Sestiere Dorsoduro

This is an excerpt from the book “Venice and the Veneto

Venice’s Windows – Photo © James Lawson
Venice’s Windows – Photo © James Lawson

Church of the Gesuati

The order of the Jesuits was suppressed in 1868 and the church and monastery were handed over to the Dominicans. In 1724 the architect Giorgio Massari was commissioned to build the new church. The inside has no side naves but contains altar pieces by Piazzetta, Sebastiano Ricci and Gian Battista Tiepolo. The latter was also commissioned with decorating the ceiling with illustrations of the history of the Dominicans. The Jesuit church was rebuilt in 1657 on the site of a former church of the Crocifex Order.

The façade was paid by the Manins and built by Fattoretto on the forms of a baroque architecture with a very plastic character.

Church of San Trovaso

The current building dates back to the end of the sixteenth century and is in Palladian style. It contains works by Tintoretto, Palma il Giovane and Gianbono. Dating from the distant past, the church was rebuilt in 1584 and contains important works including canvases by Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto and two altarpieces by Palma il Giovane.

The little square the church stands in is raised above street level to contain the caissons of clay used for storing filtered rainwater for the well, as was usual for Venetian wells.

Squero di San Trovaso

Located next to the church of San rovaso, this is an unusual wooden structure that is similar to the house of the Cadore area on the mainland. This was an old dwelling for the workers of the squero, a small shipyards for making gondolas. It dates back to the seventeenth century and has always been in operation. The fact that the workers often came from Cadore is the reason why the house is in the style of this mountanious area. A characteristic old boatyard (squero) dating from the 17th century and located on the rio – or little canal – of San Trovaso. In a particularly picturesque position, it is one of the last traditional squeri still working in Venice. The Venetian term squero derives from “a bevel square”, a work tool. Here you can admire the typical boatyard slipway that slopes into the canal for easing boats in and out, and the tesa, a wooden shelter where boats are repaired and tools are stored.

The edifice, like the other squeri, resembles the mountain houses of the Cadore area, from whence came the woodworkers and the timber used for building the boats.

Trattoria “Alla Vedova” – Photo © Silvia Massetti
Trattoria “Alla Vedova” – Photo © Silvia Massetti

Church of S. Sebastiano

This church was designed by Scarpagnino in the sixteenth century. In 1555 Paolo Veronese began to create the many paintings that adorn the sacristy, the ceiling of the central nave and the apse of the main altar. At the foot of the organ, which is also decorated with works by Veronese, a stone indicates the place were the artist is buried. A 16th century church, notable for the extraordinary cycle of paintings by Paolo Veronese that decorates the entire ceiling, the walls and the choir, as well as the organ casing doors.

These paintings by the great artist from Verona – whose tomb is in the church – make it a most important church to visit.

Church of Angelo Raffaele

The foundation dates back to the seventh century shortly after Venice was first settled but the church was rebuilt in 1618. Inside, the organ nave contains a wash drawing by Giannantonio Guardi dated 1750 that depicts stories about Tobiolo. Parts of this church and that of San Nicolo’ dei Mendicoli are the oldest in Venice. The church was founded in the 7th century though the present edifice is the work of the architect Francesco Contino.

A fine Lombardesque sculpture can be admired in a niche above the portal; it is attributed to Sebastiano Mariani (early 16thC) and depicts the patron saint, the Archangel Raphael with Tobiolo.

Church of San Nicolo’

One of Venice’s oldest churches, it was built by ‘patavini’ (inhabitants of Padua), who lived in the islands of the lagoon in the seventh century to escape the Lombard invasion. It was rebuilt in the twelfth century, and the central part of the facade dates back to that period. The arch in the apse of the main altar is Byzantine. St Nicholas of the Mendicants is one of the oldest churches of Venice (7thC) while the bell tower is 13th century.
The ancient parts consist of the central apse and the capitals of the columns, as well as the basilica-like plan; the portico, one of the recurring features of religious edifices in Venice, was where the poor could beg and penitents could present their prayers.

