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The Veneto: Padua and Verona              
The Po Valley: Bologna and Ferrara







I created this site in 2007 because there wasn't a site like it, or indeed a comprehensive book of Venice's churches available in English. It's all my own work, including the photos, except where noted.

The churches are divided up by sestiere - the six 'boroughs' of Venice established by Doge Vitale Michiel in 1171. I've added an extra page for Giudecca, which is not a sestiere - it's actually part of Dorsoduro - but is a separate enough entity to deserve its own page, I think. There are also pages devoted to the lagoon islands and to demolished churches, and now to the churches of Padua and Verona, both Veneto cities which fell under Venetian rule at crucial times, and Bologna and Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna, which never did.

I suppose I should point out that, contradictory as it may seem to some, this is a religion-free site. My interest is artistic, historical, and unpious. I am respectful of others' beliefs, usually, and expect them to be respectful of my personal convictions too.

Each church's history is told, followed by a description of its architecture, artistic highlights, unique features, the art it has lost and any interesting stories. The degree to which each topic is covered will vary, depending on the information available and what makes each church interesting and worth visiting, as will the amount of personal observation and opinion in each piece. The latter depends on my having visited the church, and how recently, and it's this aspect that will keep the site improving for a good long while, I think. My intention is to tell you what makes each church special, rather than to list all of its features and contents.  As I progress I'm finding that I'm becoming more interested in digging out the sparse facts about forgotten churches rather than writing about the churches that are well-enough covered elsewhere. Also I'm finding that on later visits experience and education is making me notice different things. Each entry also tells you the nearest vaporetto stop and a link to it's position on a special Google map. And then there's the opening times - I'll endeavour to keep these times as accurate as possible, but it's always a good idea to check before travelling, and to be prepared for disappointment.

There's also an alphabetical list of all the churches and a page revealing my sources

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6th April 2024

I was prepared for some late temptation amongst the list of satellite Biennale venues, but this year there seem to be absolutely no unusual church openings, and so this continues to look like a year when I won't visit Venice. Bologna and Ferrara are on my plate for May, though, and so those pages will get freshened up next month.

22nd February 2024

A couple of weeks ago a correspondent called Everett wrote to point out that there’s a church I've missed, accessible through the rectory of San Marco, called San Teodoro; and that the island church of San Severo, which I have listed, cannot be found on maps or in books. When checking I noticed that the latter's sole claim to history on my site, a work of lost art, seems oddly identical to a painting once in the church of San Severo in Castello. What can I say but ‘whoops’? Both errors will soon be corrected, and I also have to add info from reports of a dig in Piazza San Marco which has discovered traces of the lost church of San Geminiano.

1st January 2024
No trips in the second half of 2023 to add to these pages, jut a few new books mined, and information gleaned. But surely 2024 will see a visit or two to provide fresh content. Surely!
Happy New Year.

th July 2023
A book called Venice with Turner by Ian Warrell, bought reduced in the Tate Britain bookshop, has proven fruitful. As it stresses topography it generated many additions to The church in art info, most usefully in providing an image of the façade of the Pieta, still unfinished in 1840. A monograph on Piazzetta by George Knox is proving fruitful too, for information on 17th- and 18th- century artists - not my favourite period, but still...

10th April 2023
I'm back from my week in Verona and Venice with tons of new knowledge, photos, books and guide books. Those city's pages will be improving daily.

9th February 2023
The first opening and scaffolding bulletin from Venice this year comes courtesy of site-fan Tawny Sherrill. Her best news is that the scaffolding is off of San Salvador and San Trovaso. Even better news is that I've just booked a trip to Verona and Venice in late-March. Carpaccio exhibition here I come.

21st December 2022
As we reach year's end my greetings for the season and my favourite reads and listens of 2022 are HERE and there is lots to look forward to and much cake needing eating. For this site the big thing in 2022 was the addition of the Ferrara pages, begun during the Covid lockdowns. In addition to the usual organic process of updates to the main Venice pages this year a visit in May provided a photo-upgrade for some churches. For 2023 I'm not planning a new page, but Verona needs a revisit -
I've yet to explore the churches there which had just been gathered touristically into a Chorus-type organisation called Verona Minor Hierusalem, and there's the big Carpaccio show in Venice - a good combination methinks.

27th October 2022
A run through the new catalogue for the big Carpaccio exhibition upcoming at the NGA in Washington (November 20th 2022 – February 12th 2023) and at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice (March 18th–June 18th, 2023) has benefited the Scuole page here particularly. It's also encouraged some adding and sprucing up of some more obscure scuole, like the Calegheri, the Varoteri and, coming soon, Santissimo Crocifisso, if I can just find the photo I know I took of it one year.

19th May 2022
Just back from my trip to Ferrara and Venice, and boy was it hot - the upper 20s°C. But lots of photos were taken, churches visited, and gelati and pastries scoffed in both cities. I'm looking at plenty of work to get my Ferrara page presentable and, probably first, my good old Venice pages freshened up. So expect scaffolding updates, some revised descriptions and generally better photographs.

