Santa Croce, Venice, Veneto, Italy

Santa Croce is one of the six sestieri of Venice, northern Italy. The sestiere owes its name to the church of Santa Croce, an important place of worship demolished after the suppression of Napoleon. As part of San Polo, this district once belonged to the area called Luprio, where numerous salt pans were located.

Santa Croce is a laid-back, slightly off-the-beaten-track area with a local vibe. Tourists can choose to spend their days lounging in beautiful gardens, exploring museums, discovering the cuisine or gliding through the canals all without straying from this exciting neighborhood. Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio square and nearby streets are home to casual eateries serving global cuisine. On the Grand Canal, the imposing Fondaco dei Turchi features exhibits on natural history while the nearby Ca’Pesaro palace showcases contemporary art and Asian decorative arts.

The sestiere of Santa Croce borders to the south and east with the sestiere of San Polo, having as its limits the Rio di San Stae, the Rio Marin and the first part of the Rio della Frescada, up to the parish of San Pantalon. To the south it borders the Dorsoduro district in Corte Gallo and Corte Barbo. To the north it is bordered by the Grand Canal and is connected to Cannaregio by the Scalzi bridge and the Constitution bridge.

Santa Croce occupies the north west part of the main islands, and can be divided into two areas: the eastern area being largely mediaeval, and the western – including the main port and the Tronchetto – mostly lying on land reclaimed in the 20th century. If we exclude the Tronchetto area, of recent origins, the sestiere is the smallest in the city.

The district includes the Piazzale Roma, home to Venice’s bus station and car parks, and around which is the only area of the city in which cars can travel. The tourist attractions lie mostly in the eastern part of the quarter, and include the churches of San Nicolo da Tolentino, San Giacomo dell’Orio, and San Zan Degola; the Fondaco dei Turchi; the Museum of the History of Fabric and Costume at Palazzo Mocenigo; the Patrician Palace; and Ca’ Corner della Regina.

The area was once part of the Luprio swamp, but has been steadily reclaimed. During the eleventh century, in 1273, it was administrated by the Hungarian nobleman and crusader knight Giovanni, member of one of the biggest Christian families in Hungary Renoldi, as reported by the book published in 1866 in Florence book of the Venetian noblemen for the first time shown.

It is the sestiere that during the twentieth century more than the others suffered the impact of the road connection between Venice and the mainland, first with the construction of the Maritime Station and then with the creation of the Piazzale Roma area, the opening of the Rio Novo and the construction of the car park – the artificial island of Tronchetto, direct consequences of the construction of the Liberty car bridge in 1933 (at the time Ponte Littorio), which transformed the northern part of the district into a car and bus terminalin the lagoon city. This is the only sestiere of Venice in which there is a small area where you can circulate with vehicles, albeit in a very limited way.

Main Attractions
Santa Croce has many attractions inside its area, include a lot of monuments and historical heritage. Due to its limited extension, it is the least rich in art in the city and is characterized by narrow streets interspersed with a few small square.

Among the few churches, worthy of note are San Giacomo dell’Orio, San Stae and the temple of San Nicola da Tolentino. Also worth mentioning are the two churches of San Simeone: that of San Simeon Grando dedicated to Simeone Profeta, the other, San Simeon Piccolo, dedicated to Saints Simon the Canaanite and Judas Taddeo. The adjectives used to distinguish them referred to the size of the buildings before the expansion works of San Simeon Piccolo in the eighteenth century, and are still used today despite the fact that the church of San Simeon Grando is today much smaller than the other.

The most prestigious buildings are located along the Grand Canal. Among these, Ca ‘Pesaro stands out for its importance, which is home to the Museum of Oriental Art and the International Gallery of Modern Art where significant works by great authors are exhibited, including Gustav Klimt, Vasilij Kandinskij and Matisse.

The Fontego dei Turchi was the warehouse where Ottoman merchants could unload their goods in Venice. It is now home to the Natural History Museum, where you can also admire two complete dinosaur skeletons found during a scientific expedition funded by the Venetian entrepreneur Giancarlo Ligabue.

