Church of San Simeone Piccolo Venice

The Church of San Simeone Piccolo in Venice is located across the Canal Grande in front of the central station Santa Lucia. It was the first church of the city with a round floor plan and is easily recognizable because of its immense copper green dome.

San Simeone Piccolo Church Venetië

Useful information

Address: Chiesa di San Simeon, Fondamenta San Simeone Piccolo, 693, 30135 Venezia. Sestiere: Santa Croce. Phone: +39 . Opening hours: Not available. Admission: Not available.

History and description

The present San Simeone Piccolo was built between 1718 and 1738 on top of an 11th century foundation. Apart from the inauguration date (June 12th, 2171), not much is known of the original church.

The architect was Giovanni Scalfarotto, who clearly used the Roman Pantheon as an inspiration for his design. Scalfarotto was a disciple of Palladio and a precursor of neoclassicist architecture.

The reconstruction was paid for through a lottery organized by the church itself. The main prize, an indulgence, was given out 14 times a year.

Since the church was dedicated to the Apostle Simon and not to the more important prophet Simon, it is named San Simeone Piccolo. There is also a church dedicated to the prophet in Venice, which is obviously called San Simeone Grande.

The statue crowning the green copper dome depicts Christ the Redeemer.

Crypt

The octagonal crypt is the only catacomb in Venice. From the central altar, four hallways lead to 24 rooms, most of which are frescoed. The paintings depict the “Stations of the Cross”, “Death” and several events described in the Old Testament. Several rooms have been cemented closed. None of the tombs have names.

Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo, Venezia

Chiesa degli Scalzi Venice

The Chiesa degli Scalzi in Venice is officially called Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth. Its sumptuous ornamentation includes paintings by Tiepolo, Morlaiter and others. The architect was Baldassarre Longhena, who had also designed the Santa Maria della Salute Church. For visitors arriving by train it is the first church they will see, since it is right next to the main station.

Chiesa degli Scalzi Venice

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Cannaregio, 54 – Venice (tel. +39 041 715115). Opening hours: From 07.30 till 11.50 and from 16.00 till 19.00. Admission: Free. Public transport: Vaporetto 1, 2, 3, 41, 42, 51, 52, N, VA (halte Ferrovia).

History and description

Chiesa degli Scalzi Venice
Facade

The Chiesa degli Scalzi was built for the religious Order of Barefoot Carmelites. Its construction was financed by count Gerolamo Cavazza. The word scalzo means “barefoot”.

Baldassarre Longhena did not only build the church, but also , in 1649, the convent. He designed the church itself in 1654. Its construction took from 1656 till 1682.

The interior is decorated with marble of different colours. Its overall splendour may have been the result of an attempt to emulate the Roman and Spanish churches built for the order.

Giuseppe Sardi, an architect of Swiss origin, completed the facade between 1672 and 1680. It is characterized by double columns and alcoves with statues of saints. The statues are attributed to Bernardo Falcone.

In 1915 the Austrians bombarded Venice. During the attack Tiepolo‘s “Transport of the Holy House of Loreto” was almost completely destroyed. The remaining fragments are on display in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

Scalzi Church, Venice

Sirmione (Lake Garda)

Sirmione is the most famous and beautiful city on Lake Garda. It is really a narrow peninsula sticking into the southern part of the lake. Its most important tourist attractions, except for Lake Garda itself, are the Castle and the Caves of Catullo. The city is also known for its sulphur baths.

Sirmione City Guide

Useful information for tourists

Most of Sirmione is, except for the few residents that are left, not accessible by car. There are three, expensive, parking lots near the entrance to the old town, but it might be recommended to find your own spot further away from the castle, so you will not have to deal with the queues.

Sirmione is one of the stops on the bus line between Verona and Brescia. The company is called Arriva. The departure point in Verona is called Porta Nuova. The ticket can be bought in the tobacco shop near the bus stop, or (more expensive) directly from the driver. The bus stop in Sirmione is a long way from the centre in a place called Colombare, but here you can change onto a local bus without having to get a new ticket.

