Why did people in Venice throw people straight into the sewers?
Why did people in Venice throw people straight into the sewers?

Today, thousands of tourists walk across the bridges of Venice every day, but there were times when it was better to stay away from them - for about a year, during the fall and winter, zealous fights were arranged on these narrow bridges - and not just one-on-one, but whole crowd against another crowd of the same kind.

Fist fights in Venice Venice

It was in the early 1600s, and such fights were a matter of honor. Not coming to them would mean a shame for your home. Various groups fought, and with the help of such battles they figured out who was "cooler". It is clear that the local authorities were not delighted with such demonstrative showdowns, but, firstly, the clans dealt exclusively between each other and did not touch civilians - on the contrary, they gathered for battles, as for a performance, climbing on roofs and balconies to get a better view of the fight by sailing on gondolas to have a better view. And secondly, it was still better than the fights that were before.

In the 1600s, bridges in Venice were without railings Competition on the Bridge dei Puni in Venice. Joseph Heinz Jr. 1673

And earlier the Italian clans came to such "showdown" with all seriousness of intentions - in armor and with sharpened sticks. And if the purpose of the fistfights was to throw the enemy into the cold waters of the canals, then before that they fought to the death. The situation changed from the legendary battle in 1585, when the Castellani and Nicoletti clan fought, and at some point the soldiers of the Castellani family lost all their spears. Realizing that they had nothing to lose, they threw off their protection from their bodies and went to the enemy with their bare hands. Such an act could not fail to inspire respect. After that, the rest of the clans could not continue to come fully armed - after all, if Castellani is not afraid to walk with his bare hands, then the rest are no worse.

Venice Bridge in Venice

At some point, fights to the death turned more into staging - fights had their own rules. For example, before the start of the battle, both clans took their places on both sides of the bridge (4 bridges were allocated for battles), leaving only the upper platform of the bridge between them. At the same time, the most experienced fighters were supposed to stand in the corners of this site. Over time, during the construction of bridges, they even began to lay special marks in the form of a footprint, thus marking the place where the leading soldier was supposed to stand. These markings can still be seen today, for example, on the Ponte dei Pugni, that is, the Fistfight Bridge.

Ponte dei Pugni

It is also worth remembering that bridges did not have railings at that time. And even if throwing the enemy into the water is not as radical as stabbing him with a spear, but it is humiliating enough for the defeated: at that time all the waste was poured into the canals, and sewage waters flowed down them.

A place at the top of the bridge with a mark for the main fighter A mark for a fighter

For a hundred years, fistfights have gradually become boring to the audience. And on September 29, 1705, this tradition completely stopped - then the fighters, as usual, began fistfights, but at some point it turned into stabbing. After this incident, the authorities categorically banned such events, leaving poets and artists to describe the "legendary battles" only from memory.

A bridge for fistfights

You can see what Venice looks like without water in our article. "Where are the gondoliers?"

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