Religious architecture

Church of San Giacomo dall’Orio
The church of Saint James of Orio is a religious building in the city of Venice, located in the district of Santa Croce. Probably founded in the 9-10 century, one among the oldest churches in Venice. The charm of this church consists of a gloomy and archaic exterior and interior, dominated by the warm presence of wood. The interior is characterized by the superimposition of various architectural styles, linked to the interventions that followed one another over time: the bell tower and the basilica plan with three naves remain of the thirteenth-century building, while the ” ship hull ” roof is Gothic and the decorations of the main altar and the central nave are Lombard. In particular, the ceiling uses the shipbuilding techniques typical of the Venice Arsenal.There are also a number of paintings such as Lorenzo Lotto’s high altar “The Virgin Mary and Child with the Apostles and Saints” (1546), which is one of the few works by the artist that can still be found in Venice.

Other important works are preserved in the sacristies, in particular in the New Sacristy at the side of the presbytery there are works by Paolo Veronese; Allegory of Faith, in the center of the ceiling, the Four Doctors of the Church on the sides and the altarpiece San Lorenzo, San Giuliano and San Prospero, dated 1573 and originally used as an altarpiece for the chapel of San Lorenzo. The painting San Sebastiano between San Rocco and San Lorenzo by Giovanni Buonconsiglio dominates the door of the sacristy, a work carried out between 1498 and 1500 which previously adorned the altar of the church of San Sebastiano.Also in the Old Sacristy there are several canvases by Jacopo Palma the Younger, dating back to 1575: The Virgin and the Saints, The Punishment of the Snake, The Gathering of Manna, Elijah and an Angel, Jewish Easter Sacrifice, The passage of the Red Sea and the ceiling The Blessed Sacrament adored by the four Evangelists.

Church of San Simeone Piccolo
The church was allegedly founded in the 9th century by the Adoldiand Briosi families. It is one of the best-known churches in the city, as it clearly stands out from the other buildings. The building is often referred to as a Venetian re-edition of the Pantheon in Rome, that’s why it has a large dome with a statue of San Salvatore on top. One of the churches where they celebrate the Tridentine Mass on Sundays. It is also recognized for its dome because it is used to make the church appear taller than it is and the dome itself is entirely covered in lead plates. The building has long been used as an auditorium for concerts.

The building looks like a cylindrical and narrow body with a dome covered in copper and a Corinthian pronaos with triangular tympanum where there is a marble bas-relief The martyrdom of the titular saints by Francesco Cabianca of the XVIII century. The dome has an oval shape in height which gives the complex a slight vertical thrust accentuated by the lantern in the shape of a small temple. The interior does not host great masterpieces. Under the church there is an interesting basement frescoed with scenes from the Via Crucis and the Old Testament, in which two long corridors intersect in an octagonal room, which has an altar in the middle. It includes twenty-one chapels, eight of which are walled up and unexplored.

San Stae Church
Built in the eighth century, the church of San Stae is a place of worship catholic of Venice.The church is part of the Chorus Venezia association. At the end of the seventeenth century the church, although repeatedly restored, was dilapidated. The church was re-built at the request of Doge Alvise Mocenigo around 1709 to serve as a family crypt and was decorated in late Baroque style and is dedicated to San Eustachio. The biggest decision was to change the orientation of the church: no longer the traditional one towards the east but with a more modern spirit scenographically facing the Grand Cana.

The facade is rich in marble decorations and inside there are numerous paintings. The sculptors who made these decorations were Tarsia, Torretto, Baratta and Groppelli. The architect and builder of the interior of the church was Giovanni Grassi. The church has a central sector, a vaulted ceiling and three chapels on each side. The ceiling above the choir area is one of the most beautiful features of the church, with a beautiful painting that adds color and brightness to the building.

Church of San Nicola da Tolentino
The church of San Nicola da Tolentino called I Tolentini is a 16th-17th century Catholic place of worship in the city of Venice. The church was designed and built by Vincenzo Scamozzi between 1591 and 1602. Later Andrea Tirali added to the unfinished facade, a pronaos with a tympanum and six Corinthian columns (1706-1714). The church houses the organ built by Pietro Nachini in 1754 almost completely intact, located in a wooden choir loft in the apse decorated with two winged cherubs in gilded wood on the sides. The instrument case has chiseled wood decorations depicting two sheets descending from the center of the tympanum that overlooks the case ending in the lateral wings of the instrument; to this finely painted gold-colored decoration hang wooden sculptures of wind instruments and original ancient stringed instruments of fine craftsmanship, also painted in gold.

