Main article: Foreign relations of Italy. Examples of Italy's military. Main article: Italian Armed Forces. Main article: Economy of Italy. See also: List of largest Italian companies. Italy is the world's largest wine producer. Main article: Transport in Italy. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
Main articles: Science and technology in Italy and List of Italian inventions and discoveries. Main article: Tourism in Italy. Main article: Demographics of Italy.
Main article: Immigration to Italy. Native language. Secondary or non-official language. Italian-speaking minorities. Main article: Religion in Italy. Italy is home to many of the world's largest, oldest and opulent churches. Clockwise from left: Florence Cathedral , which has the biggest brick dome in the world;   St. Peter's Basilica , the largest church of Christendom ;  Milan Cathedral , the largest Italian church and the third largest in the world; and St Mark's Basilica , one of the best known examples of Italo- Byzantine architecture .
Religion in Italy in  Roman Catholicism. Main article: Education in Italy. Main article: Healthcare in Italy. Main article: Culture of Italy. Main article: Architecture of Italy. The city of Venice , built on islands. The Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Castel del Monte, Apulia. The Royal Palace of Caserta. Main article: Art of Italy. Main article: Literature of Italy. Main article: Commedia dell'arte. See also: Theatre of ancient Rome. Main article: Music of Italy. Main article: Cinema of Italy. Main article: Sport in Italy. Main articles: Italian fashion and Italian design. Main article: Italian cuisine.
See also: Public holidays in Italy. Italy portal Ancient Rome portal. Archived from the original on 6 August Retrieved 15 June Pew Research Center. Archived from the original on 3 July Retrieved 17 September Retrieved 18 September International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 30 October Retrieved 12 September United Nations Development Programme.
Retrieved 10 December See Date and time notation in Italy. Archived from the original on 30 April Archived from the original on 19 May BBC News. Archived from the original on 25 September Donald; Conradt, David P. Chatham House Publishers. Ugo, Ascoli; Emmanuele, Pavolini The Italian welfare state in a European perspective: A comparative analysis. Policy Press. Zloch-Christy, Iliana Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 29 September Clout, Hugh D.
Western Europe: Geographical Perspectives. Furlong, Paul Modern Italy: Representation and Reform. Hanf, Kenneth; Jansen, Alf-Inge Hacken, Richard. EuroDocs: Harold B. Lee Library: Brigham Young University. Retrieved 6 March Hibberd, Matthew.
Italy: A reference guide from the Renaissance to the present Sassoon, Donald. Italy at Wikipedia's sister projects. Regions of Italy. Articles related to Italy. Sovereign states and dependencies of Europe.
States with limited recognition. Faroe Islands 1 autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. Svalbard unincorporated area subject to the Svalbard Treaty. Countries and territories of the Mediterranean Sea. Northern Cyprus Palestine. Member states of the European Union. Future enlargement of the European Union. United Kingdom Until by default 31 December Council of Europe. Czechoslovakia — Saar assoc.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Multinational Enterprises Testing of Chemicals. World Trade Organization. Kitts and Nevis St. Lucia St. European Union. G20 major economies. Flag Coat of arms. Unitary parliamentary republic. Dewy fields Continuum The suffering The Glassmaker Picnic on the moon Intravenous Oyster Birds of passage A shoulder to the wheel Not on vinyl or Japaneese CD. Blank sheets Dreaming girl Without you Capio Agassiz Kloeberdanz White-out conditions Baltic ice-breaker Upland Rumour Abstract Remix B2.
Rumour Abstract Instrumental B3. Rumour Album Edit B2. Rumour Album Edit Rumour M. Rumour Tribe in dub Rumour Abstract Remix Bel Canto are a band who are already huge in their home country Norway, but this is their debut single in the UK market, which has been taken from the forthcoming LP 'Magic Box'.
It's the kind of track that you want to play purely because it's so good. The mixes have been done by Ben Chapman and the Masters at Work, Ben provides the funky mixes, while the Masters At Work have taken things into more housey vein.
