Speechless thoughts of Santo Stefano

There are many churches in Venice, all hold amazing stories among their walls. All hold secrets never to be uttered between the columns. All are part of a family, they have helped capture a moment in time, a snap shot of a Venice that has long gone. They offer us more than just a chance to reflect on faith, but also a chance to reflect on humanity and what it means to be human.

Santo Stefano is one such place for me, where I can stand and ponder the minds that designed, built, ran and prayed at that spot all those centuries ago. Situated in the San Marco Area of the city, Santo Stefano, in my eyes at least, is one of the most remarkable churches in the city.

Founded in the 13th century under the Order of Saint Augustine, Santo Stefano has been a presence in the city for almost 800 years. It went through rebuilds in the 14th century, along with alterations in the 15th to accommodate a growing population. The red brick walls, accompanied by the exquisite marble portal of Bartolomeo Bon, welcome you into the square, commanding the area, capturing you with its size. Time has warn its face, the winds of the lagoon have done their work. Yet the character that has developed over these centuries, the grace that still stands across the square is a testament to the people that love her, to the genius of her architects and to the city that protects her. Once you pass under the marble and through the doors, you enter a world that seems to have been untouched by histories hand. The patterns on the walls, the designs on the ceiling, all draw you into a space dominated by the past. Everywhere you turn, something new finds your eyes gave, whether its a artwork depicting Christ, the bust of a once famous statesman or the beautiful metalwork that manages to grab that last bit of sunshine getting in from the stain glass window across the hall.

Santo Stefano, like many grand sites across the city, is a guardian to the past. Not only is she a work of art, but she protects the art works of those that trod the cities stone. the Church sports two gallery’s. The first to Art, with masterpieces like ‘The Risen’ and ‘Christ in the garden of Gethsemane’ by Jacopo Tintoretto, along with Bartolomeo Vivorini’s ‘Saint Nicola From Bari’. The second to sculpture, here the living stonework of Tullio Lombardo and Antonio Canova can inspire and shine a light on their past thoughts, fears and desires through their chiseled works. In these galleries, the visitor can glimpse upon the paint strokes that inspired a populations enlightened thinking.

It is clear that this site is more than just a place of faith, it is for all who wish to witness the treasures of the past and get to know the produces of a people engulfed by the movement we have come to know as the renaissance.

A short walk from the Accademia Bridge, its a spot that i would recommend visiting for an afternoon. Even if the idea of architecture and art does not take your fancy, this Campo always has something going on to entertain all who visit.

Santo Stefano is more than brick and mortar, its a site that helps house the passions of old masters and helps educate and inspire the minds of new ones.

Advertisements

Venice and The Great Sea Liners

More and more these days i’m reading my reports, articles and posts about the giant cruse ships sweeping through the lagoon creating waves and currents the the city just can’t take.

Venice. A city that has sat upon the waters of the Lagoon for almost 1000 years, has led the world in trade, exploration, banking, education and government. It’s a city that is not just important to Europeans, but has historically affected the outcome of many counties across the world today. As you will know, Venice holds a very special place in my heart and it destroys me to see liners like these creating such havoc among the fragile buildings of the floating city.

It has been reported that no less than 600 ships passed through the lagoon in the last year, using small loop holes in Italian conservation plans and restrictions as to get close to the city and her delicate walls. Back in 2014, a plan drafted by UNESCO demanding that the Large tankers and cruise ships be band from the lagoon, something UNESCO states it is ‘failing to obey’. At first it was taken seriously, 2014 also saw the first official ban of cruise ships from the lagoon, but after 3 months of protest from the liner companies, this was over turned.UNESCO works around the clock to come up with restriction plans, talking to all parties involved, to try and come up with solutions. It has called the numbers of tourists and inhabitants of the city ‘Out of balance’, something that needs to be addressed. At the 2014 Venice and Lagoon conference, UNESCO urged the Italian state to look at the overwhelming evidence discovered by ICOMOS to take things further. It was decided that the Italian state would achieve this by 2017, something that we all know wont happen.

