Countries Italy Venice Cultural Tours

Venice: Religion, Relics and Redemption

You cannot bend my will to your purpose. Whatever you do to my body, that cannot happen to me

Saint Lucy
Thomas Abbott
Thomas Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied his Masters at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th century. He has a been a resident of Berlin since 1987 and has successfully led cultural tours for many years across Europe.
What's included...
  • Return flights with British Airways (economy) to Venice from London Heathrow
  • The services of your lecturer and tour manager
  • A vaporetto pass
  • All tips and taxes
  • Transport by water taxi as required
  • All church, museum & gallery entry tickets
  • 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, and 1 drinks' reception (lunch and dinner with wine, water and coffee included)
  • 5 nights in the sumptuous Hotel Palazzo Stern with Grand Canal facing rooms available
  • A tour-guide headset system to make hearing the lecturer easier
Hotel Palazzo Stern
Getting about
Participants should be reasonably fit. There is a significant amount of
walking, standing and use of stairs.
Inspirational tours frequently booked together
Saint Mark's Basilica is the cathedral church of Venice. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best-known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge and has only been the city's cathedral since 1807 when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice.

The Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello is the island's cathedral and houses the skull of St Cecilia. The church contains one of the earliest extant mosaics in Venice. The main apse has a 11th-century mosaic of famous beauty of the standing Virgin Hodegetria, isolated against a huge gold background, above a register of standing saints. 
On this tour of Venice we visit all five of the island states votive churches; Santa Maria della Salute, San Giobbe, San Sebastiano, Il Redentore and San Rocco, all built as thanks to God for deliverance from the plague.
St Lucy is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. She is one of eight women who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her feast day, known as Saint Lucy's Day, is celebrated in the West on 13 December. In 1955 Angelo Roncalli, future Pope John XXIII and then Patriarch of Venice had a silver mask put on the saint's face to protect it from dust. On 7th November 1981, thieves stole all her bones, except her head, which were recovered by the police five weeks later, on her feast day - 13th December! 
Join this wonderful tour of Venice which explores the beautiful churches and religious art found in this most spectacular of Italian cities. A holiday to Cenice to remember!

In the early thirteenth century, crusader armies of Europe under the Venetian Doge, Enrico Dandolo sacked Constantinople, shifting the axis of power to La Serenissima. Religious relics flooded into Venice, used by the Republic to assert its dominance over Byzantine culture. The most famous relics are those of St Mark which were stolen by the Venetians in Alexandria in 875. His bones now lie in the basilica of his name that rises spectacularly over the island. After the Fourth Crusades and the incontestable position of Venice as the leading culture of the Mediterranean, the doges changed their motto to ‘Ruler of one fourth and one half of the Roman Empire’. On this tour, we visit the many churches which hold relics of saints brought to Venice over previous centuries.

