Lista di Spagna
Pizza and postcards
Lista (a stripe) is an odd thing to call a street, even by Venetian standards. It comes from the Republic's habit of surrounding foreign embassies with a stripe of paving in Istrian stone, to show the exact limits of the diplomats' immunity.
Today, the Lista di Spagna is the beginning of the main path into Venice, from the rail station heading towards the Rialto. In its more dignified heyday, this busy, tawdry and unabashedly touristy street led to the Spanish Embassy (now the regional offices of the Veneto, opposite Hotel Continental) instead of to a soggy slice of pizza.
In 1618, when Venice was the European capital of intrigue and espionage, the Spanish Ambassador, the Marquis of Bedmar, masterminded a comic plot involving spies and a ruse to bring in a Spanish army, a few men at a time, in civilian clothes. Thanks to a patriotic prostitute, the Ten sniffed out the plot, resulting in the arrest and execution of 300 people, including many down and out patricians whose services were for sale.