In the area of Cannaregio in the North of Venice, you will find parallel streets, almost like a wave that become quieter and quieter the further you walk from the Epicenter. In this case, Strada nuovo is the danger zone, then walking one street over on Miserecordia, you have a nice ripple of people that picks up in the evening and on the weekends, one street over again you come to Rio della Sensa, it is already much quieter, with no shops and very few restaurants it is only really residents who walk here. And finally you come to madonna del orto, a beautifully peaceful out of the way area, crowned by the marvellous church itself.
The two streets of interest to us are Rio della Sensa and Rio di Sant’Alvise.
Palazzo Mastelli, otherwise known as the ‘Camel House’ is located in Rio Di Sant’Alvise, almost opposite the Church of Madonna Del Orto.
The story goes that this relief of camel was requested by a wealthy middle eastern merchant from the orient. Who was forced to escape from his own country, leaving behind also a beautiful woman who he had wanted to marry. In order to signal to her which house was his, incase she decided to follow him, he decided to place a camel relief on the outside of his house. Saying:
“I leave you with a broken heart and try to forget , but if one day you will want to join me at last in Venice , you can simply ask where is the house of the camel ‘s house.”
The fact that this strange scultpture stands so prominently out of place in these back streets of northern italy, probably means that this plan would have worked. However, there are those who di
spute this story and so for the time being we are only allowed to speculate.
However, the house is also known for being haunted by ghosts and spirits who have been seen loitering or creating havoc with the bells. What we can be sure of is that at one point it was the home of the legednary Mastelli brothers, Rioba, Santi and Alfano. They were known by the local authorities as the Moor brothers, coming from Morea in 1112. The three statues in the nearby Campo dei Mori depict them. And there is a fourth sculpture in the sottoportego near by believed to be there salve.disrecptpfulThe most famous of these three brothers is undoubtedly Mr Rioba, who became over time the ‘mouth of the people’. In a time when it was not permitted to make fun of or be disrespectful towards nobility, Mr Rioba was used as an anonymous figure, who was also asked questions and provided answers.
In the lower right corner of the front of the house, there is a small fountain in Arabian style, that until a few years ago, could be used to drink water while staying on the boat or gondola.