With no preschool and few nuns the convent will become a hotel


Speculation about the sale of the famous Gothic palazzo in Cannaregio resurfaces. The Mother Superior will decide. The Patriarchate has said “no” to its priority on the sale.

By Alberto Vitucci

11 December 2018

VENEZIA. The preschool where generations of Venetians grew up has been closed for a year. Only eight nuns remain. Meanwhile the expenses are growing. Thus speculation about the sale of palazzo Seriman, a splendid Gothic palazzo belonging to the Jesuits which is currently a convent and has recently been restored, took up the dossier and went to Patriarch Francesco Moraglia. She asked if, as the Statute of Order of the Patriarchate gives him priority in the case of the sale of buildings, he would be interested in taking over management of Seriman. The answer was negative, given the generally difficult state of the Curia’s finances.

Now it falls to the sisters to decide. There have been contacts with businesses and sellers. The building, beautifully made and in a strategic location, obviously lends itself to use for tourism. It could easily become the umpteenth hotel, as it already has an elevator, bedrooms and common spaces, and a garden that sits between two canals, something unique in Venice.

Some time ago there was contact with real estate firms but the decision was postponed. Now it seems that palazzo Seriman is once again on the market.

There is protest and great disappointment among the citizens who live in the area. “We’ll collect signatures and take them to the Patriarch”, they’ve announced.

The palazzo has always been a symbol for all of a top notch preschool managed by a religious order. But a little at a time number of children dwindled, along with the drop in the city’s population. In order to keep the preschool open, the sisters, many of advanced age, would have had to hire some teachers. The cost was not sustainable. So the school closed last year, just as the nearby school of the nuns of Imeldine a San Canciano did a few years before.

Now the talk turns to the possible conversion of the convent to a hotel. Other religious buildings have come to this end, such as the convent of the Mantellate a Sant’Elena in Cannaregio, which was the subject of a recent controversy over the City’s granting of the change of use. It’s a seemingly unavoidable fate: the great Venetian palazzi, stripped of their functions and transformed into hotels.

The buildings owned by religious congregations are no exception. In some cases they choose to live alongside the guests, students and tourists. In others, such as the convent of nuns, they choose to sell the building. It is a ceaseless transformation. It may also run up against the ethics of religious donations. Someone who has left his properties to the Church may not have intended for them to be used to become hotels.

Source: La Nuova Venezia

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