Venice has dozens of Calli of Forner, del Pistor, the Pestrin, Malvasia; but also of Botteri, of Lustraferi, the Tintor, the Tagiapiera; It has the Merceria, the Spadaria, the Naranzaria; on its walls are written the names of a thousand trades, among those who have made the history of the Venetian Republic, because there it was selling this or that commodity, and there were the shops.
Only two lanes throughout the city, though, are called “de le Botteghe”, an indication that there more than elsewhere there was a large concentration of retailers of all kinds; which, in a city like Venice, it is saying something. Between the two, that of Santo Stefano is undoubtedly the best known and perhaps it is no coincidence that even today – nomen omen – is a small paradise in a panorama of strong social desertification, which then results in culture and identity desertification.
Indeed, here more than in other places in the city, by means of a happy and contrary nemesis, culture has found a home, and there has been established a long time. It is a culture that lives in this city, in an ideal continuity with the past and with the stones that make up the same street, that to want to listen to tell stories.
Like that of Paolo Da Campo, fierce pirate Catania who in 1490 was captured by Tommaso Zen and sentenced to be confined forever in Venice, where in the cemetery of Santo Stefano (the present small square of the Dead, which not coincidentally was then raised, when the cemetery was abandoned), retired to do ascetic life: “he sleeps on de dead heads, et à Conzato a house of the heads and the mountains of bones,” wrote the reporter Marin Sanudo.
In this same church, then, under a large bronze plate, lies the Doge Francesco Morosini, known as the Peloponnesian for the successful campaign of re-conquest of the territories of Greece fell into Ottoman Empire hand, between 1683 and 1687. There having never married, he left his immense fortune to the descendants of the brothers, provided they called Francesco all their sons forever, latest sign of a vanity that flowed into attitude. Her cat, which never parted, was embalmed and is still preserved at the Museum of Natural History.
In parallel Pool San Samuele is remembered by a large plaque Francesco Querini, who lived there and who in 1899 tried the adventure of discovery of the North Pole with the Duke of Abruzzi, ending inexorably swallowed up forever by the eternal ice.
But to look further back in time – and best among the stones – you will find that the Calle de Shops and contiguous Crosera were long focus of German presence in Venice, in the context of the Fontego: Todeschi here, they had to do especially with leather, they were often Calegheri, or shoemakers, as evidenced by plaque in calle marks the place of their “hotel” and from the capitals of the two corner columns, showing some nice examples of sixteenth-century footwear. It is no coincidence that in 1500 Martin Luther, when getting off to Rome for the Jubilee (before the famous schism) made a stop in Venice, lived in this area and he celebrated Mass in Santo Stefano (church that was consecrated six times for as many facts the blood that they happened inside, although some argue that it happened to continuously reappear traces of blood on the ceiling).
Near this calle Finally, towards the Grand Canal, he was born Giacomo Casanova; among these stones he grew and formed; abbot was held and gave up the habit, he met his first love and began his legendary life adventurer. These streets were his home. Could turn every European court, fight duels, love the most exotic love affairs; but here he came walking, where the first patients had surrounded him with attention.
Few as the Venetians are related to home stones. BAC Art Studio back in the area of Santo Stefano after more than two decades from ‘exile’ beyond the Accademia Bridge (S.Vio). And it is like a return home.
Alberto Toso Fei