There is a fine16th century organ and paintings of the School of Veronese.

Photo © Silvia Massetti
Photo © Silvia Massetti

Palazzo Zenobio

This Palazzo was originally in Gothic style and belonged to the Morosini family. In the seventeenth century it was sold to the Zenobio family, who commissioned the architect Antonio Gaspari to completely renovate it. Inside, it is decorated with stuccoes by the Swiss plasterer Abbondio Stazio and with frescoes by Luigi Dorigny. The ballroom still contains the stand for the orchestra above the central door. Paintings by Carlevaris adorn the small portico. The fine classical portico overlooks the vast French style garden.

Palazzo Zenobio is a monumental building, built in late 17th and beginning of 18th century, by the Venetian noble family Zenobio. Since 1850 the Palace belongs to the Armenian Mekhitarist Fathers of Venice.

In the palace the two main halls can be visited: the Stuccoes’ Hall and the Mirrors’ Hall. On the walls of the Stuccoes’ Hall there are three precious paintings by Luca Carlevarjis, a predecessor of the Venetian 17th century view painters.

The ceiling frescoes are some representation of Lazzarini’s allegories. All these frescoes are framed by 17th century fine stuccoes, along with marble door arches.

The main hall of Palazzo Zenobio is the Mirrors’ Hall, called also Tiepolesca after the frescoes and the complex decoration, to which collaborated the young Giambattista Tiepolo.

A hall full of light a subtle example of Venetian art and life in the 17th century.

From the garden it is possible to see the architecture of the building. In the central part of the building the are the Mirrors’ Hall, the Direction and many meeting rooms on the first floor, the Chapel and some other ten guest rooms on the second floor, about 15 guest rooms on the third floor.

The two lateral buildings have some exhibition rooms, other rooms for meeting and cultural events, a big kitchen and a large dining room. In the garden during the summer there are evening receptions, concerts, dinners and theatre evenings.

Photo © Silvia Massetti
Photo © Silvia Massetti

Scuola Grande dei Carmini

The headquarters of the Carmelite lay confraternity that provided assistance and charity. It was also dedicated to the cult of the Virgin Mary and was officially estabilished in 1595. The current seat was built by Longhena in 1667 on pre-existing smaller buildings. In 1739 Tiepolo painted pictures for the ceiling of the albergo (great hall) with symbols of the Virgin Mary and Saint Simeon Stock receiving the scapular of the Carmelite Order from the Virgin. The Hall of the Confraternity of Our Lady

The building features an interesting series of paintings by G.B. Tiepolo.

Very beautiful frescoes by Tiepolo are on the ceiling of the upper hall, as well as canvases by A. Zanchi and G.B. Piazzetta.

Santa Margherita Square

A picturesque campo surrounded by old fourteenth century palaces and the little church Santa Margherita, which is today a university auditorium. The old belltower still has Baroque stone decorations.

Ca’ Rezzonico

One of the most beautiful Palaces in Venice, it was started by Longhena for the Bartolomeo Bon family in 1667. It was completed for the Rezzonico family (who had become joint owners) by Giorgio Massari, who made considerable modifications, such as the large staircase and the ballroom, which was decorated with frescoes by Crosato. Today, it is a museum dedicated to eighteenth century Venice and contains period pieces taken from other palazzi, the most famous of which is the carved furniture by Andrea Brustolon.

Ca’ Rezzonico is a splendid palace by Baldassarre Longhena, a sumptuous Venetian residence hosting a precious collection of 18th century Venetian furnishings and paintings.

Of great interest are the palatial rooms and the frescoes by G.B. Tiepolo, J. Guarana, and F. Guardi.
On the third floor the Egidio Martini Gallery and its 300 masterpieces.

San Barnaba square and Ponte dei Pugni bridge
This is a typical Venetian campo at which the boats selling vegetables coming from the islands moored. Nearby, there is the Ponte dei Pugni bridge. It takes its name from a spectacular dispute between two opposing Venetian factions, the Castellanis and the Nicolottis, who fought on the bridge and who left their footprints on it.

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