Campo Santa Maria Formosa (St. Maria Formosa Square)

[historic image of Campo Santa Maria Formosa]Legend has it that the Virgin Mary appeared in this square before Bishop San Magno, ordering him to erect a church in her name. The new church was dedicated to the purification of the Virgin Mary and the people called it Santa Maria Formosa in memory of the prosperous-looking figures the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared with. The legend was revived in the 14th century and was documented for the first time in 1060. The "casselleri" (makers of chests for the transport of goods or for containing the trousseaux of new brides) had their own devotional school, sacred to San Giuseppe, at the church of S.M Formosa. They asked the Doge and the Seignory to pay an annual visit to the church. On one such visit, the parson of the church paid tribute to the Doge by presenting him with hats made of paper or golden straw, two bottles of Malvasia wine and two oranges. These gifts came about as a result of the Doge’s somewhat jockey reply to their request for a pilgrimage: "And what if it was about to rain? And what if we are thirsty?" to which the casselleri replied, "We’ll give you hats to cover yourself and something to drink".

The church, which immediately became a parish church, was rebuilt only two centuries later by the sons of Marino Patrizio in 864. A fire destroyed it in 1105. The two main facades, the one giving onto the square (1604)and the one giving onto the canal (1542) were financed by the Cappello family. The church underwent further restorations in the course of time in particular in 1842 and in 1916 after a 1st World War Austrian bomb fell on the 9th August of that year.

Numerous festivities were held in Santa Maria Formosa Square notably the grandiose firework show and the following the year the magnificent bull and bear competition in honor of Ferdinand Prince of Tuscany which was blighted by the death of two women after a roof-terrace fell on them.