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Venice Off The Beaten Path: 702 reviews and 1,190 photos
Giudecca- Womens Prison
I was only aware of there being prisons on Venice (Apart from the former famous one adjoining the Doges Palace) after seeing a sign on Giudecca, for this womens prison (There is a prison for males near the Zitelle church)
The womens prison is a former convent.
The main reasons for imprisonment for the women are drug possession, prostitution and murder (Mainly of their husbands!)
This prison recently featured on the Channel 4 series Jamie Does.... Venice, when Jamie (Oliver) visited this womens prison.
Why? well behind the prison walls is a well stocked organic vegetable garden, where as part of a forward thinking rehabilitation programme, the prisoners tend the gardens, harvest the produce, and every Thursday morning, sell the vegetables in a small market outside the prison walls on Fondamenta delle Convertite.
Another marketing idea, to provide an income for these inmates is the production of canvas bags, sold in kiosks around the city, depicting recipes for the Venetian Spritz in various designs -I'm going to look out for these on my next visit to Venice.
The toiletries range ("Santa Maria degli Angeli") at the Bauer hotels (Hotel Bauer, Bauer Il Palazzo, Bauer Casa Nova and the Bauer Palladio) are also produced by these prisoners.
Adjacent to the Redentore church on Giudecca is the Capuchin monastery,where in the pharmacy, the monks made medicines and potions.
Francesca Bortolotto Possati, the owner of Venice's Bauer hotels was inspired by this to instigate a project, whereby as part of a co-operative, Rio Terà Dei Pensieri, the prisoners could produce toiletries such as soaps, shampoo, shower gel and body lotions. These are produced in a laboratory in the prison, Supervised by a chemist and staffed by the inmates, who are taught by skilled volunteers, who share their time and expertise, to ensure that the products are of a high quality grade.. Some of these products contain plants grown in the prison garden.
The "Cooperativa Sociale Reiserimento Lavorativo", (Social Cooperative for Adjustment through Work.) at Banco No. 10, Castello 3478, sells clothing and handbags made with luxurious silks, brocades, and velvets, created by these women prisoners.
The prison also operates a laundry, where hotel linen is washed.
As well as a small income, this work provides work experience, and a reference, which in turn assists them in finding work on release into the outside world.
During a visit to Venice in September 2010, I was there on a Thursday, so went in search of this market. I located the prison, but found out that I had missed the market. Hopefully, next time I'm there I'll see this. We did get to see some of the warders and an inmate outside the prison, looking at a jelly fish in the canal, which a nearby workman caught on his shovel, and put it onto the fondamente. I'm afraid that he later killed it with the shovel.
Sant Erasmo canal
This was one of those 'accidental finds' I was looking for 'cheap' accommodation for my last 2 nights in Venice. Il Lato Azzurro came within my budget, but I wasn't sure where Sant Erasmo was. There wasn't too much information about this island (which made it more intriguing) As soon as I'd checked it out, I realised that I was going to like staying on this island.
Vaporetta 13 from Fondamente Nova carries you across the lagoon to this former Roman Pleasure ground! (please check my transport tips for more info)
This is the largest of the lagoons islands, but is only sparcely populated. The island produces fruit and vegetables for consumption on Venice.
I was surprised to see tractors working in the fields, after being in traffic free Venice.
Straight roads are lined with trees and shrubs, some cross over canals, again lined with grassy banks and fragrant flowers. The silence being broken by motor boat engines or bird song.
I really enjoyed staying here, It offers quite a contrast to Venice. There are no 'big attractions' apart from a 'newish' church, the Torre Massimiliano- a 19th century fort, which now holds exhibitions, and a small beach (Spiaggia Libera)- the main attraction is its peaceful rural landscape!
Near the beach is a bar/pizzeria which appeared to be a 'locals' meeting place, otherwise bring food from Venice for a picnic. There is a mini market near the church, but I'm not sure of opening times, or what it stocks.
From the Capannone vaporetta stop its about a 15 minute walk to the tower/beach. Il Lato Azzurro hotel rents out bikes (10 mins along Via dei Forti) You might be able to get a map of the island here too.
Next to Sant Erasmo is the former Quarantine island Lazzaretto Nuova. For over 30 years this has been the site of archeological excavations, with many Roman objects having been unearthed. Guided tours are carried out by archeologists (in Italian) April - October Saturday and Sunday 09.30 and 1600. These are the only times that You are allowed access to the island (unless you make prior arrangements)
Scuola dei Calegheri
SAN POLO AND SANTA CROCE
VAPORETTO - SAN TOMA
In Campo San Toma, at the opposite end to the church, look out for this red brick building.
This was the shoemakers guild. If you look below the bas relief, in the door lintel, there is a shoe carved into the stone.
The bas relief is by Pietro Lombardo (1478) and shows Saint Mark healing Ananias, who was a cobbler. This event took place in Alexandria, when St Mark was Bishop there.
The cobbler had seriously injured himself whilst repairing the Bishops shoes
St Mark is the patron saint of cobblers (among many other professions!)
