It was in the excellent blog BluOscar (in my Blogroll), that I first read about these stones set into the walls of some palaces. They protrude in a vertical manner, and have a hole near the end. There is speculation as to their use. Since they appear in pairs, or more, it seems logical that some type of pole could have been threaded through them. But, why? In the Scuola San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, you can see a painting (by Carpaccio), of St Jerome and the lion in the convent. Once you have looked at and enjoyed the very lively painting, you will notice that there are pietre sbuse on the wall below the two upper windows. And, it appears that clothes are draped over one of the poles. There are other theories, such as: they could have been used to dry fabric that had been dyed.
You have to look up to spot these stones. The ones I’ll show you here are to be found in Castello and San Polo. I also saw them in the Rialto area, and a single one in Campo San Luca. The partner to that one must have been removed or knocked off during some renovation work in the past.
This private dwelling was not so old as the one in Castello. A gentleman I spoke to about it shrugged it off as “Quite new, maybe 200 years.” It’s all relative, isn’t it? Aside from many other eye-catching architectural features, this palazzo also had a number of pietre sbuse.
I hope you see some of these, next time you’re in Venice. You might also spot some that are set in a horizontal plane, with a solid stone a little distance below them. Happy hunting!