The legend of the 12 brides

The legend of the 12 brides

At the bow of this ship (Venice) anchored in the lagoon, where the tip of this immense heart crossed by the Grand Canal, which beats incessantly to the rhythm of the tides, an entire neighborhood is surrounded by the walls of the Arsenale and Giardini (where the Biennale of Art and Architecture takes place), around the bell tower of San Pietro of Castello. Here tourists are rare, and the Venetians from other districts have no reason to go that far. Yet, during a photo walk, here we can find the peace and the ancient activities, disturbed only occasionally by the cries of children. The church of San Pietro, constructed in the VIIIth century, was the cathedral of Venice until 1807, and has been restored several times. In front of the façade, built in the 16th century according to a design by the famous architect Andrea Palladio, is the only unpaved Campo left in the whole city. Venice, in fact, except for a few fields and some hidden gardens, has very few trees and very little grass. Detached from the church, the solitary bell tower made in Istrian stone, rises slightly leaning.

The interior of the church is severe, and on the right side we can see a marble throne, with Arabic inscriptions, which is said to be the seat of St. Peter.

The legend I’m about to tell you has probably taken place right here. At the end of the 10th century, when the Doge was Pietro Candiano II, the Serenissima Republic celebrated marriages on January 31, the date of the translation of the body of Saint Mark. At the end of the ceremony, while the procession with the newlyweds was moving towards the outside of the church, a band of pirates from the Adriatic sea kidnapped the brides, and stole the gifts that had been offered. But the Venetians, far from be surprised, quickly organized themselves, chased the pirates and attacked the kidnappers who had stopped in a cove in Treporti and were preparing to share the booty. The chase lasted one day and one night, the pirates are annihilated, and the fleet returned to the city on February 2nd.

The terrible adventure closed in joy and the wedding was finally celebrated.

To commemorate the incident, for a long time, on February 2nd, a party brought together the 12 most beautiful girls in the city, followed by a cheering crowd at San Pietro di Castello. After the blessing of the Patriarch, the procession crossed the city in a gondola preceded by the Bucintoro (the Doge’s boat), stopped in Rialto to find the Doge in Santa Maria Formosa.

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