For beautiful details, genuine masterpieces, and rich history, head to Santa Maria Assunta. This church, known as I Gesuiti, stands in Cannaregio sestiere. Don't mix it with Santa Maria Assunta di Torcello when searching for it on the Venice map. This church is about 10 minutes from the Rialto, an iconic bridge in Venice.
Getting to the church
You can cross the Rialto Bridge and walk or arrive with a vaporetto. The closest stop is Fondamente Nove. The church is open six days per week (except Sunday), and you'll need to pay an entrance fee. In 1973, the church was one of the Venice churches at risk of falling apart. But it underwent a restoration and is now entirely safe to visit.
History & architecture
Previous churches on the site were destroyed or burnt down. The initial construction began in 1148, and in 1154, Cleto Gussoni turned it into a hospital. The good deeds of other Gussoni family members also left their mark. Buonavere Gussoni donated some of his estates and vineyards. Marco was cured in the church by Saint Luigi Gonzaga but later died of the plague, helping other victims. If you visit Ca' Rezzonico, you can find his portrait there.
The church was a special place for the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. They bought the church from the city and started building a new structure in 1715. The architect Domenico Rossi led the construction while a noble Manin family financed it. The facade was in the hands of G. B. Fattoretto, who designed it in the early 18th-century Baroque style. The facade has two tiers with eight columns on the lower tier. They support eight statues representing the twelve apostles, along with four others hidden in the niches.
These statues are the works of famous sculptors. They are Filippo Catasio, Giuseppe Ziminiani, and Giuseppe Torretti. The building has a Latin-cross plan with nine chapels inside. The floors and the altars are decorated with marble - green, white, and black. The campanile (bell tower) is part of the original structure, with a few changes made with time. Look up at the ceiling and see gorgeous frescoes by Ludovico Dorigny, Francesco Fontebasso, and Giuseppe Torretti.
Inside the church
The most impressive feature is the chapels. In the Chapel of Saint Lawrence, enjoy the 1588 Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence by Titian. At the Altar of the Assumption of Mary, check out the sculptures by Giuseppe Torretti. The 1555 altarpiece of the same name is a work of Tintoretto. And in the sacristy, there are twenty valuable paintings by Palma the Younger. The funeral monuments are also an essential part of the church. The Da Lezze family monument by Jacopo Sansovino is the first example of such a tribute to a noble Venetian family. There is also a monument for the Doge Pasquale Cicogna, who wished to rest in peace there.
Things to do in the area
Cannaregio is a busy neighborhood full of thrilling locations and activities. It is where you can find the Jewish ghetto and its beautiful synagogues. It's best to explore the area by visiting the Jewish Museum. Close to the church is the stunning palace of Ca' d'Oro. Cannaregio is home to many famous Venice churches. You can head to Santa Maria Maddalena, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Santi Giovanni e Paolo, or Santa Maria Formosa. All are very close to Santa Maria Assunta and a joy to visit with veniceXplorer.