Already making appearances in the buzz charts due to the U. It's laid back, it's funky and it's good! A major priority. Rumour Vocal Dub Mix A2. Rumour 12" Mellow Mix B1. Rumour Dub Mix B2. Rumour Alt dub 12" Mix This promo sampler from France comes in cardboardsleeve with the same artwork as the European 'Magic Box' album. Rumour Alt 12" Dub Mix Rumour 12" Mellow Mix Birds Of Passage Live, Trondheim Album v. Remix Single made in Holland for the french market. Unicorn Steve Forward Remix Unicorn Ride The Unicorn Unicorn Acapella The return from Venice was much more pleasant…though Lufthansa ran into electrical issues leaving the plane without entertainment for more than half of the flight.
The hotels were excellent. The Michelangelo and the Starhotel in Florence were beautiful. The hotels in San Giovanni and Mestre were just fine…and everyone thanks for placing us at the DeiPriori in Assisi…the location was very much appreciated.
The breakfasts at all of the hotels was excellent. The dinners were as well…more salads were requested…and less fish or at least a warning that fish will be served so that an alternative can be prepared. I happened to like the fish that was served. The picinic lunch on the way to Montecassino was a huge hit. It was universally well received and very much appreciated…the group could not believe the hospitality shown. The lunch in Padua was also appreciated…though at that point the walk was a bit difficult for some…especially given the walking that needed to be done later to and from the shrines…Americans just need to learn to walk more.
The local guides — again, thank you, thank you, thank you. We had excellent local guides — the guides in Assisi, Siena, Pisa, Florence and Venice were outstanding…I would recommend them to anyone. They paced their tours mindful of those less able and provided a rich history and experience for all. The only guide I would not recommend again was Donato in Rome. He was a pleasant man…who may have had a bad day he seemed to have a serious cold , but his English was rough and some of his information was off.
With the amount of time available the group would have preferred to simply visit the Basilica and pray…as well as have time to look around the piazza. The view from the Palazzo Episcopale is nice…but other than that, Mathilde had provided all of the information required while we approached Loreto. The only other suggestion in terms of the tour would be to think about combining Siena and Pisa and allowing a rest day in Assisi.
I know that visiting those two cities in one day would make for a tremendously long day…but the hours on the bus back and forth is significant…and universally everyone wanted more time in Assisi.
All said — the Lord blessed us with spectacular weather — sun nearly every day…a few clouds when needed i. A shower at night to clear the air…and only one brief shower in Assisi that rained itself out before we finished our breakfast. Dear Rinda, Greetings from Jerusalem! Monday Jerusalem time. Your time in NY is p. Our pilgrimage is over. It was a very successful pilgrimage.
Everything went well. Sami the tour guide and Imad the bus driver did very well in making our pilgrimage enjoyable and fruitful. There were two other priests with us: Fr. Jason and Fr. I want to thank you and Tours for the wonderful opportunity for me to be spiritual director of this pilgrimage.
Throughout the pilgrimage everyone felt safe and secure in Israel. We never had the slightest concern during our travels in the Holy Land. Thank you for making my stay comfortable and enjoyable in the Holy Land.
Blessings on all the good work you do and hoping to be part of Tours in the future. Donna, the pilgrimage exceeded our dreams.
The tour guides Matilda and Sylvia were knowledgeable and sensitive to needs of each pilgrim. She is definitely a keeper for Tours. The guides at the various places of the tour knew their history of the locale, the special features of the churches and liked doing the task at hand.
This group of guides should continue to serve Tours itinerary. Your tour service will be recommended to friends and family. We truly have beautiful memories and received much graces from this spiritual journey. Good morning! I had some Euro with me, and a credit card for my shopping. I asked Alessandro if he knew whether or not the gift shop at next stop accepted credit cards. His reply was as he touched the breast pocket of his jacket , "I have money.
What do you need? It was a very nice, thoughtful gesture. My sister and I have had an annual "sister trip" for several years, and the pilgrimage was our trip this year. She experienced a few "out of the ordinary" events on this trip. We had enjoyed lunch and were on our way to Burgos.
She was sleeping on the back row of the motorcoach. Suddenly, she sat up and asked, "Did you check the safe at the hotel in Salamanca? Alessandro to the rescue! He made phone calls, and in no time was reporting to her that her travel wallet with her Passport, Euro, and USD , which was still in the safe, had been retrieved and would be delivered to the hotel in Burgos "by tomorrow morning.
Alessandro handled all of the details. Again, Alessandro was on top of the situation. Her bag was located in an empty guest room room , we were in He came to dinner with the good news! It was quite a relief. The suitcase contained her clothes, everything that she had purchased on the trip, her camera. Alessandro was always pleasant and smiling. My next guide will have big shoes to fill! Father Stephen was also a pleasure to have accompany our group on the pilgrimage. He made what appeared to be an extra effort to spend some time with everyone at meals or other times for conversation.
