A walk through romantic canals to discover Venice’s countless bridges
Annual fight competion between the inhabitants the eastern and western Sestiere
In the past, bridges were the setting of fights between residents belonging to different Sestieri (neighbourhoods of Venice). These were real fisticuffs with the goal of conquering the opposite bank by crossing the bridge, but the participants often ended up falling down the canals below. For this reason, they were called “Punch Bridges”; the most famous one is located in the Dorsoduro district, in Campo san Barnaba. It was the first place where the two rival clans, Nicolotti and Castellani, clashed physically and with bare hands. Tradition has it that the winner was the clan that managed to throw all opponents into the canal. These fights became illegal in 1705 because they were often extremely violent. It is still possible today to see the footprints on the floor left by the combatants at that time. The challenges were of three types: the “Show” (boxing between two opponents), the “Frata” (assault between two full factions) and the “Ordinata” (with thrusts).