08 November 2021

Back in Venice, staying
on the Grand Canal in
the home of an artist

The Hotel San Cassiano in the Santa Croce district of Venice faces onto the Grand Canal (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

I am in Venice for five days this week, celebrating some important family birthdays and anniversaries. I arrived in Treviso this afternoon on an early-morning Ryanair flight from Dublin and I am staying in an hotel with a view of the Grand Canal.

I have visited Italy more than a dozen time, and this is, perhaps, my fourth or fifth visit to Venice. I was last here three years ago, in November 2018.

Hotel San Cassiano is a 4-star hotel in the heart of Venice. It is housed in the Ca’ Favretto, home of the famous 19th-century painter Giacomo Favretto, and the hotel has 36 rooms, some with a breathtaking view of the Grand Canal.

Hotel San Cassiano is in the Santa Croce district, just a few minutes’ walk from the Rialto Bridge and market, from the Erbaria area on the San Polo side of the Rialto Bridge, with three squares which a choice of bacari (wine bars) and cicchetti (traditional Venetian snacks), and from Merceria, a shopping street that connects Rialto to Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica.

It is also close to the San Stae stop on the ACTV line 1 vaporetto, just a five-minute walk from the landing stage.

The hotel is an authentic historic 14th century residence that displays all the charm and fascination of Venice, with Venetian-style furnishings, Murano chandeliers and an interesting collection of paintings and antiques.

A work by Giacomo Favretto in the hotel reception area (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Giacomo Favretto (1849-1887), one of the great Venetian painters of the 19th century, lived in the Ca’ Favretto, which now houses the Hotel San Cassiano. He moved from the carpenter’s workshop of his father in 1864 to enrol in the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. There he studied under Pompeo Marino Molmenti, and he also studied in Paris.

He soon developed an independent style inspired by the younger artists of Venice such as Domenico Morelli. His subjects were taken from everyday life, such as ordinary people at work and play rather than mythological or historical figures.

He presented works at the Fine Arts Exposition of the Brera Academy in Milan in 1873, when his painting sattracted the attention of Camillo Boito. He travelled to Paris with Guglielmo Ciardi in 1878 to take part in the Universal Exhibition. Although he had lost his sight in one eye by the age of 30, he once again presented work at the Brera in 1880, winning the Prince Umberto Prize.

He took part in the Esposizione Nazionale di Belle Arti in Turin that year with works featuring everyday life in Venice and scenes in 18th-century costume.

Favretto died in Venice on 12 June 1887. That year, confirmation of his success came at the Esposizione Nazionale Artistica in Venice, where the works presented included Liston Odierno or Promenade Today in Venice 1884), now in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome.

Breakfast tomorrow morning is a continental and international breakfast buffet served in the dining hall with a terrace facing the Grand Canal. Join me for the rest of the week, as I explore Venice, the lagoon and the islands once again.

The Grand Canal seen from the Hotel San Cassiano in the Santa Croce district of Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
163, the Scuola Grande Tedesca, Venice

The Scuola Grande Tedesca or German Grand Synagogue, founded in 1528 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

After a busy weekend, I am in Dublin Airport this morning, waiting to board an early-morning Ryanair flight to Treviso, with plans to spend five days in Venice this week, celebrating some important family birthdays and anniversaries.

Before my flight takes off, I have taken a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Photographs of churches in Venice provided the theme for this prayer diary in the week 20-27 June 2021. So, instead, as part of my reflections and this prayer diary this week, my photographs are from the ghetto in Venice.

I hope to look at each of the five historic synagogues in the Ghetto in turn this week. My photographs this morning (8 November 2021) are from the Scuola Grande Tedesca or German Grand Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in Venice.

The Aron haKodesh or Holy Ark in the Scuola Grande Tedesca in Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Scuola Grande Tedesca or German Grand Synagogue in Venice was founded in 1528 by the Askhenazi Community.

The unknown architect had to overcome considerable difficulties to give the appearance of regularity to the asymmetric area of the main hall. He achieved this by building an elliptical women’s gallery and repeating the same motif in the banisters of the lantern-like opening in the centre of the ceiling, giving a feeling of unexpected depth.

This Synagogue was restored often over the centuries. The area with the Ark juts out on the outside over the Rio di Ghetto Novo, with a niche that is also to be seen in the Schola Canton, the Schola Italiana and the Schola Levantina.

The Bimah in the Scuola Grande Tedesca in Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Luke 17: 1-6 (NRSVA):

1 Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, “I repent”, you must forgive.’

5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6 The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.’

The ceiling in the Scuola Grande Tedesca in Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (8 November 2021, Saints and Martyrs of England and Wales) invites us to pray:

We give thanks for the saints and martyrs who did so much to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout England and Wales.

Synagogues surround the main square in the Ghetto in Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

>Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org