In Memory of a Tragic Miscarriage of Justice

Two lamps, Basilica San Marco, Venice
The next time you are in the Piazzetta di San Marco after dark, look up at the south side of the Basilica and you will see two small lights.

According to legend, they mark a tragic miscarriage of justice, which took place more than 500 years ago. 

Early one winter's morning, in 1507, a young baker by the name of Pietro Tasca was on his way to work when he stumbled across a dagger lying on the ground. A few feet away lay the body of a dead man. Tasca was duly arrested and 'confessed' under torture to the murder. On March 22nd, il povero fornaretto (the poor young baker) was hanged between the two columns, which stand at the end of the Piazzetta. However, a few days later, much to the shame of the authorities, the real assassin was discovered. 

The Venetian Republic prided itself on the fairness of its judicial system (torture notwithstanding!) and so, in recognition of the mistake it had made, it ordered two lamps to be lit, each night, in perpetuity. The lamps stare across the empty piazzetta at the two columns, where, more than half a millennium ago, an innocent man met his death.

Nowadays, the lamps remain permanently lit, day and night.


  1. That is so interesting, but cold comfort for Pietro!

    (Welcome back from your long silence.)


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