Surmounting the door to the campanile (bell tower) of Santa Maria Formosa is a stone carving of a grotesque head. It is known as a scacciadavoli (chaser away of devils) and was intended to ward off evil spirits.
The head horrified John Ruskin (1819-1900): "Leering in bestial degradation, too foul to be either pictured or described, or to be beheld for more than an instant."
There are other such sciacciadiavoli to be seen above the doorways of Venetian bell towers.
Blogging about Venice:
its art, history & culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England.
Since 200I I have been living in Italy, where I run private tours of Florence, Rome &