For those of you that don’t know, the buildings sit on large wooden structures, they sit on small islands that have, over time, become submerged. everyone knows that slowly Venice sinks into the water, but as we speak, conservationists from all around the world are helping to tackle these problems with modern inventive methods. Unfortunately, these plans can be hindered with the momentum of the waters that are kicked up by these steel monsters that persist on entering the shallows. Yes, the city has a history with ships, huge ships in fact. The Venetians were famed on their abilities to create some of the greatest ‘Round Ships’ the world have ever seen, but even these worked with the sea and the tide not against it. Sails did nothing to disturb the under currents, but large rotating propellers of a cruise ships do.

In effect these powerful engines create a swell of water, putting strain on the already strained wooden struts. Reports have come out of buildings shaking, walls moving and the floors trembling as the ships pass by for some unbeknownst tourists. The people of Venice are sick of this happening to their city. Unfortunately its a double edged sword, Venice no longer a trading republic, but a city in northern Italy, has little to no industrial or manufacturing power, around 80% of the local economy comes from tourism.

Projects have come and gone to try and tackle this, ‘Contorta, ‘Tresse’ and even ‘Venis’ have all tried to help combat the shipping problem. The Italian Environmental Fund, the organisation that looks after all key heritage sites across the Italian peninsula, has said plainly that ‘the city will die’ if balance between tourists and locals is not addressed, the city will sink faster, the stone will erode quicker and the culture will disappear in a blink of an eye.

Back in September, the first ‘No to BIG BOATS’ protests started. I want to congratulate and send out my support to those protesters for standing up to these companies and tourist travel agents, and wish them all the luck in the world. One day we will all get what we want for the city, a city of no large ships, no liners, peace and prosperity to the cities people and a growing local economy that will help protect, preserve the buildings and the people that inhabit them.

NO TO BIG BOATS!

Ascension Day and a Wife made of Waves

One of the wonderful and enchanting traditions is the ‘Wedding with the Sea’ Ceremony. From Venice’s early years, this ceremony has been the embodiment of one of the city’s unique cultural and spiritual rituals. It encapsulates their faith, their love and respect for the lagoon and sea on which they live, and symbolizes and bond between man and nature. The ‘Wedding of the Sea’ is still a ceremony that carry’s on to this day, lending itself as an echo from the past, that has carried for nearly 2000 years. The Doge, the original groom in this event, may be gone, but the part that he would play, has not.

At the turn of the Millennium, the ceremony was devised. Around 1000 A.D., a campaign to take back the Dalmatia  was started by Doge Pietro II to take the region under the control of the Venetian Empire. Victory was assured, as a ceremony was created, Ascension Day, the day that the Doge sent his fleet out into the Mediterranean to win glory for the Empire. It was said that before sending the fleet off to fight, Pietro Sailed his fleet into the Lido from San Mark to Church of San Nicolo, the patron saint of Sailors, to gather blessings for calm waters and a strong wind. As time passed, this became a regular event, celebrating the victory every year, a marker of Venetian power and faith.

In 1177, Venice and the Papacy signed, after a bloody struggle with the Holy Roman Empire, a peace treaty with Fredrick Barbarossa the Holy Roman Emperor. At a ceremony of the victory, similar to that of the year 1000, Pope Alexander III told Doge Sebastiano Ziani to ‘Marry the waters’ and handed him his golden ring. From then on every year, Ascension Day became an event of more than just marking a military victory, it became an event of which the faithful and spiritual people of the city and her empire, would give thanks to the sea on which they lived, traveled, traded and conquered on. By the elected head of state marrying the waters, it reminded people of a time before the church they had come to know, and back to a when nature and pagan views ruled their lives. The people of Venice, that being said of Italy and most of Europe, were all Christians, answering to the papacy and Catholicism at the time of this ritual being added to the on going event. For a mortal man to marry nature, to prey to it and ask for its blessing and on going love, was something more. This is why this ceremony is so special and unique. It came at a time when Venice was growing, when they started to believe themselves special for being water dwellers, masters of the waves and commanders of the lagoon. This ‘marriage’ also gave the people something to also rally behind. The Doge a man of great power and wisdom, elected from some of the most noble families in Venice, dedicates and pledges himself to the waters, offering his love and devotion to the sea so that his people of all colours and creeds are kept safe when using her for business or pleasure.

