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Lost but Found (Sior Antonio Rioba)


The big news from Venice this week is the misfortune that fell upon Sior Antonio Rioba. The head of this iconic Venetian statue was removed and stolen but then recovered. The blog Venice from Beyond the Bridge has a photo of scuba divers searching for the head in the canal in front of the corner where the statue resides, but it was found undamaged in a nearby calle. I trust that head and body will be reunited soon.

This statue dates back to the 13th century, and it's supposed to bring good luck to touch his iron nose. It looks like the head had been removed or broken off before this recent theft, so it probably wasn't that hard to steal.


From A Lover of Venice's beautiful walking tour of Cannaregio comes this description of Campo dei Mori and its famous statues:

This is an enchanted place. The statues of three Moors, plus their servant, seem to come alive from the walls of the buildings. According to legend the three Moors are the Mastelli brothers (Rioba, Sandi and Afani) who came to Venice from Morea (Peloponnese) and owned a palazzo around the corner, on Rio de la Madonna de l'Orto, known as Palazzo Mastelli or del Cammello (of the Camel). The appellative Moors seems to refer to the fact that the brothers were from Morea, and not from North Africa as the term Moor usually indicates. The statue with the iron nose is very popular in Venice and it's known as Sior Antonio Rioba.

Sior Antonio Rioba is often compared to Pasquino, the talking statue of Rome. Like Pasquino, Rioba became a pop culture character in his city. For centuries, people would post anonymous rants and satires on the statue that were signed with the statue's name. The word "Rioba" is carved on the bundle the statue is carrying on his back and is also the name of a nearby trattoria. A few doors down the fondamenta you will find Tintoretto's house, and the church of Madonna dell 'Orto is a bridge or so away.

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Comments (5)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, this is so interesting. I wonder why they stole the head and as you said from your photo it looks like it was previously removed. Maybe it is because it is a famous pop culture character. I wish I would've visited this campo because it would've been cool to see all these statues especially this interesting one with the iron nose for good luck. I loved exploring Cannaregio a lot and the Madonna dell 'Orto is a beautiful church.

Thanks so much for the wonderful read this morning. Have a great weekend.

Kathy, thanks for your comments. I've got some photos of the other statues in this campo that I'll post soon. It's a cool little place. And I agree that Madonna dell 'Orto is such a wonderful church.

Have a great weekend!


What a cool spot! But a slightly scary looking statue (that chin! and nose!) I wonder why anyone would steal it, then just dump it nearby? Interesting mystery!

Sandra, it almost sounds like some kind of school kid prank.

Poor Sior Antonio Rioba! First he has to go through life with an iron nose, but to cut off his head? That is too much to go through. Glad his head was found and he is whole again.

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