One of the very few Venetian fields that have maintained the splendid terracotta and brick flooring laid in a herringbone pattern.
Field that tells of real events, devotions on the edge of the miracle and ghostly legends.
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Beautiful terracotta flooring, consisting of 66 rectangular-shaped backgrounds and a central lane that connects the entrance door of the Church of Madonna dell'Orto and the river bank. Each square is delimited by trachyte rock and inside there are red bricks positioned in a herringbone pattern.
The church is without a doubt the building that powerfully fills the field and its history dates back to the 14th century. It rises in the extreme strip of land north of the Cannaregio district, on the homonymous field and near the fields of the Moors and Sant'Alvise, an area in which it was customary to find vegetable gardens and gardens. The place of worship is also known for the undisputed masterpieces of the painter Jacopo Tintoretto who lived nearby and who was buried right here, together with his son.
Friar Tiberio de Tiberi from Parma took care of the construction of the church as evidenced by the coat of arms of the Humiliates, the order to which the religious belonged. Initially the place of worship was dedicated to San Cristoforo, patron saint of travelers and in particular of those who have to move by water, arousing a strong following towards the people: it was said that it was enough to pause one's gaze on the image of the Saint who this would protect the devoted person throughout the day.
The denomination of the church was transformed into Madonna dell'Orto when a statue of the Virgin was found in a vegetable garden near the temple, made by a certain sculptor De Santi, who was believed to emit magical flashes during the night; so it was that the image of the woman was considered miraculous and therefore a pilgrimage destination. De Santi proposed to donate his work to the friars of San Cristoforo in exchange for a perpetual mass in his honor, a specially made altar and a sum of money. The friars agreed to the first two requests while the third was granted by the School of San Cristoforo dei Mercanti which saw in the artifact the possibility of obtaining significant donations; he was not mistaken, one of the most devoted pilgrims was the doge Andrea Contarini, who donated many objects to the miraculous Madonna.
In the mid-fourteenth century, due to a series of vicissitudes and various accusations perpetrated by the School in the order of the Humiliated, the latter were removed from the monastic complex and were replaced by the secular canons of San Giorgio in Alga, a Venetian congregation established in the fourteenth century. At the end of the eighteenth century the convent was sold to the Cistercians of Lombardy who assigned it to the monks of San Tommaso in Borgognoni who could no longer live in Torcello; unfortunately only a century later the complex was suppressed. Only the church managed to survive thanks to a priest employed in the parish of San Marziale.
In addition to the church, the monastery on the right is owned by private individuals and therefore normally closed to the public except for the periods in which it hosts artistic exhibitions, as normally happens during the Biennale. Currently the cloister is all that remains of the vast monastery with a stone well in the center and three of its sides consist of arches and columns in Istrian stone and Verona stone, whose bases resume the workings of the columns present at the interior of the church.
Furthermore, the high bell tower does not go unnoticed, in particular for its refined decorations and the dome that vaguely recalls the oriental architectural style. At the top there is the statue of the Redeemer while on the sides the four evangelists made by the school of Pietro Lombardo.
On the left of the place of worship is the School of San Cristoforo dei Mercanti, entirely rebuilt by Palladio after the merger with the Schools of Santa Maria della Misericordi a and San Francesco. There are two entrances to the building: one from the foundations and the other from the field which has an interesting high relief depicting the Madonna of Mercy with Child on the chest venerated by the confreres; the members of the school had the privilege of being buried in the cloister of the Madonna dell'Orto. Today the spaces of the school are used as patronage and are titled to Pope Pius IX.
Finally, worthy of mention not for the features of the building but for the legends that hover inside, is the Contarini family Casino in other words Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo, owned by the man of culture and Venetian ambassador Gasparo Contarini. Inside its rooms, the most lively and sparkling spirits of the sixteenth century met, among others Pietro Aretino, Tiziano and Giorgione. According to popular belief, the place was talked about more abandoned than at the moment of its greatest splendor as its spaces were occupied by picturesque ghosts. And that's how human suggestions invented a legend featuring a boat, seven witches and an unfortunate barcarolo.