The interior of the church is decorated with 17th century paintings. There are preserved works by Jacopo Palma il Giovane and Padovanino. The doges Giovanni I Corner, Francesco Corner, Giovanni II Corner and Paolo Renier are buried here. The funeral monument of the patriarch Gianfrancesco Morosini was made by the Genoese sculptor Filippo Parodi. The Roman-style altar in polychrome marble commissaries, with the large tabernacle in the shape of a small temple as an allegory of the Holy Sepulcher, was designed by Baldassarre Longhena. The two adoring angels and six caryatid angels are by Giusto Le Court.

Church of San Rocco
The San Rocco church is a religious building located in Campo San Rocco, in the district of San Polo in Venice. When in 1489 it decided to move permanently near the Frari, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco decided to erect a church to be dedicated to their titular saint. Between 1726 and 1732 the church was radically restructured on a project by Giovanni Scalfarotto who replaced the flat ceiling with a vault interrupted by large thermal windows, only the old apses and the dome were preserved.

The beginning of the works on the facade dates back to 1756. The four niches of the façade house as many statues of Venetian saints and blessed: in the lower register Gerardo Sagredo and Pietro Orseolo by Giovanni Marchiori, in the upper register Lorenzo Giustiniani and Gregorio Barbarigo by Giovanni Maria Morlaiter. Between the two statues of the upper register is the imposing relief with San Rocco heals the plague victims always by Morlaiter. Crowning the attic is the statue of San Rocco flanked by other statues of Venetian saints, Pietro Acotanto and Jacopo Salomonio. On the bezel of the doorSan Rocco carried up to heaven by angels, a modern bronze copy of the original by Marchiori walled up in the right apsidal chapel.

Palaces and civil architecture

Ca ‘Corner della Regina
Ca ‘Corner della Regina is a Venetian palace. It has been the Venetian headquarters of the Prada Foundation since 2011. The palace was built in place of pre-existing buildings by the will of the Corner family, in the 18th century, by the hand of the architect Domenico Rossi. When the noble Venetian family became extinct, Ca ‘Corner della Regina was converted into a Monte di Pietà in the nineteenth century, while from 1975 to 2010 it housed the ASAC, Historical Archive of Contemporary Arts of the Venice Biennale. Since May 2011 it has hosted the contemporary art exhibitions and cultural activities of the Prada Foundation.

Ca ‘Corner della Regina is a modulated building on three levels, but particularly slender also due to the presence of two mezzanines, in the attic and between the ground and first floors. The main portal, in a central position, is rounded and developed in height, on a rusticated background that characterizes the first level and the mezzanine, inspired by the Renaissance facades. The first of the two noble floors is crossed by a balustrade, above which there are seven single – arched lancet windows with a mask in key, between which there are Ionic semi- columns. A large string course divides this level from the second noble floor, which presents the seven windows regularly arranged, here however rectangular in shape and each surmounted by a tympanum; between them are symmetrically interposed large Corinthian semi- columns, which also affect the mezzanine, at the level of which they rest on sections of architrave, in turn resting on the thin cornice of the roof. The latter, in a central position, has two dormers.

Adoldo Palace
Palazzo Adoldo is a palace in Venice, it has ancient origins and was the home of the Adoldo or Adoaldo, a family of Greek origins ascribed to the Venetian aristocracy and extinct in 1432. An exponent of the family, Lucia Adoldo, donated the building to the parish of San Simeon Piccolo, as evidenced by an inscription on the facade. The same plaque recalls that in 1520 the building, which was in danger, was rebuilt in larger forms by Vittore Spiera.

On the ground floor, remodeled, there are simple rectangular openings on white stone. The two noble floors are instead characterized by a pair of single -light windows on each side (between those on the first floor there are two bas-reliefs), inserted in stone frames, and by a central mullioned window, supported by Ionic columns and closed by a parapet, in stone on the first floor, wrought iron on the second. The attic is characterized by a peculiar rise in which a lunette above three paired square windows is inscribed. On its top a statuette representing an eagle.

