The Madonna dell 'Orto church, whose tall steeple is visible to us from the courtyard of our apartment complex, acts as a beacon to signal the way back home when we wander further afield. Madonna dell 'Orto is a pretty 14th Century Gothic church with a red brick façade that is decorated on each side with six statues, together representing the twelve disciples. The church is named after an unfinished statue of the Madonna made by Giovanni de Santis which was originally discarded to a nearby orchard (orto) but received reverence when it was reputed to glow and perform miracles. The sculpture is now installed in the high altar of the church. Many of the works in the church were created by Jacopo Tintoretto, who is also buried here in his home parish. The most well-known of his paintings hanging in the Church is the "Presentation of the Virgin", which is covered in real gold leaf on the depiction of the steps, and has similarities to a painting by rival painter Titian.
Its all-white stone exterior is more traditional in appearance than the red brick façade of Madonna dell ‘Orto and it also features statues of the twelve apostles as well as the Virgin Mary at the peak of the roof. The real surprise occurs when you first step inside the church and are confronted with a dazzling kaleidoscope of shapes and colours. There are walls and columns that look to be covered with patterned wall paper or fabric, but which are actually intricately inlaid marble. Gilded trim covers the ceilings and surround a series of circular frescoes, while the high altar consists of a white dome held up by columns of twisted green marble, with a sculpture in the middle of God and Christ sitting on a globe.
We saw and experienced so much already just within our home siesteri or district of Cannaregio. With the major tourist districts and multiple islands still to explore, it was exciting to think about what we had to look forward to.