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San Giorgio Maggiore and the Cini Foundation

On a rather damp afternoon we headed over the bacino to visit Andrea Palladio's splendid church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Even in the gloom the stunning, luminous interior lit up, and we were practically the only ones in the church. From 5th century chapels in Ravenna to this, the triumph of 16th century architecture by arguably the most influential known architect of the Western world, we've seen a lot.

In the old Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio, now operating as one of the finest Art History centres in the world, with fantastic libraries and one of the most wonderful objects, the recreation of Veronese's extraordinary 'Wedding at Cana' painting, the original of which was stolen by Napoleon's troops in 1797 and was hung, and still hangs in the Louvre. When I was on the John Hall course in 1978, a fellow student, Adam Lowe, was moved by being in Venice, and once he had launched his brilliant company, Factum Arte, that recreates lost or damaged pieces all around the world, he was asked by the then director of the Cini to make a facsimile that now hangs, where the original once hung. The room, a design by Palladio, was built to accommodate - and communicate with the painting, and with the image back in place everything makes sense!

We ended up at Baldassare Longhena's imperial staircase, the first of its kind. A staircase that's also a room!


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