To this day, the ceremony continues to be a vital part of the cities ritual. Every year the Mayor of the city will wonder out on his barge, the ‘Bissona Serenissima’, to the same location were all those centuries ago the Doge would wed the sea. The Bucintoro, Introduced into the ceremony and Venetian state life in 1253, was lost with the invasion of Napoleon in the late 18th century. Currently, efforts are being made to reproduce and rebuilt the vessel to be used as a symbol of regional pride. But until then, the mayor will have to use a smaller and less grand barge to help carry him and a 1000 year tradition.

This small ceremony is just one crumb of a story that encapsulates me, fascinates me about the history of Venice, her society, how she grew and what she really believed. How they viewed themselves as a unique and different group of people to the rest of the known world. The Venetians were masters of the waves, expanding points on the map, but in their minds, this was only possible with the consent and trust of that, the source from which they needed to accomplish this, the Sea.

San Giacomo dell’Orio: One of the first

One of the most beautifully romantic churches in Venice, is the San Giacomo dell’Orio. Founded in the 9th century, the church was set up in the name of  St James the Greater.

On a marshy island, in the crystal lagoon, stood land so mythical and spiritual that a single Laurel tree (Or Orio, as reference to the name), was sat. So wonderful and pure this area that the Church was built upon next too the river that ran past this lonely tree. That’s how the legend goes anyway. The first documented account of the church being in the Venetian area was in 1120, but the building that we know and love today stands as it would have looked in 1225, when it was remodeled and new features were added. The tower that shadows the main body was built in 1225, but had to be restored in 1360 after a devastating earthquake shook the city in 1347. The rebuild of 1225 was funded by wealthy families of the time, including the Badoer and Da Mula families, both influential and master patrons.

Restoration on the building has in fact been something that continued long until 1906, included major overhauls in structural support like in the 1532 project. The importance and pure historical value of this site is so great that much attention is given to both her interior and exterior.

She houses some great works of renaissance art by artists such as Lorenzo Lotto, one of the last pieces he produced before he left the city. Other such masters of the canvas such as Pala il Giovane and Francesco Bassno are also housed here.

Over time the Church has had various additions due to styles and influences. Of course as the republic and her empire grew and expanded into more exotic territories, these styles in architecture are brought back to show this. Two columns that were added to the church came from the then Venetian trading capital ‘Constantinople’, today better known as Istanbul. We can only presume, like many other prizes taken from expeditions, that these columns were placed at the front of the church to illustrate the Venetian Empire and her expansion into the East.

The features of the exterior are typically medieval, which in many ways, gives it a fresh glow. as many buildings have tumbled, knocked down and redesigned, this church has in many ways managed to stay true to its original design. The site is testament to the City and its rich history.

My words, however short and brief can not compare to the beauty of this site. Thinking about the masons through out the last 800 years that have worked and dedicated there skills to create a master piece that has stood through war, political division, famine, imperial collapse and modern day challenges. The Church of San Giacomo dell’Orio stands as one of those hidden gems, a lost story hidden in a crowd of voices. For the sake of the memories of those who designed, built, prayed and maintained this church for all of us, believers or not, go and see her walls, doors, paintings, artifacts and its unique medieval character for yourself.

Venice is full of treasures like this one, go and explore!

 

San Polo: Palazzo Bernardo

In the majestic district of San Polo stands a Palazzo that commands everyone’s attention whether they travel past by boat or foot. This palazzo is that of the family Bernardo.

