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The Travels and Journal of Ambrosio Bembo

Translated from the Italian by Clara Bargellini
Edited and Annotated and with an Introduction by Anthony Welch
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 470
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  • Book Info
    The Travels and Journal of Ambrosio Bembo
    Book Description:

    In 1671, Ambrosio Bembo, a young nobleman bored with everyday life in Venice, decided to broaden his knowledge of the world through travel. That August he set off on a remarkable, occasionally hazardous, four-year voyage to Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and the Portuguese colonies of western India. His journal, now translated into English for the first time, is the most important new European travel account of western Asia to be published in the past hundred years. It opens an extraordinary perspective on the Near East and India at a time when few Europeans traveled to these lands. Keenly observed and engagingly written, Bembo's vivid account is filled with a high sense of adventure and curiosity and provides intriguing descriptions of people, landscapes, food, fashion, architecture, customs, cities, commerce, and more. Presented here with the original illustrations and with a rich introduction and annotations, this lively and important historical document is at last available to scholars, students, and armchair travelers alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94013-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. [Maps]
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. 1-32)

    IT WAS RELATIVELY RARE FOR EUROPEANS in the Middle Ages and Renaissance to travel to the Middle East, Iran, and India, but a few individuals who journeyed to these distant regions, different from their own homelands in language, faith, and customs, wrote accounts that number among our most valuable historical documents. Without the books of the thirteenth-century Venetian Marco Polo or his seventeenth-century compatriot Pietro della Valle, our knowledge of historic West and South Asia would be far poorer. Even in the seventeenth century, extended travel outside one’s own linguistic and cultural milieu was far from commonplace, although knowledge gained...

    (pp. 33-34)

    THE DESIRE TO KNOW is innate and natural to the spirit of mankind, whose special gift is the intellect, the sense that is always most eager to feed itself with knowledge. Many things are learned through theory, and more through practice. The world is a great book, which, when perused attentively, proffers teachings and delights with its variety. True, one must tolerate expense, discomfort, and danger, but the effort, if blessed by fortune, brings its reward. Idleness eats away at all virtue and is the worst companion for youth; a source of vices, it perverts the inclination of the good,...

  8. ONE From Venice to Aleppo
    (pp. 35-84)

    WE EMBARKED ON AUGUST 8, 1671, on the shipConfidenza, leased with cargo but a large vessel furnished with many cannons that had already served the public in the preceding years of war. That which transpired from my leaving the port until my return to my country—a period of almost four years—I have wanted to set down in these pages in a smooth and easy narrative so that the bother that I suffered alone during long wanderings, attempted by few and to few granted, may bring pleasure to all those who, during the leisure of domestic tranquility, may...

  9. TWO From Aleppo to Basra
    (pp. 85-133)

    ON JANUARY 3, 1673, THE DAY OF OUR DEPARTURE, we all dressed in Turkish fashion in ordinary clothes to attract less attention and to spend less. We all pretended to be clergy since these [local] people are more accustomed to see religious persons traveling to their missions and because one travels more safely in this way in Turkey. After having said good-bye to those of the house, I left the city at midnight in the company of the two Franciscans, Father Giuliano, a servant, and a dragoman named ‘Ata’ Allah, that is Diodato, who had been the second dragoman of...

  10. THREE Basra, the Gulf, the Arabian Sea, India
    (pp. 134-286)

    BASRA IS SITUATED HALF ON ONE SIDE and half on the other of the body of water [I mentioned]. It was three times the length of Baghdad, but now it is half destroyed. Near the river there are many date palm trees and earth houses that were included in the city in ancient times. It was built two hundred years ago, fifty leagues distant from the Persian Gulf and eight leagues distant from ancient Basra, orBalséra,which was built at the time of ‘Ali by Attabud, son of Garuan.¹ In ancient times this city had its own kings under...

  11. FOUR Iran
    (pp. 287-389)

    ON THE MORNING OF THE 19TH [of May, 1674] I debarked with all my things after having taken leave of that captain and thanked him as was proper. As I left, he had me saluted by all his men. When I got to land [at Kong], I immediately found the commissary of the Holy Land who had come in company with Captain Mor. He decided to make the trip to Aleppo with me, and I agreed, although later I regretted I had ever met him, because he was a man of little virtue and less civility and not inclined to...

  12. FIVE From Iran to Venice
    (pp. 390-424)

    WE GOT UP TWO HOURS BEFORE DAWN on the morning of the 23rd. I had the town drawn at sunrise, along with the plain that divides the two countries. Our trip was through a plain, and we crossed the river two times. The first time was in the jurisdiction of Baghdad and thus in Ottoman territory. With those high mountains we had left behind the kingdom of the Sofi, ‘Ajam, Persians, and Qizilbash, all of which are names for the Persian kingdom, as well as the civility of its inhabitants and the freedom for foreigners.¹ After having crossed other small...

    (pp. 425-428)
    (pp. 429-430)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 431-451)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 452-452)