Saturday, 25 July 2015

San Giorgio Maggiore

This scene will be familiar to all who have been to Venezia. The busiest part of the city is the waterfront near Piazza San Marco. Here gondoliers may be hired to transport you through the picturesque canals, taxis are for hire for a speedy journey across the lagoon or a vaporetto boarded for it's waterbus journey around town.
This is the view across to San Giorgio Maggiore, a small island dominated by the 16th century church designed by Palladio. The frontage is of gleaming white marble. The campanile or bell tower was rebuilt in 1791 after the original 15th century tower collapsed. There is a lift to the top in addition to a ramped walkway. The interior is bright with natural light and contains large canvasses by Tintoretto: "The Last Supper", "The Fall of Manna" and "The Entombment of Christ". Tintoretto was an important renaissance style painter who lived in Venezia between 1518 and 1594.
There was originally an important Benedictine monastery here although in 1806 the monks were expelled by Napoleon's army and the buildings became an artillery depot. Since the 1950's the monastery has been occupied and restored by the Cini Foundation. This organisation was founded by Count Cini ,a World War II concentration camp inmate. His release had been secured by his son through bribary with valuable jewels. The buildings now house literary and theatrical archives and an important library. The civilisation of the former Venetian republic is studied in teh Foundation's school. La Foresteria is the luxury guest house established by Count Cini which continues to be used by notable visitors including many heads of state. The building contains an important art collection.

watercolour painting by David Easton

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