Hidden places of Venice: the Music Hall of the Ospedaletto  

To be visited... If you are not in Venice for the first time and would like to experience some unusual, different guided tours, our city offers quite a few opportunities.
For example, we can admire the complex of the so called Ospedaletto (literally, “little hospital”), next to the church Santa Maria dei Derelitti.

The Hospitals (or Hospices)

In Venice originally the word “hospital” used to refer to hospices where the poorest and the sick could find shelter, as well as orphans or abandoned children.
Some of these hospices started to teach music to the most talented girls and to organize concerts where these girls and young women (called putte in Venetian) would sing and play musical instruments. The quality of the music performed in some of these hospitals was so high, that such concerts became well known even outside the borders of the Venetian Republic, and guest would come from abroad to attend them.

The Music Hall 

The Ospedaletto deserves a visit, as to admire the oval spiral staircase projected by architect Sardi and the Courtyard of the Four Seasons by Baldassarre Longhena. But the real jewel is the Music Hall, projected by architect Francesco Patron, built and decorated between 1776 and 1777.

The oval spiral staircase (Arch. Sardi) 
Thanks to the flat ceiling and the rounded corners of the room, here acoustics are perfect. This hall used to host exclusive concerts. The elegant frescoes were painted by Jacopo Guarana with the help of Agostino Mengozzi Colonna, who painted the trompe l’oeil sections: as a result, the room seems bigger than it actually is.

 The Music Hall

The Frescoes

The large frescoes on the ceiling and on the back wall are amazing. On the ceiling we can admire “The Triumph of Music”: Apollo flies in the sky playing his lyre, surrounded by elegant female figures, each playing a musical instrument, on top of some soft clouds.

The Triumph of Music

On the back wall we find “Apollo surrounded by the putte”: the girls’ faces are very well characterized… can these be their real portraits? Well, it might be interesting to read the comments on the putte that some illustrious guests of the Ospedaletto left in their notes, among them Jean Jacques Rousseau…

Apollo surrounded by the putte (Jacopo Guarana)

We should also pay attention to some exquisite details, such the monochromes, the fake doors and the fake windows with elegant brass grilles, behind which some frescoed spectators peep out.

Fake window with grille


Some of the windows, however, are real: behind them the guests could attend the exclusive performances of the putte.

Real window with grille

A Musical Itinerary

To complete the visit of the Music Hall we can stop for a while also at the Church and Museum of Santa Maria della Pietà, just a few minutes’ walk away from the Ospedaletto. Then we would like to take you to St. Mark’s Basilica and “La Fenice” Opera House, thus engaging you in a musical itinerary in Venice. We can also try to follow the footprints of some famous composers of the past, who influenced the Venetian cultural environment and at the same time were influenced by Venice: Gabrieli, Vivaldi, Mozart, Monteverdi, up to Igor Stavinskij and Luigi Nono.
We are already waiting for you: book with us this unusual private guided tour of the hidden treasures of Venice, which will be full of emotions and melodious notes. 

We might be also interested in the following itineraries and blogposts: 

Walking at the discovery of Castello. (section: Unusual tours

Music in Venice. (section: Specific tours)

Our guided and private tours of Venice. (section: Blog