If you have chosen your home base in one of the other towns along the lake, you can take a ferry to Sirmione. This way you can enjoy the magnificent view from the lake and you will not have to wait in line to find a parking spot.

Tourist attractions

The most important tourist attraction, apart from Lake Garda, is still the 13th century fortress built by the Della Scala (see below). The 14th century Sant’Anna Church has a number of 16th century frescoes. The Santa Maria Maggiore Church was built in the 15th century. The city’s oldest church is the San Pietro in Mavino, which was constructed in the 8th century. The archaeological area is located at the tip of the peninsula. It is called Grotte di Catullo and contains the ruins of a Roman villa from the Imperial age. The museum connected to the area is called the Anqiquarium. The most beautiful square of the island is the Piazza Giosuè Carducci. From a purely historic point of view, the villa Maria Callas used to live in is also important.

Interesting towns near Sirmione are Desenzano and Peschiera del Garda. The nearest bigger towns are Brescia and Verona.

History

Sirmione was probably founded by the Etruscans. Archaeological finds seem to indicate that the city was quite important in Roman times. Even in those days it already was a popular holiday destination for wealthy patrician families.

In Byzantine and Lombard periods there used to be a staging post.

In the 12th century Sirmione became property of Verona and later of the Della Scala family, who had the enormous Rocca Scaligera built. This castle was constructed in 13th century, on top of an ancient Roman fortress.

Sirmione was at its most powerful in the 14th century, when the docks and city walls were added. Of the latter only the tower near the Santa Maria Maggiore Church and the crenellated gate facing the Piazza Flaminia remain.

The Republic of Venice conquered Sirmione in the 15th century.

In the 16th century Sirmione entered a period of decline and nearby Peschiera became the most important city in the area.

After the Unification of Italy the city became part of the province of Brescia.

The first spa was opened in the early 20th century, which led to the construction of several luxury hotels. Nowadays almost the entire centre is take up by souvenir shops, restaurants, fast food places and ice cream parlours.

Curiosities

Until 1930 Sirmione was called Sermione. The name could derive from the Greek word syrma, which means “tail”, or from the Gaulish sirm-ona, signifying “water train”.

The peninsula sticks about 4 km into the lake.

The two spas on the island are called Termale Acquaria and Termale Virgilio. They get their water from the Font Bola, located 18 meters underneath the lake.

Shopping

Unfortunately Sirmione has become one big tourist trap and, especially in the historic centre, every available building is now a shop, selling more or less the same stuff as the one next door.

There are two weekly markets, on Monday mornings in the Piazza Mercato and on Friday mornings in the Piazza Montebaldo.

Sirmione, province of Brescia, Lombardy

Church of Santo Stefano Verona

The Church of Santo Stefano is one of the oldest early Christian churches in Verona. During the first four centuries of its existence it was in this church that the city’s bishops were buried. Its biggest attractions is the Cappella degli Innocenti. It is located across the river from the Ponte di Pietra.

Santo Stefano Church Verona

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Scaletta Santo Stefano, 2 – 37129 Verona. Phone: +39 0458348529. Opening hours: The church is only open for mass. Admission: Free.

History and description

The Chiesa di Santo Stefano was constructed in the 5th century, probably on top of an ancient cemetary. It was meant to be a burial place for the bishops of Verona.

A 10th century reconstruction led to the present division into three naves. Although the general circumference stayed the same, the architectural style became more Romanesque.

The robust build of the church made it survive even the earthquake of 1117, which damaged several other important buildings.

During a later reconstruction in the 12th century the facade was covered with alternating strips of brick and tuff stone. The octagonal drum with two rows of mullioned windows was also added in the 12th century.

It is easy to note that the church has undergone several changes in the course of the centuries. The external walls are 5th and 6th century remains. The columns and capitols were added in the 8th century, as was the bishop’s chair. The crypt and the slightly raised presbytery were added in the 10th century. The chapels and altars stem from the 14th to the 18th century.

Chapel of the Innocents

The most interesting chapel of the Santo Stefano Church is the baroque Cappella degli Innocenti. This chapel, which was constructed in 1620 and is officially called Cappella Varalli, is decorated with mannerist ornaments.

