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The Splendors of Piety

Renowned and respected throughout Europe for their ostensible Christian devotion, the Venetians spent lavishly for the edification of lasting monuments to their faith.

A visit to the Basilca dei Frari is included in Venicescapes guided walking tour of Venice "The Splendors of Piety"

“Madonna di Ca' Pesaro” (detail)
Basilica dei Frari


Bishop Jacopo Pesaro commissioned Titian's masterpiece to remind God of his piety and his fellow Venetians of his military prowess at the Battle of Santa Maura.


In “The Splendors of Piety”, you’ll explore the city’s greatest conventual churches and its religious confraternities to discover the driving spiritual and secular interests that prompted their construction and promoted the wealth of religious art inside.  Throughout the visit, you’ll also see how Venice’s maritime activity, its cultural ties with Byzantium, and its physical environment led to the development of the city’s unique “painterly” art.

Beginning at the giant Franciscan basilica of Saint Mary of the Friars, symbol of the city's popular devotion, we'll return to the dawn of the thirteenth century and to a time when heresies abounded and threatened political and social order throughout Europe.  In the shadow of the great church, we'll hear the message of spiritual hope and comfort brought to the inhabitants of Medieval Venice by humble friars and of the potential for subversion that concerned instead the city's governing aristocracy.  Inside, we'll then talk about religious life during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and about the people behind the incomparable works of art.  Titian's scandalous "Assunta" still dominates from the high altar.  As we retrace the artistic career of the most famed of the Venetian painters, we'll learn how his religious artwork changed from the vibrant pagan colors of his youth to the darkened drama of his later years.  The Great School of Saint Roch then awaits us.  In the gilded halls of this charitable lay confraternity's meeting house, Tintoretto's nervous energy exploded onto the canvas to express the restless painter's personal convictions about eternal salvation and about the human conditions of his day.  As his religious message unfolds above and around us, we'll discuss the appeal of the flagellant movement in a spiritually bereft Europe and discover its indispensable political and social role in Renaissance Venice.  Our journey will then take us to the massive basilica of Saints John and Paul, the city's largest, where we'll talk about the role played by the Dominicans and the church in the life of the city.  Here, we'll also enjoy Veronese's dazzling ceiling paintings and discover how this upright man of faith came to be accused of heresy by Venice's Holy Inquisition.


A private visit to the Pisani Moretta Palace is included in Venicescapes guided walking tour of Venice "Story of a Mercantile Empire

“Adoration of the Shepherds” (detail)
Paolo Veronese
Santi Giovanni e Paolo


With costly resins from Morocco, Paolo Veronese was able to employ the green pigments abundantly.



Approximately 4 hours


  • Church of Our Lady of the Friars - works by Titian, Giovanni Bellini, and Paolo Veneziano

  • Great School of Saint Roch - works by Tintoretto

  • Church of Saints John and Paul - works by Veronese


  • Heretics and mendicants: the spiritual crisis of post-feudal Europe

  • The flagellant movement: to suffer in the image of Christ

  • Civil death: domestic economics and religious vocations

  • Indulgences and Jus Patrontus: the financial aspects of spiritual salvation

  • Trade guilds: welfare and faith in the urban world

  • The altarpiece: a spiritual and social convergence

  • Pigments: the chemistry of color

  • Perspective: Venetian tone and Florentine line



Timeline of Venetian Renaissance art
material protected by copyright

Religious Art
of the Venetian Renaissance

a timeline with the lives and principle religious works of the great Venetian masters and their Italian contemporaries along with the Venetian doges and wars, the popes, emperors, rulers of Milan, Florence, Mantua, and Ferrara, and the religious and humanistic milestones of the Renaissance



This guided walking tour is not available on Sunday morning and on all Christian holidays.


The price indicated for this guided walking tour is intended to cover the costs of the Society's continued research initiatives and organization and is in compliance with the conditions concerning the activities of non-profit organizations as set forth in the Ministry of Finance Unified Code Article 148, paragraph 3 (T.U. Art. 148, comma 3).

  • Price: 280.00 (U.S. dollars) for two (2) persons.  Each additional adult costs $60.00.  Minors under the age of 18 cost $30.00 each.

    • Price includes one (1) copy of Venicescapes’ timeline “Religious Art of the Venetian Renaissance”

    • Incidental transportation costs and entrance fees are not included


To help make this guided walking tour a culturally enriching and educational experience, these books are recommended.



Comments on
The Splendors of Piety


“A wonderful, eye-opening experience!  As art lovers we wanted to particularly see and learn about the Renaissance art of Venice.  So we took “The Splendors of Piety” guided walking tour and came away from the intense, four hours with a whole new understanding and outlook on Venetian art and history.  The guide made a complicated story clear and understandable and tied events together so that we understood how the art naturally evolved.  We were taken to see art in places we never would have known about on our own.  Venice is a small town full of art treasures, and “The Splendors of Piety” has carefully chosen the ones that best represent the best of Sixteenth Century, High Renaissance art and show what makes it different than art from other parts of Italy.”

Carmen Mahood
Belmont, California


“I had high expectations due to the recommendation, and the expectations were definitely met. Fantastic!  I most enjoyed having the “secret” history and “insider” facts on the churches, the piety, the “splendor” of it all.”

Leigh Wasson
New York, New York


“Terrific. “The Splendors of Piety” is a must for anyone interested in art. Especially valuable were the insights into the historical setting and the aspects of the painters’ lives.  Full of fascinating information.  Most art tours focus exclusively on technique and miss what this tour provides — historical context and background on the artists.”

Paul Stark and Susan Ulick
New York, New York


“I was exhilarated.  I would never have had the time or resources to do the research that would compare with the information supplied on this guided tour.  The background information on the history of the churches and its impact on the works of art was at times amazing, intriguing, and hilarious.”

Dan Tucker
Atlanta, Georgia


“The tour was exceptional!  We felt that we were on an expedition to discover the wonders of Venice, its art and history.  “The Splendors of Piety” seamlessly integrates the art and artists with the historical, cultural, political, social, and economic events and theological ideas that shaped the artistic expression of Venice during the Renaissance.”

Angie and David Corbet
Wayland, Massachusettes


“A wonderful explanation of the art, the artists, and their world.  The depth of knowledge was striking.”

Bill and Barbara Jackson
McLean, Virginia


“The tour helped us understand what religious life was like, how it was woven into the social life of the city, and how and why Venetian art developed.  We enjoyed learning more about the lives of the artists and how their personal religious beliefs influenced their art — or didn't.”

Terry and Ethel DeMarr
Scottsdale, Arizona


“We developed an appreciation for how the artists worked, their stylistic differences, and the historical context that influenced their choice of subject matter.  Ultimately, the tour allowed the artists to speak to us across the ages. Remarkable!”

Alan and Jeanna Struthers
Ridgewood, New Jersey


“I enjoyed the stories, the wonderful way the tour weaved together world history, Venice, and the lives of the artists.”

Donalee Markus
Chicago, Illinois


“Too often we miss the historical context in which art develops and how it influences artists.  The tour made all of this so fascinating.”

Marsha Iwan
Edina, Minnesota


“I enjoyed how the tour wove together into a single timeline the history (both civil and church), the political aspects, and the art aspects.  Not an easy job, but one well done.”

Jon Nelson
Rockford, Illinois



For further information about this unique guided walking tour, write to:

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