Venice, as an island, was particularly susceptible to the plague which swept through the islands of the republic decimating the population. On the passing of plagues, the Venetians built votive churches as thanks to God for their deliverance. The five votive churches are Il Redentore and San Sebastiano, both designed by Andrea Palladio, with the later home to a tremendous fresco cycle by Paolo Veronese and of his tomb. The majestic Santa Maria della Salute whose design by Longhena has inspired artists across the ages from Canaletto to John Singer Sargent. The final two, San Rocco and San Giobbe are more humble in appearance but to the Venetians were of equal importance to the grander votive churches.
After arriving in Venice, we transfer by water taxi to our hotel. After lunch together, we visit San Francesco della Vigna with paintings by Veronese, Giovanni Bellini and Palma the Younger. Then to San Zaccaria for the tomb of the saint. The walls of the aisles and of the chapels host paintings by Andrea del Castagno, Palma Vecchio, Tintoretto, Giuseppe Porta, Palma il Giovane, Antonio Vassilacchi, and Anthony van Dyck. We finish the day at Santa Maria Zobenigo which contains a Madonna and Child with Young St John which is the only painting by Rubens in Venice. We dine together on our first evening.
This morning, we visit one of Venice’s five votive churches, the church of San Giobbe. Its altarpieces house works by Vivarini, Pietro Lombardo, Luca Della Robbia, Basaiti and Bordone.  Afterwards, the relics of St Lucy await us in San Geremia. We enter Santa Maria dell Orto, founded by the now-defunct religious order, the ‘Humiliati’. The Jesuit Church of Venice is our final destination for today, where we find twenty paintings by Palm Il Giovanni in the sacristy.
In the morning, we visit the Scuola Grande dei Carmini with its remarkable canvases by painters including Padovanino, Ambrogio Boni, and Antonio Balestra. There is also a “Judith and Holofernes” by Piazetta. Next, is another of Venice’s votice churches, San Sebastiano, notable for its cycle of paintings by the artist Paolo Veronese who is buried here. The church also houses paintings by Tintoretto and Titian. We cross to the island of Giudecca to visit Il Redentore, designed by Andrea Palladio and contains paintings by Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese and Francesco Bassano. After lunch together, another of Palladio’s churches, the San Giorgio Maggiore which contains two large paintings by Tintoretto relating to the institution of the eucharist. There is the opportunity to ascend the belltower (by lift) to take in a bird’s eye view of Venice and the lagoon islands. Crossing back to Venice, we visit the votive church of Santa Maria della Salute, designed by Longhena, with paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Luca Giordano inside. We return to the hotel for a drinks reception on its Grand Canal terrace.
After breakfast, we visit San Pantalon with its monumental ceiling depicting The Martyrdom and Apotheosis of St Pantalon. Then to the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to see Titian’s glorious, Assumption of the Virgin. Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista houses artworks by Tintoretto and Tiepolo. We then visit the Church of San Rocco with the relics of the saint and many paintings by Tintoretto. 
In the morning, we cross the lagoon to the island of Torcello, where we enter the Byzantine era Basilica of St Mary Assunta with its mosaic floor. Then to the 12th century church of Santa Fosca which was built to house the remains of Santa Fosca, the virgin martyr of Ravenna, and those of Santa Maura, her nurse and partner in martyrdom. We lunch together before crossing to Murano. On Murano, we see the reliquary of Saint Donatus and the four bones of the dragon he supposedly slew by spitting at it, in Santi Maria e Donato. We dine together on our final evening.
Having checked-out of the hotel, we devote the morning to the Accademia, where Thomas Abbott takes us on a curated tour of religious paintings. We then take our water taxis back to Marco Polo airport, arriving in London Heathrow early evening.
As the Palazzo Stern hotel has only 27 rooms and is a historic building, all of the rooms and suites are unique. They vary in size, outlook, and furnishing. Sapienza Travel has secured a number of rooms directly facing the Grand Canal for your stay. With that in mind, we are offering these rooms and suites at varying prices to reflect their differences.

Flights - The departing flight leaves London Gatwick at 7.45am. The returning flight departs Venice at 4.30pm, arriving in Gatwick at 5.40pm.
 If you would like to fly BA Club class, please contact us and we will provide a price for the upgrade. We make the tours available without flights for those of you who would like to make your own travel arrangements.
Hotel accommodation at London can be arranged on request. Please, contact us

Travel advice - Please refer the Foreign Office's website to make sure you are comfortable with the travel advice they provide for the destination(s) you are visiting. 

Activity level - Our tours involve a lot of walking, climbing stairs and standing still for periods of time. The historic centres of cities are often uneven and cobbled requiring everyone to be confident walking across them.

Thomas Abbott
Thomas Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied his Masters at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th century. He has a been a resident of Berlin since 1987 and has successfully led cultural tours for many years across Europe.
Hotel Palazzo Stern
The Palazzo Stern Hotel started out as a Moorish Palazzo which was built in the 15thC by the Malpaga family, whose name was given to the Rio running beside the building. In the early years of the 20th Century the building was purchased by the Stern family who were art collectors. They renovated the building and added a further two floors to the building. 

Today, the Palazzo Stern Hotel offers 27 rooms, many with views of the Grand Canal, to its guests who can enjoy the pieces of art, sculptures, mosaics and architectural elements of the building. The breathtaking view from the Terrace on the Grand Canal and the tranquility of the Roof Terrace lend an air of incredible romance and beauty to a stay in this unique Venetian hotel.
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