We are in San Canciano, in the Cannaregio district, in front of the church dedicated to the homonymous saint. Just after crossing the bridge over the Rio dei Santi Apostoli there is a sottoportego called “del traghetto” (ferry) whose name derives from the fact that in the past, this was the point where the boats that had to go to Murano, Burano and mainly to the island di San Michele (the current cemetery) landed.
At the end of the sottoportego, on two sides of a pillar of a house, two small iron anchors hang. What makes them special? They were exactly the hooks on which, in the past, two quarters of the body of the “quartered” (people condemned to be cut into four parts as punishment for their crimes and placed under the eyes of all) were hung.
These hooks are positioned in a different direction because the law required the four parts of the body of the condemned to be exposed in the directions of Padua, Mestre, Chioggia and Lido. The head of the condemned was positioned in Piazza San Marco.
Tradition has it that anyone who passes by these anchors should touch them for good luck. They bring luck precisely because if you touch them it means that you are still alive and the time has not yet come to be “ferried” to the island of San Michele. It will be just superstition, but it is always better not to risk it, touching them is always good luck! “