17 June 2008

Beauty & the beast

Can anyone tell me who this unfortunate soul was, and why his wildly goofy image is posted at the base of the campanile (bell tower) of a church in Castello? He’s right over a little door, which (I imagine) opens to the stairs that lead up to the bells. One cannot help thinking of Quasimodo…

Venetians have always had a wicked sense of humor. It’s even funnier that this fellow should live in this particular spot: the church is Santa Maria Formosa, so named because in the 7th century St. Magnus had a well-publicized miraculous vision of a cloud that formed itself into the unmistakable image of the Virgin Mary. He reported that she had a very (ahem!) shapely body. Indeed, the church was built in the 11th century with decidedly feminine curves, intended to commemorate that slightly profane vision. And inside is Palma Vecchio’s painting of St. Barbara, long considered the perfect representation of Venetian female beauty.

Hmm… I think I detect a little glint of lust in his eye! The one that isn’t looking the wrong way. Or is it the other one?