The Campo di San Giacomo di Rialto in Venice was for centuries the place where trade was conducted. It was also here that important announcements were made. The latter happened on the Gobbo di Rialto, a marble staircase named for a statue of a hunchback opposite the San Giacomo di Rialto Church.
Campo San Giacomo di Rialto Venice
The Gobbo (“Hunchback”) refers to a statue of the kneeling man supporting a staircase. It was made in 1541 by Pietro da Salò. From the top of this staircase, announcements, ordinances and sentences used to be read out to the Venetians.
Originally, the hunchback was the end point of a path condemned criminals had to walk from the Basilica of San Marco. Along the way, these men were flogged. Later, the end point was moved to the first pillar on the left side of the portico. This pillar is easily recognizable because of the lion and cross. According to tradition, the criminals did not have to go to prison if they managed to cover the distance naked, within a certain time.
The oldest reference to the market is found in a document from 976.
The portico surrounding the square is called the Sottoportego del Bancogiro and was built to connect the various stores, department stores and offices that flourished in the area. Bank transfers were also made under the portico.
On a side street near the church is a pillar with an inscription listing the fees weighers were allowed to charge.
The Rialto was one of the first places where a settlement was founded that would grow into today’s Venice. Therefore, the San Giacomo di Rialto Church, although looking much more modern, is among the oldest churches in the city.