Calletta Varisco in Venice is one of the narrowest streets in the city, and owes its name to the Varisco family who moved to Venice from Bergamo in the fifteenth century.
As well as being known in the city as silk workers in a Rialto shop, the chronicles of those times speak of Varisco family as the protagonists in two violent episodes that saw them imprisoned for a spell.
In 1488 Giovanni Varisco, who was considered a “man with a quarrelsome and bad temper”, wounded Luigi Dragan with a knife near the Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo. The motivation for Giovanni’s attack are not known. A few years later, in 1491, Pietro Varisco (the eldest of the family), who being accused of fraud by a young servant named Marco, orders his son Luigi to slap the boy.
The consequences of this argument follow quickly, and on March 8, 1491, the court of the Serenissima condemns both father and son to a year of imprisonment together with the payment of a large sum of money. The administrative efficiency of the courts and the severity of the prisons of the Serenissima Repubblica, served only partly to stem crime in Venice so much so that the Varisco tale is not an isolated one, and certainly not the most serious of the court reports of those times.
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