La Fenice and San Moisè
This is Campo San Fantin, a quaint little square, from where you’ll see the entrance to Fenice Theatre. Built in 1792, the Fenice, meaning phoenix in Italian, has often lived up to its name, just like the bird that rises from its ashes. In fact it first burned down in 1836 and more recently in 1996, which has become one of the most tragic moments in modern Venetian history. However, both times it was rebuilt exactly “how it was and where it was”, just like a phoenix. The composer Giuseppe Verdi is most attached to the Fenice and to Venetian memory, especially since, with his patriotic operas, he became a great symbol for the Venetian struggle against the Austrians, who were ruling over the city in the mid-19th century. For Venetians the Fenice remains a symbol of Venice’s resilient and undying nature as well as a classy place to enjoy a night out.
The over-elaborate Baroque façade of San Moisè, described as the clumsiest Church in Venice, commands the attention of those walking towards San Marco from the Accademia. Built in the 17th century in full baroque style, the façade is scattered with statues of moral virtues and members of the Fini family, who funded the building of the façade, effectively transforming this sacred space into a personal trophy. It was for this reason that Ruskin called it the most “atheist church” in the world, and it is especially in contrast to the smooth smart looks of the Hotel Bauer next to it. During the Counter-Reformation, it was in this Square of San Moisè that book burnings were held.
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