THINGS TO DO IN VENICE: DISCOVERING THE “SESTIERI”, A TOUR ABOUT RIVALRIES AND LEGENDS
The sense of belonging to a community or a place, it’s no mystery, it’s strong at any time and latitude on our planet! Every town, from the smallest village to the biggest metropolis, is divided in areas and districts. Those are often connected with ancient legends, cherished traditions passed on from generation to generation, and peculiar stories that became badges of honour. Though, sometimes the districts of a city can hide rivalries of which no one can remember the origin anymore!
… Venice is one of the richest cities of those rivalries!
Have you ever heard of the socalled “Sestieri” of Venice? They are the six districts in which the town is divided:
- San Polo
- Santa Croce
- San Marco
Centuries ago, what made tempers boiling over in Venice was the terrible “Bajamonte Tiepolo plot”. This took place in 1310, when some of the members of the noble families of Venice plot against the Republic.
For centuries the city was divided into two factions: on one side the “Castellani”, inhabitants of Castello, San Marco, Dorsoduro and Giudecca; on the other side the “Canaruoli” – those living in Santa Croce, San Polo, and Cannareggio – who were allied with the “Muranesi”. Arch enemies they distinguished themselves for the colour of their clothes: red for the first, black for the latter.
After a stinging defeat by the San Barnaba bridge in 1548, the “Canaruoli” were forced to change their names into “Nicolotti”.
At that time fights could start anywhere and at any time, no holds barred. Those could last hours with people punching and beating with any means.
But why wouldn’t the government of the city stop this? You must know that the team spirit and the allegiance was widely accepted, even when clashes would end up in violence. This is also because having a temper and being ready to fight for one’s own community were regarded as important characteristics during war time…
If you come to visit Venice as a group keep your team spirit high and be ready to get in the game! You only need a couple of dice and a final price to challenge your rivals and start a playful battle. “Nicolotti” VS “Castellani” is the challenge: carry it along your tour in the venetian “calli” and “campielli”!
But let’s end this story in a good note! You need to know that in 1848, just before the beginning of the courageous and long venetian resistance to the Austrian invasion, two handkerchiefs were found and tight together symbolically inside the Madonna della Salute church: one was black and the other red.