 

Built in 1422, this building is one of the mightiest and most stunning in the entire city. The architecture is influence by the Doges own palazzo, sharing similar designs and features as to inform passers by of what kind of Noble family resides among its walls.  The stone work is largely carved from Istrain stone, a common material around the city. You can see it in famous structures such as the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ and the Rialto Bridge. The architecture also, as many buildings in Venice do, have this interesting mix of Renaissance Italian styles mixed with Byzantine influences. From the window and water portal arches you can see a clean relation between the two worlds. This is not uncommon in Venice due to the vast amounts of trade that took place between these two civilizations.

Through out its long history, the palazzo, in its entirety,  has always been a desirable location. For example, it is commonly known that  Francesco Sforza and his wife Bianca Visconti stayed at the palazzo on a tour on the republic and its famous city. Dukes, Princesses and Cardinals, have stayed in the halls of this fine building, giving the site a legendary history and renown character of grandeur.

The building has changed through many hands. When the Bernardo family fell out of financial favor, they sold the sight in the 17th century. Eventually towards the end of that same century the family gained back their ancestral home earning them the title of ‘cittadini originari’ (Original Citizens), a rare and honorable title. Families such as the Bellotto, Navatovich and now in 2016, in the hands of the Avogadro, have all owned this palazzo and maintained its grace. It is now private apartments of some of the noble families of Venice, it also is allocated partly to the cities university.

This stunning Palazzo has always been at the center of Venice’s story for the last 590 years, i hope that it continues to do so for the next  500. Buildings such as these always have such character and so many stories to tell. They have added to the history of Italy and to that of Europe. This house’s story transcends the borders of Venice and seeps into the tales of many other important historical events across the continent. Buildings such as these need to be protected, conserved and managed so that they add to their portfolio of heritage.

Venetian Navigators by Andrea Di Robilant

I thought for my next post, a post that has been long over due, i would review a book. I read a lot, i think it helps you to discover, grow and expand your mind. I know certainly in my quest to get to know the history of Venice, i have red many paper backs and hard backs to help me understand the complex history of the culture, society and leadership of that remarkable republic.

One such book was the book ‘Venetian Navigators’ by Andrea Di Roberts. This book is all about the adventures of the younger Zen/Zeno Brothers of the late 14th century. If you have red any of my other posts, or know me, you will know that i have a real affection towards this family the brothers that help win various military campaigns and help expand trade roots and play a vital role in government.

This book is a great piece of reading. It explores the very relationship the Brothers have with the City, how they grew to become such iconic figures in society. But this is more than just a celebration of the Brothers Nicolo and Antonio Zen, its also an amazing adventure. Andrea takes us on a great journey across the seas to explore all the sources and leads he finds in helping to write this books. We start as he starts, being shown a mysterious map in the Venetian Archives produced by Zen family member in the 16th century, describing claim to all the islands and lands discovered by the Exploring brothers. As we go through the book, we examine the sources, look at the evidence and come to the story of what really happened to the Zens. We, along with Andrea, take apart the books and maps produced over the years to propagandizes the Zens brothers journey.

Robilant’s writing style is something i love. its full of imagery and wonder. He helps us make sense of all the evidence we discover together, to help retell the real story of the voyages. Between these chapters of history, we are thrown back to the modern day were we follow Robilant’s on his quest, meeting all the amazing people first hand to gain knowledge. We visit all the islands that were claimed to have been discovered and conquered by the Zens. Though the stories and tales of locals, mixed together with evidence that have themselves collected over time, piece by piece us and the author create the story lost in time, lost in miss spelling and misheard facts.

This book is more than just a history book, spilling out fact after fact after fact, its an historical detective story were you and the author take a journey to seek the truth and cast aside the speculation.

This is a must read if you want to know more about this wonderful family and the kind of people that they produce.

Happy to be back!

Well. I have not been on here for a while, 4 months to be exact, but that’s what happens when you spend your free time planning your wedding. It’s very good to be back and writing again, it keeps my mind active and my heart alive reminding me why i work in heritage and love the past so much.

