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San Polo


How did Bianca Capello become Grand Duchess of Tuscany ?

LINK to Maps of Venice


The church of San Polo dates from the 800s - with several revamps -  but it escaped the demolition and rebuilding fate that befell many similar structures in the 15 and 16 hundreds, and still bears the stamp of an original basilica inside - a simple restful space.


San Polo has a Tintoretto (1519 - 1594) Last Supper (below) which, like other such representations in Venice, bears little resemblance to its Florentine cousins


There is also a very arresting stations of the cross cycle painted on canvas between 1747 and 1749 by Giandomenico Tiepolo.


This is the south aisle entrance to the Church of San Polo.  To the east of the church,  Campo San Polo is the second biggest Venice campo after San Marco.  It was here that Venice had a Bonfire of the Vanities (on 26 July 1450), forty years before Savonarola copied the idea in Florence.  Neither city followed through these initiatives with any enthusiasm.


It was also here that two assassins hired by Florence's Cosimo de'Medici (Cosimo I, 1519 - 1574) killed Lorenzino de'Medici on 28 February 1546.  Lorenzino had previously (in 1537) done away with  Alessandro de'Medici, Cosimo's nasty predecessor and the first  Duke of Florence, and Cosimo, a paranoid character at the best of times, was concerned lest the behaviour became a habit.  Cosimo I saw to it that the assassins lived wealthily ever afterwards.


On the wall of the apse is an inscribed stone notice dated 10 August 1611 prohibiting ball playing and other activities.

Bianca Capello








Bianca Capello


Near Campo San Polo is the Ponte Storto ("twisted bridge"), and behind it the house of Bianca Capello's family.


Bianca eloped from here in the mid 1560s when only 15, to pursue a love affair with a lowly Florentine bank clerk, and was declared an outlaw by the Republic of Venice. 


In Florence it took her just over ten years to become Grand Duchess of Tuscany after the deaths of 1) her bank clerk husband and 2) the (Habsburg) wife of the Medici Grand Duke Francesco I.   


The pragmatic Venetians immediately pronounced her "a true and particular Daughter of the Republic of Venice".


Her portrait (above left) can be seen in the Medici Room of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.





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