Not far from the church of San Giovanni in Bragora there is a very famous sottoportego among lovers, because inside it is hidden a red brick in the shape of a heart behind which hides a beautiful and poignant legend of love. Touching the heart is said to make your wishes of love come true within the year.
Orio and Melusina: the “cursed” love of a fisherman and a mermaid
In Malamocco, one night, a young fisherman named Orio was pulling nets in a boat when suddenly he heard the voice of a woman asking for help. The boy realized that the woman was entangled right in his net, but she was not a woman but a mermaid. Her name was Melusina. Freed her from the net, Orio instantly fell in love with the beautiful mermaid and she immediately returned his love to the point of giving up her nature to go and live with him.
There was only one pact that Melusina asked Orio to respect: that he should stay out of the house every Saturday until the day of the wedding. At first, the young man respected Melusina’s request until one day, intrigued and jealous, he returned home on Saturday and found himself in front of a terrifying surprise. His wife had turned into a hideous snake. The siren, in fact, was the victim of a terrible spell for which every Saturday she assumed the form of a snake.
This curse, however, would have been broken only with marriage and so it was. The two lovers got married and had three children but life had an unpleasant surprise in store for them. Melusina fell ill and died leaving Orio alone with three children and the difficulty of dividing himself between work and housework. Every time the man returned home, even after the death of his wife, he inexplicably always found the whole house in order. But one day, returning home earlier than usual due to a sudden storm, he found a snake in the kitchen and instinctively killed it. From that moment the house was never in order and the man understood that he had killed the soul of his wife who returned, in the form of a snake, every day to help his family.
In memory of this story, a heart of stone was placed in the very place where Orio and Melusina lived, which is said to bring luck in love to those who touch it.