Since being back, in the UK the heritage industry has really taken a beating. Funding has been cut, robbery has sky rocketed and what were once promising passionate careers, are now turning into volunteer roles. I’m very luck for the fact that, not only have i kept my job, but my role has been getting more and more traction, by that i mean i know help to look after a 230 year old building in a maintenance and conservation sense.

I want to use this post to allow me to speak my mind on the subject on heritage and history and make my stance quite clear. A certain family member always tells me that the past is not important, always asks what we get out of history, that its boring and not worth their time. This not only upsets me, but also angers me.

History is all of us. It’s our past, our joint past. It is what has made the world today. Example, I might not have any direct relation to the events in revolutionary France in the late 18th century, but it shaped the world, shaping England, therefore shaping England’s past and my future. History is a chance for us to learn, study and help angle the future to a better tomorrow. This all sounds very artsy and well wished, but its true. You can’t escape your past, its in your genetic makeup. Your skin, eyes, hair, height and weight all come from your families past and the events that effected them. This, in our case will echo for the next 500 years at least for our future descendants. The events today in the 21st will affect us, they will go down in history and they will shape the world of the future. In years to come, when our great great great grandchildren look back at our actions, they will hopefully learn from our victories and our failures to help continue.

Right. That’s the sermon over. In regards to today though, the present, the Government is making no effort to protect museums or galleries all over the UK. As a result, wealthy art collectors and rich businessmen are buying up the most amazing artifacts so they can hide them away and enjoy them for their own private viewing. THIS IS WRONG!

History belongs to everyone, it is all ours and as a result all historical artifacts belong in a public space. They belong in a museum! If we loose these amazing collections too private collectors then we the public can not study and learn from them. We can’t become inspired by their stories or engage with their messages. Every time i see in the news that another council has sold off another collection, it breaks my heart to know that the public will no longer be able to see it. It makes me angry to have to see museums and temples of learning closed to make way for businesses and banks.

As you can tell i have come back a little heated, but i feel that i have a duty to make sure that i try and keep the concept of free historical knowledge alive, or at least help by ranting.

Anyway, if you have read this, thank you for being mad enough too. I could go on and on but i won’t. But just remember and pass on this message if you can. History belongs to all the people, all over the world, not just those know see it as a brief conversation starter.

The Arsenal: Foundation of Empire

The Venetian Arsenal was one of the greatest fortresses in the medieval world. It housed the production power of an empire, and allowed a republic to grow to a tremendous size expanding trade, knowledge and exploration. This site of stone and sweat is one of the most important areas in the city, because of this structure, Venice was able to expand and become the history we know and love today.

Construction on the Arsenal began in 1104 right at the dawn of the republics birth. The floating city could not have an army to protect lands on which it would farm, so the fortress provided ships on which the city will develop trade. The structure that we know today was finished in 1320, from there flourishing in might and industry. The developed area consumed 46 hectares of space, consisting of industrialized areas providing rope, munitions, and rigging. The Arsenal was designed to be revolutionary, it was the first place in the none world to use production lines, long before the industrial revolution hit the rest of the European continent. This method and design was so successful that around 15,000 units could be produced, leading to whole ships being build, pieced together and docked in just one day!

The amazing men that manned this place, named the Arsenalotti, were some of the best workmen of their age. These men were not your average working class carpenters or builders, they were artisans of the ship building world. These men were respected so much, that they formed as the Doge’s own private guard on ceremonial occasions. Built to hull lumber, saw frames, fuse metal and stone, the Arsenalotti become legendary across the Europe and even as far as ottoman empire, which stretched into the far reaches of the Middle East. 16,000 works provided precision perfect skills to create ships that would go on either to transport rare silks, sliver decors and the sweetest of meats, or ships that would go on to defeat their enemies in naval warfare or expand an empire. The Arsenalotti were their own unique class in society, they were not nobles, not even the working folk of the republic, but the men that build the stallions on which St Mark rode into a future of trade and riches. As time past and technologies changed and so too did the Arsenal. In the late 1400’s new sections were added to develop firearms, everything from side arms to canons. In 1500, an area was dedicated to the Hull Constriction, making this section of the ship better and technologically superior to deal with rough seas and chopper waters. Constant research and development of Venetian ships meant more trade equaling more wealth and imperial capital.