The building dates back to 1446, and apparently has some worn examples of frescoes on the flooring inside. It is now used as a public library.
During my visit at Christmas 2009, I'd read about there being a 'hidden open air chapel' near to San Francesco della Vigne. Although I spent some time trying to find it, I had to give up, as it was too dark. During my latest visit, I came across it by accident!
The home-made chapel is located in a sottoportego (covered passageway). Above one entrance, is a plaque (pic 2) which I think states that this is in memory of victims of war. I'm not sure, but I think it mentions victims of a bomb that destroyed inhabitants houses of Corte Nova-Numbers 1630-1636 and 1849-55 - (Hopefully someone can translate this for me. I can't find a name for it, but it would appear to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The chapel has two small altars facing each other, (with paintings of the Virgin Mary, and Madonna and child) and an attractive carved and painted ceiling (pic 5)
This area of Venice is well away from the tourist hot spots, and is quite an interesting place to just 'get lost' in. You can find some small shops selling groceries, electrical goods etc. Some 'hidden gems' like this chapel.
I've since found out that there was an air raid in August 1916, on Venice, with loss of lives in Cannaregio, and there was also an attack on Arsenale, with the destruction of a submarine, and loss of lives, which could have been the event recorded here.
In September a bomb fell in Piazza San Marco, steps away from the main entrance. If you look carefully on the ground, there is a simple stone paving slab that commemorates this event. Many churches were hit too, causing loss or damage to their structure and artworks.
Venice was the first ever intended target for bombing from the air, The first air-dropped bombs were used by the Austrians in the 1849 siege of Venice. Allegedly, two hundred unmanned balloons carried small bombs, were discharged, but very few actually made it to Venice - probably due to the wind currents of the lagoon.
It's difficult to describe how to find it-The nearest landmark church is San Francesco della Vigna.
Located on the corner of Calle Zorzi and Corte Nuova. From Campo Santa Giustina, take the southern alleyway and continue straight on - keep your eyes open for the street names.
Chiesa di S. Croce degli Armeni
This is one of Venices' 'Hidden Churches' - It's not too difficult to find though- it's sign posted from the Merceries- Leave San Marco Piazza under the Torre del Orologio and look for the small yellow sign. It is hidden from view under a sotoportego - Sotoportago Dei Armeni. I was quite keen to visit this church, as I was staying in the Armenian college in Dorsodura for my 4 night stay, and I had intended to visit the Armenian island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni later that day.
It is only open on Sundays at 10.30 or 11.00 hours for Mass. I arrived just after 11, and hung around until the service was over, then wandered in for a look around.
The small church was rich with incense smoke. An anti room in front of the church was filled with the small congregation- there appeared to be nearly 1 priest for every 3 worshipers!
I wandered into the church and just stood at the edge looking around. Facing me was the main alter, with 2 side alters. 14 pews faced the main alter. 4 incense burners hung from the ceiling.
Above was a domed cupola, painted blue, topped with a narrower 'chimney'.
I'm afraid that I didn't take any photo's, as I was only here for a very short look around before I was told that the church was closing. I'd like to return at my next visit to Venice.
Chiesa dei Santa Sofia
This church is easily missed, as it sits between the shops and houses of the Strada Nuova.
From the Ca' d'Oro Vaporetto stop turn right, and the church is on the left hand side of the street.
My visit was on Christmas Eve, and the church was open for visitors to see the Presepe (Nativity Scene).
The main entrance is here on Strada Nuova, and its side door is in Calle del Cristo, reached via Ramo dell'Oca
The church was built around AD 1000 and re-modeled in the 17th century. I was surprised to find it was much larger, and surprisingly lighter inside, than I'd expected..
Inside are two canvasses from the Bottega del Bassano workshop, “Il Presepio” and “Cristo Deriso” by Heinz and Palma il Giovane (Palma the Younger)
Four statues of saints are located here too, after having been brought from the church of the Servi. They are thought to be the work of Antonio Rizzo.
The presepe was quite interesting- some mechanical movements and a water feature were included in the piece, with aspects of village life going on around the central nativity scene. A woman baking/rolling pastry/pasta? a man cutting wood etc.
As it was Christmas Eve, the figure of the Christ child was absent. (This would be placed in the crib at midnight)
A donations box was nearby for contributions. As I'd asked permission to take some photos, I put a few coins in.
Open daily from 9 am to 12 am.
Palazzo Zenobio/Collegio Armeno Moorat Raphael
VAPORETTO-CA' REZZONICCO or S. BASILIO.
The reason that I visited this former palace is that it is now an Armenian cultural centre and college, which offers cheap (basic) accommodation. I stayed here for 4 nights over Christmas 2009 (for the total price of 80 euros! Please see my Hotels and Accommodation tips for more info).
It is possible to book a tour of the palace - or just ring the bell and ask for a look around
The Zenobia family, were wealthy land owners, originally from Greece, but had settled in Verona. In 1647 they bought a noble title for the cost of 160,000 ducats - New Venetian nobility needed a palace!
