The Spirit of Venice, By Paul Strathern


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The Independent Culture

The rise and fall of La Serenissima is vividly depicted. We learn that Marco Polo harped on about Oriental wealth so much that he became known as Marco Milione, while Casanova declined a castrato's offer to be "either… boy or girl".

At Venice's 15th century zenith, General Carmagnola was executed with a gag in his mouth to prevent last minute revelations.

Some 170 years later, exactly the same fate befell the philosopher Bruno when a weakened Venice handed him over to the Roman inquisition.