The face of the Arsenal also changed over the years. The famous gateway and door was designed by Gambello said to be inspired by the famous Venetian artist Bellini in 1460. The Porta Magna (The Great Gate), displays figures of might, those of the bible and of the ancient Greek and Roman stories, as to determine that this building is one of legend and bless with gods favor. The 2 lions that stand guard at the gate were taken from Piraeus in Greece. These lions added in the 17th century reflect the might and symbolism of the lions clawed power in the spirit of Venice. Above these still, yet, intimidating lions flies St Marks beast, the winged lion that has for centuries been at every major event in Venetian history. The stone work on the building reflects the interested and colorful past of Venice. Today in 2015, she is used still by the Italian military to teach naval warfare, and where better, than the mother of modern Italian naval production and development. The Arsenal is more than just area of the city, more than just a ship building yard, its a foundation stone that laid the way for an entire race of people to travel, learn, trade and conquer. Thanks to the amazing work of the Arsenalotti, the men that became living testaments to the will of St Mark, the City and republic, they led the way in modern production line thinking.

Today in the 21st century, it stands a reminder of this muscular past, so when you past the great gate, when you look upon the tall brick walls that surround that scared water, and if you close your eyes and imagine, you might be able to hear the the smashing of hammer of the roaring of waves. The Arsenal will always stand.

A Hero Named Zeno

What defines a Hero? Is it someone who changes lives, no matter how great or how small? is it someone who beats down oppression and gives a group a glimmer of hope? Or is it someone who tackles all odds to bring about a better world? Venice can answer these questions, because Venice breeds heroes.

For centuries Venice has seen hero’s sail, match and print their influences across the world. The city has given birth to heroes like Aldus Manutius, the man who started the mass production of the printed word, an act that saw the mass explanation of education, Veronica Franco who in the 16th century wrote amazing works that showed the incredible dexterity of human emotions, even politicians like Nicolo Marcello who cared for the poor and improved the cities finances to help give everyone a share of the wealth. Heroes like these should never be forgotten.

This blog post is to honor one such hero of the city, that i would like to write about. His name is Carlo Zeno, merchant, mercenary and Venetian hero. Carlo Zeno or ‘Zen’ as he came to be known was born in 1333. A sum what educated man who went to study in Padova, but like many Venetian boys, preferred the attention of women rather than engage in the classroom.
After failing to take his education seriously, he joined a mercenary group, were he helped beat of a Turkish advance in Patras. He seemed to distinguish himself in the military arts, again taking command and beating back an attack when bailiff and captain of Negropon, he would go on to capture 18 enemy galleys.

For years Zen battled his way to the top, commanding his own mercenary army, as well as running various trading posts through the Mediterranean. But his biggest triumph came in 1380 with the War of Chioggia.
For centuries the Venetian-Genoese wars had dominated the politics and power of both mighty city states, but the battle of Chioggia was to be one of the greatest. This Campaign was helped by Zeno, who through his vast victories presented a tremendous opponent for the Genoese fleet. Through expert counter attacks and timed advancements against the Mediterranean waves, Zeno managed to out manoeuvre the Genoese fleet. This was help in part by his past victories, on capturing Geonese Galleys from past campaigns, he researched and studied weakness in the Galleys, giving him a tactical advantage against the opposing fleet.

