Italy – Tintoretto and the witch, Venice

Tintoretto and the witch

In my latest post about Venice I talked about the Square of the Moors and Mr. Rioba. Another legend about this famous square, that deserves to be told is about Tintoretto’s House (do not know who Tintoretto was?

After telling you all about the Square of the Moors and Mr. Rioba, I can’t not mention the nearby Gothic building, which was the house of Jacopo Robusti known as ‘Tintoretto‘ as the tombstone on the front of his house says.

On the same facade there is also a high relief depicting Hercules with a cudgel, on which another legend is based on Tintoretto, his daughter and a witch.

Marietta was one of Tintoretto’s daughters. Some time before holy communion, the girl had to go for ten days to the Church of the Madonna dell’Orto to receive the Eucharist. On the first morning, Marietta met a lady who asked her if she would like to be like Our Lady. Marietta, amazed as she was she answered yes.
The lady then told her that in order to fulfill her wish she should, in these ten days, keep the ten particles in her mouth and then hide them at home. Only when she had collected all ten of the particles, her wish would be fulfilled. So Marietta did.
Marietta had almost collected all ten particles, in a box, in the garden near the animal barn, when, one morning, the animals stopped right next to the box, without wanting to move.

Tintoretto, astonished by this behavior, approached and noticed the box. He opened it and saw the particles. Then he asked to Marietta why she had kept them. So the child explained about the lady and her promise. Tintoretto understood immediately. This lady could not be anything but a witch, he knew, in fact, that the old witches recruited the younger ones with this kind of trick.

So, on the tenth day, Marietta, following the instruction of the father, let the witch to enter the house. As soon as she entered, Tintoretto hit her with a big stick. The witch tried to escape by turning into a cat that throws itself against the wall, creating a hole through which the witch managed to escape. Tintoretto, to discourage the witch from returning, placed a relief in front of the hole that depicted Hercules with a club, symbol of strength and masculinity. It seems that the witch never got to see Marietta again!