In the midst of history, water and art hide the legends of Venice. If you know them, you should look at the city map and read between the lines. There are so many stories that would make your Venice trip more mindful – and interesting. Here are some of them.
Today’s construction of the most famous bridge in the Venetian city was designed by Antonio da Ponte. He had done complex engineering work, presenting itself in a single span that seemed very difficult to stand upright. But the small collapses often prevented the regular continuation of the work. The funds began to become scarce, but the cost gradually became higher.
While collapses always happened at night, Antonio decided to hide near the construction site to find out the cause. He suspected that there was a curse on the construction area. While the bridge collapsed, he heard a laugh coming from behind. When Antonio turned around, he saw a tall man covered in a long black cloak, who said that no human being would be able to build a bridge over the Grand Canal unless he paid a very high price.
Antonio replied that he would give him his soul, but the mysterious man refused this. He wanted the soul of the first person to cross the bridge. The architect accepted so he could finish the work and support his wife and the firstborn on the way. As they agreed, the bridge no longer collapsed and Antonio did not forget the promise he made. So Antonio asked his workers to bring a rooster with the intention of freeing him on the bridge – allowing him to cross it first. But the devil had no intention of being tricked by a human being. So, he turned himself into a worker and ran to Antonio’s house. He told Antonio’s wife that an accident had occurred to her husband on the bridge.
The woman ran to the site and crossed the bridge first. After that, she fell to the ground, losing her life. The devil took both the soul of the first person who crossed the bridge and the soul of his son from the woman’s womb. From that day on, the soul of the child wandered on the bridge and whoever passed over or under, heard crying and sneezing. Everyone was afraid of that story and hurried to finish the journey until a gondolier answered “bless you” to the sneeze of the newborn baby. After thanking him, a soul could leave that place, because he needed a gesture of attention and compassion.
But people say, the souls of the woman and her son still roam on cold winter nights…
The “Sguazeto Alla Biasio” Tale
Among the legends of Venice came this tale. On the right of the Grand Canal, near the Biasio shore, lived Biagio Cargnio nicknamed “Biasio”. He was a cook, and once worked in an inn where he served “sguazzeto alla Bechara”, which is a plate of mixed meats seasoned with onions and tomato sauce. The dish was loved by all Venetians and during lunch and dinner times, this little place was always popular. Usually, the Venetian-style stew was prepared with pork. But Biasio defined himself as an artist and kept the recipe secret. While his fame increased and good conquered, the greatest strange disappearances of children occurred in the city.
One day, a hungry boatman went to Biasio to taste a beloved dish. Inside it, he found something strange. Initially, he thought it was a bone. But when he pulled the strange bite out of his mouth, he noticed that it was not a bone but a finger that belonged to a child. Frightened and disgusted, he left the restaurant and advised the authorities to search Biasio’s kitchens and the back room. There were remains of numerous children who were used to make his dish unique.
After being arrested, Biasio confessed the truth to the judge: he thought that the tender meat of the children managed to guarantee a delicious taste and a greater profit. It was never specified how many children he killed or how he caught them. After the trial, Biasio was sentenced to death. From here he was then taken to Piazza San Marco and beheaded and sliced into pieces, between the two columns of the shore. The Serenissima judges wanted him to feel what he had inflicted on his little victims.
The Gentle Spirit of Palazzo Grassi
Palazzo Grassi is a famous building and the protagonist in this series of the legends of Venice. From San Marco square, it overlooks the Grand Canal. Behind its size and aesthetic beauty, it hides a mysterious legend: people say that it became the home of a young girl who died in mysterious circumstances. She failed from the balustrade of one of the balconies of the inner court after suffering violence. Her death was uncertain, as it was never known whether it was a suicide or murder. The spirit of this young woman, according to some witnesses, is not bothersome, but with a gentle tone of voice whispers her name in the ears of the lonely visitors.
Among the testimonies, there was a worker at the Palace, who was in charge of night security. During the usual tour, he suddenly heard screams to stop and saw the light in front of him. The nightwatchman used to wander the corridors and rooms, blending with the darkness because of his precise knowledge of the Palace. But if it had not been stopped by the ghost, he would have fallen into a chasm opened for the renovation work. These are the legends of Venice.