When I walked to the Coop supermarket near the apartment in Cannaregio, I had to cross a small bridge. Looking to the right, I would see an interesting building, not too far away, across a canal, the Rio dei Servi. One day, I finally decided to find that building and see what it was.
Going for groceries in Venice can lead to some interesting finds!
It turned out to be the ex-church Santa Maria dei Servi, now in use as a student hostel. It had its origins in the 12th century, and went through demolition, rebuilding, fires and suppression. What is left of it, and the surrounding land, is quite huge, another surprise tucked away behind fences. Its history from about the mid-1800s saw it serve as a home for women released from prison, then in the early 1900s it began to offer schooling for young girls (usually orphans), from the ages of 6 t0 15 years. This school closed in the 1960s, and now we find the current student hostel.
The Lucchesi Chapel, from the late 1300s, seen in 2 of the photos is about all that remains of the original structures, along with the portals and portions of the walls.
To find this location, cross the campo in front of the Chiesa Santa Fosca, and turn to the left after you cross the bridge. Follow the fondamenta as far as you can, and you’ll find the entry to the grounds. (Bert, look for Fondamenta Daniele Canal.)
PS On the campo of the Chiesa Santa Fosca, you will see a statue of Paolo Sarpi. There’s a connection to this monk and Santa Maria dei Servi. But that’s a story for another day.
You can read more about this on the Churches of Venice blog, a link to which you will find on my Blogroll.