Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa (Venice, Italy)

Courtyard o the palazzo

Courtyard o the palazzo

The  Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa, originally the ancient casa da stazio, an L-shaped building located at the intersection of the rios of San

Bronze bust of Antonio Grimani (Andrea Briosco)

Bronze bust of Antonio Grimani (Andrea Briosco)

Severo and Santa Maria Formosa, was the residence of the Venetian doge Antonio Grimani. It was substantially altered in 1532-1569 by his grandsons Vittore, procuratore generale of the city, and Giovanni Grimani, cardinal and Patriarch of Aquileia, giving it a classical stamp.

Giovanni allegedly collaborated with celebrated architects such as Jacopo Sansovino, Sebastiano Serlio and  Andrea Palladio.


Two new wings, doDSC00364ubling the size of the building, were added.  A vast Roman-style inner courtyard, with loggias of marble colonnades (unusual in sixteenth-century Venice) and asymmetrical porticoes, was laden with artfully arranged sculptures, reliefs and inscriptions.The palace was completed in 1575 by Giovanni Rusconi while Alessandro Vittoria was responsible for the ornamentation of the doorway.


The palace is composed of three parts with a small backyard. The façade, sporting

Bronze bust of Hadrian (Ludovico Lombardo)

Bronze bust of Hadrian (Ludovico Lombardo)

characteristically massive windows arches, is decorated with polychrome marble.

The most striking feature of the interior is the Sala di Psiche (c. 1540), with frescoes by Mannerist artists such as Francesco MenzocchiCamillo Mantovano and Francesco Salviati.

Other artists who worked to the palace’s decoration include Taddeo Zuccari and Giovanni da Udine.


Bust of Antinoüs, favorite of Hadrian

Bust of Antinoüs, favorite of Hadrian

The palazzo once held the archaeological collections (one of the finest of the time), strikingly displayed on shelves, mantelpieces and plinths in settings of the high ceiling, specially designed Tribuna and the courtyard, amassed by Cardinal Domenico Grimani and Giovanni Grimani, and donated to the Republic.


Palazzo Grimani, internationally important for its architectural originality, the quality of its decoration and the history of its development, was purchased by the State in 1981 and, in 2001, a decree of the Ministry of the Cultural Heritage gave responsibility for its management to the Superintendency of State Museums in Venice. On December 20, 2015, it was reopened as a museum.


An especially valuable addition to its museum circuit, the palace displays a few HiDSC04670eronymus Bosch paintings from the Grimani collection: depicting the dream-like Visione dell’Aldilàl’Ascesa all’Empireo, and la Caduta dei dannati e l’Inferno; and the Triptych of Santa Liberata, and the Triptych of the eremiti (Sant’Antonio, San Girolamo and Sant’Egidio).

Sculpture gallery

The Sculpture Gallery with “The Rape of Ganymede (Reinhard Gomer)” hanging on the ceiling

The extraordinarily high quality decoration of the rooms iDSC04680ncludes outstanding stucco work and frescoes, reflecting the confidently unconventional taste of the Grimanis.

Palazzo Grimani, unique in Venetian history and architecture, is a fascinating treasure house of cultural, artistic and historical riches.

Statue of Laocoon and his sons

Statue of Laocoon and his sons

Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa: Ramo Grimani, 4858, 30122 Venice, Italy. Tel: +39 041 241 1507 and +39 041 5200345. E-mail: and Website: Open 8:15 AM – 7:15 PM. Admission: € 4.00 + € 1,50 reservation fee.

Church of St. Zacharias (Venice, Italy)

Chiesa di San Zaccaria (1)

Church of St. Zechariah

The large 15th-century, formerly monastic (it was originally attached to a Benedictine monastery of nuns) Church of St. Zechariah (Chiesa di San Zaccaria) is located just off the waterfront, to the southeast of Piazza San Marco and St Mark’s Basilica.  The first church on the site was founded in the early 9th century by Doge Giustiniano Participazio  to house the body, under the second altar on the right, of St. Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist), the saint to which it is dedicated, a gift of the Byzantine Emperor Leo V the Armenian. The remains of 8 early doges as well as the artist Alessandro Vittoria (his tomb marked by a self-portrait bust) are also buried in the colonnaded Romanesque crypt of the church.



