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Tag: venetian legends

Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) in Torcello

Torcello is one of the oldest islands of the Venetian lagoon, north of Burano, in the middle of a salt marsh zone (clay soil lying areas which are periodically flooded by tides and which are fundamental for the health of the lagoon).

Torcello was very prosperous and densely populated since the first centuries of the Roman Empire, and it began its decline from the fifteenth century because of climate changes and continuous plagues, and also because of the predominance of Venice.

One of the two bridges of Torcello is the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge), that crosses the Maggiore Canal, the waterway that connects the historic center of Torcello with the lagoon. It goes back to the fifteenth century but recent archaeological investigations have established that its foundations are grafted onto pre-existing foundations, dated thirteenth century.

The origin of the name is uncertain. Some say that “Diavoli” (Devils) was the nickname of a local family who gave the bridge its name; other say the name comes from a legend about a Venetian girl, a witch and an Austrian soldier.

The legend says that the girl falls in love with a young officer during the Austrian invasion, but the union was disliked by her family, who send her away. One day the girl hears the news that the young lover has been murdered.

The girl returns to Venice and meets a witch, with whom she enters into a pact with the devil: the young Austrian in exchange for the souls of seven died prematurely Christians children.

The site of the exchange would be the Devil’s Bridge.


The two women reach the island and the girl crosses the bridge with a candle and a golden coin while the witch invokes the devil. The devil, as soon as he sees the girl, spits the key of space and time into the water taking the gold coin, making the young Austrian appear at the other side of the bridge.

The second half of the pact had to be the delivery of the seven souls on the Devil’s Bridge, scheduled for December 24th, but the witch was murdered before the exchange by a young man who wanted to save the souls of children.

Legend has it that from that December 24th onwards, every year the devil appears on the Devil’s Bridge to get his payment, in the form of a black cat.

The main feature of the Devil’s Bridge is its shape without railings, typical of the Venetian ancient bridges, and together with the Ponte Chiodo (Nail’s Bridge) in Cannaregio, it is the only one to preserve the ancient form.

Palazzo Dario, the cursed palace

A horrible fate has combined the stories of the owners of this beautiful building, so as to define it “cursed”.

Palazzo Dario (known as Ca’ Dario) is a palace overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.

It was built by Giovanni Dario, fascinated by the places and the enchanting landscape.

In 1479 Marietta, Giovanni’s daughter, committed suicide because of the economic failure of her husband Vincenzo Barbaro, who died stabbed. Even their son suffered a violent death, in fact he died in an ambush in Crete. These three deaths caused a sensation among the Venetians, who anagrammtized the inscription on the facade, turning “VRBIS GENIO IOANNES DARIVS” into “SVB RVINA INSIDIOSA GENERO“ (in Latin, “I generate under an insidious ruin”).

The descendants of the Barbaro family sold the villa to Arbit Abdoll, an Armenian merchant of precious stones, who ended up in ruins shortly after taking possession of the dwelling.

The Englishman Radon Brown met his fate in 1838 when he became the new owner of Ca’ Dario. In only four years he suffered a financial meltdown and his homosexual relationship was discovered: the scandal engulfed him so much that in 1842 he committed suicide in the palace together with his partner.

Fared no better the American Charles Briggs, who had to flee from Venice because of the continuous rumors about his homosexuality: he fled to Mexico, where his lover committed suicide.

In the early ‘900 Ca’ Dario hosted the French poet Henri de Regnier; but a serious illness struck the writer, so he couldn’t come back to Venice anymore.

For decades the building was empty, until 1964 when the tenor Mario del Monaco began the negotiations to buy the property. But the artist, on his way to Venice to finalize the details of the contract, was involved in a serious car accident that forced him to a long rehabilitation and made him decide to give up the purchase.

A few years later Ca’ Dario was bought by Count Filippo Giordano delle Lanze from Turin, who was killed inside the building in 1970 by a Croatian sailor named Raul Blasich, with whom he had a relationship. Blasich then fled to London, where he was murdered.

The palace was later bought by Kit Lambert, manager of the rock band The Who, who died a very short time later in London falling down stairs. Although he claims not to believe in the curse, Lambert had told some friends to sleep in the nearby Hotel Gritti gondoliers kiosk to “escape the ghosts that haunted him in the Palace”.

Fabrizio Ferrari, a venetian businessman, bought the house in the 80s and moved there with his sister Nicoletta. Ferrari did not die, but he lost all of his assets after taking possession of the building, while his sister died in a car accident without witnesses.

In the late 80s, the building was purchased by financier Raul Gardini who wanted to make a gift to his daughter. Gardini, after a series of economic setbacks and the involvement in the scandal of Tangentopoli, committed suicide in 1993 in never fully clarified circumstances.

After the death of Gardini, no one wanted to buy Ca’ Dario anymore, and the first brokerage company that had been mandated to sell surrendered and stranded down. At the end of the 90s the director and actor Woody Allen seemed willing to buy the building, but then he desisted. In 2002, a week after renting Ca’ Dario for a vacation in Venice, bass player John Entwistle died because of a heart attack.

In 2006 the property passed to an American company on behalf of an unknown buyer and it is currently being restored.

 

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