Doug Sassi told me a story he’d learned in his Venice travels about how the Austrians, after getting the Veneto handed over to them via the Treaty of Campo-Formio, deciding to humiliate the once proud Venetians by chiseling off the lions from the town’s wellheads. Scattered around the city in various piazze, the Venetians had sculpted–as a symbol of their prowess, naturally–lots of wellheads with these gargoyle-ish lions. The Austrians figured they’d give the Venetians what-for by knocking them all off.
They only missed a few. And as Doug had been told by his Venetian friends, they were on the more remote islands in the lagoon.
Doug challenged me to find one on a trip back in 2001; I was there for a week and didn’t see any and had largely given up. Needing to make room for more risotto and gelato, I went out for a run in Venice one evening to see the city and get lost on purpose, and spotted this guy out of the corner of my eye.
The kicker: it’s located only steps from Piazza San Marco in a quiet corner of castello. For me it felt like finding another version of the Mona Lisa in a coffee shop next to the Louvre; how had the Austrians missed this guy, right here in the heart of Venice’s decadence?
No extra charge on one of our tours for us to let you in on the secret of where to find this rare little treasure.