Thursday 8 October
10 AM PST
1 PM EST
6 PM BST
7 PM CEST
With Dr. Eireann Marshall
The most venerable is the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on the island of Torcello, the oldest building in the lagoon, striking not only for its splendid 12th-century mosaics but also for its isolated position, rising imposingly above the marshes and barene of the northern lagoon. On the island of Murano stands the church of San Donato, slightly removed from the glass-factories for which the island is now famous; it, too, is adorned with magnificent Byzantine-style mosaics. At the north-eastern end of Venice itself lies the island of San Pietro di Castello, where the church of the same name stands. Although the present building dates from the 16th century, there has been a church on this site since the eighth century, and until 1807 it was actually the city’s Cathedral.
We will then continue exploring some of the major buildings in the heart of Venice, starting with San Zaccaria, a church with a fine Renaissance façade concealing an older interior and a study of one of Bellini’s greatest Sacred Conversations. From here we make our way to Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo, the most important monumental space in the city after Piazza San Marco. Here stands the great gothic church of the Dominican order, where so many of the city’s Doges are buried, in finely sculpted tombs. On the northern flank of the square rises the magnificent Renaissance façade of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, one of the city’s most important charitable institutions, now housing the entrance to the city’s main hospital. A short distance away stands the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, one of the first true Renaissance churches in Venice, with its stunning polychrome marble exterior.
On the opposite side of the Grand Canal, rivalling SS Giovanni e Paolo in magnificence, is the gothic church of the Frari, created by the rival preaching order of the Franciscans; it contains some of the greatest paintings in Venice, including two splendid Titians. Behind the apse of the Frari stands another great charitable institution, the Scuola di San Rocco, which contains one of the most important cycles of paintings in Italy, by Venice’s most dynamic and original artist, Jacopo Tintoretto.