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be from Venice or to have lived in Venice for at least a year; be healthy in mind and body, not pregnant and to have withdrawn from the sinful life for at least 3 months.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

Padua: Bartolomeo Cristofori: the Padua-born man who invented the piano

bartolomeo_cristofori
Did you know that...

Did you know that the inventor of the piano hailed from Padua? That’s true and his name was Bartolomeo Cristofori. Bartolomeo Cristof...

View

Venice: The gondolier: the warrior of the lagoon

gondoliere
Mysteries & Legends

Everybody knows who a gondolier is and what he does: he is the person who, with dedication and ability, propels the gondola, the tradit...

View

Venice: Why is it called Titian Red?

rosso_tiziano
Figures of speech

Do you recall the sensual ‘Venus of Urbino’ or the elegant ‘Woman in the mirror’ by Tiziano Vecellio? Now, just focus on the re...

View

Cortina D'ampezzo: A Museum in the Clouds in Cortina d’Ampezzo

Museo-delle-Nuvole-Monte-Rite-a-Cibiana
Mysteries & Legends

If you reach the summit of Mount Rite at 2181 meters near Cortina d'Ampezzo, it will come as a surprise to find among the barren dolomi...

View

Top posts

Venice: How much does a gondola ride cost?

gondola
Did you know that...

Have you decided to visit Venice and included a nice gondola ride on the list of things to do? How could we blame you! Is there anythin...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Treviso: The ghost of Bianca di Collalto

castello-collalto
Mysteries & Legends

On the night between October 31 and November 1, telling a scary ghost story is a must... We have one related to the castle of Collalto,...

View

Padua: Prato della Valle in Padua

prato-della-valle
Historical Curiosities

Probably only the inhabitants of Padua and a few other people know of a particular record their city is boasting about: having the larg...

View