After defending Chioggia, destroying the Geonose fleet and protecting Venice from invasion, Zeno was labeled a hero, he was praised by the all in the city. Although, this was short-lived for the great naval officer. As he returned home from the battle in 1400, the Venetian administration poured through official account records from Paduan, reveling that Zeno was being paid a soft wage by the enemy through out many campaigns during the Venetian-Genoese wars. He was reprimanded as he docked and tried for treason. The Council of Ten took away his military ranks, titles, capital and property, deeming it owned to the people of the city for such traitorous acts. After being spared the axe thanks to some officials that still held him a branch of thanks for his services, he spent a year beneath the Ducal Palace in prison, incarcerated for his crimes

After his year in the Doge’s dungeon, the rest of his life was spent traveling the kingdoms and duchy’s of the Mediterranean trading as best he could with the little he had. Eventually, feeling his end, he returned to the Floating City in 1418 where he later died on March 8th at the age of 85, a broken man. However, due to his service in various Venetian campaigns, he was granted a state funeral which attracted thousands of people from across the city, wanting to say thank you for a duty well done. He may have died a broken man, but in the hearts of many, he was rich with their love.

Carlo Zeno is one of them great historical figures that has been lost through time. This article is my small tribute to him as a warrior, leader, trader and hero!

– Rendiamo grazie a Zeno

The Medici and Venice: A partnership of growth

The Medici, a name that has resonated through the ages being linked to art, science and humanism. This family built a financial empire that stretch from the Old kingdom of England to the Flourishing Kingdom of Naples, even stretching to the pockets of some in the Ottoman Empire. The Medici ruled as kings in all but name, but was this royal influence ever felt in Venice?

Venice as we know was proud of its republic state, proud to be men that ruled themselves and did not adhere to the ways on land. So the Medici name might not have worked, given their reputation in Florence, when establishing a ‘Banco’ (Banco is the Italian for desk or bench, describing the surface on which the money was dealt on).

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici is the man responsible for the establishment of a Bank in the floating city. This man, a man that is not given enough credit for his role in the rise of his family, came to Venice in the hopes of establishing a bank to help span his trading dream. Di Bicci was a level headed man, not making too rash a choice and worked through plans along with identifying key areas of investment, unlike his ancestors who would one day make bad choices in spending. He already had plantations and farms producing woolen goods, now he wanted a bank to help expand the family fortune. Venice, he saw, was a growing city, not just in power and influence, but in trade. He saw that Venice was becoming a hub for trade, adventurous exploration and experienced finance investment. At last, spending months negotiating terms with the Venetian councils, on the 25th March 1402 di’ Bicci opened up his third bank in Venice. He was on the way to creating a great name for his family.

For decades on, the bank provided funds to merchants wanting to make trade investments, it helped purchase boats, crews, helped to open trading posts in Constantinople and more! The bank helped build the wealth of the city, allowing for men and women of all positions in Venetian society, bank and save the funds they had, along with giving loans for adventures to North African and Middle Eastern trading capitals.

This prosperity continued until the death of the most famous and best loved of the Medici clan. In 1492, Lorenzo de’ Medici died, leaving the empire of the family in the hands of his less loved and less experienced son Piero. Piero the Unfortunate, as he became known, lost the love of the Florentine people, also losing the support of the Signoria. He was forced out, exiled for 10 years. He shared not the characteristics of his father and never would. He ran for the calm waters of Venice, where he controlled the banking systems that his father so carefully developed. Along with his lack of public charisma he also lacked the knowledge and know how of how to run a financial empire. Due to this absence of banking knowledge, money was lost, assets and profits fell and the bank was having to close branches in London, Florence, and all over France along with many other location, to help save the family from more money losses. The Venetian branch was one of the last to close. Due to the links he had gained over the years thanks to Lorenzo the Magnificent and his great grand father Cosimo de’ Medici, the Venetian bank managed to stand and keep on investing in the expanding trade routes that merchants had been drawing for decades.

The Medici finally close the bank in the city in the late 17th century following the family’s decline. Venice itself kept on trading, and the failed bank did nothing to affect the ever growing pocket of the state.

The relationship between the family and the city is like a mirror image. In the Beginning when Venice was advancing and building a name as the capital of the financial world, the Medici partly helped, by investing in new companies, loaning money to the merchants that went on to gather spices, silks and other such exotic items. But at the end, it was Venice that helped the Medici stay afloat and last as long as they did, thanks to those close connections. Medici never tamed Venice, they knew they could not like they did with Florence. Venice is a city that spins on a different axis to the rest of the world.