Hidden treasures

The legend of the Engraved Heart of the Scuola Grande di San Marco

Mysteries & Legends

The legend of the Engraved Heart of the Scuola Grande di San Marco

In the age-old stones of Venice lie incredible stories, fascinating legends and forgotten memories that are nestled in every corner of the city...

In Campo Santi Giovanni and Paolo, between the entrance door of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, the current Civil Hospital and the right side of the façade, at about 30 cm above the ground, an unusual drawing is engraved in the stone, depicting a man with a turban holding a heart in his left hand. This rather bizarre representation apparently draws its origins from a terrible matricide.

Legend has it that a long time ago, a Jewish merchant, who later became a Turkish citizen, married a Christian woman from Giudecca who gave him a son, whom he kidnapped when still an infant. The boy, who grew up with his father, felt lonely and unhappy because his half Venetian and half Levantine blood prevented him from being an accepted member of either the Christian or the Turkish community.

The frustration and anger for his condition led the boy to develop a violent and short-tempered character and he burst out in anger whenever he visited his mother. The meetings often resulted in furious quarrels and one evening the situation reached its worse: the young man, blinded by anger, stabbed his mother and tore her heart from her chest. Once he had come to his senses and realized the heinous gesture, he left his home and ran as fast as he could along the Fondamenta of the Scuola Grande di San Marco. At one point he stumbled and his mother's heart fell into the water. Crushed by guilt, he got up, reached the Fondamenta Nuove, threw himself into the lagoon and let himself drown...

This is the origin of this particular engraving... the author seems to have been a stonemason named Cesco who, while working on the construction of the façade of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, witnessed this murder and decided to entrust to the stone the preservation of the memory of this young man, who never managed to find a place in the small Venetian world.

Would you like to touch this incredible engraving and get to know other stories and legends related to other fascinating buildings? Accompanied by an expert tour guide you can discover the history and the charm of the Scuola Grande di San Marco and the most characteristic corners of the city on the water thanks to an itinerary created especially for you!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: What happened on March 2 in Venice

Almanac of Venice

According to the Venetian Liturgical Calendar, today is Pope Simplicius’ Day   - March 2, 1429: an exceptional high tide with pu...


Venice: Veronica Franco: the most talked-about woman in the Serenissima

Big Names

Among the various Venetian female figures of the past, certainly one of the most interesting and, for many reasons also modern, was Ver...


Venice: 10 songs that will make you think of Venice

Did you know that...

Sometimes we hear the first few lines of a song and our minds are suddenly transported back to a place, a memory or a dream. We put tog...


Padua: Vò Euganeo: a place to be discovered

Unknown places & works

In the last few months there has been much talking around the small town of Vò, in the province of Padua. It was at the center of ever...


Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...


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...


Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...


Venice: The origins of the Spritz cocktail

Local Traditions

Spritz, the typical Venetian aperitif, has nowadays become the iconic cocktail of Happy hour not only in Italy, but all over the world....