A Venetian story tells that some people condemned to death were offered the chance to save their lives as long as they could turn around a particular column on one side of the “Palazzo Ducale” that overlooks the San Marco basin without falling off the narrow step which acts as a pedestal to the entire basement. In the past the façade of the “Palazzo Ducale” faced directly onto the lagoon, without any small square or shore surrounding it and the water touched the white columns of the ground floor.
It is the fourth column of the long colonnade that overlooks the basin, starting from the corner one that also looks at the little square, and it also seems a bit bigger than the others; protruding for a few centimeters from the perspective profile formed by the colonnade. Well, the convicts had to step by step around the column with their backs against it and complete the circle for the entire circumference; if they could pass this test, they had saved their lives. A test that however never seems to have succeeded in any unfortunate except in rare cases of which no one keeps a trace.
As can be guessed, those who did not succeed in the task, slipping into the water, thus nullified the possibility of being pardoned if not even drowning in the waters of the basin of San Marco … and without disturbing the executioner.
For those who do not believe in the legend of the allowed “last lap” to save themselves from death, all that remains is to reach this infamous column of Palazzo Ducale, embrace it backwards and turn its back to it and try. Fortunately, those who try today will no longer fall into the water or climb onto the scaffold, but as then they will be clear that you cannot win the last lap with fate.
Location: Palazzo Ducale, Venice