He was extremely nice. It was simply a joy experiencing the pilgrimage with our entire "family. Rewarding, fulfilling, satisfying. And, your package was another example of how your organization makes the experience the most it can be.
It was a wonderful trip! Jesus our guide was great. He was a wonderful leader and friend. All of the sights we saw were incredible. I would highly recommend tours and Jesus as a guide. We absolutely enjoyed our 15 day All Italy Shrines tour even if it tasked us physically at our ages 80 and 84 We tended to be the tail end of the group most of the time, even trailing the wheel chair.
I believe you should caution anyone over 70 from taking two weeks tour as we did. A word about our guide Matilda. Her love, caring and assistance was greatly appreciated. She is truly an able assistant to our guardian angles. Thank you so very much for all of your work and effort given to ensuring that our pilgrimage would be as smooth and memorable as it was.
The places we visited are very dear to me, and I was hoping that the experience of the pilgrims I would be leading would give them a similar experience and affection for these places. My expectations were met and exceeded. The obvious care that Tours gave in planning and arranging for everything, from the guides to the locations for Masses, made this pilgrimage one that none of us will ever forget.
Based on comments from my parishioners who were with us, they had a similar experience. A great deal of the success of the pilgrimage was due to our guide, Jesus Vivas. He was unfailingly patient with all of us, making sure that the itinerary was followed, and working to smooth out any problems as soon as possible.
I was especially impressed with the care he gave to all of us. To be honest, a few of the pilgrims had trouble listening to directions even after being told 2 or 3 times , and even when they still would get into trouble after all that, Jesus still worked things out smoothly.
I would also like to thank you, Yatitza, for all of your work to ensure a smooth trip. I realize that I had several special requests, but you worked hard to make sure that as many of them could be met as possible.
Please know that your work resulted in all of us having a truly spiritual experience in our time in Italy. You were also in my prayers during our travels, since I knew that, without you, the trip might not have even happened.
Thank you again, and thanks to Tours, for all of your work for our pilgrimage. Should I ever plan another pilgrimage, please know that you will be the first ones I contact. God bless,. I wanted to compliment you on the above pilgrimage. I was on it and have to say it was so well organized and ran smoothly and the accommodations were super.
And I must say the one thing that made the trip so extra special was our tour guide Vanessa T. She was the best ever, very knowledgeable about every aspect of the trip, very professional and a real pleasure to be around. I cannot say enough about how special she was and is. Thank you for a wonderful trip.
The trip was fabulous in every way. The flights, hotel, food, tour guide, weather, the people that we met, and of course the wonderful spiritual experience. Vanessa was fantastic!! Thank you for putting us in touch with this group. Thank you for all your help. It was a wonderful pilgrimage. Charlie was fine God kept him well and no problems, but I appreciate your giving me the medical information.
Also I do not know who to contact but we wanted to make sure your company knows that the tour guides Vanessa Teixeira and Slavenka Jelavic are absolutely wonderful and caring tour guides. The priests Fr. Billy are also excellent. Thank you for helping us set up this pilgrimage for our greatgrandson and thank you all for your prayers. Keep praying! Our pilgrimage was wonderful!!! We enjoyed every single day to the utmost.
Our small group really bonded together including the guide and driver and Fr. John was a great spiritual leader. This was our third one and we hope to travel with again soon. The pilgrimage experience could not have been better! Juan Carlos, David, Father Diaz…all are outstanding in their care and service to us. I dare to say this pilgrimage was more than I expected and for me, it was better than the Rome pilgrimage!!
Each hotel, each albergue …everything was outstanding! I did run into difficulty with my knee and Juan Carlos provided extraordinary support and encouragement. He help me gain confidence in effort to continue the "walking". The pilgrimage was like receiving "scripture radiation". In trying to think of a way to describe it I thought of an analogy in the attempt to explain. After I got home I realized not much has changed in the world, but somehow my view had changed.
One most noticeable change, before I went on the Pilgrimage I almost always listened to music while walking, and now I walk in silence, because it gives me the opportunity to take in my surroundings.