The original church, rebuilt in the 1170s (when the present campanile was built), was replaced by the present Late Gothic-style church designed by Antonio Gambello.  Built between 1458 and 1515, it was built beside (not over) the original church, the remains of which still stands. Seventy years later, the upper part of the façade, with its arched windows and its columns, and the upper parts of the interior were completed by Mauro Codussi in early Renaissance style. Thus, the façade is a harmonious Venetian mixture of late-Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Tomb of St. Zacharias

Tomb of St. Zacharias

The church’s apse, surrounded by an ambulatory lit by tall Gothic windows, is a typical feature of Northern European church architecture which is unique in Venice. The San Zaccaria Altarpiece, one of the most famous works by Giovanni Bellini (whisked away to Paris for 20 years when Napoleon plundered the city in 1797), as well as paintings by 17th and 18th century artists (at the  walls of the aisles and of the chapels).

Chiesa di San Zaccaria (11)

They include works by Andrea del CastagnoPalma VecchioTintorettoGiuseppe PortaPalma il GiovaneAntonio VassilacchiAnthony van DyckAndrea Celesti,Antonio ZanchiAntonio BalestraAngelo Trevisani and Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo. The organ of the church was built by Gaetano Callido in 1790.

Chiesa di San Zaccaria (4)

The Chapel of St Athanasius, which was most of the nave and right-hand aisle of the old church, was rebuilt for the nuns in the mid-15th century and then converted into a chapel around 1595. It contains a Domenico Tintoretto altarpiece depicting The Birth of John the Baptist or maybe The Birth of the Virgin. To the right of an altar designed by Vittoria is The Flight into Egypt by Domenico Tintoretto. Over the entrance door is the Crucifixion, claimed to be by Anthony van Dyke, very redolent of the Counter-Reformation in its minimalness and drama.

Chiesa di San Zaccaria (5)

Another door takes you through to the Cappella dell’Addolorata, with cases of relics, and then into the lovely Chapel of San Tarasio, the apse of the old church, built in 1440 by Gambello. It features some very impressive frescoes in the vaulting, painted in 1442 by Andrea del Castagno (in collaboration with a certain Francesco da Faenza).  Discovered in 1923 and cleaned in the 1950s, they are the artist’s earliest extant work and feature his only signature (Andreas de Florentia).

Chiesa di San Zaccaria (7)

There are also three well-preserved Late-Gothic gilded altarpieces by brothers-in-law Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d’Alemagna. The central three panels (dated 1385), on the main level of the high altarpiece (Saints Blaise and Martin, with The Virgin and Child in the center), are signed by Stefano di Sant’Agnese, taken from another work and inserted in 1839 in place of a reliquary. The two saints flanking them (Mark and Elizabeth) are by Giovanni and Antonio Vivarini. More saints, said to have also been added later, are found on the back. A recently discovered and restored predella, on the front of the altar, is ascribed to Paolo Veneziano.

Chiesa di San Zaccaria (8)

Church of San Zaccaria: Campo San Zaccaria 4693, 30122 Venice, Italy. Open Mondays – Saturays, 10 AM–12 PM and 4–6 PM, and Sundays, 4–6 PM. Tel: +39 041 522 1257

Gallerie dell’Accademia (Venice, Italy)

Gallerie dell’Accademia

The Gallerie dell’Accademia (Accademia Gallery of Venice), on the south bank of the Grand Canal, within the sestiere of Dorsoduro, is a museum gallery of pre-19th-century art in Venicenorthern Italy.

The author in front of the museum

Housed in the Palladian complex of the Scuola della Carità (the oldest of the six Scuole Grandi (though the building dates back to 1343, the scuola was formed in 1260), it was originally the gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia (founded on September 24, 1750, it was one of the first institutions to study art restoration starting in 1777 with Pietro Edwards, and formalized by 1819 as a course), the art academy of Venice (from which it became independent in 1879) which remained in the same building until 2004, when the art school moved to the Ospedale degli Incurabili.

Church of Santa Maria della Carita

The museum courtyard

The Ponte dell’Accademia (Academy Bridge, where the museum is literally in front of) and the Accademia boat landing station (where our vaporetto water bus docked) are named after it. Like other state museums in Italy, it falls under the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, the Italian ministry of culture and heritage.

Jandy (foreground) in one of the galleries

The absolutely stunning Gallerie dell’Accademia, the picture gallery of the art academy and one of the great museums of the world, owns the most important collection worldwide of more than 800 Venetian paintings, from the Gothic until the Rococo.

Genres covered include Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Over time, the collection has increased, thanks to private donations and acquisitions.

Ornate ceiling in Room 1

The museum contains masterpieces of Venetian painting from the 12th through 18th centuries, more or less generally arranged chronologically (since art in the academy has long been taught in chronological order) in 24 rooms, though some thematic displays are evident.

