Ponte delle Tette
In the past, Renaissance sex workers were encouraged to entice customers on this bridge.
Ponte delle Tette (Bridge of the Tits) is one of the hundreds of small bridges that cross the waterways of Venice, but this particular span is unique for its connection with sex work.
At the time of the Republic of Venice, sex work was very common, with more than 10,000 women supposedly engaged in the trade in the city. In an effort to contain this practice, authorities restricted it to the neighborhood of Carampane di Rialto in 1412, turning the area into a red-light district. A curfew was imposed on the sex workers there, who could not work on holy days and could only leave the area on Saturdays, and even then wearing a yellow scarf for identification. Also, taxes levied on the profession were imposed in 1514.
The bridge’s name comes from the story that sex workers were allowed and even encouraged to show their breasts from the windows of the buildings surrounding the bridge. It is said this was to attract customers, in particular gay men, who were seen as a social problem by authorities. They were also allowed to stand topless on the bridge holding lanterns at night.
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