The red stone of the 'Sotoportego de la peste'Mysteries & Legends
The red stone of the 'Sotoportego de la peste'
Walking around Venice along the narrow streets and across the squares, you could happen to notice strange slabs on the pavement... which should not be stepped on! One of these is located in the Zorzi sotoportego, between Corte Nova and Calle Zorzi, in the Castello district: it is a red stone that, if trodden, brings bad luck and misfortune!
It all stems from the terrible black plague of 1630 that afflicted the inhabitants of every area of the city of Venice, except, miraculously, the residents of Corte Nova who were spared, according to the explanation quickly introduced by popular belief, thanks to the sotoportego itself.
Legend has it that a woman named Giovanna, who lived in Corte Nova, had a miraculous vision of the Madonna... In the apparition, the Madonna told her that, to avoid the plague, the local inhabitants had to paint a drawing representing her image and that of the Saints Rocco, Sebastiano and Giustina and hang it on the wall of the Zorzi sotoportego. In addition to the painting mentioned by the Madonna, they also displayed another one representing only the Virgin Mary.
In order for the inhabitants of Corte Nova to be infected, the plague would have had to cross that sacred portico... As the Madonna had predicted, however, her image stopped the disease that ‘fell to the ground’, among the gray slabs of the pavement, right where today the red stone that symbolizes the defeat of the plague is still located! The inhabitants of Corte Nova were unaffected by the terrible disease that suddenly was finally eradicated from the Serenissima.
Since then, all Venetians crossing the sotoportego are careful not to trample on this red stone, fearing to bring on themselves misfortune and bad luck... Regardless of this being faith, belief or superstition, better not to challenge one’s fate!
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