This is Campo Santo Stefano. The huge Palazzo Pisani was historically property of one of the wealthiest families in Venice, and today it is the prestigious Music Conservatory, or “conservatorio”, a word which was coined by Venetians in the 16th century. At the centre of the campo is a statue of Nicolò Tommaseo, a politician, diplomat and literary figure of the 19th century. He was an extremely prolific writer, who, among other feats, single-handedly wrote the Dictionary of Italian Language in seven volumes, and also a Venetian patriot, who played a central role in defeating the Austrians in 1848 to restore independence to Venice. Given his bookish reputation and the statue’s design, the statue is often known as the “caga-libri”, Venetian for “book-shitter”. Looking ahead is the left flank of the 14th century Church of Santo Stefano, built in florid Gothic style with a magnificent façade. To the right, and only seemingly detached from the main building, is the church’s bell-tower.
This is Campo Sant’Angelo, one of the few squares with two well-heads, both from the 15th century. Here once stood an ancient church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, which was destroyed in the early 1800’s by Napoleon. A beautiful painting by the Venetian painter Canaletto depicting the square’s church and belltower still survives however. Tucked away in a corner of the square you’ll find the small Church of Sant’Angelo degli Zoppi – of the lame, which was used as a prayer-hall.
You are now in the small Campo Manin. Once this square was occupied by a large Church which was destroyed by Napoleon in the early 19th century. At the centre will see a bronze statue of Daniele Manin, sculpted and erected here in 1875. Manin was a famous Venetian patriot who was first incarcerated by the Austrians and then led Venice to reclaim its independence in 1848. He is here accompanied by a bronze of a winged lion, the symbol of Venice, resting upon the base of the statue. Only a minute away through a narrow calle from the square you’ll find the Scala del Bovolo, a splendid spiral staircase built in the Renaissance.
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