More than once we passed by the "church" or asked where it was only to find the "dirty looking cinder block" or white washed storage building held within the doors the most beautiful altars, the statues, the paintings, the mosaics..
And the Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral. Hopefully Ileana will share some of her photos. I wish to thank Tours for a wonderful Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was awesome!!! I have learned a lot spiritually. Our guide, Usama Salman was the best. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the Holy Land. Jim: thank you for celebrating daily Mass, renewed our vows in Cana and also you have nice voice when you sung at the Church of St.
Anne renowned for its remarkable acoustics and reverberating echoes. Our driver, Issam, who drove us safely to our destination no problem. My fellow pilgrims were all nice and friendly. Definitely I would recommend Tours to my friends and relatives. Hi Donna, As expected, the pilgrimage went very well. Damien did an excellent job of guiding us spiritually throughout this journey. It was also a blessing that Fr. Leo was with us. Almar Otjes, our guide is the best guide in the Netherlands.
Again, my next pilgrimage will be with tours and perhaps also with Fr. Thank you Fr. Hope to see you again soon. I gained a lot of knowledge and know it will be a blessing in my life thank you again…. We became a family!!! Not every group is that blessed. M you were right! M :Thank you for an awesome experience of a lifetime! Wow…that says it all. Thank you! Milanka Lackman is the president owner of Tours.
Out of her generosity, she arranged for us to stay in the Hotel Danieli in Venieza!! All of the Mass locations, tickets to the Papal visit, Vatican museums, etc. This is my second pilgrimage in less than a year with Tours.
I think that explains enough how satisfied I am with One thing that stands out with regards to the whole experience was having spiritual guidance of a priest. The celebration of daily Mass made a difference in our daily activities. I would like to give credit to the tour guides as well. He went above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.
Matilde, our guide in Italy was informative, knowledgeable and very professional. Marco Polo's Travels in Cathay Chapter Marco Polo's Return Chapter Marco Polo in the Eastern Seas Chapter Marco Polo Among the Hindoos Chapter Marco Polo in Africa Chapter Homeward Bound Chapter A Strange Welcome Chapter Marco Polo Goes to the Wars Chapter Marco Polo a Prisoner Chapter Last Days of Marco Polo.
The reader is carried back, in the present volume, to a period two centuries previous to the discovery of the route to India by Vasco da Gama, and to the conquest of Peru by Pizarro. A young Venetian of the thirteenth century, brought up amid luxury and wealth, of a bold spirit and a curious mind, went forth from his home in the beautiful Queen City of the Adriatic, and for many years lived among a far-off Asiatic people, and at a court of barbaric and yet splendid pomp.
He made many far and dangerous journeyings in the wild distant lands and among the fierce tribes of Cathay, Thibet, India, and Abyssinia. His life was passed amid an almost incessant succession of exciting events, of strange adventures, and of hair-breadth escapes.
He rose to high distinction and power at the Tartar court of the mighty Kublai Khan, one of the most famous conquerors and potentates who ever, in either ancient or modern times, have led legions to devastating wars, or have ruled teeming millions with despotic sway.
Nor did his career of valor and stirring action end with his return, middle-aged and laden with riches, to his native Venice. He engaged in the bitter warfare between the two rival republics of the sea, Venice and Genoa; became a prisoner of the latter state; and while in prison, dictated the wondrous narrative of his adventures which still survives, a precious legacy left by this great traveller to later generations.
I have attempted to transform the somewhat dry and monotonous translation of this narrative into an entertaining story, that may engage the attention and the interest of my young readers; for which it certainly presents ample opportunities. If the task is properly done, no one can fail to follow Marco Polo from his Venetian home, across the entire continent of Asia to the court of Kublai Khan, and in his various adventures and journeys while in the far-off Orient, without eager curiosity and ever-deepening interest.
The central figure of the story is heroic, for Marco Polo was in all things manly, brave, persevering, intelligent, and chivalrous; and the scenes and incidents in which he was the leading actor were in the highest degree thrilling and dramatic. Beautiful as Venice now is, in the days of its stagnation and decay, it was a yet more beautiful city seven centuries ago.
Then its quays and Grand Canal were crowded with the ships of every nation; its bazaars and marts were bustling with active trade, and were picturesque in the mingling of the gay and brilliant costumes of the East, with the more sober attire of the European peoples; its noble and lofty palaces, not yet, as we now see them, hoary and dilapidated, rose in fresh splendor from the verge of its watery and winding streets; the dome of St.
