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Special Issue: Venice

Venice by Vaporetto

Your guide to city’s best art

A vaporetto in the Ventian lagoon, on the Gran Canal

BY Antonio Homem
Sonnabend Gallery

In Must See

 Antonio Homem started working at the Sonnabend Gallery in Paris in September 1968. He worked in close association with Michael and Ileana Sonnabend, almost as a son—and was formally adopted by them in the 1980s. They used to spend all holidays—Christmas, Easter and the summer—in Venice, where they had an apartment. The city remained very central in their lives. At present, an important part of the Sonnabend collection is on a long term loan to the Museum of Ca’ Pesaro in Venice. Antonio is, we think, the best guide to Venice we know. Here is an interactive map so that you can follow his route. C.B. 



Jacopo Tintoretto, Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (1553-1556), Chiesa Madonna dell’Orto. Photo credit: Peter Barritt/Alamy Stock Photo

The vaporetto is a wonderful way to see Venice, but those that cruise the Canal Grande are generally very crowded and the churches along the route are all very well known. Less familiar are those one can reach by traveling along the Giudecca Canal and on the Fondamente Nove. You can start at the Sant’Alvise stop in Cannaregio, which is near the church of the same name. Here you will see three spectacular Tiepolo paintings The Flagellation, The Crowning With Thorns, and The Ascent to Calvary (1737-40) that are as excessive as a Cecil B DeMille epic.


Take the vaporetto east (lines 4, 5 or 22) from Sant’Alvise to the next stop, Orto, named after the nearby Madonna dell’Orto church. This is the burial place of the great Venetian artist Tintoretto. One of his most famous paintings, the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (1550-53) is there as well as two enormous works on either side of the altar, The Last Judgement (1560-62) and The Adoration of the Golden Calf (1546).

Fondamente Nove

Marble intarsia interior of Santa Maria Assunta (I Gesuiti). Photo credit: Mira/Alamy Stock Photo

The next stop, Fondamente Nove, is close to Santa Maria Assunta, the Church of the Jesuits (I Gesuiti), which has an extraordinary interior of marble intarsia. It also has one of the best late paintings by Titian (who lived in this area),The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (1558).

Not far from here is a wonderful small Renaissance church, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, next to the large Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo—a real museum of Venetian sculpture that has a great Giovanni Bellini polyptych, St Vincent Ferrer, St Christopher and St Sebastian (1475-80) and a chapel decorated by Veronese.

Next to the church you can see one of the most famous equestrian monuments, a statue of a Venetian 15th-century captain-general, Bartolomeo Colleoni, Leonardo da Vinci’s teacher who was executed between 1480-88 by Verrocchio.

Celestia and San Zaccaria

If you take the vaporetto from here, you can stop at Celestia and visit the church of San Francesco della Vigna, which has a facade by Palladio. Inside, there is a small chapel frescoed by Tiepolo as well as Madonna and Child Enthroned (c1455) by Antonio da Negroponte. I have never seen any other painting by da Negroponte but this work alone is enough of a reason to admire him.

Before catching the vaporetto at San Zaccaria to Giudecca you should visit the church after which the stop is named. It has one of the most beautiful altarpieces by Giovanni Bellini (1505). Another nearby church is Santa Maria della Pietà where Vivaldi was the music master. It boasts a ceiling by Tiepolo replete with a full orchestra of angels. (Something of a detour from here would be the church of San Giovanni in Bragora, which is much less known but has a marvellous Baptism of Christ by Cima da Conegliano over the altar.)


The first stop across the Giudecca Canal is next to the magnificent San Giorgio Maggiore. The church is by Palladio and its facade is his improvement on the one at San Francesco della Vigna. Inside there are three of the last paintings by Tintoretto, The Last Supper, The Gathering of Manna and a Deposition (1592-94). Next door is the Cini Foundation, where the refectory is by Palladio and the staircase leading to the library by Baldassare Longhena, the architect of Santa Maria della Salute.

Il Redentore

Two stops west is Il Redentore, the last church built by Palladio. Its facade is a further development of that of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Zattere and San Basilio

From Il Redentore vaporetto stop catch the 2 back across the canal to Zattere, where you will find the church of the Gesuati (Santa Maria del Rosario), which has another Tiepolo ceiling. San Basilio, next to the port, is the final stop, near the church of San Sebastiano, where Veronese is buried. Almost the whole interior of the church was painted by him, including paintings and frescoes, the sacristy, the upper choir and the doors of the organ.

*This article was originally published 9 May 2017, and updated for this edition of the Biennale

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