Scuola Grande dei Carmini

Historic Building in Dorsoduro

Eighteenth-century backpackers must have thought they’d died and gone to heaven at Scuola Grande dei Carmini, with its lavish interiors by Giambattista Tiepolo and Baldassare Longhena. The gold-leafed, Longhena-designed stucco stairway heads up towards Tiepolo’s nine-panel ceiling of a rosy Virgin in Glory. The adjoining hostel room is bedecked in boiserie (wood carving).

This scuola (confraternity) was the first formed by women in the 13th century. It was also Venice's first known order of Battuti (Flagellants), who practiced self-mortification with a wooden rod – a practice since discredited. The Carmini continued to extend hospitality to destitute and wayward travellers from the 13th century right through to the time of Napoleon's occupation of Venice. Sadly, cots are no longer available in this jewel-box building, but evening concerts are held here, and members of the Carmini continue to organise charitable works to this day.