Siòr Rioba: you don’t deserve this.


Crossing Campo dei Mori yesterday, on the way home from a magnificent row through the barene north of Burano followed by an abundant fish frittura hosted by the Voga e Para rowing club, I was stopped in my tracks when I glanced up at the familiar Moro merchant with the iron nose eternally perched on the corner of the campo to see that he’d be violently vandalized: someone had removed his entire head.

As reported in yesterday’s Gazzettino:

“The marble head of the statue “Sior [Antonio] Rioba,” a symbol of the long-lived merchant tradition of the Serenissima, was pillaged last night in the Campo dei Mori, Venice. Unknown assailants removed his entire head, cutting it off at the base of the neck.

One of the characteristics of the sculpture is its iron nose; the legend states that touching its face, just like the oldest of three [Mastelli] brothers of this merchant family from the east, will bring good fortune. . . .

At the moment, the act is theorized as vandalism. During the same night, someone also cracked the plate glass window of the Rioba restaurant. At this time there is nothing to connect the two incidents, but investigators are continuing to probe.

Venice’s mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, said he was ‘really struck and offended by this stupid, ignorant act that this night had mutilated one of Venice’s most important and popular depictions. I hope that the Rioba statue’s head is located quickly, and that it will still be possible to reattach it with as little damage as possible. This night’s vandalism reminds us once again of the fragility of our artistic patrimony, with its constant exposure to the ignorant and the boorish making it so difficult to protect.'”

This is such a heartbreaker. I’d write an entreaty for his return, but I somehow doubt whoever perpetrated this crime reads this silly blog. I’ll just go on hoping they find him.

For a more of photos of the statue before and after its defacement, see the the Facebook group Cercasi Rioba disperatamente (Desperately Seeking Rioba):, and

7 thoughts on “Siòr Rioba: you don’t deserve this.

  1. Shawn

    Disgusting. Depraved. Infuriating. Disheartening. The world is seriously depressing these days. We seem beyond redemption.

  2. Jill

    What a depressing act of vandalism…this makes me very sad. I too hope they find the head and reattach it without too much additional damage. Thanks for posting about this.

  3. Stella

    This is so terribly heartbreaking! The statue is such an important monument to Venetian cultural history. I hope that the head is eventually returned to its proper place… we must try to keep some faith in humankind!

  4. SuperAli

    Really really sad. It happens in Rome too, one tiny square in the Ghetto had to be fitted with cameras when the fountain was reopened 3 or 4 years ago after someone stole a turtle from it. Who are these clowns?


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