In Cannaregio district in the city of Venice, there is a burning skeleton of a mean man that is cursed to haunt the city around Campo de l’Abazia. 

Walking around the picturesque streets and canals in Venice you might think you are so safe. There are people everywhere and the windows so close to the street are always open. Wandering over the curved bridges and walking over the old cobblestone, you might not even notice other people as you are so preoccupied by the wonderful old architecture in the Cannaregio district. But you should never feel too safe. 

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According to old Venetian legend, there is a story about the ghost of a man still haunting the streets, especially around Campo de L’Abazia where he made a sin so great, he was cursed to walk around the area for eternity. He comes in the shape of an old man with a big bag on his back, begging for help. According to legend you must never help him, and whatever you do, never look him in the eyes. If you do this, he will turn into the burning skeleton and frighten you, maybe even to death?  

The skeleton is said to be of the usurer or a moneylender known as Bartolomeo Zenni that was so mean that he was condemned to be transformed into the burning skeleton. He lived in the 1400s, a time where Venice and Milan fought off territory in Northern Italy. Venice was at this time one of Europe’s wealthiest and most powerful cities. The Renaissance period which would change the world forever had just begun to take root in Italy and would bring them into a new area. 

Amidst all of these world changing events, everyday life went on in the streets of Venice, for people like Bartolomeo Zenni on Campo de L’Abazia. But tragedy struck the small neighborhood. 

On 13th of May in 1437, a fire broke out at Campo de l’Abazia and several of the houses were engulfed in flames. The neighbors of Bartolomeo Zenni asked him to help them, trying to save their children from the fire that was devouring everything. Bartolomeo Zenni refused to help his neighbors and instead grabbed all of his gold and jewels to save himself. Perhaps he escaped the fire safely, but in the afterlife, he will never escape from the fire as he was cursed to haunt these streets forever without a coin of gold to his name. 

So if you walk these cobbled streets and someone asks for your help, do you offer it?

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