One thing I really struggled with was working out how to take decent photos inside churches. This was actually one of the things I was looking forward to being able to do with a better camera. Generally they are very low light and I had never taken that many in the past with my little camera unless there was somewhere I could rest it (this resulted in many many photos taken from 'pew height'). Taking photos inside churches in Venice was also compounded by their ridiculous rules against taking photos. I understand rules against flash and rules against photos in churches or chapels that are largely used for devotion, or during services and so on. However, most churches are essentially being used as tourist attractions and I think as long as people aren't lying across pews or getting in the way they should be allowed to take photos. I also think that frankly the 'custode' yelling 'NO FOTO' across a silent church is far more disruptive.
I had mixed results with my photos, in quite a few churches I just set the camera to auto with no flash and 'shot from the hip', in others I hid behind a column or waited till I wasn't under surveillance. It is frustrating but maybe it made me more creative and more focused on small details.
Here are some of my favourites:
Santa Maria dei Miracoli. This church is small and exquisite. The marble clad interior is quite unusual for Venice where many churches have brick walls and the interior decoration seems a bit haphazard to someone more accustomed to the interiors typical of Baroque Rome. The delicate carvings are very beautiful and I became quite obsessed with them in this church and others and took many many photos.
Marble paving is nothing without beams of natural sunlight to illuminate it.
The obligatory Jesus.
Santa Maria Formosa
Or Santa Maria Samosa as I like to call it.It has an interesting interior, lots of pierced walls, satisfying late 15th century architectural geometry. I actually can't decide whether it is complex or simple, perhaps it is both if that is possible. It has straight lines and simple curves yet they are put together in such a way as to create a very satisfying whole where your eye can't quite settle on one point.
Below are some of the bare brick walls I mentioned before, and the unusual pierced walls of the side chapels. Usually side chapels are quite enclosed. The stark white walls are outlined with stone carvings that up close are often very delicate with marble columns that usually don't quite match on account of them being salvaged from other buildings.
San Giovanni e Paolo (or San Zanipolo as the Venetians say)
This is one of the largest churches in Venice. I most like all the wall tombs and the huge columns.
A lot of writer's post Ruskin tend to have a go at the 17th and 18th century additions to these churches, as though they somehow besmirch the perfect 13th/14th/15th century origins. I find it quite annoying for various reasons but mainly because the beauty of these churches is the crazy mix of different works of art and architecture from different periods. It is an artistic and a social history.
The high altar
Hello baby face.
Candles at Santo Stefano
I have some Roman interiors too but perhaps I should start a new post!