Draped Like a Shawl
Campo San Canzian in the eastern part of Sestiere Cannaregio, Venice, is draped like a shawl around the church dedicated to Santi Canziano, Canzio, e Canzionello, better known around Venice as San Canzian (thank you!). The ancient surrounding island community was founded by refugees from a major Roman city on the mainland, perhaps Aquileia, before the 864 A.D. date set for the first parish church. The three commemorated saints, Canziano, Canzio and Canzionello, were martyred around Aquileia soon after 300 A.D. Between then and the development of that new Venetian village, the mainland inhabitants grew weary of the threats and real depredations of trans-Alpine invaders and sought refuge and a new life in the safe Lagoon. The church was last rebuilt in the 16th Century and the front facade visible to us today was completed shortly after 1700.
Finding San Canzian
From either the Rialto or Strada Nova, upon reaching the main artery segment of Salizzada San Girolamo Grisostomo, turn northeast at Campiello Corner onto Salizzada San Canzian (some signs and maps call it “San Chianciano”) and a few short “blocks” will bring you to Campo San Canzian. Campo Santa Maria Nova is a few steps away to the southeast.
The Sign Says Campo – Where is It?
When you arrive, you may ask “Where is the Campo?”, since the open space with pozzi next to the church is quite small. In fact, the Campo name is also applied to the calle in front of the church and to the small pozzi enhanced open space on the northwest side, a campo so narrow in front that the entirely of the facade is almost impossible to view. The Church occupies the Campo. Several commentators, including J. G. Links in his fine book “Venice for Pleasure” (see the “Bibliography” page), note that the narthex of the church is virtually part of the Campo, with the doors on either side linking the segmented open space as well as the street in front of it. In a rare instance in Venice…
The Campo and the Church are One
The northwest lobe of the Campo opens onto Rio dei Santi Apostoli, a major route from the Rialto to the North Lagoon.
Immediately across the Rio over Ponte San Canciano toward Calle della Malvasia, Calle de Traghetto was formed as a colonnaded sottoportego/fondamente that was a major “traghetti terminal” for transportation to the island of Murano prior to completion of Fondamente Nova.
What a bustling place this must have been!
Chaotic City, Contemplative Calm
The church provides a peaceful, contemplative respite from the busy traffic moving around it.
The interior wall finishes and materials are rather dark and heavy, but instead of making the church gloomy and foreboding, they help the structure itself shine as a wonderful container for the messages shared by the art and through the worship that takes pace within it. As you step inside, out of the busy stream of traffic, sit a while and consider the purpose of this sacred place, that emanates from…
The Peace That Passes Understanding