Chiesa dei Scalzi

Church in Cannaregio

An unexpected outburst of baroque extravagance, this Longhena-designed church (built 1654–80) has a facade by Giuseppe Sardi rippling with columns and statues in niches. This is an unusual departure for Venice, where baroque ebullience was usually reserved for interiors of Renaissance-leaning buildings – and in fact it was a deliberate echo of a style often employed in Rome, intended to help make the Discalced (meaning 'barefoot', scalzi in Italian) Carmelites posted here from Rome feel more at home.

Sadly, the vault frescoes by Tiepolo in two of the side chapels are damaged and his monumental nave ceiling was destroyed by a bomb in 1915. Before the main altar on your left, you might spot the tomb of Venice’s last doge, Ludovico Manin, who presided over the dissolution of the Republic in 1797 before the threat of Napoleon and died in ignominy five years later. The altar itself is framed by huge twisted columns of red marble. Also, look out for Longhena's buff statue of St Sebastian in one of the side chapels.

A small shop tucked away beside the sanctuary sells essentials oils, liquors and jams made by the friars. It's possible to arrange a visit to their walled gardens nearby.


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