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San Zulian

The church of the proud scholar

Facade of San Zulian

San Giuliano (or Zulian as the Venetians say it) was a dilapidated medieval church when it was rebuilt in 1553 by Sansovino, with help from Alessandro Vittoria after Sansovino's death. It is one of only two free standing churches in the city (the other is Angelo Raffaele) most remarkable feature is Sansovino's bronze sculpture over the door of doctor and astronomer Tommaso Rangone with all his favourite books and globes.

Rangone made his money selling cures for syphilis (he holds two of his medicine's essential ingredients, sarsaparilla and guaiacum) and like many Venetian benefactors, had no modesty when it came to reminding posterity exactly who it was who paid for the church. He is, however, the only one who wished to be remembered for his scholarship, never a Venetian forte (but Rangone, after all, was originally from Ravenna). He also asked the Signoria if he could put up another statue to himself in front of San Geminiano, a church that formerly stood in Piazza San Marco, but that was a bit too much.

He is buried inside, under Palma Giovane’s ceiling of St Julian in Glory; on the first altar on the right is a grimy Veronese: the Pietà with saints Rocco, Girolamo and Marco, a late work. Even better is Giovanni da Santacroce’s Coronation of the Virgin with three saints, a detached altarpiece on the left wall.

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Ramo San Zulian

Vaporetto San Zaccaria

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, G.dallorto, Creative Commons License