When on the Mercerie and walking towards the Torre dell’Orologio or clock tower, on the right-hand side you’ll see the “Sotoportego del Cappello”. When there, look up and remember this story…
If the Serenissima could become the longest lasting Republic in human history, one person that must be thanked for is the working-class citizen Giustina Rossi, better known as Lucia.
It was the 15th of June 1310 C.E., when Baiamonte Tiepolo and other noblemen launched their attack to overthrow the government of the Serenissima. As the rebels were only a few meters from St Mark’s Square and were getting ready for the final assault on the Doge Palace, Lucia, who was cooking, got curious about the nature of the loud sounds and opened her house window to see what was going on. As she did so, the old lady lost grip on the heavy mortar she was holding, hitting and immediately killing the flag holder of the rebels’ troops.
This lucky accident caused the rioters to panic, thinking they had been discovered and trapped, and it ensured the Serenissima an easy victory.
The Doge Gradenigo personally thanked Lucia and promised her not to ever increase the rent of her apartment, not to her or to her heirs. This solemn promise has been kept by the Serenissima until its fall in 1797, almost 500 years later!
Since 1861, a bass relief on the outside wall of the apartment, just where this glorious accident happened, depicts Lucia in the very moment she is dropping the mortar.
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