The neighbours called, and they want their grime back: when centuries of accumulated dirt were removed from the stone angels above the portals of Francesco Contino’s 17th-century facade, it caused a local uproar. Had Venice lost its respect for the patina of age? They needn't have worried: the soot has already started to return. No similar argument was raised about the restoration of the baptistery, where Francesco Fontebasso’s baroque frescoes glow in shades of pink, gold and pale green.
Construction commenced on the current church in 1618, but it stands on the site of one of Venice's original churches, dating from the 7th century. The cycle of paintings above the main altar has been attributed to the Guardi brothers, but no one is sure which one – the vedutista (landscape artist) Francesco or his lesser-known elder brother Gian Antonio (1699–1760). The baptistery is tucked behind the main altar; to access it, you'll need to ask the guardian on duty.