Sior Antonio Rioba
In Campo dei Mori stands Sior Antonio Rioba, an ancient statue that finds a place in every Venetian's heart.
Antonio Rioba was one of three brothers who, in 1113, arrived in Venice from Morea (the name the Venetians gave to the Greek islands of the Peloponnese). Sior Antonio Rioba is often described as Venice's very own Pasquino (the most famous of Rome's 'talking' statues, or statue parlanti). For centuries, comments (often facetious or scurrilous in tone) on all matter of things were attached to the statue.
Sior Antonio Rioba was not the only statue in the city to enjoy this role; he was assisted by the Gobbo di Rialto and the Maròco de le pipone. The three statues were, in effect, the social media outlets of their day.
The so-called gobbo (hunchback) is also very well-known and can be found in the campo outside the church of San Giacometto. The bent figure, who is not, in fact, a hunchback, supports the platform on which officers of the Venetian Republic once stood to read out proclamations etc.
The Maròco de le pipone, however, is a much less familiar and much smaller figure. The little melon seller is one of the tradespeople and artisans, who are carved into the bases of the two granite columns in the Piazzetta San Marco.
The Maròco de le pipone sits at the base of the grey column, on which stands the lion of Saint Mark. Sadly, the passage of time has not been kind to the melon seller or his fellow traders.