Running in St. Mark area is beautiful and sometimes runners are not paying adequate attention to its elements like the many columns spread all over. Some have important stories to tell, running by them you can discover much more of this wonderful Piazza.
Run from the Basilica towards the water across the so called Piazzetta and stop in the middle of it; by turning your eyes to the left at the Ducal Palace you will see that the ninth and tenth column of the upper floor loggia are of a different colour from all the other ones: they are not white but red. According to some, those two red columns were the exact place from which the Doge attended the ceremonies and performances that took place in St. Mark square; from here, some judgement news were also announced such as the death sentences for the ones found guilty of serious crimes against the Republic of Venice.
Keep on running for few meters and you will encounter two tall columns on top of which we can see St Teodoro and the winged lion (a “chimera”) symbolizing St Mark: the people sentenced to death were hanged right between them, exposed to the public for several days as a memento of the misconduct of the condemned person. The treatment was reserved to convicts of any social class: in 1470 this punishment befell Bartolomeo Memmo, a nobleman found guilty of conspiring against the Doge Cristoforo Moro. For all these facts it is said that to pass in the middle of the two columns brings bad luck.
Keep the winged lion column on your right and run along the main façade of the Ducal Palace for few paces and stop in front of the fourth column of the ground floor. The fourth column seems to be bolder than the other ones and it is called the “cursed column” as it is said that was used as an opportunity for convicts to death to have their life saved. Once the front of the Ducal Palace stood directly on the lagoon without any square or dock surrounding it and the water touched the white massive columns of the ground floor. The convict had to turn around the column with the back on it for all the try and once succeeded had his life saved. There is not any knowledge about people that could turn around the whole column, but the records say more about people that could not do it and fell down in the water in some cases easing the executioner’s job by drowning in St. Mark’s pool.