“Detourism: Venice newsletter” is the newsletter prepared by the Tourism Office of the Town of Venice which is sent free of charge to hundreds of subscribers every week, providing valuable food for thought and insights on the history, art and culture of Venice.
We are proud to publish some selected contents of such newsletter (see previous post: “Detourism for the Up and Down the Bridges“). On our website, in several episodes, we will only present some samples (see all posts in our archive page “Detourism Newsletter“), but the invitation addressed to all the friends of the Up and Down the Bridges is to fill in the online form proposed by the Town of Venice to receive it directly in their email box every week.
Special thanks to the Councillor for Tourism for having enthusiastically welcomed this new important collaboration between TGS Eurogroup and the Tourism Office of the Town of Venice and for giving us the precious opportunity to publish on the pages of this blog some extracts from this newsletter, both in Italian and in English.
Today we discover more about Venetian wells! Enjoy the reading!
In Venice, if we look at the centre of every campo, courtyard or cloister, we will probably see an ornamental well-head (vera da pozzo). Mostly carved out of marble or Istrian stone, well-heads cover a shaft leading to an underground cistern where rainwater was once collected and filtered. In 1858, there were over 6500 well-heads in the city.
For centuries, Venetian wells were the only means of ensuring fresh water. Venice’s underground does not have easy-to-reach water tables, and rainwater was the only local source of drinking water. In times of exceptionally long droughts, the Venetians brought over fresh water in ships from mainland rivers and springs. The wells, no longer in use, had remained the city’s only source of fresh water until June 23rd 1884, when Venice’s first aqueduct opened, conveying fresh water from the mainland (visit the Aqueduct Museum with a virtual tour). To mark this event, a fountain jetting water into the air as high as 22 metres was built in the middle of Piazza San Marco!
The well-heads became a work of art in its own right. Until quite recently, in the centre of what is now the reading room of the Marciana Library, there was the monumental well designed by Jacopo Sansovino. This place was once the courtyard of the Zecca, the mint of the Republic of Venice. When, in 1904, the Zecca was transferred, the courtyard was covered and transformed into a reading room. The removed well-head was subsequently (1914) placed in the courtyard of Ca’ Pesaro, which now houses both the International Gallery of Modern Art (explore the Gallery with Google Arts & Culture) and the Museum of Oriental Art (explore the museum with a multimedia guide). A rich series of wells, some of which are very ancient, can be admired in the Archaeological Museum (explore the museum with a multimedia guide) and the Natural History Museum of Venice (browse the wonders of the museum also with Street View mode).
Discover the map of Venice wells and water fountains on the Atlante della Laguna web site.
[source: La newsletter di Venezia, N° 11/2020 del 10.04.2020]
[picture by Dezalb – own work / Pixabay]
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