Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Things to do in Venice

Venice is a city of churches and it would be a very difficult thing to pick a favourite. Some, however, do stand out and usually for their atmosphere rather than their artistic holdings - which in most small Venetian churches are worth more than most museums elsewhere in the world!

Nearly all the churches in Venice advertise their opening times to tourists as until about 5.30 -6p.m. and then there will be Mass. On honeymoon, Russell and I did something I'd not done before and stayed for Mass in a couple of the churches. Obviously they were Masses in Italian but if ever there were an argument for not mucking about with the liturgy too much it would be that two Anglicans from England can go to a Catholic Mass in Italy and pretty much 'get' what was being said all the way through without a word of Italian between them.

One of the churches at which we attended Mass is one that would have to be on my shortlist for favourite church in Venice: San Zaccaria. It is in a small and quiet Campo not far from St Mark's and to get the best from the atmosphere of the place you should try and arrive just as dusk is falling. The church is kept in almost total darkness save for a single spotlight which falls from some far off Sepharic realm onto a jewel-like crucifixion scene on the front of a silver aumbrey on the altar. The church is hushed. The only other light is likely to be from an occasional tourist putting money in the slot which lights up the Bellini on the North wall. Opposite this is supposedly the tomb of St Zaccaria, the father of John the Baptist, with his body exposed for all to see behind murky glass atop his altar.

If you pay your Euro, you can go through to the Sacristy where there are some, by Venetian standards, fair-to-middling art tresures but also the crypt (above), a flooded and dark vaulted chamber which is something of a spooky reminded of just how close you are to the water at all times in this city.

1 comment:

hotels at Venice airport said...

The churches in Venice are magnificent. I am glad you had the chance to visit some.

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