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

Padua: Jacopo Marcello, the Captain who shouldn’t have died

ca-marcello
Big Names

Ca’ Marcello in Piombino Dese, Italy is a beautiful eighteenth-century Venetian villa still inhabited today by the Marcello Counts, a...

View

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

Top posts

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

Treviso: Castelbrando in Cison di Valmarino

castelbrando
Unknown places & works

The province of Treviso offers its visitors many places steeped in history and imbued with charm ... One of these is definitely Castelb...

View

Venice: The tomb of Antonio Canova in the Frari Cathedral in Venice

Tomba_Canova
Mysteries & Legends

When visiting the splendid Frari Cathedral in Venice a pyramid can be seen in front of the church… Why is such a ...

View

Venice: The Empress Sissi in Venice

Sissi
Big Names

The Empress Sissi (1837-18989), the wife of Austria Emperor Francesco Giuseppe of Habsburg, has remained in the collective imagination ...

View