Knowing what this head meant to the Venetians might shake you

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Head letterbox on the executioner's house in Venice, Italy

Calle della Testa in Cannaregio, close to the Scuola Grande di San Marco, owes its name to the big sculpture of a head (testa) which can be found on a house in that ally.  According to the tradition, the house which lodges this startling sculpture was home to one of the most active Serenissima executioners of the XV century.

The big head positioned on the facade of the house worked as a letterbox, through which the Republic was communicating the names and the chosen dates of the convicts to the hangman.

This is not the only “casa del boia” (house of the executioner) in Venice.

Other two “case del boia” are said to be the single house in the middle of Santa Margherita square and next to the Fontego dei Turchi, a low house facing the Grand Canal.

While the house on the main Venetian canal was indeed home of executioners, the one in Santa Margherita used to be a Scuola dei Varoteri, or School of the Leatherworkers, which explains the peculiarity of being one of the few isolated houses in Venice, to spare others from unpleasant smells.

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