Another of those significant sites we have found by accident - it pays to keep your head up and read plaques on the sides of buildings in Europe.
We were just wandering, getting lost, seeing the other Venice, the one away from the hordes of tourists. Needing a coffee and restroom break, we stopped at a typical neighborhood bar. While waiting for Nancy to finish, I looked around the quiet little piazza and saw a plaque on the little church. My command of the Italian language is not great, but I could make out that it was conveying the message that famed Italian baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi was born in this parish and baptized in this very church (1678).
We did not enter the church.
The Basilica of St Mary of Health stands on a narrow finger of land between the Grand Canal and the Bacino di San Marco making the church visible when entering the Piazza San Marco from the water.
Construction began in 1631. Most of the objects of art housed in the church bear references to the Black Death.
You can watch my 3 min 21 sec Video Venice part 2 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
The "Chiesa degli Scalzi", or Church of the Barefoot Ones, is named after the Barefoot Carmelites monks who have been in this church for more than three centuries.
Built between 1660 and the early 18th Century, the church, facing the grand canal, stands as one of Venice's most beautifully and ornately designed churches, with a façade designed by Giuseppe Sardi.
Religious promises or thanks giving, are, in many occasions, the basic reason for some artistic monuments. Batalha, where I got married is my closer example, and Santa Maria della Salute is another one.
In 1630, facing the plague, the Venetian Senate promised to build a church in honor of the Virgin Mary to stop the plague .
The plague was really stopped, and the Venetian authorities honored their promise having built the church in Dorsoduro, by the Grand Canal.
Baldassare Longhena, the architect, conceived a octagonal basilica, combining elements of Venetian Byzantine architecture with domes inspired by St. Peter's in Rome.
The sights from the Grand Canal are wonderful, and visiting it's easy and free, with a vaporetto stop just in face of it.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is huge and dwarfs the surrounding area of San Polo. The feeling of enormity continues inside with gargantuan columns and vast open spaces. It's also very dark in here which creates a strange kind of atmosphere.
The Basilica is home to some wonderful works of art including masterpieces by Titian and Bellini, and a statue by Donatello of John the Baptist. As you enter the nave you will however be most struck by the Monument to Titian on your right and the tomb of Canova on your left.
Unfortunately they don't allow photography inside the church and because it occupies almost all of the square around it, it's hard to get decent pictures of the outside.
The church is part of the Chorus Pass scheme for entry charges.
This lovely little church filled with the heavy smell of incense is to be found just a few steps from the San Polo end of the famous Ponte Rialto. Allegedly, the first church to stand on this site dated to the 5th century and so it would make it Venice's oldest church. The present church, however dates from the 11th or 12th century but underwent a major restoration at the start of the 17th century.
the most striking feature is the huge 24 hour clock which has been famously bad at keeping time since it was installed back in 1410. The day we visited it did seem to be at least roughly on time though!
The small church seems happy to welcome in some of the hoardes of tourists who pass their door and ask only for €0.50 as a donation towards the upkeep of the building. It is a very small church inside and will only take a few minutes to look inside but it is charming enough to make it well worth while, despite not really having any single feature that is the big draw. I guess it's just the overall effect sometimes with these little, old churches that makes them rewarding.
In the local dialect the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Saints John and Paul) is better known as San Zanipolo.
This huge church is home to the tombs of no less than 25 Venetian Doges and many of these tombs and memorials are outstanding works of art, such as the Tomb of Pietro Mocenigo by Pietro Lombardo shown in one of my photographs.
The staff of the Basilica are very welcoming of visitors and along with your admission charge of €2.50 you get a plan of the basilica which gives some basic idea of what you are looking at despite being only in Italian.
In the nave of the basilica you are left to feel dwarfed by the sheer size of the space and the collosal pillars rising towards the roof.
Highlights of the basilica include the Capella del Rosario with it's impressive paintings by Paolo Veronese, the baroque high altar and the foot of St Catherine of Siena (other bits of her were in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, which we visited the previous September).
In this great church they do allow photography as long as you don't use a flash.
The church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli takes you by surprise as you round the corner and get confronted with the elegant and spectacular marble facade. The campo around the church is actually very small and so it's hard to stand back and take in all of the beauty of this church's exterior without falling into the canal behind, but it's worth taking the risk.
The church gets it's name from the painting by Nicolo di Pietro of the virgin Mary which it was built to house. This image was painted in 1409 and was originally intended to be placed outside a house but then in 1480 people started to associate 'miracles' with it. The donations that followed allowed the building of the church which was designed by Pietro Lombardo.
The inside of this church was my favourite small church in Venice. It's a beautiful parade of marble and sculpture making great use of natural light fro dramatic effect. The image for which the church was built is on the high altar.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the church.
There is a small admission charge to the church, or it is part of the Chorus Pass scheme which works out as good value if you will be visiting a number of Venice's churches.
This church in a lovely square has a rather unusual name being dedicated to una Madonna formosa or a 'buxom Madonna'. Apparently this well-endowed lady appeared to St Magnus in the 7th century (the more sceptical of us may believe this to be after a rather good party!) and told him to follow a white cloud and build a church wherever it settled. And so the church of Santa Maria Formosa was born.
The present building was actually completed in 1492 and takes it's greek cross plan from an earlier 11th Centurt byzantine Church on the site.
There is an admission charge to go in, but the church is part of the Chorus Pass group of Venetian churches. Buying a Chorus Pass gives you one admission to each of 16 Venetian Churches in the following year.
The interior of the church is interesting for it's blend of Byzantine cupolas and Renaissance decor.
The Church of San Moise is covered in grimy statues and is a Baroque overload. It's either a clumsy mess or a masterpiece and will depend entirely on your personal opinion. Personally, I quite liked it. Inside is nothing really special except the tombstone of John Law, a Scottish financier who founded the Compaigne d'Occident to develop the Mississippi Valley and then lost everything in the notorious bursting of the South Sea Bubble in 1770. He fled to Venice and lived the rest of his life off of his earnings from gambling at the nearby Ridotto.
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