Venice - Palaces & Churches
Although the original colour scheme of blue, burgundy and gold leaf has long since disappeared from the fašade of this Gothic canal-side palazzo, it is still a great building when viewed from the vaporetto pier just outside. It houses the art collection of Baron Franchetti, including the painting of St Sebastian (1506) by Andrea Mantegna. In typical Venetian style, it lies just off the busy main shopping street of Strada Nova, a refreshingly wide street after all those cramped alleys.
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, known as the Frari
This unassuming but vast church houses a wealth of important art. Titian's Assumption of the Virgin (1518) may take pride of place above the high altar, but his commemorative Monument dominates the right hand side of the nave. Titian's art was so highly regarded, that he was the only victim of the 1575-6 plague allowed to be buried within the city. The church also houses Titian's Madonna di Ca'Pesaro of 1526, Bellini's masterpiece of clever perspective Madonna and Child with Saints, and the only Donatello work still in the city, a wooden statue of John the Baptist.
This impressive collection of art was assembled by Napoleon after his systematic confiscation of art works from the city's religious buildings and organisations. He also moved the city's art school here, where the collection and school occupied a site that encompassed one church, one scuole and a monastery. The art school has since moved, but the Accademia remains, as the primary collection of Venetian art.
The collection is arranged chronologically, beginning on the first floor with truly enormous religious scenes firmly routed in the Byzantine tradition. Grab a laminated room guide provided at each door, and you can pick and mix your own tour of the collection. Smaller rooms lead off the main salons, revealing such treasures as Giogione's fantasy landscape The Tempest and the occasional Canaletto. The big guns are in Room 10, where Tintoretto's The Stealing of St Mark vies for top honours with Titian's PietÓ. However, both lose to the massive Christ in the House of Levi by Veronese, which was the object of a bizarre censorship ruling. Look out too for the paintings of Venetian life, including a bridge fistfight and the workings of an apothecary's shop. The top floor of the former church of Santa Maria della CaritÓ now houses exhibitions, which sit rather uncomfortably beside the permanent devotional paintings.
This museum is a double bonus to visit; not only is it one of the best Baroque palaces in the city, but it is also home to a collection focussing on 18th century Venice. During the 1750s, the Rezzonico family turned the unfinished palace into a home for fine dinners and parties. In 1888, the poet Robert Browning bought the palace for himself and his son, Pen, but died the following year. The museum's collection shows Venice at the point where it began to slide into decline, just as the tourists began coming in earnest. Peggy Guggenheim Collection / Palazzo Venier dei LeoniViewed from the Grand Canal, this white palazzo squats like a over-ambitious bungalow, all grand columns and front garden, but no second storey. It's also the place to head if you like your art with more edge and less gold. Peggy Guggenheim bought Il Palazzo Nonfinito (The Unfinished Palace) in 1949 and it now houses her legacy collection of over 200 pieces of modern art. There are works by Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mirˇ, Magritte and Mondrain.