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0045 Marco Polo : vol.1
Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 45 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000271
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THE DESCRIPTION OF THE WORLD, THE SITE OF THE HOUSE a portico and seventeen rooms with two flights of stairs, with covered ways leading to the two canals and an exit to the lane which as ` ` Calle del Teatro " still leads to the Church. A plan of the first floor may have existed, but if so it is lost, while the plan of the second floor survives. These two plans, of the ground and second floors, do not look like plans of a site ` ` partly vacant and partly with some few buildings for the most part of planks ". Sixteen years earlier the cadastral

survey had recorded that in January and February of 1661 (i 6 6 z) two cottages (casette) had been built by Steffano Vecchia on the site, the rest of which was still empty and in ruins (il rimanente resta vacuo e rovinoso) and had till then yielded no income at all.' Going back to 1598 we find that DOGLIONI, writing presumably in 1597, says that the house was totally destroyed by fire a year before. A minute of the Senate dated 7 November 1596 approves of a reward of 6o ducats having been given to 15o men of the Arsenal who had given prompt and good service at the fire which occurred ` ` very recently " in the Cå Million, so that we may suppose that it happened in August or September 1596.2 It will be seen that the deed stipulates that ` ` the plan of the site sold, as above, that is a copy of the same " shall be kept with the deed ; and it seems to me to be certain that the plans which have survived are by good fortune copies of plans made before 1596, showing the exact arrangement of part at least of the ancient house.

The site is described in 1677 as " commonly called Camilion'', but I do not feel sure that it was the whole of the ancient house, or even the whole of the property of the Balbi and Vecchia at the time. As far as is known the extent, content, and boundaries of the whole original property are described in no extant document. All that we have are various detailed accounts of the part of the house belonging to the heirs of Marco the elder and of some other parts, and a few more vague indications. The latter are, first the existence to this day of the Balbi shield on the old wall overlooking the Rio di S. Marina south-west of the theatre and also over the entrance to the little sottoportico at the south-east corner of the Church. But the Balbi may have owned adjoining property which had never been part of the Polo house. Secondly, we learn that the Church of San Giovanni Grisostomo was rebuilt in the last years of the fifteenth century, having become unsafe through old age and through damage done to it by a fire in ` ` the neigh-

Arch. di Stato, Notifiche reg. 393, aggiunte a.1661 ; Caseggiato 1661, S. Gio. Grisostomo,

X   , 421.

2 Cf. Y. I. p. 27. See d. 97 p. 591.