Hidden treasures

Venus by Titian and the Venetian courtesans

Historical Curiosities
Venere_Tiziano

Venus by Titian and the Venetian courtesans

The splendid ‘Venus of Urbino' by Titian Vecellio is a true masterpiece, painted by the famous Venetian painter in 1538 for the Duke of Urbino Guidobaldo della Rovere.

According to tradition, the beautiful woman may have represented a Venetian courtesan and in fact, her alluring look and sensuality can be easily connected to ‘an 'expert of love.'

In Venice, the phenomenon of courtesans was well tolerated and sometimes even encouraged, for fear of homosexuality. According to a census of 1509, there were 11,164 and by the first half of 14th century, the courtesans were obliged to live in a neighbourhood near Rialto called ‘il Castelletto' where there was a bridge called 'Delle Tette' (‘of the boobs') because on this bridge the courtesans used to show their breasts to entice passers-by.

The activities and behaviours of the courtesans were meticulously regulated by the Republic of Venice and in the evening when the prostitutes returned home they faced a fine and 10 lashes and 15 lashes if they approached men at Christmas, Easter and other holy days. There were two classes of courtesans: those of low rank, who lived in an unhealthy house frequented by the populace, and those of high rank, who were envied by noblewomen, subjected to a thousand rules, for the freedom that they enjoyed, and for important friendships that they could make. For them, there was a kind of register, which was especially useful for foreigners visiting the city, where they could find names, prices and art skills, such as dance and music, in which the various courtesans excelled.

And if you wish to know the most unusual aspects of Venice with a tailor-made visit, venetoinside.com will organize an original tour of Venice for you! Our expert guide Francesca will help you to discover all that fascinates you the most about this magical city. 

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: The Wheel of the Innocents in the Monastery of the Pietà in Venice

ruota-innocenti
Unknown places & works

The majestic neo-classical church of the Pietà stands next to St. Mark's Square in Venice, along Riva degli Schiavoni. Here, concerts ...

View

Padua: Villa Grimani Valmarana Calergi in Noventa Padovana

villa-grimani-calergi-valmarana
Unknown places & works

Veneto is undoubtedly the region of Villas, magnificent resorts and ancient places of idleness for Venetian nobles. Yet their origins a...

View

Venice: The Secret Garden of Ca 'Morosini del Giardin in Cannaregio

ca-morosini-del-giardin
Unknown places & works

Venice is a magical city for many reasons, amongst them are its many hidden gardens that few are aware of! One of the most secret and f...

View

Padua: The collections of the Convent of St. John in Verdara in Padua

eremitani-padova
Unknown places & works

The most beautiful museum in Padua is undoubtedly the Eremitani museum, created in 1895 to house the city's collections. The original s...

View

Top posts

Venice: The graffiti of the ancient merchants on Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice

Fondaco_dei_Tedeschi
Historical Curiosities

Each building located along the Grand Canal has an amusing story or a mystery to tell... After having been the Post Office building for...

View

Padua: The Museum of the History of Medicine in Padua

Museo-di-storia-della-Medicina
Unknown places & works

If you are tired of the usual museums filled with paintings and sculptures, you might find the Museum of the History of Medicine in Pad...

View

Venice: The door of the Tolentini Convent in Venice designed by Carlo Scarpa

iuav-tolentini
Big Names

Near Piazzale Roma is the impressive Tolentini church, built by Vincenzo Scamozzi in the 16th century and finished with an elegant Gree...

View

Venice: The ghost of the Chinese wife of Marco Polo

corte-milion-venezia
Mysteries & Legends

Legend has it that, during his stay in China, the famous Venetian merchant Marco Polo was in love with one of the daughters of the Grea...

View