" »

January 5, 2009

Fog and Sun


Almost everyone takes a photo of this classic Venetian view, with the church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance behind the gondolas parked next to the Piazzetta San Marco. This is the winter version of the scene, taken early one morning when it was sunny and foggy at the same time. The fog soon burned off but it looked pretty cool for a while.

February 22, 2009


The districts of Venice are called sestieri (singular: sestiere) and there are six of them. It’s kind of goofy that some guidebooks and websites report that Venice has seven or more districts since the word sestiere means “sixths.” It would be like claiming that the USA has 54 states because you think that Texas and Alaska are too big!

Venice is so small that I think of the sestieri more as neighborhoods than districts. There are three on each side of the Grand Canal, and three of the six were named for churches.

Castello: named for a castle that used to be in this area
San Marco: named for the patron saint of Venice and his church
Cannaregio: named for the bamboo (canna) that used to grow in this area before it was developed
San Polo: named for the 9th century church dedicated to St. Paul
Santa Croce: named for an ancient church that was demolished in the 19th century
Dorsoduro: means “hard bone” – the land in this part of Venice was higher and more solid than others.

Each sestiere is divided into parishes, and each parish has a church. At one point, Venice was divided into 70 parishes (contrade) but after the fall of the Republic, the church organizational plan was revamped and today there are 30 parish churches. Getting to know the locations of churches (and learning to recognize their bell towers) is a great navigational tool – it won’t prevent you from getting lost but it will help you recover more quickly.

The island of San Giorgio Maggiore is part of sestiere San Marco while Guidecca is part of Dorsoduro. The cemetery island of San Michele is part of Cannaregio. Murano was also part of Cannaregio until 1271 when it was granted separate community status (which the other lagoon islands have too).

There's an article by Shannon on the Slow Travel site that describes each sestiere – it’s a great resource for people trying to decide where to stay. I don’t think there’s really any undesirable area in Venice, although I don’t think I’d like to stay too close to the train station nor would I want to stay in the San Marco/Rialto corridor in high season. Too hectic. So far I’ve stayed in four of the six sestieri – I haven’t stayed in Cannaregio or Dorsoduro yet. I don't have a favorite but I really love Santa Croce and campo San Giacomo dall' Orio.

This column is all that’s left of the demolished church of Santa Croce; it’s embedded in a wall close to the Papadopoli Gardens.

Santa Croce

February 25, 2009

More fossils in the floor

Last year, I wrote about how I like to look for fossils in church floors when I'm in Venice. This past December, I found this very unique double fossil in the floor of the church of Santa Maria Formosa! Kinda reminds me of a mother and child.

Santa Maria Formosa

Speaking of church floors, here's a scan of a postcard that shows a few details from the floor of Basilica di San Marco. I've seen aerial photos of the Basilica's floors and they are so amazing, but unfortunately much of that floor is covered with protective mats. I'd love to see more of it.

BSM floors

March 6, 2009

PhotoHunt: Space


This week's theme is "space."

It's gonna be fun to see what everyone does for this wide-open theme!

No surprise, but I've gotta go with "Sacred Space" and the amazing mosaics in the Basilica di San Marco, the cathedral of Venice and my favorite church in the world.



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

Have a great weekend everyone and Happy PhotoHunting!

May 31, 2009

San Magno and his eight churches


Sometimes I like legends better than facts especially when it comes to Venice and its churches. I tend to snooze a bit when I read long architectural descriptions but perk right up when a story comes along especially a magical one.

And as I’ve been reading about these churches, over and over again I’ve seen references to San Magno (St. Magnus) along the lines of “this church was founded by San Magno in the 7th century.” The writers seem to assume that Magno needs no introduction but I had no clue who he was and decided to poke around further.

Well, what a guy! There’s not a lot of info about him since he lived in the 600’s but he does seem to be someone who really existed, unlike some of the other “saints with an asterisk” like George and Christopher who are probably myths.

And San Magno was a Venetian, sorta. Venice as we know it didn’t yet exist as an organized city/state (the first doge wasn’t elected until the early 700’s). In Magno’s time, there were people scattered across the lagoon islands – fishermen and salt farmers – the original Venetians who some mainland bureaucrat described in a letter as “sea-birds” living in wooden huts on stilts. No mosaics, marble, or government yet. But Magno was born in the Veneto somewhere and became a priest and later a bishop, which meant that he was the religious head of a very large area that included mainland territories as well as the lagoon colonies.


