Tommy in Venice (I)

“…The first place of Venice that was inhabited, is that which now they call the Rialto, which word is derived from rivus altus, that is, a deep river, because the water is deeper there then about other Islands. And the first that dwelt in the same Rialto was a poore man called Joannes Bonus, who got his living there by fishing….

The Citie is divided in the middest by a goodly faire channel, which they call Canal il grande. The same is crooked, and made in the form of a Roman S….also both sides of this channel are adorned with many sumptuous and magnificent palaces that stand very neare to the water, and mae a very glorious and beautifull shew. For many of them are of a great height three or four stories high, most being built with bricke, and some few with faire free stone. Besides they are adorned with a great multitude of stately pillers made partly of white stone, and partly of Istrian marble. Their roofes doe much differ from those of our English buildings. For they are all flat and built in the manner as men may walk upon them, as I have often observed. What forme of roofing is generally used in all those Italian cities that I saw, and in some places of France, especially in Lyons, where I could not see as much as one house but had a flat roofe….

…Every Palace of any principall note hath a prety walke or open gallery betwixt the wall of the house and the bricke of the rivers banke, the edge or extremity whereof is garnished with faire pillers that are finely arched at the top. This walke serveth for men to stand in without their houses, and behold things…Somewhat above the middle of the front of the building, or, (as I have observed in many of their Palaces) a little beneathe the toppe of the front they right opposite unto their windows, a very pleasant little terrasse, that jutteth or butteth out from the main building: the edge wherof is decked with many prety little turned pillers, either of marble or free stone to leane over. These kinde of tarrasses or little galleries of pleasure Suetonius calleth Meniana. They give great grace to the whole edifice, and serve only for this purpose, that people may from that place as from a most delectable prospect contemplate and view the parts of the City around them in the coole evening. Withall I perceived another thing in their buildings…The foundations of their houses are made after a very strange manner. For whereas many of them are situate in the water, whensoever they lay the foundation of any house they remove the water by certaine devices from the place where they lay the first fundamentall matter. Most commonly they drive long stakes into the ground, without the which they doe aggerere molem, that is raise certaine heapes of sand, mudde, clay, or some other such matter to repell the water. Then they ramme in great piles of wooded which they lay very deepe, upon the which they place their bricke or stone, and so frame the other parts of the building. These foundations are made so exceeding deep, and contrived with so great labour, that I have heard they cost them very neare the third part of the charge of the whole edifice….

…it is said there are in the City of Venice at the least a hundred and twenty goodly Palaces, the greatest part whereof is built upon the sides of this great Channel.

…There is only one bridge to go over the great channel, which is the same that leadeth from St. Marks to the Rialto, and joyneth together both the banks of the channel. This bridge is commonly called Ponte di Rialto, and is the fairest bridge by many degrees for one arch that ever I saw, read, or heard of. For it is reported that it cost about fourscore thousand crownes, which doe make four and twenty thousand pounds sterling.” [2.789 million now – a decent sized house in Hampstead]

About robhunt510

Writer, artist
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