Vivaldi Church, Venice

The present church of Santa Maria della Visitazione, or della Pietà as it is popularly known, a jewel of Venetian architecture, was built between 1745 and 1760 according to the design of Giorgio Massari.  The original church of the XV century stood on the area of the present Hotel Metropole.  The facade, imitating the classical style with tympanum and twin columns, was incomplete at the lower third of the columns and was completed in 1906 following the original Massari model.  Above the portal there is a large bas-relief representing Charity, and in the small elliptical atrium on the left there is a bust of the founder of the Pio Istituto, Fra Pietro d’Assisi.

The interior is one of the most harmonious and elegant, sacred Venetian premises of the 1700’s., with an ovoid shape, vaulted ceiling and flat presbytery; along the side walls, between the twin columns supporting the cornice, two choir stalls open with elegant wrought iron work; on the entrance wall there is a double layered choir stall.  In these choirs, the “putte”, the young girls living in the institute, gave their famous concerts of music and song.  Rather than a church, it seems to be a grand concert hall.  In the ceiling of the main entrance, there is a fresco by G.P. Tiepolo depicting Strength and Peace.  This fresco, the charming one of the ceiling, and that of the presbytery with the theological Virtues, (1745-1755) form the grandiose decoration by Tiepolo.  In the oval fresco of the ceiling with the Triumph of the Faith, the painter developed a triumphant image of the coronation of the Virgin in a glory of angels  intent on or entranced by the music which they are playing, accompanied by the most varied instruments.  All the frescoes are fore-shortened, given the height of the church.

The most important chapel has an elegant altar of the 1700’s. with a precious tabernacle decorated with gilded bronze figures and, at the sides, the Arch-angels Gabriel and Michael by G.M. Mortlaiter.  The altar-piece, representing the Visitation, was begun by Piazzetta and, on his death,  finished by his disciple. Angeli.  In the choir above the main entrance door there is a painting, Jesus in Simon’s house, signed and dated 1544 by Alessando Bonvicino, called the Moretto da Brescia.  Seen from the body of the church near the main altar, the painting acquires suggestive relief.  In the side altars there are paintings by Maggiotto, G. Angeli and A. Marinetti