Hidden treasures

The vaporetto in Venice, the Jewish Margerita Sarfatti and the Dux

Big Names
margherita-sarfatti

The vaporetto in Venice, the Jewish Margerita Sarfatti and the Dux

For many years, the vaporettos - the water buses that every day carry residents and millions of tourists along the Grand Canal, or to the lagoon islands - have been a symbol of Venice. Although they all run on a diesel engine and no longer on steam, the ancient name vaporetto (‘vapore' means steam) has remained.

Perhaps not everyone knows that the founder of the first vaporetto company in Venice was the Jewish contractor Amedeo Grassini, a prominent personality who was a lawyer and councillor.  With the collaboration of Giuseppe Musatti, he founded a financial group to give start to the transformation of the Lido into a tourist destination. The prestige of the Grassinis grew further when they left the ghetto to move into the historic Bembo palace on the Grand Canal (1894).

Amedeo Grassini is also famous for being the father of Margherita Sarfatti (1880- 1961) a renowned art critic and discoverer of new artists, lover of Benito Mussolini and his first biographer.

Socialist activist during the Great War and journalist for the magazine ‘Avanti', in 1922 she founded, with the gallerist Lino, the so-called ‘Gruppo del Novecento', among whom the famous surrealist painter Mario Sironi.

Widowed in 1924, Sarfatti devoted herself to writing Mussolini's biography. The text - thoroughly revised by Mussolini himself - was first published in 1925 in England with the title 'The Life of Benito Mussolini' and the following year in Italy with the title 'Dux'. For the notoriety of the character and the author's familiarity with the dictator, the book had a tremendous sales success and was translated into 18 languages, including Turkish and Japanese.

The relationship with Mussolini went on for a decade, until 1936, when Sarfatti opposed to the alliance with Hitler and to the colonial missions.

If you want to learn about the life of this famous woman in greater detail, you should visit the exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia 'Venice, the Jews and Europe'. The exhibit is organized on the occasion of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice and open to the public from June 19th to November 13th 2016. The last part of the exhibition is dedicated to the figure of this beguiling Venetian Jewish lady.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: The Italia Theatre in Cannaregio

teatro_Italia_venezia
Unknown places & works

Along the busy road linking Santa Lucia train station to the Rialto Bridge in Venice there stands a peculiar neo-Gothic building with t...

View

Treviso: Villa Condulmer in Mogliano Veneto and Giuseppe Verdi

villa-condulmer
Big Names

Giuseppe Verdi is one of the most famous musicians of the 19th century... Even those who are not Opera experts recognise the arias of h...

View

Padua: The Anatomical Theatre at the University of Padua

teatro-anatomico-padova
Unknown places & works

The University of Padua, founded in 1222, is one of the most important symbols of culture in Italy... There are lots of places to disco...

View

Venice: The underwater Nativity set in the Venice lagoon

presepe-sommerso
Unknown places & works

On 26 January 1961 the Croatian Wrmac merchant ship sank off the island of Lido in the Venetian Lagoon, about 3 miles outside the harbo...

View

Top posts

Vicenza: The scenography of the Teatro Olimpico (‘Olympic theatre’)

olimpico-scenografia
Historical Curiosities

Vicenza is the city of Andrea Palladio (1508- 1580), one of the greatest architects of all time, especially as his classicism influence...

View

Padua: The ghosts in the Castle of Monselice

castello-monselice
Mysteries & Legends

Monselice is a splendid medieval town located on the hills south of Padova, offering stunning views on the surrounding landscape. The m...

View

Venice: The Othello by Orson Welles and the Bovolo stairs in Venice

Otello
Film Locations

Since the beginning of the seventh art, Venice has been chosen by many directors as a backdrop for movies, some have even made the hist...

View

Venice: The Garden of Eden on the Giudecca Island in Venice

giardino-eden-venezia
Unknown places & works

Behind the male prison on the Giudecca Island, there is a secret hidden garden, concealed from sight and with an intriguing name: the G...

View