Mark's [Cathedral] shone with new gilding, and its walls with recent frescoing; the Piazza. Venice was not only a queen among commercial cities, but a great warlike power; with brave and well-disciplined armies, hardy captains, formidable fleets, and proud strongholds, where, on either shore of the sparkling Adriatic, she held her own valiantly, against Turk, Austrian, and Genoese.
Mighty princes sought the hands of the daughters of Venice in marriage; the Doges [elected officials] who ruled over the stately city were greeted by Emperors and Kings as their brothers and equals; the conquests of Venice reached to Asia and to Africa; her ships rode the purple waters of the Mediterranean in haughty defiance of the galleys of her rivals.
Around the patriarchal Doges was gathered a gorgeous court. There were festal days when the Grand Canal, bordered by palaces on either side, was crowded thick with gilded and canopied barges, and interminable lines of gondolas, each gay craft filled with richly attired cavaliers and dames, on whom jewels sparkled, and above whom rose many-colored banners that announced their rank and station; while, after night-fall, the air was alive with the most dazzling fire-works, which fairly hid moon, stars, and the heaven's canopy from view.
A mellow, hazy autumn day was drawing to its close. The sky was lit with that soft, rich, yellow sunset glow, which has always been remarked as one of the loveliest sights to be seen at Venice; the last rays of the sun glittered upon the gilded dome of Saint Mark's; the broad square before the ancient cathedral was beginning to fill with its evening multitude of cavaliers and coquettes.
In the Grand Canal, and the glassy lagoon beyond, the gondoliers lazily plied their long oars, or rested their gondolas on the still waters. It was an hour in which whatever there was of activity and bustle in Venice, became indolent and tranquil; when men and women sought their ease under a sky which compelled serenity and reverie. In the bazaars, on the Rialto [financial and commercial centre of Venice] , and the Piazza, the stalls were laden with bunches of large and luscious grapes, with figs of many colors, so ripe that the gummy juice oozed from them, and with pomegranates, upon whose cheeks glowed the rich red bloom which betrayed their full ripeness; and there was scarcely to be seen a Venetian of the lower class, who was not munching some of the succulent fruit which his climate produced in such cheap and varied abundance.
Not far from the centre of the beautiful city, on one of the many canals which serve it instead of streets, stood a lofty mansion, which, at one's first approach, seemed two.
Three stories in height, it towered above many of the surrounding buildings; and between its two wings stood an archway, richly decorated with scrolls and figures of animals, surmounted by an ornate cross; while, above the archway, rose a tall square tower. Entering the archway, you would have found yourself in a spacious, paved court-yard, which the house, quadrangular in shape, completely enclosed. The inner walls were adorned, like the archway, with sculptured devices, among which you might have observed a coat-of-arms, comprising a shield, with a wide bar running across it, upon which were graven three birds.
The whole mansion was stately and imposing, and betokened that its possessors were at once rich and of high rank. On the late afternoon which has been described, an unusual bustle was going on in and near this house.
It was full of gayly-dressed people, old and young, all of whom were evidently in a state of excitement. Servants hurried to and fro in the corridors; in the pretty balconies which were built at the windows facing the canal of San Giovanni Crisostomo, were gathered groups of cavaliers and ladies, who were leaning over and peering eagerly out to the end of the watery thoroughfare, as if they were anxiously expecting an arrival.
In the main hall of the mansion, a vast apartment, approached from the court-yard by a broad flight of stone steps, and entered by a high and richly-sculptured portal stood a knot of persons who seemed even more excited than the rest. One was a tall and dignified man, clad in a long blue cloak, his head covered by a slashed blue and white cap, from which rose an ostrich feather.
He wore a long, brown beard, just streaked with gray; his dark face was flushed, and every moment he approached the door, and questioned the servants posted in the court-yard.
On either side of him stood two youths, one fifteen and the other thirteen, both very richly attired, and both the very pictures of boyish freshness and beauty. The elder was tall for his age, and his form was straight, graceful, and well-knit. A pair of bright gray eyes, a nose rather longer than medium, full red lips, and a handsome round chin, comprised his features, the expression of his face was at once energetic and pleasing; his movements were quick and nervous; and every now and then he turned to the cavalier beside him, and talked rapidly in a strong, musical voice.
