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Founded in the Middle Ages, the Venetian Scuole (schools) were either guilds that brought together merchants and craftspeople in certain trades, or those who shared similar religious devotions, such as the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The guilds were social clubs, credit unions and sources of spiritual guidance. Many commissioned elaborate headquarters and hired the best artists of the day to decorate them. The scuole that remain in Venice house some of the city’s finest art treasures.
San Rocco, the Patron Saint of the sick and a Venetian favorite, was especially popular for his alleged prowess at curing the plague. The Scuola was begun in the early 16th century to house the Saint’s relics. Of all Venice’s Scuole, San Rocco is one of the most richly embellished, and is richly decorated with epic canvases by Tintoretto.
In the grand hallway, the paintings depict New Testament scenes, devoted largely to episodes in the life of Mary. The top gallery shows works illustrating scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the most renowned being those devoted to the life of Christ. In a separate room is Tintoretto’s masterpiece, his mammoth Crucifixion.
Admission and Hours
San Rocco is open from April through October daily, from 9:00 am - 5:30 pm and November through March daily, from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Admission is just €5.50 for adults and €1.50 for children. You can also buy guidebooks in Italian, English, French, Spanish and German. The best way to get there is via vaporetto to San Toma.