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be from Venice or to have lived in Venice for at least a year; be healthy in mind and body, not pregnant and to have withdrawn from the sinful life for at least 3 months.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

Treviso: Roncade Castle

castello-roncade
Unknown places & works

For most visitors, including lovers of art, Veneto is the region of the Villas, fairy-tale holiday destinations and farmhouses, which h...

View

Venice: The head of an elderly woman at Corte del Teatro in San Luca

corte-teatro-san-luca
Unknown places & works

Behind the famous Teatro Goldoni in Venice, near the Grand Canal, there is a tiny Corte which is very hard to find... And hides several...

View

Vicenza: The bell tower of Thiene

Thiene_campanile
Unknown places & works

Among the numerous bell towers dotted around in Veneto, there is one that boasts a unique feature: it is the civic tower of Thiene - an...

View

Venice: The island of Saint Francis of the Desert in the Venice lagoon

San-Francesco-del-Deserto
Unknown places & works

If you are looking for a place to meditate, away from clamour, St. Francis of the Desert is an island that is right up your street! The...

View

Top posts

Verona: The jousts in the Verona Arena

arena-di-verona
Historical Curiosities

The Verona Arena is undoubtedly the symbol of the city in the Veneto region, and one of the most famous Roman monuments of Italy. All t...

View

Padua: The Museum of the History of Medicine in Padua

Museo-di-storia-della-Medicina
Unknown places & works

If you are tired of the usual museums filled with paintings and sculptures, you might find the Museum of the History of Medicine in Pad...

View

Treviso: The 'Barco' of Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus, in Altivole

barco-altivole
Big Names

One of the most charming figures of the history of Venice is certainly Catherine Corner, queen of Cyprus (1454-1510). At the age of 18,...

View

Venice: The Sirens and the lace from Burano in the Venice lagoon

merlettaie
Mysteries & Legends

The island of Burano island in the Venice lagoon is definitely a magical place: filled with small colourful houses, delicious cookies, ...

View