The bell tower has a baroque age (finished in the 1688). De’Barbari’s campanile is a squat brick construction with pilaster strips and a three- light belfry. The spire has a sugar-loaf design and is surrounded by four pinnacles at the base. The 1611-88 version is also free-standing and was designed by the priest, Francesco Zucconi. It is in white plaster with coloured stucco reliefs and decorations. On the four sides, there is a clock under the belfry, which is crowned by curved tympana and surmounted by a drum and a spire with a balustrade and sinuous lines.
The church, The church of Santa Maria Formosa was Built in the 7th century by the Tribuno family at the behest of St Magnus, after a vision of the Virgin in form of a generously proportioned matron. It is dedicated to the Purification. It was a parish church right from the start and was rebuilt in 864 by the children of Marino Patrizio.
After the fire of 1105, it was reconstructed again. In 1492, Mauro Codussi used the existing foundations to build a new church while maintaining the proportions of the eleventh century edifice. The façade overlooking the canal dates from 1541 and the one facing the campo is from 1604. Both were built
by the Cappello family. The interior was renovated first by the rich merchant, Torrino Tononi in 1689. The first occasion was in 1668 after an earthquake and the second intervention took place in 1921 because the church had been hit by Austrian bombs.
Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Canaletto
In 1810, the parish lost some of its territory, which went to San Zaccaria and Santi Giovanni e Paolo, but it incorporated Santa Marina (now demolished), San Giuliano and San Lio. Santa Maria Formosa is one of Venice’s five mother churches and the home of a number of confraternities, including the one named after the church which is one of the nine clerical confraternities and was founded in 1245.
Detail from Jacopo de’ Barbari, 1500
The mascherini, The mask over the door aroused a disgusted response from Ruskin (The stones of Venice), “huge, inhuman and monstrous- leering in bestial degradation, too foul to be either pictured or described… in that head is embodied the type of the evil spirit to which Venice was abandoned”.