Music and Poverty: Oratories and Hospices

Extraordinary pictorial cycles: the music room of the Ospedaletto dei Derelitti and the Oratorio dei Crociferi

The poors exist and they know how to sing!

Oratorio dei Crociferi

In Venice, private charitable institutions first appeared in the Middle Ages and developed into the 16th century. These organizations, which were driven by religious piety, offered shelter and housing to abandoned babies, to elderly and disabled people, to ‘beautiful but poor girls’ or to ‘ex-high class courtesans seeking their way to righteousness’. In the district of Cannaregio, the small oratorio dei Crociferi, fits well into this welfare setting.

When it was founded in the 12th century, it was one of the first hospitals to admit the poor, and up until a short time ago it served as a hospice for poor ladies. In order to enrich its interior, at the end of the 16th century Doge Pasquale Cicogna hired Jacopo Palma il Giovane to produce a pictorial cycle, which still describes the task the oratory had over the centuries.

Later, at the beginning of the 1500s, the Ospedale dei Derelitti, also known as the Ospedaletto, was built in the district of Castello. It provided care for the elderly, the disabled, and the unprivileged girls. The local orphan girls, who excelled in choir singing and frequently appeared at public concerts, paid for the decoration of a music chamber. Here, it was possible to perform excerpts in front of a wealthy ‘connoisseur’ in the hope of meeting … a husband.

Music Chamber

This is a truly unusual journey into the surprising past of the poor and needy in the Serenissima Republic, combining art, music and health.

DURATION: 2 hours

TOUR PRICE: € 170.00

ENTRANCE FEES: upon request

The tour price is for a party of 1 to 8 people, and doesn’t include admission fees. Should your party have more than 8 participants, please contact us for a quote.


Venice with a Guide