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The Venetian patere: details in a city devoted to details.

Palazzo Vitturi in Campo Santa Maria Formosa

Particular decorations can be seen on the exposed terracotta facades of some Venetian palaces. These decorations are called patere and are a typical example of ornamental bas-reliefs.

They are made in white stone or marble from the Veneto-Byzantine era, with a diameter from 20 to 80 cm and a thickness of 10 cm. They could be confused with other square tiles but in general they are circular.


They were made following different processing techniques: flat modeling (the oldest), low or medium relief, strong overhang, concave bottom, openwork ( the more recent).

These ornaments came mainly from Constantinople and were reused and inserted into the facades as bare materials. They are a sign that distinguished the creativity of the skillful craftsmen of the past.


Furthermore, these stone materials were moved from an older building to a newer one under construction. For this reason they have been defined erratic sculptures.

Their subjects are mainly zoomorphic and very often keep their mysterious meaning with them. Many represent the lion, the symbol of Venice, but also other themes such as trades and people.

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