Campo San Alvise is located in northern Sestiere Canneregio in Venice, next to the Rio de Sant’Alvise – Riformati and its Fondamenta dei Reformati on Isola Sant’Alvise. Arrival is either via vaporetto lines 41/42 or 51/52 to the Sant’Alvise stop on the north side of its island followed by a short stroll south through the relatively modern local neighborhood, or north via one of two bridges from Isola Senna across the Rio (Ponte San Bonaventura or Ponte Sant’Alvise).
This very quiet area in far northwestern Venice is worthy of your time and attention, especially for such a treasure as Chiesa Sant’Alvise on the east side of the Campo. The church is a member of the Chorus Churches Association, of interest if you intend to purchase a ticket to access more than a few of those 16 glorious places of worship. The entrance to the church is via the west side door into the nave, adjacent to the small scuola.
The plain-facade church was apparently originally constructed of wood in 1388 as part of a convent (monache) dedicated to the French Saint Louis of Toulouse (San Lodovico in Italian, or in the Venetian dialectic short-cut, Sant’Alvise as we know it today). The current structure was constructed in 1430.
The religious order established then followed the teachings of St. Augustine. A separate order was re-established in the monache a few centuries ago. Although originally the monache church, Sant’Alvise is now also the parish church for this island in Cannaregio.
The church is well-known for three works of Tiepolo illustrating the Passion of Christ and a few amazing ceiling frescos nestled in the beautiful “ships keel” wooden structure of the roof. The gardens of the monache used to stretch all of the way to the Lagoon, but the northern third is now occupied by a full-sized soccer field!
Forget crowds, shops and bacari, Campo Sant’Alvise is a quiet oasis of simple design and construction, well-proportioned buildings living in harmony with one another, with its primary area to the west side of the church and equipped with a few benches and trees. About one-third of the overall open space is occupied by privately owned gardens belonging to five residences on the side away from the church. The Campo wraps around the front of the church, facing the rio and enveloping the fondamente, ending at the entrance to the monache east of the church facade.
Take a little time out of hustling around bustling Venice, get away from the tourist throngs, and visit northern Cannaregio’s Campo Sant’Alvise and the church. A short sojourn sitting in each while contemplating the presentation of their past, present purpose and ambiance will reward you with a better understanding of what is reality for the majority of the City’s history and people.
This place is endowed not with extravagant palazzi, bustling salizzadi and thronged piazzi or campi, but with the genuine embrace of the…
Peace and Passion of La Serenissima!