Mastelli Palace, the camel’s house
Campo dei Mori, 3381 – Cannaregio, Venice
Mastelli Palace is commonly known by Venetians as the camel’s house, for the high relief placed on the facade of the building overlooking the canal, which shows a man leading a camel.
The legend says that a wealthy middle eastern merchant, who was forced to leave his country to move to Venice, decided to place on the front of his new house the relief with the camel. In order to try make it recognizable to the woman he loved. The woman unfortunately had not agreed to marry him, but in case she changed her mind and decided to join him at last in Venice, the last words of the man to his loved one before leaving seem to have been: “if one day you will want to join me in Venice, you can simply ask where the camel’s house is”. Apparently, however, she never showed up.
In reality, the Palace was built by the Mastelli family. The three brothers, Rioba, Santi, and Alfani, who were also called the Moors by the local venetians, were silk and spices merchants from Morea, and they moved to Venice in 1112.
The three statues in the nearby Campo dei Mori depict them.
In the lower right corner of the front of the house, there is a small fountain in Arabian style, that until a few years ago, could be used to drink water while staying on the boat or gondola.
The Mastelli Palace is also linked to another legend.
It is said that the palace from 1757 was haunted by ghosts and that every day, around the same time, all the bells began to ring and as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped again. The Chronicles also said that you could hear steps, and see shadows in the mirrors and windows opening and closing by themselves.
People began to talk about it and to be afraid of it. The owners were so scared at first and after, sick and tired of the bells that in the end they even called the chaplain of San Fantin to perform an exorcism. Apparently, the operation was successful, because since then the ghosts have not appeared anymore.
Next time I will tell you about the story of the three brothers and their statues.