Most of the tourists who visit the island of Giudecca are attracted by Il Redentore, the famous creation of Andrea Palladio, and only a few know that the island hosts another church attributed to the great architect, the Church of Santa Maria della Presentazione, popularly known as Le Zitelle.
Le Zitelle is part of an ecclesiastical complex set up by the Jesuit Benedetto Palmi, to provide shelter to beautiful young girls (zitelle) from poor families, who otherwise would become prostitutes.
Poor virgins were taken in and trained in lace and music making. They were protected until the age of 18, when they could choose between marriage or becoming nuns. If they chose marriage, a husband was found and a dowry was provided.
The church was built between 1581 and 1588 by the architect Jacopo Bozzetto, after a project belonging to Andrea Palladio, which was initially intended for another location.
The assignment of the church to Andrea Palladio is somehow controversial. Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio argues that in the absence of the documents that would link Palladio to this creation and because Palladian style is not very clear in this structure, the project could well belong to another architect.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The monastery develops in a horseshoe shape around the church, leaving the space behind the church apse for a courtyard. The facade of the church has two orders, with two narrow windows on the lower one and a large window on the upper order. Two small bell-towers are symmetrically built on top, with a large dome behind them.
Le Zittele hosts works of art signed by Jacopo Palma il Giovane and Francesco Bassano, one of the four sons of the more famous Jacopo Bassano. On the left altar, we can find works by Antonio Vassilacchi, also known as Aliense.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest vaporetto stop, Zitelle, located about 100 meters away from the church, is reachable with the waterbus Lines 2, 4.1 or 4.2.
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