From the Frari to Ca’ Pesaro: Power and Art

From the Frari to Ca’ Pesaro: Power and Art

Your tour starts at Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (Frari), one of Venice’s most impressive churches. In the early thirteenth century, a group of Franciscans had established their community in what was then a peripheral neighbourhood. Two centuries later, the present imposing gothic church replaced the original modest structure, and over the following centuries it became filled with the funerary monuments of some of Venice’s leading figures. Among the most important patrons of the Frari were the wealthy and influential Pesaro family. Famous painters and sculptors, including Giovanni Bellini, Titian, and Baldassarre Longhena, created some of their most celebrated works of art for the chapels and monuments of Pesaro family members.

A short walk from the Frari, set on the Grand Canal at San Stae, is the impressive Pesaro family palace (Ca’ Pesaro). Although the Pesaro family had several residences in Venice, the palace at San Stae became the grandest and most prestigious when it was reconstructed in the seventeenth century, financed by the legacy of Doge Giovanni Pesaro. Baldassarre Longhena, the most imaginative and ambitious architect working in Venice during the Baroque period, created this princely pile on a truly grand scale.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, thanks to the patronage of Felicita Bevilacqua La Masa, Ca’ Pesaro became an exhibition space displaying the work of modern artists who were struggling to achieve recognition and whose work had been excluded from the main art venues of the time. The current display of modern art at Ca’ Pesaro includes pieces from the Venice Biennale, as well as the work of lesser-known twentieth-century artists, together with artworks by celebrated modern masters, such as Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall.


Let’s explore together the church of the Frari and how the Pesaro family financed very well-known artists. You will then reach the Ca’ Pesaro, their prestigious home along the Grand Canal, currently a fascinating museum of modern art.

Duration of the tour:

2 hours

Cost of the tour:

150 euro up to 8 participants (+ entrance fees)

Ca' Pesaro: a sumptuous mansion

The Frari church and the Pesaro altar piece by Giovanni Bellini

Modern art in Venice