The younger boy, while he closely resembled his brother, was of more gentle mould and manners. The one seemed made to be a warrior, to play an active, perhaps a heroic part, in the struggling world. The other appeared born to be a courtier, to shine in the society of elegant women, to be rather a favorite of the polite world, than a man of deeds. While the younger clung to the cavalier's arm with sort of air of dependence, the elder bore himself erect, as if quite able to take care of himself.
All at once loud and joyous cries were heard from the balconies in front of the house; and presently down rushed their occupants into the hall, whither all the others who were in the house flocked in a twinkling. They are coming! The two lads were seized and embraced by the ladies; the elder's eyes kindled with delight as he hurried to the door; his brother danced up and down, and clapped his hands, while tears of happiness flowed over his rosy cheeks.
In the court-yard there was the greatest noise and confusion. The retainers of the household gathered in two rows at the archway, while the steward, a portly personage, in a tunic, with a heavy chain around his neck, and a long staff in his hand, passed out upon the landing to welcome the new-comers.
He was soon seen returning, walking backwards, and bowing, as he came, almost to the ground. In another moment, the travellers who had been so anxiously awaited, slowly walked through the archway, and greeted the excited group before them.
A strange appearance, indeed, did the two tall, bronzed men present to those who were gazing at them. Instead of the rich and elegant Venetian costume of the day, their forms were covered with what seemed rough and barbarous garments. From their shoulders to their feet they were arrayed in long, loose gowns, or great-coats, one of them made of shaggy fur; while on their heads were fur caps.
Their feet were incased in rude shoes, which turned up at the toes; while at their sides, instead of the long, slender Venetian sword, hung broad, heavy, curved scimitars. In their hands they carried stout sticks; slung across their shoulders were long, furry bags. Not less strange were their faces. Both wore long, shaggy, grizzled hair, which fell in thick masses to their shoulders; the beards of both were long and tangled, and covered their cheeks almost to their eyes; their skin was rough and brown, and here and there a seamed scar betokened that they had met with fierce and savage enemies.
No sooner had they appeared than the elder of the two boys pushed his way through the crowd, which parted to let him pass, and rushed up to the new-comers as if to throw himself into the arms of one of them. But when he came close to them, he suddenly stopped short. In place of the light of joy, a puzzled and pained expression came across his handsome face. He looked, first at one and then at the other; peered into their countenances, and seemed quite at a loss which to embrace first.
His trouble, however, was soon relieved. The stouter, and evidently the elder of the travellers, advanced and folded him in his arms. No wonder you did not know me, child; for when I went away, you were but an infant, six years old.
And how has it been with you? Thank heaven, I find you well and strong. But where where is Maffeo? The traveller looked eagerly around; and then the younger boy resolved his anxiety by leaping into his arms. The two boys were clasped close at last to their father's breast. He kissed them on both cheeks, and patted their heads, and lifted their chins with his finger, the better to scan their faces. Then the tears coursed down his bronzed face; and raising his hands aloft, he made a silent prayer of thanksgiving, that he had returned home from far-distant lands, and an absence of many years, to find his darling sons alive and well.
Meanwhile the other traveller found a welcome not less loving. A comely dame had thrown her arms around his neck, and was holding him tight, overjoyed to find her husband by her side once more; and two fair young girls, his daughters, were disputing with their mother his caresses.
Then it came the turn of the other relatives and old friends of the wanderers to greet them and overwhelm them with endearments; and, before these greetings were over, night had fallen, and the court-yard was lit up by the torches which the servants had fetched and lighted. The scene then changed to the great hall, which, while the merry-making had been going on in the court-yard, had been quickly transformed into a banqueting-room. Two long rows of tables, decked out with a profusion of flowers, and profusely laden with a bounteous, smoking hot supper, were ranged throughout its length; while the apartment was lit up by hundreds of wax candles, which gleamed from gilded candelabra fixed along the walls.
The servants, clad in the livery of the house, stood beside the tables, ready to serve the many guests; who poured in and took their places, and waited till the two travellers re-appeared. The latter had gone up to their chambers, to enjoy a moment with their families in private, and to exchange their outlandish garments for their native costume. They ere long descended, clad in splendid suits of velvet, and took their places at the heads of the two tables, their children on either side of them.
