Thursday 21 August 2014


Here is what a tourist would have seen in Venice, 1594:

Gondolas:The boats are very neat and, except for the ends, covered with black cloth, so as the passengers may go unseen and unknown, and not be annoyed at all with the sun, wind, or rain. And these boats are ready at call any minute of the day or night.

Holy relics at St. Mark:  A piece of a bone of Philip the Apostle, a piece of the cheekbone and four teeth of the Martyr St. Biagius, pieces of bones of St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas of Canterbury…and part of the hair of the blessed Virgin, and a piece of a finger of the Evangelist Luke, and a piece of a rib of St. Peter …which shows how they worshiped images in a more modest though superstitious age.

The Ghetto: The Jews have a place to dwell in separately, called Il Ghetto, where each family has a little house and all have one court-yard in common, so that they live as it were in a college or alms-house and may not come forth after the gates are locked at night, and in the day they are bound to wear a yellow cap.

Palazzi: The palaces have one door towards the land, and another towards the water, and most of them have gardens. The floors of the upper rooms are not laid with boards, but plastered with lime tempered with tiles beaten to dust.  The windows are for the most part very large, lying almost altogether open to receive air, but the lodging chambers have glass windows whereof the Venetians brag, glass being rare in Italy, where the windows are for the most part covered in linen or paper.

This noble city is rightly called in Latin Venetia, as it were “Veni etiam”, come again!
(Source: Fynes Moryson, An Itinerary)

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