Lonely Planet review
A defunct naval academy has been cleverly converted into a shipshape gallery for the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, preserving the original double-height timber ceiling and going for a weatherbeaten-high-design look with luminous stairs in glass and rusted iron. The gallery hosts high-profile international and Italian shows, ranging from a mind-bending avant-garde Japanese typography show to a retrospective of Venice’s own poetic abstractionist, Giuseppe Santomaso – including his Letters to Palladio, paintings of envelopes with Palladian proportions. Behind Palladio’s grand church extend the grounds of the former monastery with a long history, beginning in the 10th century with its Benedictine founders and finishing with the staircase and library built by Longhena in the 1640s. The Chiostro dei Cipressi (named after the four cypress trees in the cloister) is the oldest extant part of the complex, completed in 1526 in an early-Renaissance style. One side is flanked by the cells of 56 Benedictine monks who long lived here. A stroll through the gardens leads to the outdoor Teatro Verde , built in the 1950s and sometimes used for summer performances. The ChiostrodelPalladio (designed by the Renaissance star) is on the site of a grand library that had been destroyed by fire. It was donated by Cosimo de’ Medici in thanks for his stay here during his exile from Florence in 1433. Palladio also designed the monumental refectory , where a Veronese masterpiece, Nozze di Cana (Wedding at Cana), took pride of place – at least until Napoleon came to town. He liked what he saw, so naturally he cut it in two, rolled it up and shipped it off to Paris, where it remains in the Louvre today. But in 2009, filmmaker Peter Greenaway’s celebrated video art projections of Veronese’s painting ‘reinstalled’ the work in its rightful place. The work was the scene stealer of the Biennale, with digital enhancements that made the video versions truer to Veronese’s signature colours and seamless composition than the degraded, patched-together Louvre canvas.