Saturday, 18 February 2017

Madonna dell'Orto to Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Madonna dell' Orto

Madonna dell'Orto (Our Lady of the Garden) is one the great Gothic churches of Venice and we thought we would start today's walk here and link it to one in our walk book. It was begun in about 1399 and the wonderful portal, by the great stone carver Bartolomeo Bon was begun in 1460. Inside there is wonderful array of paintings including a number by Jacopo Tintoretto, of which our favourite was The presentation of Mary at the temple (1552), a wonderful composition.

The house where Tintoretto lived is nearby: here is the wonderful statue on the bottom of the facade.

A similarly striking one, now with a metal nose, is on a nearby corner.

We returned to the long Fondamenta della Misericordia ...

... and headed away from this bridge in the direction of the Campo Santi Apostoli. This involved walking along the crowded Strada Nuova. This street was originally named for the King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, when it was cut through a warren of streets and houses in 1871. It is the longest and probably the widest in Venice (it's only rival would be the Via Giuseppe Garibaldi where we plan to walk tomorrow).

The Campo Santi Apostoli houses the ancient church of the same name which has a wonderful campanile, rebuilt in 1672, with a fantastic sun dial. This was the start of our walk-book walk.

We left the  square and passed the church of San Giovanni Crisostomo to then go through small streets, Corte Prima dei Millione and Second dei Millione. Millione was the nickname of Marco Polo who was born in this vicinity, although precisely where is not known.

Soon we were in Campo San Marina near to where Casanova lived. We left the square by a small bridge with the imposing Palazzo Pisani on the right and Palazzo Dolphin along the canal on the left.

Further along there was this lovely Palazzo, name unknown, with a traditional chimney and fine exterior decoration.

Calle de le Erbe brought is to another great Gothic church, that of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, second only to San Marco. It was built by the Dominican order between 1246 and 1430 and has a magnificent portal by the same Bartolomeo Bon who did the one at Santa Maria dell'Orto.

Inside the church is higher (32m) and more massive than is apparent from outside. The soaring apse is the culmination of this. From the middle of the 15th century the funerals of Doges took place here and there are several monuments to individual Doges.

At right angles to the church is the exquisite Scuola Grande di San Marco. In Venice a Scuola Grande was the headquarters of a charitable confraternity - perhaps Rotary might be a secular modern equivalent. It is one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Venice.

The tromp l'oeil marble carving by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo is a particular delight.

Just round the corner is our favourite Venetian church, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, tucked into a small space beside a small canal. It was built in 1481-9 by Pietro Lombardo to hold an image of the Virgin Mary which had become the object of veneration and was believed to have occasioned miracles.

It is a simply exquisite building. Here is the inside, again with all surfaces covered in marble - and the altar unusually on a higher level than the nave. The coffered barrel vault is also pretty special.

Conditions: a lovely sunny day.

Distance: About 3.5 miles including the walk back.

From: (in part) Venice. History. Mystery. Walks (AA publications).

Rating: five stars.

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