A visit to the Church of Sant'Alvise and the nearby church of Madonna dell'Orto offers you a chance to get to know the real Venice and to enjoy the silences of the lagoon in one of the remotest areas of Cannaregio, which was gradually built up on regular lots of reclaimed land.
Originally a convent church, Sant'Alvise was, according to tradition, commissioned in honour of St. Louis of Toulouse by the Venetian noblewoman Antonia Venier in 1388 after the saint had appeared to her in a dream.
A single nave structure, the church still contains its 15th-century barco - the raised Nuns Choir, which rests on columns and buttresses and leads directly from the church to the nearby convent. This is one of the earliest known examples of such a structure. The present form of the church is the result of refurbishing work carried out in the 17th century; the daring perspective of the ceiling frescoes painted then by Antonio Torri and Pietro Ricchi is still spectacularly effective. Amongst the other works of art in the church one cannot omit to mention Christ carrying the Cross - a youthful masterpiece by Giambattista Tiepolo, who is represented in Sant'Alvise by another two early works: The Coronation with thorns and The Flagellation (1737-40). Nor should one overlook the delightful 15th-century tempera panels painted by the school of Lazzaro Bastiani (these come from the organ in the suppressed church of Le Vergini).