8th March 2022
Encouraged by the news that from the 1st of March entry to Italy no longer requires a pre-trip Covid test, only proof of vaccination and passenger locator form, I've just booked Ferrara and Venice in mid-May!

1st January 2022
Trepidation and carefulness are all well and good, but sometimes a chap just has to take a chance, and book a week in Florence in February. It's a guided tour, which I don't really need, but it's a favourite art historian and a couple of old tour friends are on it. It also means someone else is taking care of the tests and forms. But I'll be crossing my own fingers. For more trips in the year ahead also. March is full of postponed tours and a homecoming niece, but April and May are pretty empty and crying out for returns to Venice, Ferrara, Verona ... the list is long.

23rd October 2021
With only a couple of cold months left in 2021 I am becoming resigned to staying in my own country until next year. Travel to Europe  has become possible, but what with the talk of passenger locator forms, green passes, and the PCR/antigen tests business, not to mention the need to wear a mask, I am think that waiting for the Spring might make for a pleasanter experience. The first of my guided art trips postponed to 2022 is Toulouse in March - neatly exactly two years after my last (covid-cursed) trip abroad, to the Van Eyck exhibition in Ghent. Two years! Still I've kept busy and my churches pages have all been refreshed with book reading and updated with reports from more intrepid travellers, as well as sundry sprucings up and tidyings. Some memorable travel around my own country too. Onward!

21st August 2021
Travelling to Italy seems to be getting possible for some, if not easy and comfortable for most of us. The prospect of taking tests at both ends (of your journey!), providing paperwork, and four days self-isolating does not encourage me. So I give thanks for those able and willing, especially when they use their trips to send me fresh news about the states of access and scaffolding and such for the churches of Venice. Robert from Prague managed to visit Venice in early July and last week, and has provided copious info which I have now fed into the entries here, and Terry H is on his way, staying for a month, and offering updates  too.

3rd August 2021
I'm having to accept the decreasing likelihood of travel to Italy getting possible and comfortable by the Autumn, but I'm getting knowledge and fixes where I can.

I constantly tinker with this site as I read and revisit but as time passes the new knowledge gained becomes less likely to be major. But in the National Gallery in Edinburgh in June I was surprised to come across The Apotheosis of Saint Jerome with Saint Peter of Alcántara, a painting by Giovanni Battista Pittoni, painted c.1725 and, the caption told me, it was originally over an altar in the Miracoli. Now I had always believed, and written, that the Miracoli has been largely untouched since it was built, but it turns out that the 16th to 18th centuries saw the creation, and movement around the place, of many paintings and altars for this church. All of this being wiped away during controversial late-19th-century work to return the church to its ‘original’ state. I‘d not read of this before and have to thank a 1989 Burlington magazine article by Deborah Howard for providing clarity. See my Miracoli  section for more, and an old print of the church before the 19th century work. A new book on Carpaccio in Venice has spruced up a few entries too, mostly with regard to updated scholarship and mostly on my Scuola page. Also Chorus has changed their opening times and the Frari has quit the scheme.
Work, work, work!

13th May 2021
Having realised that Verona and Padua on these pages have not had their best churches identified, and given pages to themselves, as has happened with Venice and Bologna, I have set about rectifying this oversight. But in the process found some other lacks needing rectifying, like links from some menus and the addresses and opening times for churches in Verona. So a sudden burst of business, and poking around and searching always throw up new knowledge too. Added to this is the increasing likelihood of travel to Italy in the Autumn being possible, and possibly even comfortable enough to be truly tempting. The future's so bright... 

25th February 2021
Having discovered and been gobsmacked by the monumental cemeteries in Bologna, Siena and Ferrara in recent years I have decided to give the Monumental Cemetery of the Misericordia in Siena its own page on The Churches of Florence and Siena, and to add the Certosa Monumental Cemetery to my Bologna pages here.

24th February 2021
So on Monday we Brits were shown our slow way back to normality, which will finally return on the 21st of June. On the 17th of May international travel can resume, but this will be reliant on other country’s vaccination states and rulings, of course. City breaks in the UK are tempting me for the summer, but Italy is still looking unlikely before the Autumn. It’s good to have a some rough idea, though.

12th February 2021
We're still in Covid lockdown, and as a new season of art-history trips approaches - Spring - so a new batch of cancellations is upon me. Lucca this March is now Lucca in March 2022 and Siena in May has just been cancelled and is now Toulouse and Albi, also in March 2022. Parma and Modena this June has yet to cancelled, but is looking dicey, I'd suggest. I'd like to vaguely and broadly conject that UK trips might become possible in late Spring, maybe even around Easter, with foreign travel maybe in the Autumn. Venice and Florence are certainly very high up my list when things ease up, especially if I can get to them before the masses. The roll-out of the vaccine and the fall in the rate of transmission and deaths across the UK suggests that some optimism may be in order. Our esteemed leader is set to make some sort of announcement on the 22nd of this month.

15th January 2021
January can be a depressing month in the best of years, and Lockdown 3 in the UK has made this January even grimmer - stopping at home very strongly advised and only essential shops open. But this week began with us getting two new cats and has ended up with me getting my Covid vaccination. So some optimism that trips might be possible this Spring. May? June? Let's have hope.

