Palladio designed this beautiful church in Guidecca, thought to be his magnum opus, in 1577. It has wonderful gardens in back.
Madonna and Four Saints at San Zaccaria
San Zaccaria: 1444-1515; begun by Antonio Gambello and completed by Mauro Codussi
Madonna and Four Saints: 1505, Giovanni Bellini
City Secrets is a series of innovative guidebooks whose contributors, from art historians and professors to novelists and architects, choose their personal “city secrets” to share. Read a Q&A with founding editor Robert Kahn. The following is a pick from City Secrets: Florence & Venice by Theodore K. Rabb, a historian.
This was the doges’ own church before San Marco was built, and the crypt holds the oldest tombs of doges in Venice. But the most dazzling of its attractions is the stunning Bellini altarpiece halfway up the nave. It was one of the treasures Napoleon took back to Paris; a memento of his theft remains, in the piece cut off the top so that the altarpiece would fit the location Napoleon chose for it. Stand in front of the painting when the sun is quite high in the afternoon and you will see the genius of the location as well as the painting. Only one ray of the sun can enter the church through the clerestory windows across the nave, but as the sun moves the ray picks out each of the stunning robes of the saints and the Madonna in turn. The colors glow in succession, creating a magical theater of motion, art, and devout spirituality, all fused into one by the power of both Bellini and San Zaccaria.
When you’re in the charming Cannaregio neighborhood, visit the church that houses Tintoretto’s colossal paintings The Adoration of the Golden Calf, The Last Judgment and The Virtues (1562–64), which hang in the presbytery.
City Secrets is a series of innovative guidebooks whose contributors, from art historians and professors to novelists and architects, choose their personal “city secrets” to share. Read a Q&A with founding editor Robert Kahn. The following is a pick from City Secrets: Florence & Venice by Eric Denker, an art historian.
The twelfth-century structure is the sole remaining example of a Romanesque cloister in Venice. Sit quietly amid the slender double columns and the ancient wellhead, or read beneath the small semicircular arches that encircle the worn bricks of the pavement. A sense of calm pervades the cloister, long associated with a Benedictine Abbey close to Torcello. After a time, when you are refreshed, recovered from the frenetic pace outside, you can return to the sights of the Piazza, or continue along the route to the nearby church of San Zaccaria to see the finest Giovanni Bellini (signed and dated 1505) in situ. Closed the first, third and fifth Sunday, and second and fourth Monday of every month.