Chiesa di San Lio is a 9th-century church, one of the older and smaller Venice churches. It’s most famous for being a burial place for Canaletto. He was a prominent Venice landscapist, baptized and buried at Chiesa di San Lio. Today the church is a concert venue for classical music and symphonies by Vivaldi.
Getting to the church
You won’t have any trouble finding Chiesa di San Lio. Look for the Castello neighborhood on our interactive Venice map. You’ll see that it’s close to the well-known Rialto area. You can either cross the Rialto Bridge or arrive by vaporetto. The nearest stop is Rialto, located less than 5 minutes away.
History & architecture
The aristocratic Venetian family named Badoer was the one to build Chiesa di San Lio. They dedicated the church to St. Catherine of Alexandria. But, in 1054, the church received a different name honoring Pope Lio IX. During its existence, the church has undergone a significant redesign several times. First in the 15th century and second in 1783. The three naves of the church merged into one, and the bell tower was no longer in place. Chiesa di San Lio is one of the loveliest Venice churches.
Inside the church
Once you enter Chiesa di San Lio, prepare for a dark baroque interior with a bit of mystery. Once you get used to it, the church opens up in a new light. Look up at the ceiling and see a magnificent fresco by Tiepolo. It depicts The Glory of the Cross and St. Leo IX. The prominent painter left another mark at the church - a painting of Angels and Virtues. You can also enjoy Apostle James the Great by Titian, located by the main door.
The main altarpiece is Dead Christ Upheld by Saints and Angels by Jacopo Palma il Giovane. As you enter the chapel, notice a monument to Andrea Pisani. He was Captain General, who served Venice and died in 1718. Another beautiful piece is the 18th-century organ. It features paintings of the Life of David and the Virgin with Putti.
Last but not least is the Gussoni Family chapel. It is a perfect example of the early Renaissance architecture of Venice. Here you’ll see a sculpture of Four Evangelists by Pietro Lombardo and Pietà with Saints by Tullio Lombardo. Since the chapel is precious, there was a restoration by the Save Venice organization. It took place from 1999 to 2022.
Things to do in the area
Chiesa di San Lio has an excellent location on the Venice map, close to all the best Venice attractions. The church stands close to the Rialto Bridge and not far from St Mark’s Basilica. There are also a few splendid Venice churches nearby. It’s best to plan an itinerary. While there, you can also see Santa Maria Formosa, Santi Giovanni e Paolo, and Santa Maria dei Miracoli.