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Venice between the Sacred and the Profane

The Mendicant Orders
The Mendicant Orders
From around 1200 onwards the mendicant orders (friars) have held a significant place in Italian culture. In Venice their most important churches are those of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (Franciscan) and SS. Giovanni e Paolo (Dominican), both representing magnificant examples of 13th century gothic architecture. Amongst much else the Frari has altar pieces by Giovanni Bellini and Titian, while the Dominican church has always been considered to be the Pantheon (like Westminster Abbey in the UK) of Venice, where Doges and other important Venetian figures are buried.
The Scuole Grandi
The Scuole Grandi
From 1261 “Scuole Grandi”, similar in most respects to mediaeval guilds in Britain, were constituted as lay confraternities which attracted largely middle-class citizens. Each was dedicated to a patron saint, and their purpose was mainly mutual help between members and the conduct of charitable works. On the annual feast day of their patron they held a procession in his honour, and on the feast of Saint Mark they processed to the basilica, led by their banners. The scuole were identified as Grandi (Great) or Minori (Lesser), and also included confraternities for arts and crafts, the trades, and for the various nationalities that settled in Venice. The Grandi Scuole, of which there were seven, had as their centres imposing buildings richly decorated with paintings by great Venetian artists such as Jacopo Robusti (Tintoretto) or Vittore Carpaccio. During your visit we will spend some time in the Scuola di San Rocco and the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista.
The Gardens of Venice
The Gardens of Venice
Believe it or not, there are some five hundred gardens, large and small, in the city of Venice, hidden behind those high walls you see along the canals and alleyways. Our visitors will be led to discover several private gardens to be found sheltered amongst the historic palazzi of Venice.
Private Palazzi
Private Palazzi
Have you ever thought about the historic palazzi of Venice along the Grand Canal, and wondered how they looked inside? With this tour you can satisfy your curiousity, since we will visit several of these private palazzi, meet their owners and hear the curious tales and legends which over the centuries have characterised these great houses.
Masters of the Anicent tradecrafts of Venice
Masters of the Anicent tradecrafts of Venice
In the past Venice exported the fruits of her skills, and many of her craftsmen, all over Europe. These, and the reputation of the city for the production of fine workmanship, was of great significance in the history of the Venetian Republic. Many of these crafts still survive – mask-makers, gondola-builders, glass-makers, masters of mosaic, silk-weavers and gold-beaters. Off the usual tourist track, we will meet masters of their crafts working with dedication and passion.