Jandy and Kyle in front of the painting Fisherman Presenting a Ring to the Doge Granedigo (Paris Bordone, 1534, oil on canvas)

The museum, bringing together, under one roof, all the works of art that were scattered throughout Venice, is housed in three buildings  – the Scuola della Carità, the Convento dei Canonici Lateranensi (started in 1561 by Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, it was never fully completed) and the now deconsecrated Church of Santa Maria della Carità (its facade was completed in 1441 by Bartolomeo Bon).

Angel of the Annunciation and Virgin Annunciate (Giovanni Bellini)

Washing of the Feet (Giovanni Agostino da Lodi, 1500, oil on board)

The former Santa Maria della Carità convent complex maintained its serene composure for centuries until 1807 when Napoleon installed his haul of Venetian art trophies here. The interior of the building is as beautiful as the art it houses.

Archangel Gabriel (Giambattista Cima da Conegliano)

Supper in Emmaus (Marco Marziale, 1506)

The giants of Venetian painting, from the 13th to the 18th centuries, whose wonderful collection of art are represented here include the 1600’s Canaletto Vedutisti, Francesco Guardi, Bernardo Bellotto and Pietro Longhi, down to Renaissance artists such as Gentile and Giovanni BelliniCarpaccioGiorgione,   Titian (or Tiziano), Veronese (Paolo Caliari), Tintoretto and and the Baroque master of the swirling-heavenly-clouds ceiling fresco Gianbattista Tiepolo (who became the second director, after Rococo painter Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, of the academy after his return from Würzburg).

Chess Players (Pittore Caravaggesco)

Holy Family with St. Catherine and John the Baptist (Palma il Vecchio)

Other artists include Antonello da MessinaLazzaro Bastiani,  Pacino di BonaguidaGiulio CarpioniRosalba CarrieraCima da ConeglianoFettiPietro GaspariMichele GiambonoLuca GiordanoJohann LissCharles Le BrunLorenzo LottoMantegnaRocco MarconiMichele MarieschiPiazzettaGiambattista PittoniPreti,   VasariLeonardo da Vinci (Drawing of Vitruvian Man), Alvise Vivarini and Giuseppe Zais.  All these artists influenced the history of European painting.

Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto (Paolo Veronese, ca. 1573, oil on canvas)

Crucifixion (Pittore Veneziano-Padovano, ca. 1460)

An essential visit for painting enthusiasts, it is the most important museum that one can visit during a stay in Venice. The route around the galleries does not really flow in one direction.  In many cases, we had to go down long corridors to view work, only to return along the same corridors, allowing us to revisit work as we walked about.

Mary with the Child of artist Francesco Morone (Francesco Morone)

Madonna of the Small Trees (Giovanni Bellini, 1487)

Our visit to the galleries started off in the 14th century (Paolo Veneziano’s Coronation of the Virgin altarpiece, etc.), continues through Giorgione’s weirdly lit The Tempest and Giovanni Bellini’s many Madonna and Childs, and ends with Carpaccio’s intricate Cycle of St. Ursula and Titian’s late Pietà.

Madonna and Child with St. Simeon and St. Jerome (Giovanni Agostino da Lodi)

Funeral of St Jerome (Lazzaro Bastiani)

The rooms we explored all showed Venice’s precocious flair for color and drama. The massive Tintoretto paintings, from the Scuola Grande di San Marco, can’t be seen from a reasonable viewing distance as they are hung along the sides of corridors which are only about 12 ft. wide.

Triptych of the Martyrdom of St. Liberata (Hiermonymus Bosch, 1500, oil on panel)

Ceres Renders Homage to Venice (Paolo Veronese, 1575)

Room 1 is where you can find Jacobello Alberegno’s Apocalypse  which shows the whore of Babylon, with babbling rivers of blood from her mouth, riding a hydra, and Paolo Veneziano’s Coronation of Mary, at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, where Jesus bestows the crown on his mother with a gentle pat on the head to the tune of an angelic orchestra).

Crucifixion (Andrea Previtali)

The Miracle of St. Mark Freeing the Slave (Jacopo Tintoretto, 15,48, oil on canvas)

Room 2 is where the eerie, glowing skies of Vittore Carpaccio’s lively Crucifixion and Glorification of the Ten Thousand Martyrs of Mount Ararat seem to make UFO arrivals imminent.

The Crucifixion and the Glorification the Ten Thousand Martyrs on Mt. Ararat (Vittore Carpaccio, 1515, oil on canvas)

Room 4 is where you can find Giovanni Bellini’s quietly elegant Madonna and Child between St Catherine and Mary Magdalene).

