Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni

CACCIA ALL'ORSO - The Bear Chase

... it would be more appropriate to call it "the BEAR TORTURE", though

Same thing as the Cazza del Toro, but we have a bear here. The bull was more apt to defend itself, the bear a little less, but the "fun" was the same.

The managing of this entertainment wasn't of course always painless.

There is documentation about a domestic accident happenend to a certain Giorgio Emo, who was keeping in captivity a bear, and was killed by it, 35 deep wounds were found on his body.

The accident happened on May 20, 1607 - so well beyond Carnival time - the bear was kept for the future performances, I imagine.

And something a little unusual happened too in Santa Maria Formosa in 1688, when the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando de' Medici was visiting.

There were several bears, in this special occasion, and each bear was tied to a pole with quite a loose chain, so it could better defend itself against the dogs, thing that they did.

We can just imagine how bloody were the fights and how many dogs succumbed to the situation in spite of the cavacanis doing their best.

Public was delighted, though.

Pieter Van der Aa: "Ursorum Pugna" (Fight with the Bear)
etching (18th century) - detail

Gabriele Bella "Caccia all'orso in Campo Sant'Angelo" (Bear Hunt in Campo Sant'Angelo)
oil on canvas (18th century) - detail - Pinacoteca Querini Stampalia, Venezia

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