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12+1 Venetian places with mysteries and disturbing stories

Altana Venecia

Today we go into places where MAGIC AND ALCHEMY INTERMIX WITH LEGENDS OF MYSTERY. Discover the dark side of Venice.

At the end of thIS article you find the map with the places of these secret stories. In each legend the corresponding numbers are marked on the map (in black in parentheses)

LEGEND 1 Teriaca: the divine drug? (MAP 1-2-3)

Teriaca Venecia
Vipers to make theTheriaca. Engraving XVIth Century
The Theriaca, a medicine with magical virtues, was made up of 46 components: viper powder, opium, deer testicle powder or a unicorn horn (it was actually a narwhal tooth, a curious fish, by the way). .. it cured everything: the plague (they said so); scorpion bites, snake bites, tuberculosis, vision problems ...

This drug was made in Venice in view of everyone to ensure that the product was of high quality. First, the ingredients were exposed for 3 days, where obviously the main attraction was to see the snakes in cages.

This medicine has been prescribed for 2,000 years to cure all ills. Kings, emperors, burghers and commoners took it. From the XVIIth century Venetian theriac fame was such that it was exported from Venice all over Europe.

Next to Rialto Bridge, a gold head marks the place where the pharmacy Alla Testa d'Oro was located, the best theriaca was produced here until it was banned in the 20th century.

Golden head where pharmacy Alla Testa d'Oro was

The first photo is the mark left by the mortars on the ground when making Theriaca in front of the citizens. These floor prints can be seen in Campo San Stefano (corner with Carrer del Spezier and in front of the pharmacy Alle Due Colonne,

LEGEND 2 The astronomical façade of the church of St. Zulian (MAP 4)

Dr. Tomasso Rangone of Ravenna (1493-1577) had become rich selling a natural remedy against syphilis and because he had written a famous treatise entitled “How can man live longer 120 years ”, in which he advised to avoid the consumption of medicines to a minimum and to practice a healthy life, eat little and study a lot and pray to the angels and the stars. He applied the hermetic theories, philosophy to achieve divine wisdom.

With that money he financed the reconstruction of the dilapidated facade of the church of St. Zulian, and he was placed in the door of the facade sitting on a funeral urn!

Tommaso Rangone holds the miraculous plant in his right hand and a book with the inscription DEUS HIQ in his left hand that would mean that "God is on each side" (in heaven and on earth).

LEGEND 3 Masonic symbols

Freemasonry now has more than five million members worldwide. Great figures from the field of politics, art or science have belonged and belong to it. But it remains something unknown and mysterious. In front of those who consider Freemasonry an initiatory, philanthropic and cultural association, there are those who consider it as a type of materialization of the powers of darkness, something demonic and infernal.

The Masonic symbols of the church of La Maddalena (MAP 5)

Iglesia Santa Maria Maddalena Venezia
Foto: Francisco Anzola, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Above the entrance door there is a lunette with an eye of providence represented within a triangle interlaced with a circle in bas-relief, a Masonic symbol
"Non nobis, domine, non nobis" (not to us, oh Lord, not to us): phrase from Psalm 115 of the Bible, which later became the motto of the Templars, and is engraved in a band that occupies the entire width of the facade.

Canova's funeral urn in the Basilica dei Frari (MAP 7)

The sculptor Canova was a great initiate in Freemasonry. The triangular shape of his tomb represents the Holy Trinity and the way to Immortality (it is said that the Masons knew how to guide themselves in death towards the Eternal East)

LEGEND 4 The casino of the spirits (MAP 8)

They say that in the rooms of the building, the famous painter Luzzo appears at night. Luzzo's story was one of the most tragic, related to love: he fell in love with Cecilia, one of Giorgione's lovers painter and their love was unrequited. Because of her continuous refusals, he took his own life here.

Even in 1929, the bodies of four people were found here, all without the head or right hand: two brothers, a priest and a gondolier and

in the 1950s, they murdered a young woman in the palace, dismembered her and threw her remains to the lagoon.

Casino degli Spiriti
Foto: Didier Descouens, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Rumors circulate about hearing noises, whistling and even thunders at night from outside.

LEGEND 5 The underground cemetery of time immemorial in the church San Simeone Piccolo (MAP 9)

Under the church, there is an interesting catacomb with frescoes on themes such as death, the Last Judgment and the Via Crucis. It consists of two long corridors that intersect in an octagonal room, which has an altar in the center. It has twenty-one chapels, eight of which are bricked up and unexplored.

Abxbay, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

n this church mass is celebrated with the ancient Roman rite, in Latin, on Sundays at 11, las 1 hour and 40 minutes !, and at the end you can request access to the crypt. You will go down with the help of a lamp that illuminates the basement and it's very scary!

Look at a complete skeleton with the inscription “remember that his last will was never to sin again. Take pity on me! Take pity on me! "

LEGEND 6 The devil on the Rialto bridge (MAP 10)

There is a legend that tells how a piece of the Rialto Bridge, when it was being built, collapsed every night no matter what the workers did.

Desperate, the foreman decided to watch whole night and discovered that it was the devil himself who was bringing the it down, and devil told the foreman that the bridge would only be completed in exchange for the soul of the first person who cross it.

The foreman accepted the deal since he planned to deceive the devil the next morning by making an animal, a rooster, cross the bridge, but before this ruse, the devil went to the bricklayer's house first thing in the morning, and pretending to be him, told his wife, who was pregnant, that her husband was calling her urgently to the work because he wanted to talk to her. The wife obeyed and the next morning her son was stillborn and she died a few days later.

