Santo Stefano, Sant’Angelo and Campo Manin
This is Campo Santo Stefano. The huge Palazzo Pisani was historically property of one of the wealthiest families in Venice, and today it is the prestigious Music Conservatory, or “conservatorio”, a word which was coined by Venetians in the 16th century. At the centre of the campo is a statue of Nicolò Tommaseo, a politician, diplomat and literary figure of the 19th century. He was an extremely prolific writer, who, among other feats, single-handedly wrote the Dictionary of Italian Language in seven volumes, and also a Venetian patriot, who played a central role in defeating the Austrians in 1848 to restore independence to Venice. Given his bookish reputation and the statue’s design, the statue is often known as the “caga-libri”, Venetian for “book-shitter”. Looking ahead is the left flank of the 14th century Church of Santo Stefano, built in florid Gothic style with a magnificent façade. To the right, and only seemingly detached from the main building, is the church’s bell-tower.
This is Campo Sant’Angelo, one of the few squares with two well-heads, both from the 15th century. Here once stood an ancient church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, which was destroyed in the early 1800’s by Napoleon. A beautiful painting by the Venetian painter Canaletto depicting the square’s church and belltower still survives however. Tucked away in a corner of the square you’ll find the small Church of Sant’Angelo degli Zoppi – of the lame, which was used as a prayer-hall.
You are now in the small Campo Manin. Once this square was occupied by a large Church which was destroyed by Napoleon in the early 19th century. At the centre will see a bronze statue of Daniele Manin, sculpted and erected here in 1875. Manin was a famous Venetian patriot who was first incarcerated by the Austrians and then led Venice to reclaim its independence in 1848. He is here accompanied by a bronze of a winged lion, the symbol of Venice, resting upon the base of the statue. Only a minute away through a narrow calle from the square you’ll find the Scala del Bovolo, a splendid spiral staircase built in the Renaissance.
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