Welcome to this page where you can relive some stories about legends, mysteries, ghosts and past crimes of the millennial history of Venice. Choose from the following index the story you most passionate about
St.mark. As the mortal remains arrived in Venice
The bud of San Marco. The birth of the legend
The Damn column. A mockery for the condemned
Columns of St. Mark and St. Todaro. Origin, and mystery about the third column
The Lions of St. Mark. The meaning of the symbol
Remember the poor young baker
The history of Venice is intertwined with that of San Marco, to the point that the city has made him as its patron saint celebrated every year on April 25, on the occasion of his death in the year 68 in Alexandria, Egypt.
The first meeting point was when Marco traveling from Ravenna to Aquileia, was caught in a terrible storm and took refuge in a small island, San Francesco della Vigna, then uninhabited, of the Venetian lagoon. Here he dreamed of an angel who greeted him with the famous phrase "pax tibi Marce evangelista meu" and promised him that he would sleep in those places waiting for the end of time. Fictional was the story of the theft of the body from Alexandria to Venice that took place in the year 828.
Two venetian sailors, Rustico da Torcello and Buono da Malamocco, took possession of the body and concealed under quarters of pork, knowing full well that none of the Muslim religion would never inspected a similar load. The scene is depicted in a mosaic in the Basilica of San Marco, in the right aisle.
A first miracle was accomplished by San Marco on his way to Venice, when he appeared in a dream to a friar aboard the same ship to warn of the impending storm that would be unleashed.
The arrival of the relics in Venice took place on 31 January 828 in the same place of his vision of many centuries before, and the Doge Partecipazio Justinian declared him patron of the city, using the winged lion and the word "pax tibi Marce evangelist meu" as a symbol of city.
The remains of the evangelist were placed in a secret crypt waiting for the end of the building of the basilica, but the secrecy was such that he lost track of them.
Only reappeared centuries later in 1094 under mysterious circumstances. To facilitate the discovery of the relics, were carried out three days of fasting and prayers. On the occasion of the Mass celebrated by the Bishop of consecration and dedication of the Basilica to the saint, a marble slab it broke, revealing the chest containing the relics. The remains were then taken and placed in a secret crypt where else, once again they were untraceable. The ritrovamente occurred only in 1811 in the crypt where they still lie.
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Venetian tradition is that man gives to his beloved on the day of San Marco on April 25, a red rose bud symbol of eternal love.
The legend tells that Mary, daughter of the Doge Partecipazio was madly in love with the young troubadour Tancredi, of modest origin.
To overcome the obstacle of social difference and crown their dream of love, the young Mary suggested to Tancredi leaving for the war against the Moors in Spain alongside the Emperor Charlemagne,
hoping to return to Venice received with full honors as champion of the Christian faith against the infidels.
Tancredi distinguished himself in war, fighting with valor and courage, and the news that arrived in Venice cheered Mary on the goodness of his decision.
But one day Tancredi was mortally wounded and fell, bathed with his blood a rose garden, painting it red. While dying, Tancredi was able to pick up a rosebud handed to Orlando with the promise to take him home to his beloved.
And Orlando kept his promise, arrived in Venice gave the flower to Mary, who received him without saying a word.
The young retired to his room where he was found dead the day after the day of St. Mark, April 25, with the rosebud close to his chest.
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It is said (myth?) that some death row inmates, to offer them the opportunity to save his own skin, were passed between the column and the lagoon,through a very narrow base on which it rests, without ever falling. Truly impossible task.
More and more people try that experience every day, but it's difficult because the base is consumed more and more in the central area where the feet.
But be careful: you can not do with any external column of the Ducal palace. Most of them have a "path" much wider and easier to pass.
Only the third on the side that faces the lagoon is the Damn Column.
In 1099, Venice, in return for military aid through the use of their galleys, got in return from Constantinople three huge monolithic granite columns that were brought to his homeland on the ships.
During the landing, a ship tipped over and a column fell into the sea and sank in the mud.
The remaining two columns were left to lie on the ground for about a hundred years waiting for someone was be able to erect.
In 1196, an engineer from Bergamo, named Nicollò Stratonio succeeded in the enterprise using an ingenious system.
He used a property of hemp ropes, which, wet tend to increase in diameter and decrease in length. Thus, fixing the base of the columns and using hemp ropes of length always lower, was able to erect the two columns.
In return for this service, he received from the Serenissima, the possibility of keeping a bench of dice game in town, activity hitherto strictly prohibited.
The Venetian government granted this possibility, but only in the space between the two columns, a place normally used for executions. He hoped thus to discourage what he had to concede. The place was in fact avoided by the Venetians for superstitious reasons. Since then Nicollò Stratonio changed his name in Barattieri, which originated a family with many descendants and whose coat of arms has three dice.
Since the executions were carried out with convicts who turned their backs to the lagoon, looking at the clock tower, has since created the saying "te fasso vedar me che ora che xe", I'll show you what time is ,with the intention of scold someone. Those condemned to death, looking at the clock tower, saw as last thing, the hour of their death
On the columns of Barattieri mentioned in the previous paragraph, were hoisted the statues of San Todaro (Theodore) and of the Lion of St. Mark, and from that moment became a symbol of the city.
To be precise, the Lion in the top of the column is not a lion, but probably a mythological figure of chimera where, later, were added to the wings. And it's not of stone but of bronze.
The Lion, the symbolic representation of Mark the Evangelist, patron saint of the city, has been used as a symbol in all the places where Venetians arrived. It 'been represented in many ways:
- Andante, (going) when it is built on three legs, and the fourth is based on a book open or closed,
- "In moeca" when it is depicted frontally and crouching like a crab (moeca in Venetian dialect),
- Rampant, depicted in profile standing on its hind legs.
Sometimes the book is opened and bears the Latin inscription "Pax tibi Marce evangelista meu", while other times it was represented with a closed book.
The enigma is soon revealed, in time of peace the book was opened, while the book closed, according to the popular version, symbolized the wartime.
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Remember the poor young baker
On the south side of the Basilica of Saint Mark who looks at the columns of San Marco and San Todaro, from dusk to dawn, two lights are lit, replacing of two red tealights used in the past.
They are the memory of one of the saddest miscarriages of justice perpetrated by the Venetian Republic in its long history.
At the beginning of 1507 a young baker (fornareto in Venetian) named Pietro Tasca found a corpse lying on the floor near the Bridge of the Assassins (whose name was already an omen). Naively picked up the dagger covered in blood that was on the floor, making himself caught by the gendarmes who were passing at the time. It was the body of Count Alvise Guoro.
The young man was subjected to torture, such as the custom of the time, and he was coerced to provide a false confession.
Was executed on the morning of 22 March 1507.
As soon as the sentence was carried out, it was discovered the real culprit, Count Lorenzo Barbo confessed to being the author of the murder.
The news shocked the authorities of the Serenissima to the point that, in any subsequent trial was uttered the phrase in venetian dialect "recordeve del povero fornareto" (remember the poor young baker), a perpetual reminder of the possibility of committing a miscarriage of justice.
From that day were lit the two tealights in front of the spot where stood the gallows.