Fun facts about Venice you didn’t know
You can’t imagine how many fun facts about Venice there are.
Venice is well known for being the city of love, not so much for its numerous weird stories, that’s why we decided to dedicate a whole article to them. Before getting into these fun facts about Venice, we want to assure you that everything we report here is true, none of these events or curiosities have been made up, even if they might sound so. Are you ready to discover the unusual side of Venice?
1. Fun facts about Venice: an elephant in town
Can you picture a huge elephant walking around Venice? To be honest, we couldn’t either – until we found out the story we are about to tell you.
During Carnival, Venetians used to organize many street shows on Riva degli Schiavoni, close to St. Mark’s Square, together with several food stands, but in 1819 things went a little bit beyond ordinary. In fact, an Indian elephant was brought to town to be exhibited to the public for Carnival. As you can imagine, Venice wasn’t the right place for an elephant. Once the animal arrived in Venice, it was surrounded by curious people who had never seen an elephant before, and this is was the beginning of a really sad story. The elephant got nervous and escaped from the place where it was being kept, running madly among the streets.
The Austrian army, that was occupying Venice at the time, started pursuing the elephant to take it down. The animal was so scared that during its escape it broke into St. Antonin church, destroying all the benches inside. It was killed inside the church with a cannon shot, and it took three hours to remove the elephant from there.
2. The old woman with a mortar
There’s an old woman who went down in history, Mrs. Giustina Rossi. She played an important role during the Baiamonte Tiepolo’s conspiracy, since she accidentally dropped her mortar from the balcony of her house above the Sotoportego del Cappello. Fate wanted that mortar to crash on the standard bearer’s head, creating chaos among the group of conspirators and letting the Venetian Republic defeat them easily.
Nowadays we can still see the place where the mortar fell from, thanks to a high-relief representing Mrs. Giustina, above the Sotoportego del Cappello.
3. The two flags of Venice
You definitely know how the Venice flag looks like, it has a big winged lion holding an open book – but this is not the only flag Venice had in the past. In fact, there was another similar flag, that differs from the former for what the lion holds in its paws.
This flag pictures the lion of St. Mark holding a closed book and a sword, and it was used by Venetians during wartime. Luckily, now we just use the one for peacetime, where the lion holds an open book.
4. The Rialto Bridge and the deal with the devil
Few people know that for 70 years, in the history of Venice, there was no Rialto Bridge. In fact, originally there was a wooden bridge, which collapsed under the weight of too many people during an important event in 1514.
After years of discussion about who should build the new bridge, in 1507 the Council of Ten chose Antonio da Ponte’s project, who suggested building the bridge in stone.
Venetians were skeptical about building such a heavy bridge, and the legend tells that Antonio da Ponte made a deal with the devil, to make sure that the bridge wouldn’t collapse once finished. But when you make a deal with the devil, there’s always something you must give in return – the devil asked for the first soul to cross the bridge.
According to the legend, Antonio da Ponte, who wasn’t a fool, made sure that a cat would cross the bridge before anyone else, so the devil was forced to take that soul to respect the agreement.
These are just some of the fun facts about Venice we would like to share with you, now when you cross the Rialto Bridge or walk near St. Mark’s Square you’ll see things from another point of view, knowing stories most of people don’t know.
If you want to organize your journey to Venice in the best possible way, and visit all its most important and famous attractions, we recommend reading this article we wrote about the things you shouldn’t miss during your trip here.