What You Need to know about the Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Venice is a city where wonder never ends: just walk through its streets to be overwhelmed by wonder and amazement. However, the wonder is even greater when you know the history behind its most famous attractions.
One of these is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco: what is it? The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is one of the most important buildings in Venice, famous for its wonderful decorative apparatus. Its name has a very specific origin: it is that of a lay brotherhood born in 1478, originating from a veneration for San Rocco, very rooted in the people, with the aim of carrying out good deeds and assistance to the poor. The confraternities were associations of the faithful dedicated to the exercise of Christian charity, and at the time they were widespread throughout Italy, but in Venice they were called “Schools”. From 1485, the Confraternity even entered into possession of a relic of the saint, and this contributed to its popularity, until it became the richest in the city.
The rapid ascent was celebrated with the decision to build a new, prestigious and imposing headquarters, which can still be visited; the pictorial decoration was commissioned to Tintoretto, who here expresses himself with his most famous cycle, concerning episodes of the Old and New Testament. To understand the importance this commitment had for the artist, just think that it took him 24 years to complete it, from 1564 to 1588. At the fall of the Venetian Republic, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco was the only one to have survived, among the 7 that existed. Even now the confraternity performs charitable tasks, as well as taking care of the masterpieces contained in the building, which consist of more than 60 paintings, which can be admired in their original location.
Structure of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Although, as we have seen, the building is decorated with paintings of the highest level, the visit is also interesting for those not fond of art, because the beauty of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco resides as a whole, where architecture, figurative arts, sculpture, and wonder come together. The building consists of two floors: there are three rooms open to the public. It has a typical shape of Renaissance structures, together with typical characters of the other venues of the Venetian Schools, or two rooms, one above the other, connected by a monumental staircase; it was designed by Pietro Bon in 1517, and the construction ended in 1550 under the supervision of Giangiacomo de ’Grigi and after many prestigious architects took turns at the management.
The order of the decorative painting cycle was entrusted after a competition: it provided that the candidates presented preparatory drawings within 30 days. The painter that won was, in fact, Tintoretto, who became part of the Brotherhood. Currently, thanks to a newly redesigned lighting system, it is possible to admire his pictorial works with a light that was designed to be as similar as possible to the one that had to be there at the time: the same one with which the painter had imagined his paintings. Not only Tintoretto: at the Scuola Grande, in fact, you can also find famous masterpieces by Tiziano, Giorgione and Tiepolo, as well as a precious collection of ceramics.
How to reach the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and how much it costs to enter
Reaching the Scuola Grande di San Rocco is very simple; it is located in Campo San Rocco 3052, in San Polo, and you can get there: by vaporetto: all you have to do is get to the San Tomà stop and then walk for only 3 minutes by train: the School is only 8 minutes from the Venice Santa Lucia station by car: from the car terminal in Piazzale Roma it is only 5 minutes. If you prefer to leave your car at home and enjoy Venice by vaporetto, you can find tickets here. The Scuola Grande is open every day, except New Year and Christmas, from 09:30 to 17:30. Full admission costs € 10, reduced admission costs € 8. To secure your ticket in advance and skip the line, you can choose to buy it with MyPass