The “Vere da pozzo”, or well heads, are typical of Venice. Just this is enough to make them interesting. Underneath each well  head there was a big reservoir filled with drinking water; hundreds of well heads meant hundred of water filled reservoirs, part rain water and part water drawn from the Brenta river and carried into the city from the mainland with specific pontoons. These waters were then purified by filtering them through sand. For centuries the wells safeguarded the survival of the inhabitants of this strange city built on small islands scattered in a salt water lagoon.

All together the following people offered the citizens wells, paying it with their own money: the rulers to estabilish the funds and the places allocated to dig the wells, the technicians, who directed the works made by highly-specialized workers, the guards to constantly guaranteed spotless tidiness, the priests who signaled any necessity of the parish and tolled the bells which indicated the estabilished hours to collect water, … and we can add some noblemen, or rich merchants, who,helped in order to polish their lineage’s reputation or (and I want to believe this) out of pure generosity.

Let us talk now about the well heads, that are the visible part of the well, which are structures often made of refined marble: they are polygon shaped, cylindrical, cubical, etc… and, as the centuries passed by, they changed style and decorations according to the taste and fashion of the time. These heads can still be seen in Venice, and are both public and private: the latter in some gardens, visible through the fences; the first in museums, ex-convents opened to the public, “corti” (squares), “calli” (streets), “campielli” (small squares), but since the city had its own water supply network (1882-1884), just a few heads remain.

To some of them (with questionable aesthetic results) a small metal fountain was added.  Some others (like the one in Campo S. Leonardo) were modified and, from a fountain cane they now pour clear and fresh water, becoming urban decor and precious symbol of the ingenuity and the strenght that these ancient venetians used to overcome the obstacles of a hostile environment.

So, I fell in love with these well heads and started to look for them all around Venice, walking a lot and disovering so much about campi, campielli, very short underways and very narrow streets, inner parts of churches filled with artistic treasures, magnificent glimpses of the city and then, with a boat or a motorboat, also the heads which are found in the other islands in the Laguna.

Now I thought to publish on the internet the pictures I initially took for myself, so that everyone could know this heritage, which should be better preserved.
I am also certain that anyone who is able to learn to “see” these works will want to defend them from the negligence and the incivility of many people who act stupidly because they don’t know the value of the goods they damage, goods that are theirs too.

For some of these heads I took more than one picture, be it to highlight a detail, as in cases of severe neglect, or to offer a second point of view but most of all to show everyone, venetians and non venetians, the great and unique harmony that exists among these manufacts and the surrounding environment…MAybe also to suggest, while walking through Venice, the opportunity to find a forgotten well head. I guarantee, if that happens, a really emotional moment.