14th November 2020
We’re a week into Lockdown 2 in the UK, and as museums and cathedrals are closed until early December my life currently consists of food shopping, online art-history courses and working on the websites.

The Churches of Florence colour scheme is no longer green, but a tasteful terracotta. I tried the green of the marble on SM Novella, using Windows’ new built-in colour-sampling function on photos of the facade, but it was too murky. Both churches sites are benefiting from some good stuff found on Oxfam’s online bookshop. A big hardback catalogue of the Accademia has been gone through and been a benefit, especially to the Scuole pages here. Some 1970s guidebooks to the Frari, Santa Fosca on Torcello and Santa Croce in Florence are now top of the pile, smelling strongly of old books.

12th October 2020
When the Covid situation improved in the summer, and lockdowns were eased, it looked like a September or October trip to Italy might be possible. But Autumn is bringing further restricting and measures and it's looking increasingly unlikely that I'll be getting my ass to Italy this year. I have been working on a page devoted to Ferrara for this site, but it needs more church visits and photos to be presentable. Three art-historical guided trips, to Siena, Lucca and Parma, have been postponed from this year to the first half of 2021 and I really hope that they, and some solo church research trips, happen. I'm getting around England, our cathedrals are grand, and empty museums are a treat, but I'm definitely suffering gelato, gilded-altarpiece and fresh fresco-cycle withdrawal symptoms. Life goes on, though, and hope helps.

9th April 2020
My coronavirus-encouraged revising of this site has now seen the completion of Cannaregio. Dates have been added, or clarified, altarpiece listings improved, and more relic-related fun was had. I learned that Santa Maria dei Servi had a fragment of the titulus from the True Cross, the piece of wood with INRI written on it, and a famed and much-reported silver reliquary on the high altar containing the head of Mary Cleophas, one of the Three Marys, also known as 'the other Mary'. In a print of the reliquary her crowned head peaks above the rim in a way that you'd have to be unusually pious not to grin at.

1st April 2020
Over the years photos of firmly- closed churches have slowly found their way onto these pages. Mostly these have resulted from the buildings being used for art exhibitions - Sant'Andrea della Zirada, Santa Maria Valverde and San Lorenzo are prime examples. Much rarer are examples of the Venetian-resident wives of Welsh authors risking a shouting at by photographing the interior of a church long thought to have been crumbling, stripped and bare. My entry for Spirito Santo now has three interior photos that soundly contradict this assumption and, also courtesy of said Caroline, details of an altarpiece once in the church that looks to be a large can of worms in the making.

30th March 2020
Last week I started my coronavirus-enforced revising of The Churches of Venice and have just finished the first page of Cannaregio. New knowledge includes the fact that Doge Renier Zen was a prominent sponsor of the Crociferi/Gesuiti church in the 13th century, having presented the church with the relics of Saint Barbara in 1256, which helped the order’s finances no end. (But a second body of Barbara at the convent of San Giovanni Evangelista on Torcello would later gain the official recognition.) Then in 1581 the city made a diplomatic gift of a rib from the relics to the Duke of Mantua. This knowledge came from a PhD thesis I found online, and have credited. Also up and credited is a photo montage I found on Wikipedia showing the Bellini San Giobbe altarpiece in its specially-carved stone frame. I also found out what art was supposedly once in the now stripped and bare San Leonardo. And more!

21st March 2020
Due to the coronavirus lockdown in Italy Florence is now not getting visited by me next week and neither is Siena in April. In better news all my websites are now shifted to new hosting and working, I'm very happy to say. With several tripless months in prospect, and spending so much time at home, I'm now contemplating projects. Adding a new city, in optimistic anticipation of a comprehensive visit, is one option. Another is being more systematic about each church having an image (and a discussion?) of its best painting, at the very least. So now's the time - if you've ever thought 'Jeff's websites are great but I really wish he'd...' do let me know.

5th January 2020
Making plans for 2020. On this site Bologna and Venice have had a fair amount of attention of late, but Verona has fallen behind a bit, my last visit being in 2017. And I've yet to explore the churches there which had just been gathered touristically into a Chorus-type organisation called Verona Minor Hierusalem. Possible city additions in the Veneto are Modena and Vicenza, both of which I've never visited however. Over on The Churches of Florence and Siena the latter got a lot of work last year and Florence is getting visited this March. Possible new cities here include Pisa, Prato and Arezzo, the inclusion of which could prompt another name change to The Churches of Florence and Tuscany.
Also my new camera (a Fujifilm X-T30 mirrorless) helped my take some fine photos in Venice in November, and I now have a new very-wide-angle lens, which means that I’ve now got to revisit every church, especially the ones across narrow alleys, to get even more of them in!
Even more prosaically all of my sites will be moving to new hosting this year, but I hope that this will go so smoothly you won’t even notice.

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 2007-2024





Cannaregio :: Castello :: Dorsoduro :: Giudecca :: San Marco :: San Polo :: Santa Croce :: The Islands :: The Lost

Padua :: Verona:: Bologna :: Ferrara