Walking in Venice on a ‘marble carpet’
Coloured and refined, the design of the ancient Venetian floors looks like a carpet of marble and stone, with different shapes and materials according to the ages. Venice was a maritime and trade republic and imported marble from the Middle-East: the precious porphyry from Egypt, marble from Africa, Greece and Turkey.
The most ancient floors are in the churches of Venice and its lagoon like Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello, San Marco in Venice and Santa Maria and Donato in Murano. They are beautiful carpet-patterns of opus sectile and opus tesselatum with precious tesserae in geometrical patterns, that represent allegorical figures of pagan or Christian symbolism. The floor of Santa Maria and Donato in Murano is dated in the center 1141 and was restored and saved from the high tide thirty years ago.
Vittore Carpaccio and other Venetian Renaissance artists painted floors in the interior of churches and houses with the typical geometrical design, the square marble and stone decoration was pink and white.
The style and the technique of the floor changed in the 16th century and in the Baroque period.
The first writer to write of floor-lying was Francesco Sansovino in 1581, he described the floor called terrazzo when the floor laying was considered a craft, that was handed down from father to son.
This flexible floor is still made by the Venetian terrazzieri and the visit with a Bestveniceguide will help you to discover precious pavements and the art of terrazzo. Originally it consisted of scrap marble chips set in clay and was called terrazzo or pastellone, according to the designs and materials.
In the 18th century the terrazzo became more decorative and rich in its designs with flowers, animals and family coat-of-arms.
Some details of floors in the Dominican monastery of SS. Giovanni and Paolo.
At the beginning of the 20th century the noble baron Giorgio Franchetti, rich art collector and devoted to building’s restoration, decided to cover the ground loggia of his beautiful palace on the Grand Canal, the Ca’ D’Oro with white and red marble geometrical design and a mosaic created with antique marble pieces, designed by Franchetti himself and resembling San Marco’s mosaic floor. He also decided to be buried under this floor.
It was finally the Venetian architect and professor in the University of Architecture in Venice (I.U.A.V.) Carlo Scarpa that created in the 1950th modern mosaic in the restauration of old architecture – taking inspiration from the Venetian tradition – in the Olivetti show-room in piazza san Marco and in the ground floor of the palace Querini Stampalia in campo Santa Maria Formosa.