Church of San Giacomo dell’Orio, Venice

Visit this interesting church in a charming campo

The Church of San Giacomo dell’Orio lies in the Santa Croce area of Venice, in a quiet district within the first bend of the Grand Canal. The church is an old one, founded before the tenth century and rebuilt in the thirteenth. It contains a few interesting historical features and some good paintings. The church is included in the Chorus Pass initiative.

San Giacomo dell’Orio is one of those distorted Venetian names, and one of which no-one now knows the origins. Although San Giacomo is St. James, guesses for the dell’Orio part are as diverse as St. James of the Wolf, or St. James of the Laurel.

After the church’s old but humble exterior, the interior comes as a rather unexpected patchwork of history. One of the highlights is a glamorous green marble column, probably looted by the Venetians from somewhere in the East. Around the high altar there is some attractive Renaissance decoration of coloured marbles, although the rest of the walls have a rather bare look. The ceiling, which is showing its great age, is made of painted and carved wood, one of two preserved ship’s-keel ceilings in Venice (the other is in Santo Stefano). As well as exploiting the Venetians’ shipbuilding skills, this type of roof also lightens the load on the building’s foundations.

There are quite a few interesting paintings to view: many works by Palma il Giovane, including rich representations of St. Laurence presenting his Church’s treasures (the poor), and roasting on his grill (to be found in the left transept). There are also works by Veronese and a good painting of three plague saints: Roch, Laurence and Sebastian by Buonconsiglio. The painting behind the high altar is a Madonna by Lorenzo Lotto. It’s worth taking a look at the interesting small statues dotted around the church, some of which are unusual and rather sweet.

San Giacomo dell’Orio is in the Santa Croce area of Venice. Although it is located on the square named after it, Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio, the church’s facade and entrance are actually around the corner, facing onto a small canal or rio. The nearest vaporetto stops are Riva de Biasio and San Stae.

Useful external links

Chorus Pass