The most important work is the painting “40 holy martyrs from Verona” by Orbetto, whose real name was Alessandro Turchi, but sometimes also called himself Alessandro Veronese.

Pasquale Ottino painted the “Massacre of the Innocents” and Antonio Bassetti was responsible for the “Five Bishops”.

The chapel is named after Giulio Varalli, who financed its construction. Apart from the five bishops, the relics of 40 saints were supposed to be kept in the chapel, together with the bones of four children killed by King Herod. Obviously, these three baroque paintings all refer to the tombs and relics in the chapel.

Santo Stefano Church, Verona

Spoleto

Spoleto is a hill town in the southernmost part of the province of Perugia. Like many cities in the area, it has a beautiful historic center on the top of a hill, and below this a sprawling and less interesting modern part. The main sights are the Rocca Albernoz, the Cathedral and the Torre delle Ponti, a huge bridge over a valley between the castle and the hill across the valley.

All about Spoleto (province of Perugia)

Useful information

Region: Umbria. Province: Perugia. Area code: 0743 Zip code: 06049. The Spoleto tourist office (IAT del Comprensorio Spoletino) is located in Piazza della Libertà, 7 – 06049 Spoleto. Tel. +39 0743218620-0743218621.

By car/public transport

Public transport: There is a direct, but not very regular, train connection from Rome Termini. The city is also on the railway line between Orte and Falconara Marittima. Spoleto station is located at the foot of the hill and it is a nice but picturesque climb to the historical centre of town.

By car: From Rome take the E45 to the north, followed by the SS3Bis to Acquasparta. From here you follow SR418. Alternatively you can follow the former consular road Via Flaminia (SS3) all the way, which leads directly to Spoleto and is more scenic but also slower.

A system of 8 escalators leads from the Rocca Albernoz, the highest point of the city, all the way to the lowest point of the historic center and to the so-called Ponzianina parking lot.

Tourist attractions

The town centre is framed by ancient city walls, some of which date from the Umbrian times, some from the Roman period and some from the Middle Ages.

The 11th century Cathedral is decorated with frescoes by Pinturicchio and Filippo Lippi. Underneath the Sant’Ansano Church ruins of a 1st century temple have been found. Other beautiful churches are the early Christian San Salvatore Church, the San Gregorio Maggiore Church, the San Domenico Church, the Sant’Eufemia Church and the San Paolo Inter Vineas Church.

Archaeological monuments include the ruins of a Roman Theatre and the Arch of Drusus. The Roman Theatre, together with the Palazzo Ancajani can be found on the Piazza della Libertà. Ruins of an ancient Roman domus stem from the 1st century AD and probably used to belong to the mother of Emperor Vespasian.

The Rocca Albernoz towers above everything else and was built in the 14th century. A walk around the castle will reward you with a spectacular view of the Ponte delle Torri.

The most beautiful historic buildings are Palazzo Collicola, Palazzo Campello and Palazzo Ancaiani, all dating back to the 18th century.

The main attractions of the Piazza Pietro Fontana are the Palazzo Mauri and the Fontana dei Maccabei.

Spoleto Card

The Spoleto Card is a museum pass allowing you to visit the city’s six museums free of charge. The price is 9,50 Euro (age 26-65) or 8 Euro (discount for young people between 15 and 25 years old). The card is valid for one week and can only be used by one person, so identification is required.

A Brief History of Spoleto

Archaeological finds on the Sant’Elia hill and underneath the present cathedral tell us that the area was already inhabited in Umbrian times. In 241 BC the city became a Roman colony and in 90 BC the town became a municipality.

Later the city was conquered by the Byzantines. In the second half of the 6th century Spoleto was chosen by the Lombards as the capital of a vast county.

During the Middle Ages, the region was the scene of battles between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. Frederick I Barbarossa had the city destroyed in 1155. In 1354 Spoleto was added to the papal properties by Cardinal Albernoz. Despite several attempts to gain independence, the city remained in the hands of the church until the French domination.

Spoleto, province of Perugia, Umbria