If any citizen of the Serenissima worth his salt could come back to contemporary Venice, the first place he’d visit might be this charmingly old fashioned museum housed since 1958 in a 15th-century granary. Without the right stuff displayed here, there would have been no St Mark’s, no doges, no Bellinis or Titians, and indeed no Venice. The low admission price makes this museum one of the best deals in town, and as a bonus there are explanations in English.
On the ground floor you can learn all about Italy’s one outstanding success in the Second World War: the ‘nautical pigs’ or manned torpedoes, invented by Prince Valerio Borghese. Not as kamikaze as they sound, these were operated by two divers, who would guide the weapon to its target, set the explosive and swim away.
They sank 16 ships, nearly all of them British anchored in the port of Alexandria; after they had sunk HMS Valiant on 19 December 1941 the Admiral of the Fleet very sportingly decorated the divers for their courage.
Images by AMB Brescia, Zairon