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According to a census completed in Venice in , 11, women were working as prostitutes at the time — roughly equivalent to a fifth of the entire Venetian female population.
In order to keep the profession under control, various decrees were passed by the government; to distinguish themselves from Venetian noblewomen, ladies of the night had to ride in gondolas with red lights on their prows, making the Rialto area — where they plied their trade — a literal red light district.
Just next to the Rialto Bridge, by the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, you can still find a place known as the Traghetto del Buso Ferry of the Hole — a reminder of the location from which the gondolieri transported clients to the prostitutes on the other side of the Grand Canal; the word buso refers to a specific coin used to pay for the crossing, which had a hole in the centre.
The Rialto Bridge itself was also once decorated with explicit representations of the female sex — but these have, unsurprisingly, long since been removed. October Previous read:. Next read:. Categories an insight into Venice and the world of property!
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