Scuola Grande dei Carmini

Historic Building in Dorsoduro

Seventeenth-century backpackers must have thought they’d died and gone to heaven at this magnificent confraternity clubhouse, dedicated to Our Lady of Mt Carmel, 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 marble and boiserie (wood carving).

This scuola (religious confraternity) was the only one of the six scuole grandi to admit women – a nod to the women who founded its predecessor in the 13th-century. The Carmini continued to extend hospitality to destitute and wayward travellers right through to the time of Napoleon's occupation of Venice. Sadly, cots are no longer available in this jewel-box building, but evening Musica in Maschera concerts are held here, and members of the Carmini continue to organise charitable works to this day.