Message from the past

One day, I happened to cross this bridge in Cannaregio.

(I liked this graffitti)

(I liked this graffiti, which was on a piece of tile)

You’ll see Venetians touch this hook for good luck.


At the foot of the bridge, I noticed this sotoportego:



And, because the sun was shining at just the right angle, I started to notice some details on the columns adjacent to the canal.



There were words inscribed into some of the columns, but many of them were too indistinct to make out properly. I remembered someone telling me about doing brass rubbings, and I wondered if that method might work in this situation, also.

So, I began the search for some paper that would be large enough, and thin enough, to achieve my aim. I finally found some in a tiny shop on campo San Giacomo dell’Orio (with the help of the people in the School of Graphic Art which is across the canal from me).

My rubbing kit looked like this:


Paper, sticky tape, scissors, a stick of graphite and a rubber glove so my hand wouldn’t be all black

The experiment didn’t work. The incisions were too shallow, and the surface of the columns was too bumpy.


Here are the words I could make out:

Eterna memoria dell anno 1864 del il ciaggio veduto venezia

(Eternal memory of the year 1864 of the ice seen (in) Venice)

che se sta sule e fondamente nove andava la gente ….

(the meaning seems to be that people could walk out from Fondamente Nove)

and, more words I couldn’t make out , then

vicenzo bianchi a 1838

When I spoke to Fausto (http:// )    about this, he confirmed that the northern lagoon had frozen in 1864, and so it seems that someone had made this effort to record the event, to be read down the centuries.

There are  many other things scratched into the columns, so if you find yourself in this area of Cannaregio, take the time to go and see what you make out on this long ago version of the Daily News.



Filed under Venice

22 responses to “Message from the past

  1. Interesting — pictures and written content. Wonder how many people pass by every day and not see those things.


  2. Hi, Rob! How are you folks? I’ll check my passport tomorrow, but I can tell you that Nancy Drew probably doesn’t look quite that time-worn! 🙂


  3. Rob C

    Y, does it say Nancy Drew in your passport? 🙂


  4. I haven’t read anything that explains ‘why’, but someone may hop in and tell us. I hope you get a glimpse of those columns.

    What concert? (She said, in a curious tone of voice.)


    • Caroline

      There’s a concert in the Torre Nove at (I think) 6pm – from what I remember it’s free, but not sure if you were supposed to book or not.


      • Thanks, Caroline! Lou and Pete are going canoing today .. what a great experience. Did you buy the little supplement Il Gazzetino put out, on the Arsenale and Bucintoro?


  5. Caroline

    San Canzian is where I’m hoping we’ll be at 10am tomorrow for the start of the Percorso della Memoria, so I’ll make sure to touch the hook for luck! Any idea about its history & why it’s supposed to be lucky?

    Good luck at the Arsenale! Are you going to the concert?


  6. Je confirme, certains de mes voeux se sont réalisés, les ancres portent chance ! Donc à chaque fois que je passe par là, je les fais cogner contre le mur.
    À la page 189 du guide ” Venise Insolite et Secrète ” de Jonglez, on peut lire toutes les explications sur les graffitti de la lagune gelée…
    Bonne idée l’usage du papier et du crayon pour imprimer les mots mais ils ne sont pas assez sculptés malheureusement !
    Quand j’étais petite fille (il y a bien longtemps) je l’avais fait au Louvre pour les hiéroglyphes sur les tombeaux égyptiens, en cachette des surveillants !
    à bientôt


  7. Bert

    I first found it (I think) on veneziamuseo, but when I googled a few of the words yesterday I found it all over the place.


  8. All quite fascinating!


  9. Bert

    The full inscription reads: Eterna memoria dell’anno 1864  del giaccio veduto in venezia che se sta su le fondamente nove a San Cristoforo andava la gente in procision che formava un liston. The island of San Cristoforo had been joined to San Michele in 1836 or 1837 The cross in photos 4 and 5 looks like the cross of San Girolamo. The traghetto referred to in photo 3 used to go from here to Murano, according to I would imagine that it would stop at San Michele on the way.


  10. Jo

    Fascinating!! Imagine all that ice – must have been quite an event.


    • I think it happened again in about 1929, Jo. It really is hard to imagine ice between Fondamente Nove and San Michele. I saw a painting (I think in the Correr, or Ca ‘Rezzonico) of a scene with people walking, etc., on ice in the lagoon.


  11. Our Venetian detective….does Brunetti know that you are available for service?

    How exciting!!


  12. You do such cool things.


Now it's your turn

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s