But most importantly, San Magno was a visionary. He founded eight churches in Venice and the best part is the way he founded them. These are his churches:

Continue reading "San Magno and his eight churches" »

June 15, 2009

Madonna dell' Arsenale

These are the gates to the Arsenale, the famed shipyards which were the source of much of the Venetian Republic's wealth. There used to be a small Renaissance church to the right of these gates and thanks to a painting by Canaletto, we can see what it looked like.


Madonna dell 'Arsenale was built in the 16th century by an unknown architect who modeled it on a Greek temple. Looks like a sweet little place. It was demolished in the early 19th century.

Madonna dell' Arsenale, Canaletto

Continue reading "Madonna dell' Arsenale" »

August 10, 2009

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


Continue reading "Sant' Angelo" »

September 4, 2009

PhotoHunt: Orange


This week's theme is "Orange."

Winter in Venice with the sun setting behind the church of San Giorgio Maggiore ~


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

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. Happy loooong holiday weekend to those celebrating Labor Day!


April 13, 2010

Venise by Raoul Dufy


French artist Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) painted this scene of Venice in 1938. Two churches in this painting - San Giorgio Maggiore and its campanile on the left, and Santa Maria della Salute on the right. It's a happy painting.

Below is a detail of La Salute and the Punta della Dogana, once the Customs house and now a modern art museum. The building is crowned by a statue of Fortune balancing on a golden ball.


June 16, 2010

Bell Tower Trivia

campanile San MarcoSome various and sundry details about the bell towers of Venice.

The campanile di San Marco is the tallest of them all, of course, at 315 feet (97 meters). Second place is a tie between the Frari and San Francesco della Vigna ; both of these towers rise to 224 feet (69 meters). The Venetian nickname for the San Marco tower is “el paron de casa” which means “master (or lord) of the house.”

Santa Maria della Salute has two towers (photo below), but only one of them has bells in it. You can listen to these beautiful bells on Trek Capri’s blog!


Most every church has some bells even if they no longer have a tower. Many churches have what’s called a “Roman-style” bell tower – not a free-standing campanile but visible bells in a little tower usually on the roof of the church. The bells in the photo below are from the Rialto church of San Giacometto, which used to have a free-standing tower that was destroyed in a 1514 fire.

San Giacometto

Continue reading "Bell Tower Trivia" »

December 3, 2010

PhotoHunt: Hard-To-Find


This week's theme is "Hard-To-Find."

A great theme for me since Venice is a maze and many things are hard-to-find.

The first time I went to Venice, it was hard to find the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. It's very small and tucked away, and I was so happy when I finally found it as it's one of the most beautiful little buildings I've ever seen.


And then on my most recent trip last month, I was looking for another church, San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti. I knew where the church was but what was hard-to-find was the entrance. The main door is always locked, and you have to access the church from inside the public hospital, which is a crazy maze too. I walked around the hospital for a long time but finally found this church.

San Lazzaro

And here's another one, the church of Santa Croce on Giudecca. I could see the back of this church in the distance behind a wall, but what was hard-to-find was the street that would take me to the other side of the wall. I finally found an unlocked gate and was able to get there. This church could use some TLC. :)

Santa Croce

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!

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


June 1, 2011

A few of my favorites

There are so many thousands of images of the Madonna all over Venice, both inside churches and museums, and out on the streets in carvings and shrines. Here are a few of my favorites that can be found inside various churches.

This gorgeous and elegant 13th century relief is high up on a wall of the church of San Francesco della Vigna. A marble Veneto-Byzantine relief with traces of gold, it's one of many beautiful works of art in this church.

San Francesco della Vigna

This next one can be found in the church of San Pantalon, in a niche on the wall of the Capella del Santo Chiodo. This chapel houses one of Venice's most-revered relics, a sacred nail used in the Crucifixion. Also 13th century, this statue of the Madonna and Child is alabaster with traces of decoration added a few centuries later. Wonderful crowns on them both! More about San Pantalon coming soon (it's a strange and fascinating church).

San Pantalon

These next two can both be admired in San Giacomo dall'Orio.