From then on they say that many nights a child can be heard crying on the bridge.

LEGEND 7 Homo Silvanus: The Man of the Woods (MAP 11-12)

Homo Silvanus who is a mythological creature between the human and the wild. It is said that Homo Silvanus predated Adam, a state of wild purity, as man was at the beginning of mankind, in the original paradise, the Garden of Eden.

The Ogre, who frightens children so much, derives from this being and it is a mystery why it appears on the façade of two buildings in Venice with life-size representations.

There are those who affirm, however, that it is the god of Time, Knossos

Homo Silvanus in Campiello Santa Maria Nova (Bembo-Boldù palace)

Homo Silvanus en Ca'Brass (Río San Trovaso)
Homo Silvanus in Ca'Brass (in the corner of the yellow house)

LEGEND 8 Campo dei Mori (MAP 13)

The square is named after 3 Istrian stone statues representing the Three Moors, brothers who were wealthy silk merchants. It is said that they are not statues, but that a sorceress they were trying to scam turned them to stone.

LEGEND 9 House of the painter Tintoretto (MAP 14)

Casa del pintor Tintoretto
House of painter Tintoretto

If we look closely, there is a little Hercules holding a large club in Tintoretto's own house (first floor on the left).

An old legend tells that Tintoretto's daughter, Marietta, who was about to make communion in the nearby Iglesia Madonna dell'Orto, was tricked by a witch into giving her the consecrated hosts that were offered to her in the sacrament. Instead of swallowing them, the deal was to give them to the witch in exchange for a gift.

Marietta, told the witch's trick to her father and Tintoretto told her to make an appointment with the witch at her house to give her the hosts. On the agreed day, the witch went to Tintoretto's house, who was waiting for her with a club in her hand, and as soon as she entered she struck out with her clubs. In the end the witch turned into a cat and when she was cornered she threw herself against the wall, crossing it and creating a hole. A hole that Tintoretto would later cover with the figure of Hercules carrying a club so that the witch would remember, if she returned.

LEGEND 10 Ca'Dario, the cursed palace (MAP 15)

Built by Giovanni Dario as a wedding dowry for his illegitimate daughter Marietta, fiancee of Vincenzo Barbaro, a rich spice merchant.

Since then its owners have had a tragic fate, in fact there are those who call it "the palace that murders": Marietta, committed suicide; her husband was stabbed to death; his son Giacomo was killed in an ambush on Crete.

All those who have dared to live within its walls have been ruined, have tragically died or have committed suicide (one of the last, the manager of the musical group The Who, and that who slept in the kiosk of the gondoliers of the nearby Hotel Gritti to escape from the ghosts that haunted him in the building).

LEGEND 11 Totally macabre: the relics of saints and other Venetians !!! (MAP 16-17-18)

The eyes of Saint Lucia on a tray. We can see it in the painting of Tiepolo, the last communion of Saint Lucia in the Corner chapel of the church of the Santi Apostoli and his mummified body in the church of Geremia e Lucia.

Saint Lucia's eyes were gouged out during her martyrdom, before she was beheaded.

iglesia San Geremia
Body of Saint Lucia in the church of San Geremia
Detail of the mummified foot of Saint Lucia
Just imagining it, it makes my hair stand on end, the Venetian commander Marco Antonio Bragadin was skinned alive in 1571 and his skin is in Venice

6000 Venetians in the city Famagusta in Cyprus were besieged for eleven months by 20,000 Ottomans (Turks) and had to surrender. The commander was skinned, stuffed with straw, and carried through the streets of the city. Then the Turks hung her from a galley mast as far as Constantinople ... The family later bought the hide again and what was left of Bragadin was locked in an urn and placed in the basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo… and here it is

LEGEND 12 A story of mermaids and lace in the island of Burano (MAP 19)

There is a legend about the Burano lace or merletto, according to which a fisherman promised to marry a young woman from the island, was tempted by the songs of the queen of sirens while fishing in the Sea of ​​Japan.

As the boy managed to resist her charms, the mermaid, fascinated by such a show of fidelity, struck the flank of the fisherman's boat with her tail and from the foam formed by the movement of the water a very delicate wedding veil emerged for his future wife.

On the day of the wedding, the bride was so admired among the other young women of Burano that a kind of competition arose: all the girls tried to imitate the lace of the veil with which the queen of mermaids had given her in the hope of create one just as beautiful to wear on their respective wedding day.


Pass between the columns of San Marcos= bad luck (MAP 20)

This is one of the most symbolic places in the city, since in the past, public executions were carried out between the two columns, and for this reason, even today, Venetians avoid passing between them.

Columnas de San Marcos
San Marco columns

The hooks of good luck (MAP 21)

At the corner of the street and the Traguetto arcade, two small hooks hang from the wall and the Venetians consider them a good luck charm and often hit them against the wall when passing

The heart of the sotoportego dei preti = good luck (MAP 22)

Venetian tradition says that couples who touch it together will remain in love forever. Discover the legend of Orio and Melusina here

Campo dei Mori= good luck (MAP 23)

In the 19th century, the statue of Mr. Rioba lost its stone nose and temporarily they put one of iron on it. Today the iron nose is still there and legend has it that rubbing it brings good luck.

Ca'Dario: bad luck

And neither go near Ca'Dario or pretend to buy it !!!

We leave it at number 13, the number of bad luck.

I invite you to discover many other legends and mysteries and tell us about them here.


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