Cultural space

International Gallery of Modern Art
The International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice is located in Ca ‘Pesaro, in the district of Santa Croce, near Campo San Stae. The building was donated by Felicita Bevilacqua La Masa to the city to become a center dedicated to modern art. The majestic exterior of this palace built in 1710 hides two interesting art museums. The fabulously painted ceilings of Ca ‘Pesaro, which allude to the strength and prestige of the Pesaro clan, also compete with the works of art. The International Gallery of Modern Art includes the works exhibited at the Venice Biennale and covers numerous artistic movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including McKyalio, the expressionists and surrealists and sculptures by Rodin and Wildt, often the result of acquisitions aimed at the various editions of the Biennial. On the middle floor there are regular temporary exhibitions showing modernist and contemporary artists.

Famous masterpieces stand out in the collection: among the canvases and drawings, Judith II by Klimt stands out; The mirror of Bonnard; the Rabbi of Chagall as well as works by Kandinsky, Klee, Rouault, Matisse, Grosz, Moore, Morandi, Donghi, De Chirico, Boccioni, Sironi, Gustavo Boldrini, Emilio Vedova, Felice Carena,Virgilio Guidi, Davide Orler and others. Among the sculptures there is a wide collection of works by Wildt, Martini, Medardo Rosso, while stand out a version of the Thinker and Burghers of Calais by Rodin, the latter exhibited in the first room. In the same Ca ‘Pesaro there is also the Oriental Art Museum, housed on the top floor.

Natural History Museum of Venice Giancarlo Ligabue
The Fontego dei Turchi is a palace in Venice, the palace dates back to the 13th century; it was built around 1225 on commission by Giacomo Palmieri, consul of the Pesaro municipality and identified as the founder of the Pesaro family. Starting from 1608, the theory was put forward of assigning a city building to the seat of Turkish merchants. The proposal was realized only in 1621; on that occasion the building was converted into a commercial center and there were built warehouses, wash houses, services, bedrooms. The palace maintained this function from the 17th to the 19th century. In 1860 the Municipality of Venice bought it for 80,000 florins and used it, after a restoration as a museum. In 1865 the Correr Museum was placed there, today in Piazza San Marco. Since 1923 it has housed the Civic Museum of Natural History of Venice.

The museum was born from the desire to collect various naturalistic collections located in the lagoon city, previously owned by different properties including the Correr Museum, the Venetian Institute of Sciences, Letters and Arts and Count Alessandro Pericle Ninni. Taking the opportunity of moving the Correr to the current headquarters of the Procuratie Nuove in 1922, the museum was born on the initiative of Silvio Coen. The most notable collections are the Giordani Soika entomological collection (present since 1983), the Bisacco Palazzi naturalistic collection (present since 1986), the malacological collectionCesari (present since 1993), the Perale ornithological collection and the Ligabue collection, containing among other fossil finds.

Palazzo Mocenigo
Palazzo Mocenigo is a stately building in Venice, it is the seat of the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo – Study Center of the History of Textile, Costume and Perfume. Since 1985, the headquarters of the Study Center of the History of Textile and Costume and of the Museum of the History of Textile and Costume have been established here. In addition to preserving the precious collections mostly of Venetian origin, the Center offers scholars an important library specialized in the sector. In 2013, following a careful restoration of the interior of the building, the interior was enlarged by a new section (5 rooms) dedicated to the history of perfume and essences which highlights the ancient cosmetic tradition of Venice.With this reorganization of the museum, nineteen rooms on the noble floor of the building were involved, re-proposing the evocative setting of an authentic 18th century Venetian noble residence. At the same time, a path dedicated to understanding the evolution of the fashion, costume and textile trend was created.

The tour was completely renovated and expanded in 2013. There are twenty rooms on the first noble floor. Here the exhibition areas opened in 1985 have been doubled. The environment aims to describe as a whole different aspects of the life of the Venetian patriciate between the 17th and 18th centuries. Inhabited by mannequins wearing ancient clothes and accessories belonging to the Study Center of the History of Textiles and Costume, annexed to the Museum. These dresses, made of textured fabrics and embellished with embroidery and lace, document the accuracy of the artisans of the time and the refined elegance that made the Venetian culture famous. The care and details and the reality exhibited make us appreciate the purpose of the museum regarding the history of fashion and its infinite evolutions not only from the point of view of textiles but also of clothing.

