“Le dogane di Venezia”: a documentary to illustrate the economic heart of the city

1 October 2021

Venice, October 1st 2021- The “Dogana da mar” (Venice’s old customs buildings), that unique glimpse of Venice, that building nestled between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, that tip of an island that is a treasure trove of art and architecture, and that has been for centuries the economic hearth of the Serenissima Republic. 

It's now available the documentary “Le dogane di Venezia”, a project realized by the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli, in cooperation with the Municipality of Venice and the Veneto Region, born from the desire to share the history of a significant piece of the millenary history of Venice, on the occasion of the celebrations of the 1600 years since the foundation of the city: the Dogana da Mar. 

Presented at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, the documentary aims to highlight the crucial historical importance of Customs in the socio-economic development of Venice. 

Initially located in the Castello district, the Customs was moved at the entrance of the Grand Canal at the beginning of the fourteenth century, right at the center of Bacino San Marco, as central was the importance that it played in the economic life of the city. A front door, a checkpoint where local authorities examined the goods going to and from Venice. Its construction began with the building up of the Church Santa Maria della Salute, in 1630, and ended at the end of the century with the renewal of the old tower, by the architect Giuseppe Benoni. On the thin triangular tip, dividing the Grand Canal from the Giudecca Canal, the sculpture of Bernardo Falconi stands crowning the main building: a golden globe held by two statues of Atlas, above which the moving statue of Occasio symbolize the changing nature of luck, which helps sailors to control the wind.

The “Dogana da Mar'' embraces the history of Venice and its trades, the crucial center of the interchange between East and West, welcomed by St. Mark’s Basin, an inlet once filled with ships moored on the shore: cocche,galeonimarciliane and burchi full of wine, oil, wood, and wheat, galee filled with spices, precious silks and salt, reaching the center of Venice to be sorted between warehouses and the “fondaco” houses of Venetian trading families, used as deposit before the payment of the duty. Huge flows of goods that reached Venice to ensure wealth to the city. A trade that, since the second half of 1200, stretched up to the coasts of the Eastern Mediterranean, an extremely complex and structured port activity that needed a system of supervision and control. 

Today, within the framework of the European Union, Customs has become an institution that deals with facilitating trade, protecting the territory and the environment. From Venice it moved to Marghera in the early 2000s, turning into one of the places with the longest uninterrupted use in the world. 

The symbol of that Venice which, with its trades, connects far-off worlds, is now home to a museum of contemporary art, and remains a place still closely linked to the history of the city and to its future-oriented project to develop itself toward international trades, in the same way as it did 1600 years ago. 


The documentary is available on YouTube at the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c-g4C-

eGq0 and on the social accounts of the Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli.