Venice is one of the many places that gives Italy its reputation as a country rich in art and history.
In addition to its picturesque landscapes and the magic of a gondola ride, the capital of Veneto offers the opportunity to visit characteristic places dating back centuries. One of these is the historic Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Let’s take a look at the beauty it has to offer and find out why it deserves to be visited at least once in your lifetime.
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco dates back to 1478 and was built with the intention of becoming the base for a brotherhood of lay people engaged in altruistic works.
As the name suggests, the Scuola Grande (Great School) dedicates total devotion to Saint Rocco, the patron saint of Venice, to whom the Church beside it is dedicated.
The Scuola is characterised by three rooms: the Sala Terrena, the Sala Capitolare and the Sala dell’Albergo, each of which houses paintings and works of art of inestimable value. In fact, over time, the Scuola managed to become the richest in the city and attracted the attention of many artists, including Tintoretto, who was entrusted with the task of decorating the entire Scuola in 1564.
The three rooms feature many “teleri”, a type of painting that involved applying large canvases to be painted directly on the walls.
In the Sala Terrena (Ground Floor Hall) there are eight teleri representing the life of Our Lady and the childhood of Christ, such as: The Annunciation, The Flight into Egypt and The Assumption of Mary. There is a interesting fact about the history of this room: although it served as an atrium, it was the last to be decorated.
The Sala Capitolare (Chapter Room), which is so called after the plenary meetings that the confreres held there, was stripped of decorations for a long time. It was only in 1574 that the decision was taken to give it painted canvases, 33 to be exact, which were completed 7 years later.
The three main canvases depicting the journey of the Jewish people to the Promised Land are especially famous today.
Finally, the Sala dell’Albergo was the first to be completed as it represented the place where the administration met.
It was thanks to this room that the art deal between the painter Tintoretto and the School was signed: the story goes that Banca and Zonta, directors of the structure at the time, held a competition so that they could select the best artist to commission to create the hall’s oval ceiling.
While everyone was getting ready to put their ideas on paper, Tintoretto decided to fresco the ceiling, giving the School the beauty of San Rocco in glory.
His action created a stir among the directors, who eventually decided to leave the work where it was, and also offered Tintoretto the opportunity to decorate most of the Scuola.
He chose to decorate the Sala dell’Albergo with canvases depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ, developing the story in a way never seen before: in reverse.
Clearly, the Scuola Grande was not only touched by the precious hands of Tintoretto. However, he was the one who managed to give a spectacular quality and beauty to this majestic structure.
How to visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco
If you don’t know how to get to Venice, don’t worry!
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is just a few minutes from the S. Lucia train station, the Piazzale Roma car terminal and the San Tomà stop by vaporetto.
Open every day from 9:30 to 17:30, except Christmas and New Year, when the visiting hours are 9:30- 12:30: visit the Scuola Grande website to find out about all the facilities.
Once inside, let yourself be captivated by the grandeur and solemnity of canvases depicting the most significant stories of Christianity and immerse yourself in the meanings encapsulated in every single brushstroke.
In short, if you are planning a trip or a weekend out of Venice, you must definitely visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco to enjoy the beauty of its majestic works of art.