Public space

Constitution Bridge
The bridge of the Constitution is the bridge that crosses the Grand Canal of Venice between piazzale Roma and the Venezia Santa railway station Lucia. The bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and built using mainly steel and glass. The project shows a bridge with an arched shape with a span of 81 meters, width of 6 meters at the base and 9 in the center for a height of 10 meters at the top; the structure is in steel, the floors in Saint-Gobain glass, Istrian stone and Classic Gray Trachyte from Montemerlo. The parapets are also made of glass, with brass handrails. Inside the handrails are installed LED bulbs that dissipate the ray of light in the glass parapets.

An exquisitely modern project but stylistically it doesn’t clash with the scenery, aided by the fact that it is built in glass and Istrian marble, the most used material in Venice. Constitution Bridge of Venice is very different from the works that have it made famous. It is the essence of discretion: no network of cables, no re-enactment of harps, lyres or lutes, just a simple span in the shape of an arrow from bank to bank, with no visible support.

Scalzi Bridge.
The Scalzi Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. The bridge takes its name from the nearby church of Santa Maria di Nazareth, better known as the church of the Scalzi. It is also known as the “railway bridge”, due to its proximity to the Santa Lucia railway station. Built in ashlars of Istrian stone without the use of armor, reinforced concrete or iron parts, the bridge was put in place with the use of a special metal rib and applying the method of so-called “systematic lesions”. The parapet, internally hollow and openable, contains the pipes.

A first bridge was built in 1858 by the English engineer Alfred Neville under the Habsburg domination, to improve access to the recently built railway station. It was a cast iron bridge with a straight structure, very similar to the one erected a few years earlier by Neville himself at the Academy. The limited height (4 meters) prevented the passage of boats with trees and the openly “industrial” style did not match aesthetically with the surrounding structures. The cast iron also began to show signs of structural failure in some points after a few years, so the Municipality of Venice was forced in the early thirties to make a quick decision regarding its replacement.

Papadopoli Gardens
The Papadopoli gardens are a small public park in the historic center of Venice. An English park in line with the romantic trends of the period, characterized by winding avenues and hills. The remaining part, on the other hand, was more regular with geometric flowerbeds. Remodeled and enlarged in 1863 by Marco Quignon on behalf of the new owners Niccolò and Angelo Papadopoli, the gardens aroused the admiration of public opinion. Inside they had found numerous specimens of exotic plants, but there was also an aviary with parrots andsilver pheasants and a circular terrace overlooking the Grand Canal. Damaged by the bombings of the First World War, around 1920 they were opened to the public. But in 1933 they were involved in the construction of Piazzale Roma and underwent serious alterations: the western part was largely leveled and separated from the rest by the excavation of the Rio Novo, necessary for the disposal of the traffic of the new terminal. On the same occasion a large hotel complex was erected on the south side.

The park currently occupies an enclosed area of 7 500 m² in an island bounded to the north by the Grand Canal, to the east by the Rio dei Tolentini, to the south by the Rio del Magazen and to the west by the Rio Novo. It is not very bright both for the fairly dense tree cover and for the presence of evergreen species such as holm oaks, cypresses and cedars. Other species present are hackberry, sofora, lime trees, yews, maples and oaks. The undergrowth is made up of specimens of laurel, evonymus, aucuba, viburnums and Ruscus hypoglossum spots. The winter garden of the Papadopoli hotel overlooks the southern part of the park, built in 1970 to a design by Pietro Porcinai. Beyond the Rio Novo, adjacent to Piazzale Roma, two small, unfenced strips of the original gardens still stand, of 655 and 710 m² respectively. The first is substantially reduced to a flowerbed on which a few cypresses rise; the other is more interesting for the presence of a fountain set between “fake” rocks and is what remains, perhaps, of a nymphaeum or a cliff.

Osteria Trefanti, which specialities are fish and seasonal dishes, typical of the local tradition. Osteria Antico Giardinetto, which is characterized by a graceful garden where you can taste fish dishes and typical mediterranean and venetian dishes. Osteria La Zucca is also very famous, it offers alternative dishes including vegetarian proposals, that allows also who is looking for genuin ingredients to choose dishes based on fresh vegetables. In Campo San Giacomo a L’Orio where is possible to choose between a large variety of international wines and dishes of italian and international cheese as well as ausages and fresh fish dishes. Bacareto da Lele, very famous among the students and the venetian people who love this place for the quality of the finger food and the very good prices. In this place you can live the typical atmosphere that characterized the real venetian bacaro (the typical venetian tavern).