Monument to Niccolò Tommaseo – Venice, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Venice, Italy

Monument to Niccolò Tommaseo

The pile of books behind the dignified writer gave the statue a most undignified nickname. 

Because it’s one of the biggest squares in Venice, Italy, Campo Santo Stefano is often a busy spot. But tourists bustling from the train station to the various churches and palaces dotting its perimeter may miss one of its most curious sights: a dignified statue with a most undignified nickname.

In the center of the square stands a statue dedicated to Italian linguist, writer, and patriot Niccolò Tommaseo. It was built in 1882 and was carved from a block of Carrara marble by Francesco Barzaghi.

In this statue, Tommaseo looks serious, with his arms folded as he frowns. His hands clutch rolls of paper, and he wears a sharp outfit reflective of the fashions of his time. Some books are piled behind him, which were actually placed there to give the statue some extra support.

It’s these books that make light of the statue’s otherwise serious appearance. Venetians noted that the placement of the books, just behind Tommaseo’s legs and partially covered by his long coat, made for an involuntary comic outcome. As such, they dubbed the statue Caga libri,” which translates to “Bookshitter.” The tongue-in-cheek name is still widely used today.

Know Before You Go

You can walk by the statue at any time.

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