San Servolo, Venice - September 11-15 2008


Venice and S. Servolo

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (S. Spielberg, 1989):

Indiana (looking around with weary eyes): "Ah, Venice!"

San Servolo Island

The Island of San Servolo has an area of 4.82 hectares, nearly ten times large than the original sand dune created by the natural geological evolution of the zone. A large complex of buildings characterises the Island of San Servolo, which was a monastery for a millennium and later hosted people with mental illnesses until 1978.

The Provincial Authority, which retained ownership of the Island, guaranteed its preservation and beginning in the 1990s, it began a recovery plan in order to transform this place of suffering in a place for the promotion of multiculturalism. In 2003 the restoration work was fi nished and the Island regained its original conformation, linked to the lagoon environment with great historical buildings which look across towards Saint Mark’s, a large park, surrounding walls which protect the Island from the water. Recently, San Servolo has started hosting an annual international artist residency and has become the site for numerous exhibitions, festivals and performances.

Once you are in the historic center of Venice, the island of San Servolo can be reached either by public transportation.

Useful info about Venice

Venice is one of the world’s prettiest cities. As the sun sets, its rays wash the old buildings in a rosy glow that is both mirrored and refracted, in the murky canals.

The city is always attractive, no matter what season is. In peak-season August, Venice glows, but under the bleak November skies, it takes on a delicious character. It is little wonder that, long before photography, romantic painting was popular here. Venice, on Italy’s north-eastern Adriatic coast, is composed of 118 separate islets. 150 canals crossed by over 400 bridges divide the islands. A 7-kms. bridge spans the Laguna Veneta (Venetian Lagoon), and connects the city to the mainland near the town of Mestre. The city is protected from the Adriatic Sea by the natural breakwater of the Lido, a long, narrow sandbar that is also one of the most fashionable resorts on the Adriatic.

The harbour city began as a place of refuge from violent barbarian invasions in the 5th century. Mainland inhabitants fled to a group of isolated islands. As communities grew, the islands became increasingly connected to one another, and Venice eventually developed into a powerful, flourishing city-state. During the Crusades, the little maritime republic came to dominate much of the Mediterranean, and the winged Venetian lion, symbol of St. Mark, the city’s protector, stood guard over a network of palaces from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Bosphorus. Venice was the city of Marco Polo.

The Doges, or city’s rulers, celebrated their command over the Mediterranean with an annual ceremony of marriage to the sea. Vast profits from this great empire overflowed the city’s coffers and financed the birth of some of the world’s most spectacular art and architecture. The Venetian school of painting, which produced great masters of colour, began with Giorgione and peaked in the 16th century with students like Titian Vecellio, Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Robusti (Tintoretto). The thousand-year Venetian independence ended with the Treaty of Campoformio in 1797, when Napoleon traded the territory to Austria. Then, in 1866, after nearly 70 years of Bonaparte and Habsburg domination, the city was joined to a newly unified Italy.

Points of interest

Piazza San Marco

Napoleon referred to St. Mark’s Square as “ the finest drawing room in Europe.” Bells chime, flocks of pigeons crisscross the sky, violins play, couples hug in the sunset while visitors take it all in from the public, yet private perspective of an outdoor café. Just turn your head to admire St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the 9th-century bell tower, the clock tower where giant bronze Moors have struck the hours for 5 centuries, the old law courts, and the old library. In the piazzetta, where the square opens onto the Grand Canal, there are two granite columns. The Lion of St. Mark tops one, and a statue of St. Theodore sits atop the other.

Basilica di San Marco

St. Mark’s Basilica is a masterpiece of the ornate Venetian-Byzantine architecture. The church was built in the year 830 to house the tomb of St. Mark. When first built, it was not a cathedral at all, but a private chapel for the Doges. The present iteration was constructed during the 11th century, but the meticulous decoration of both the interior and exterior continued well into the 16th century. Inside, the walls are embellished with precious art, rare marbles and magnificent mosaics. Behind the high altar in the chancel is the famous gold altarpiece, the Pala d’Oro.

Palazzo Ducale

The Doges’ Palace is next to the Basilica. It is a pink and white palace with an unusual double loggia that served as the residence of the Doges and the seat of government. The finest room is the Grand Council Chamber. Paintings by Tintoretto and Veronese decorate the walls.

Grand Canal

Lined with about 200 marble palaces built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the Grand Canal has been called “the finest street with the finest houses in the world”. On the east bank is the Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, where Wagner died. Further along is the Ca’ d’Oro, or Golden House, so named because its ornate facade once was covered in gold. Palazzo Mocenigo, where Lord Byron lived follows. On the opposite bank are the city’s premier museums: the Guggenheim and the Accademia.

Scientific Committee

Organizing Committe



Contact Information

Antonino Polimeno

Department of Chemistry

Università degli Studi di Padova

Via Marzolo 1 - 35131 Padova, Italy



Conference secretary address

Daniela Longo

Department of Chemistry

Università degli Studi di Padova

Via Marzolo 1 - 35131 Padova, Italy