Three brothers in the company of their servant fled their native Greece to take refuge in Venice. Rioba, Sandi and Afani settled in Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello. The brothers were merchants of fine fabrics, but they were always ready to defraud their customers, selling poor quality goods at very high prices, while still ensuring the goodness of the product.
Tired of their behavior, a very religious Venetian lady asked Santa Maria Maddalena to hurl her curse on the three merchants. She decided to punish them and so in the guise of a noble widow of a Venetian merchant, one day she went to the three brothers to buy some fabrics from them, which had to be used to continue her husband’s work.
The three merchants could not wait to deceive such a naive lady, regardless of his misfortune. So they began to settle their very common cotton fabric as the most precious and sumptuous fabric in Venice, justifying, in this way, the exorbitant price.
One of the three brothers, Rioba, turning to the Lady said “Milady, this is the best yarn of Venice and the Lord can change us to stone if we do not tell the truth!”.
After these words, having paid the expensive sum requested, before leaving the lady said “Thank you Sirs! I hope the Lord has the same care and attention towards you that you have had for me”. Immediately after saying these words, the three merchants with their compliant servant were turned into stone.
Among the four stone statues, the most famous is Rioba, called precisely in the Venetian dialect “Sior Rioba”, in which it was once used to hang colorful and satirical tickets addressed to the most noble families.
In the 19th century the statue of Sior Rioba lost his nose, which was replaced by an iron nose. From that moment on, it is customary to say that touching Rioba’s nose brings luck. Is that true? No one knows who could say it, but touching is believing.
Location: Campo dei Mori, Venice