Hidden treasures

The Pious site of the Penitents in the Cannaregio Canal in Venice

Unknown places & works
Pio-loco

The Pious site of the Penitents in the Cannaregio Canal in Venice

Along the Cannaregio Canal in Venice, opposite the former municipal slaughterhouse (now University Ca 'Foscari), there is a church flanked by two buildings: the pious site of the Penitents.

In 1705 a shelter was here established to receive the repentant sinners, basically a hostel to house prostitutes that had repented and other women who were involved in a public scandal and who then needed help to obtain a honest job. Many nobles made bequests in favour of the pious institution, but it was mainly thanks to the donations of the noblewoman Marina Priuli da Lezze that the actual construction could be carried out, under the direction of the architect Giorgio Massari.

Generally, the penitents were required to be not less than 12 and not more than 30 years of age; be from Venice or to have lived in Venice for at least a year; be healthy in mind and body, not pregnant and to have withdrawn from the sinful life for at least 3 months.

After the fall of the Republic, as a result of the Napoleonic edicts in 1807, guests of 'Ospissio del Socorso, which had been stopped and closed down as a result of the same edicts, were also based at the pious site of the Penitents.

The original purpose of the pious site dwindled down with the decline in the number of guests, and so after 1945 refugee women coming mainly from Istria and the former colonies in Africa were here given shelter.

Currently the entire large complex is being renovated in order to create a nursing centre for Alzheimer's patients.

If you would like to know more about the most curious and unusual buildings of Venice, book a personalized tour of the city with our guide Francesca, the editor of this popular section!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: What’s the traditional Redentore food?

sarde-saor
Local Traditions

The number one traditional celebration, celebrated every year the third weekend of July, Redentore gives thanks for the end of the terr...

View

Venice: The village of Dolo and its inhabitants

Dolo
Figures of speech

In the province of Venice there is a small village, Dolo, which doesn’t have a great reputation... The dialect expression ‘Ma te vi...

View

Venice: The crypt of the church of San Simeone Piccolo

san-simeone-piccolo-venezia
Unknown places & works

As soon as you leave the train station in Venice, you will see the imposing dome of the church of San Simeone Piccolo, renovated in the...

View

Vicenza: The legend of the Dwarves of Villa Valmarana ai Nani

Villa_Valmarana_ai_Nani
Mysteries & Legends

Villa Valmarana ai Nani in Vicenza, Italy, is one of the best known and most visited villas in the Veneto region thanks to the frescoes...

View

Top posts

Treviso: The Jewish cemetery in Conegliano

cimitero-conegliano
Unknown places & works

Not everyone knows that the city of Conegliano was once home to one of the most important Jewish communities in the Veneto region, both...

View

Belluno: Tiziano Vecellio’s birthplace in Pieve di Cadore

casa-tiziano-pieve
Big Names

In the heart of the UNESCO-enlisted Dolomites, there is a small, picturesque village: Pieve di Cadore. It is a special place for the hi...

View

Vicenza: The Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa

Ponte-degli-Alpini-Bassano
Historical Curiosities

If you are passionate about bridges, you cannot miss out on a visit to the Bridge of the Alpini in Bassano del Grappa, in the Province ...

View

Venice: A high relief of Hercules on the façade of Tintoretto’s house

casa-tintoretto-venezia
Mysteries & Legends

In the Cannaregio district in Venice stands the house of the famous painter Jacopo Robusti, known as 'Tintoretto' (1519-1594). On the f...

View