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

Latest posts

Venice: The gondolier: the warrior of the lagoon

Mysteries & Legends

Everybody knows who a gondolier is and what he does: he is the person who, with dedication and ability, propels the gondola, the tradit...


Venice: Why is it called Titian Red?

Figures of speech

Do you recall the sensual ‘Venus of Urbino’ or the elegant ‘Woman in the mirror’ by Tiziano Vecellio? Now, just focus on the re...


Cortina D'ampezzo: A Museum in the Clouds in Cortina d’Ampezzo

Mysteries & Legends

If you reach the summit of Mount Rite at 2181 meters near Cortina d'Ampezzo, it will come as a surprise to find among the barren dolomi...


Venice: The Twin Bottles: art says NO to plastic in the sea

Did you know that...

Did you know that on the Grand Canal of Venice, near Palazzo Ca' Vendramin Calergi there are two huge floating crushed bottles? They ar...


Top posts

Venice: How much does a gondola ride cost?

Did you know that...

Have you decided to visit Venice and included a nice gondola ride on the list of things to do? How could we blame you! Is there anythin...


Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...


Treviso: The ghost of Bianca di Collalto

Mysteries & Legends

On the night between October 31 and November 1, telling a scary ghost story is a must... We have one related to the castle of Collalto,...


Padua: Prato della Valle in Padua

Historical Curiosities

Probably only the inhabitants of Padua and a few other people know of a particular record their city is boasting about: having the larg...