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San Luca

The church of Mozart's librettist

San Luca

An 11th-century church rebuilt in the 17th century, San Luca (St Luke's) wears a fairly bland façade tacked on in the 1800s after the original collapsed.

It's light and airy inside, but none of the paintings is worth a second glance, although you may want to seek out a very damaged altarpiece by Veronese and the grave of Pietro Aretino (1492–1556), the century’s liveliest writer and blackmailer, who lived nearby on Riva del Carbon. The exact spot in the floor was lost during a 19th-century restoration.

In the 18th century, the priest here was Lorenzo Da Ponte, who got into serious trouble for leading a dissolute life with his mistress Anzolletta Bellaudi, who bore him a pair of children before he was hauled up before the Council of Ten. Found guilty, he was exiled from Venice for 15 years and found a new career—writing librettos for some of Mozart's best known operas, before ending up in Pennsylvania.

Facing the side entrance of the church in Campo Chiesa is the Casa Magno, with an exceptionally fine early Gothic doorway, a masterpiece of brickwork.

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Rio di S. Luca

Vaporetto Rialto

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by Didier Descouens, Creative Commons License