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

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