Hidden treasures

A high relief of Hercules on the façade of Tintoretto’s house

Mysteries & Legends

A high relief of Hercules on the façade of Tintoretto’s house

In the Cannaregio district in Venice stands the house of the famous painter Jacopo Robusti, known as 'Tintoretto' (1519-1594).

On the facade of the building you can see a small relief of Hercules leaning on a club... Legend has it that Marietta, Tintoretto’s daughter, was approached by an old woman as she was on her way to the nearby Chiesa della Madonna dell’Orto to attend Mass. The old woman gave her some Communion bread telling her that she should eat one every day in order to become like Madonna, but without sharing a word with a living soul.

Marietta agreed, but every morning, instead of swallowing it, she hid the particle in a box in the garden, buried beside a drinking trough. The animals began to kneel down in front of the drinking tough and no one could get them to move away! Marietta, alarmed, confessed the encounter with the old woman to her father: Tintoretto immediately realised that the old woman was a witch who had tried to steal his daughter's soul with this wicked trick.

He then worked out a plan... First he brought the Communion wafers into the church and left them at the altar, then he told his daughter to lean out from her house’s balcony and invite the old woman inside. Meanwhile, Tintoretto had hidden behind the front door; as soon as the woman walked through the doorway, he hit her with a big club.

As soon as she realised that she had been trapped, the witch let out a scream and, wrapped in a cloud of smoke, escaped through the wall leaving a large hole. To cover the hole, and to guard the house, Tintoretto placed Hercules with a club – symbol of strength and masculinity - in front of it... The witch never turned up again!

If this bizarre story captured your attention, bear in mind that Venice hides many other fascinating anecdotes... Our brilliant local guides, upon request, organize guided tours to explore the legends and mysteries of Venice. What are you waiting for to dive into the secrets of this extraordinary city?
Regarding Tintoretto, on our special section Tintoretto 500 you will find information, guided tours to discover the places where the Venetian painter lived and worked and tickets for exhibitions and events organised on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his birth.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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