Hidden treasures

The tomb of Sonia Kaliensky in the cemetery of St Michael in Venice

Historical Curiosities
sonia-kaliensky-venezia

The tomb of Sonia Kaliensky in the cemetery of St Michael in Venice

Between Venice and Murano there is a small island completely surrounded by a wall, beyond which one can see only tall cypress trees: this is the island of St Michael, and from 1813, it has been the cemetery of Venice.

A visit to St Michele is a journey through the sculptures and society of the lagoon city of the last two centuries. Inside there are also two small enclosures that house the Protestant and the Orthodox burials, a sign of the millennial tolerance of Venice to all other religions.

Within the Orthodox fence there are the graves of the famous composer Igor Stravinsky and the Russian Ballets promoter Sergei Diaghilev. But there is also a monument of great beauty, linked to a sad love story.

We are talking about the tomb of Sonia Kaliensky, a Russian noble who, at barely twenty-two, came to Venice to celebrate the carnival of 1907, while staying in the famous and luxurious Danieli Hotel near St Mark's Square. During the general merriment of a carnival night, Sonia took her own life with an overdose of laudanum because of a crushing love disappointment.

The family decided to bury her in Venice and called the famous sculptor Enrico Butti to create a life size bronze of their daughter. The artist produced a porphyry tomb with the figure of their daughter supported by three hooded characters. Sonia is represented in the moment of death, languidly lying on the bed, with a nightdress in light and just crumpled tissue.

The sculpture is hand-polished because of the amount of touches it has received over a century from the visitors, impressed by the drama of the story and the beauty of the sculpture.

If you wish to visit the island of St Michele to see the beautiful tomb of this young lover, we recommend the water bus: Line 4.1 / 4.2, that passes through Piazzale Roma and the Venice Saint Lucia train station, as it is the only one scheduled to stop on the island of St Michael!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: Andrea Palladio’s Tablino at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice

tablino-palladio
Big Names

More than simply the rooms where many masterpieces are exhibited, the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice are a work of art on their ow...

View

Venice: The 'Naval Battle' by Tintoretto at Doge’s Palace

Battaglia_Garda
Historical Curiosities

The ceiling of the Doge's Palace, in addition to being the largest wooden suspended ceiling in the world, is a real trove of painting m...

View

Venice: The origins of the Carnival in Venice

faliero-vitale
Local Traditions

When looking for information on the birth of the Venice Carnival, the first place to head for is St. Mark’s Basilica, the place where...

View

Verona: The Carnival in Verona

carnevale-verona
Local Traditions

When it comes to Carnival, everyone immediately thinks of Venice, but also the other cities of the Veneto region have ancient and charm...

View

Top posts

Venice: The tomb of Doge Andrea Gritti in the church of San Francesco della Vigna

Andrea_Gritti-tomba
Big Names

For the few daring visitors who decide to head to the Castello district, away from the crowds swarming around Piazza San Marco and the ...

View

Venice: Doge Pietro Tradonico and the Island of Poveglia in the Venice lagoon

poveglia-venezia
Historical Curiosities

The Island of Poveglia, in the Venice lagoon, is considered by paranormal experts as one of the world’s most haunted places, normally...

View

Padua: Donatello’s Altar in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua

altare-donatello
Historical Curiosities

When visiting the city of Padua a not-to-be-missed monument is the magnificent Basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, a Francisc...

View

Venice: The Secret Garden of Ca 'Morosini del Giardin in Cannaregio

ca-morosini-del-giardin
Unknown places & works

Venice is a magical city for many reasons, amongst them are its many hidden gardens that few are aware of! One of the most secret and f...

View