In 1664, they acquired a gothic palace from the Morosini family, then it was modified between 1690 and 1700 by Antonio Gasperi, in the Baroque style. Palazzo Zenobio would be the largest palace of the time in Venice.
Unusually for this period, the palace is designed in a U shape.
This opens onto a courtyard and gardens.
A large Zenobio family coat of arms, can be seen in the courtyard, which was initially set above the tympana (A panel enclosed by a lintel of a door and the arch above it) of the central loggia (pic 3)
Behind the palazzo, there is a large garden with the former library that still has baroque interior decoration. (pic 2)
Gaspari retained half of the original portego (a long corridor, often with a quadratic cross section and an opening of an arched loggia) of the Morosini building, and then added a serliana (a central arched window, flanked by two rectangular windows) to distinguish it formally from the new ballroom. Above this window, an orchestra gallery was built.
Two small courtyards were added to the left and right of the Ballroom, with a staircase leading from the left wing to the Piano Nobile.
The jewel in this palaces crown is its ornate Baroque ballroom, with its stunning examples of trompe l'oeil , gilded mirrors and paintings - Please see my following tip for info and photos of The Ballroom.......
In the late 19th Century (1850), two wealthy (Diamond Merchants) Armenians from India, Mkertich Murat and Edward Raphael made donations to establish an Armenian college in Venice. They purchased the Palazzo Zenobio for this purpose.
The college had a reputation for its high academic standards and reputable teaching staff.
Although the college isn't operating for this purpose at present, as well as offering accommodation, there are sometimes art exhibitions, summer schools and workshops, as well as being a venue for weddings.
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 041 522 87 70
Bocca di Leone - Lions Mouth Post Box
On my previous visits to Venice, I'd meant to look for this 'Lions Mouth' post box which is to be found to the right of the facade of Chiesa Santa Maria della Visitazione (not to be confused with the church of the same name in San Marco-which is better known as the Pieta, or Vivaldis Church)
After looking at the actual facade, without any luck - I looked a bit further- it is on the wall adjacent to the church!
An Inscription above the Lion reads "Oncie Contra La Sanita per il sestier Deossodvro"
These Lions Head post boxes were used for the citizens of Venice to complain anonymously about things such as the state of the streets, sanitation etc. More sinister was the encouragement to denounce other citizens for treason/ corruption in this manner.
These post boxes were initiated by the highly powerful and feared Council of Ten.
The Council of Ten was formed in 1310, and had virtually unlimited power to conduct their role of dealing with insurrection and conspiracy.
Their power was such, that they had full control of the police force, they ran the Inquisition and as well as utilising a network of spies, they encouraged the citizens to denounce each other by posting letters through the Lions Mouth boxes that were scattered around the city.
There are some examples in the Doges Palace too. Some boxes were in the form of a mans head, with an open mouth for the posting of denouncements.
The boxes were locked, and could only be opened in the presence of 3 of the council members- each who had a separate key.
Campiello dei Guardiani Dorsoduro Venice
I came upon this interesting Campiello while wandering around Dorsoduro sestiere. It's not far from the Angelo Raffaele church.
I was quite interested in the various bas reliefs and the terracotta plaques (which were quite unusual), My guide books don't mention this square, and I can't find much out by Googling.
Any information would be appreciated - in the mean time, I'll keep searching
UPDATE -I found this exerpt in 'Venice on Foot' by Hugh A Douglas
"Calle del Guardiani. An inscription on
the shrine in this calle, dated 1640, seems to
indicate that the " guardiani," or officers of the
confraternity of the Holy Sacrament (attached
to the church of S. Angelo Raffaele), lived here. "
Presumably some would have lived in this campiello too.
Palazzo Zenobio Ballroom trompe-l'oeil
VAPORETTO-CA' REZZONICCO or S. BASILIO.
The jewel in this palaces crown is its ornate Baroque ballroom -
Built over 2 storeys, it's situated behind the balcony of the main facade overlooking the canal.
It is possibly Venices' richest example of 18th century interior design.
Louis Dorigny, a French Artist, was responsible for creating the large trompe-l'oeil ceiling fresco. I particularly liked the illusion of the draped oriental carpets on the walls.
Trompe l'oeil effects were an inspiration for the Ca' Rezzonicos later decoration .
Huge Mirrors line the Ballroom, Heavily decorated and gilded picture frames, add to the opulence.
Three landscapes painted by Luca Carlevarijs can be seen on the portego, while the medallions above the doors, including "The Challenge between Apollo and Marsia"(18th Century), were painted as a commission by Gregorio Lazzarini.
To be found on Fondamenta Del Soccorso/ Rio dei Carmini. It is between Angelo Raffaele and the Carmini churches.
Address: Dorsoduro 2596 - Fondamenta del Soccorso - 30123 Venice
Other Contact: email@example.com
Phone: 0415228770 fax -0415203434
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