Very late that night, it may well be believed, was the revel of welcome kept up. The travellers, at last finding themselves cozily at home, with all who were dear around them, their appetites sated with delicious dishes and warming wines, their bodies rested from the long journey, grew very merry and talkative, and launched out into long stories of their adventures. For nine long years they had been absent from Venice, and only once or twice had they either heard news from home, or been able to send tidings of themselves to their families and friends.
The elder, Nicolo, had left his two boys scarcely more than infants, in the care of their aunt and of their uncle Marco, the cavalier who has been described as awaiting, in the great hall, the travellers' return. The two brothers had set out, at first, with the intention of making a trading journey to Constantinople, and then to the countries bordering on the Black Sea; for they were not only Venetian nobles, but merchants as well.
It was no uncommon thing in those days for Venetian noblemen to engage in commerce; and in this way the nobility of that city long maintained themselves in wealth and power, when the nobles of other Italian cities fell into poverty and decay. Nicolo had taken his wife with him to Constantinople; and soon after their arrival there, she had died.
The two little boys who had been left at home, thus became motherless. At first Nicolo was overcome with grief. He lost all desire, for the time, to return home; and now resolved to extend his travels further East than he had originally planned. After remaining awhile at Constantinople, the brothers crossed the Black Sea and tarried some time in the Crimea [a peninsula of Ukraine] , the promontory which was, centuries after, to become a famous battle ground between the Russians on one side, and the English, French, and Turks on the other.
While in the Crimea, they succeeded in making some profitable trading ventures; and they learned, moreover, that further East there were countries rich in goods and treasures, though warlike in temper and barbarous in customs. Nicolo finally persuaded his brother Maffeo to venture further, and to join him in penetrating the remote countries of which they heard so much.
They first ascended the great river Volga, which flows for so long a distance through the vast territory now comprised in the Russian Empire, and entered what is now called, on the maps, Central Asia. They stopped at Bokhara [a city in S central Uzbekistan] , then the seat of a rude and warlike court, but where they were well treated; then sped on their way still further east, and continued their journey, pausing at the various Asiatic capitals, crossing now vast deserts, now bleak and lofty steppes, now lovely and luxuriant valleys, now dense and seemingly interminable forests, until they found themselves among the curious, squint-eyed, pigtailed, small-footed, ingenious race whom we now call the Chinese.
They proceeded for the most part on horse-back, although sometimes they perched themselves on the humps of camels, or rode aloft on the broad backs of elephants. It took not only months, but years, to reach the limit of their journey. They were often delayed by savage Asiatic wars, which made further progress dangerous.
Sometimes they were forcibly detained in the rude towns by the ruling khans, who insisted on being entertained with accounts of European marvels. Now and then they were in terrible peril of their lives from the attacks of barbarian brigands, who assailed them in lonely solitudes. If on a winter's night a traveler.
Italo Calvino imagines a novel capable of endless mutations in this intricately crafted story about writing and readers. Throughout, Calvino delights in discovering hidden truths beneath the surface of everyday life. Stories from Last Comes the Raven have been published in translation, but the collection as a whole has never appeared in English. Italian Folktales. A masterwork. The Complete Cosmicomics. Through the eyes of an ageless guide named Qfwfq, Calvino explores natural phenomena and tells the story of the origins of the universe.
Poignant, fantastical, and wise, these thirty-four dazzling stories — collected here in one definitive anthology — relate complex scientific and mathematical concepts to our everyday world.
They are an indelible and unfailingly delightful literary achievement. Trying to describe such a diverse and entertaining mix, I have to admit, just as Calvino does so often, that my words fail here, too. Read this book, please. The Nonexistent Knight. An empty suit of armor is the hero in this witty novella, a picaresque gem—now available in an independent volume for the first time—that brilliantly parodies medieval knighthood.
Set in the time of Charlemagne and narrated by a nun with her own secrets to keep, The Nonexistent Knight tells the story of Agilulf, a gleaming white suit of armor with nothing inside it. A challenge to his honor sends Agilulf on a search through France, England, and North Africa to confirm the chastity of a virgin he saved from rape years earlier. In the end, after many surprising turns of plot, a closing confession draws this sparkling novella to a perfect finish.
Marcovaldo: Or, The Seasons in the City. Marcovaldo has a practiced eye for spotting natural beauty and an unquenchable longing for the unspoiled rural world of his imagination. Unfortunately, the results are never quite what he anticipates.
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