The first one is also 13th century, an image in Greek marble of the Virgin Orante. It's tucked away in a niche in the wall behind a large wooden cabinet where the church puts literature for the parishioners; it's easy to miss. I love her and also the bricks surrounding her.

You can't miss the second one though as she's right beside the entrance to the chancel and always has fresh flowers in front of her. She's 14th century, known as "Our Lady of the Annunciation."

San Giacomo dall'Orio

San Giacomo dall'Orio

January 24, 2012

B is for Basilica

The Latin word Basilica is an architecture term; it is also, in the world of Catholic churches, a "title of honour given to certain churches because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance or significance as centers of worship." There are close to 1,600 churches around the world designated as basilicas.

Eight churches in Venice are allowed to use the title "Basilica di" before their name, and here they are, roughly in order by age (oldest to newest). By age, I mean when they were built not when they were founded (some of these churches were founded earlier, but the original buildings have been replaced).

Santa Maria Assunta on the lagoon island of Torcello. Built in 1008 so it just recently celebrated its thousandth birthday. Absolutely gorgeous inside.

Santa Maria Assunta (Torcello)

San Marco, the cathedral of Venice. The building was completed in 1063 though the Venetians continued to decorate it inside and out for centuries after that.

San Marco

Ss. Maria e Donato on the island of Murano. The date 1140 can be found on the floor. A perfect example of Veneto-Byzantine architecture plus this church has the bones of a dragon hanging on the wall behind the high altar.

Santi Maria e Donato

Ss. Giovanni e Paolo (aka San Zanipolo). It took over a hundred years for the Dominicans to build this enormous Gothic church: 1234-1368.

Ss. Giovanni e Paolo

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, built by the followers of St. Francis of Assisi. This Gothic church also took over a hundred years to build (1340-1443).


San Giorgio Maggiore, and now we have moved into the Renaissance. This church was built from 1566-1610.

San Giorgio Maggiore

San Pietro di Castello (1567-1621). This one is honored because it's the former Cathedral of Venice. After the fall of the Venetian Republic, San Marco became the city's cathedral.

San Pietro di Castello

Santa Maria della Salute. The new kid on the block. this Venetian Baroque church was built from 1631-1687. So it's only 325 years old.

Santa Maria della Salute

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


May 29, 2012

T is for Towers

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the most famous tilting tower in Italy, but Venice has several of her own.

This bell tower (campanile) belongs to the big Gothic church of Santo Stefano.

Santo Stefano

When you look at the base of the Santo Stefano tower, you can see that they've added some support to keep it from toppling over.

Santo Stefano

The beautiful Renaissance tower of San Pietro di Castello has been leaning since it was built because of the weight of the marble covering it.

San Pietro di Castello

This tower belongs to the Greek church, San Giorgio dei Greci. Thanks to recent restoration work, it doesn't lean quite as much as it used to.

San Giorgio dei Greci

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


January 15, 2013

Filippo de Pisis

I learned about this artist while reading Hugh Honour's Companion Guide to Venice (a fantastic book organized as a series of thematic walking tours).

Before he reached the church of San Sebastiano in Dorsoduro, Mr. Honour pointed out a red Gothic palazzo and said that it had been the home of artist Filippo de Pisis (1896-1956), "one of the few modern painters who has successfully caught the flicker of Venetian light." High praise indeed!

I was happy to find (via Google) many of de Pisis' paintings on the web. He was born in Ferrara, lived in Paris and Rome, and then spent most of the 1940's in Venice. Sounds like he was quite a character - he would set up his easel in the calli and campi, and paint with his pet parrot, Coco, sitting on his shoulder. He also owned his own gondola and employed a full-time gondolier.

He painted many Venetian scenes including a number of churches (and not only the most famous ones). I like his work a lot.

I posted his painting of the church of San Lorenzo here and a few more are below.

San Moise


San Pantalon


Santa Maria della Salute




Thanks so much to Bert for sending these photos of the palazzo where de Pisis lived. The plaque above the door says that the artist lived there from 1943-49. If anyone knows anything about the other degraded plaques on this house, please let us know!

Dorsoduro 1709

Dorsoduro 1709

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Churches in Venice in the Churches category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Basilica di San Marco is the previous category.

Demolished Churches is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


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