Virgin and Child between St. Catherine and Mary Magdalene (Giovanni Bellini, ca. 1500)

Room 10 features paintings by Tintoretto, Titian and Paolo Veronese.  The latter’s monumental Feast in the House of Levi (1573), originally called The Lord’s Last Supper, is shocking, not only for its size (at 42 ft. long, it is one of the largest canvases of the 16th century), but also for its rather racy depiction of the Lord’s holiest of moments. Here, the artist portrayed the Savior and his Apostles cavorting with drunkards, dwarves, Muslims and Reformation-minded Germans in a rousing, drunken banquet that resembled paintings of Roman orgies.

Feast in the House of Levi (Paolo Veronese, 1573, oil on canvas)

The Inquisition leaders, with their rising Puritanism, promptly condemned Veronese, charging the painter with irreverence and threatened to indict him on the very serious charge of heresy. Veronese quickly re-titled the work, still with Jesus in it but now surrounded by secular guests who were free to engage in acts of gluttony.  The mollified censors let it pass.

Stealing of the Body of St. Mark (Jacopo Tintoretto)

Jacopo Tintoretto’s The Stealing of the Body of St. Mark commemorates the Venetian merchants who, in 828, spirited the body of the famed saint and Evangelist away from Alexandria. During that era, Italy’s hyper-competitive maritime capitals competed to see who could steal the best saint and then build a cathedral around his bones. Acquiring bona fide saints was, thus, de rigueur for relic hunters. The painting is, obviously, a bit fanciful as it depicts the now long-dead saint, borne in the arms of the Venetian thieves, as a fresh, rather muscular corpse.

Procession in St. Mark’s Square (Gentile Bellini, 1496, tempera on canvas)

Room 12 is where you’ll find Giambattista Piazzetta’s saucy, fate-tempting socialite in Fortune Teller.  In Room 20, you’ll find works by Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini’s Procession in St Mark’s Square, which offers an intriguing view of Venice’s iconic piazza before its 16th-century makeover.

Departure of the English Ambassadors (Vittore Carpaccio, 1497-98)

The Ambassadors Return to the English Court (Vittore Carpaccio, 1495, oil on canvas)

Room 21 is home to Vittore Carpaccio’s St. Ursula Cycle, a series of 9 paintings documenting the saint’s ill-fated life. In Room 17, you’ll find works of Canaletto, Guardi and Pietro Longhi. Everything is clearly marked and explained. Rooms 12 to 19 are occasionally used for temporary exhibitions.

The Concert (Pietro Longhi, 1741, oil on canvas)

Pieta (Girolamo Romani)

Room 23, a serene showstopper fronted by a Bellini altarpiece, is the original convent chapel where tou can find Giorgione’s highly charged La Tempesta (The Storm) featuring a mysterious nursing mother and a passing soldier with a bolt of summer lightning, its meaning still debated by art historians – is this an expulsion from Eden, an allegory for alchemy, or a reference to Venice conquering Padua in the War of Cambria?

Ornate ceiling of Sala  dell’Albergo

Ornamental splendor is found at the newly restored Sala dell’Albergo, Scuola della Carità’s boardroom (Room 24), which has a lavishly carved ceiling. It faces Antonio Vivarini’s wrap-around masterpiece The Virgin Enthroned with Saints Jerome, Gregory, Ambrose and Augustine (1446 (oil on canvas), filled with fluffy-bearded saints.  closes with The touching 1534–39 Presentation of the Virgin, of Titian, features a young, tiny Madonna trudging up an intimidating staircase.  A distinctly Venetian crowd of onlookers points to her example yet few of the velvet and pearl-clad merchants offer alms to the destitute mother or even feed the begging dog.

Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple (Titian, 1534)

Gallerie dell’Accademia: Campo della Carita,  Dorsoduro 1050, 30123 Venice, Italy.  Tel: +39 041 522 2247.  Admission: €15 (entry to the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month). Open Mondays, 8:15 AM to 2 PM, Tuesdays to Sundays, 8:15 AM to 7:15 PM (last entrance at 6:15 PM). When you buy your ticket you will be asked to place backpacks and additional bags bigger than 20 x 30 x 15 cms. inside lockers (€1), but you will get you money back when you retrieve your belongings. There is an audio guide (for an extra €6). Photography is allowed as long as you do not use your flash. During the busy season, queues can be long after 10 AM. Admissions are restricted to 400 people at the same time.

How to Get There:  the museum is about a 15-20 min walk from St Marks and is easy to find as it is well signposted in the Dorsoduro district.