Hidden treasures

The Tolomazi, the first tour guides of Venice

Historical Curiosities
tolomazi

The Tolomazi, the first tour guides of Venice

In the Middle Ages, as in present day, Venice was a cosmopolitan city bustling with travellers from all over the Mediterranean. Many of them were merchants, who went to the renowned Rialto market in search of rare and exotic goods, but the majority were mere pilgrims heading for the Holy Land.

Pilgrimages to the Holy Land started to take root in Europe in the early Middle Ages and became more popular and widespread at the time of the Crusades ... Between the 14th and 15th centuries, after crushing competition from the other maritime republics, Venice became the almost unavoidable point of passage for all those who wanted to pray in the places where Christ had lived and had been crucified.

Venice acquired the monopoly of these travels thanks to the frequency and the regularity of the maritime traffic, besides the presence of an enormous quantity of relics, gathered in every corner of the Mediterranean Sea, in the city churches.

Waiting to embark for the Holy Land, the permanence of these travellers in Venice, which could last up to a few weeks, was managed by the Tolomazi, a corporation of tourist helpers with restricted access whose activity was supervised by the Cattaver office (which had functions of financial control and eradication of smuggling ). Thanks to their caring, at times excessive, assistance, the pilgrim was helped, or rather guided, to find accommodation, change currency, visit the city and its shops and choose the ship on which to travel to Jerusalem.

Just consider that the activity of the Tolomazi was so controlled that the Cattaver could sanction them if they approached pilgrims in a disrespectful manner, or just simply, not appropriate to their position, as this would have caused a damage to the reputation of the city of Venice. It was in fact considered extremely important that the pilgrims, once their trip was over and they returned home, could praise Venice and above all the welcome they had received in it. In essence, Cattaver's control was aimed at promoting a positive image of Venice, almost a sort of review of modern times, to try and reduce any negative comments on the lagoon city!

Today, unfortunately, things are no longer so rigidly controlled, but Tolomazi have recently returned to action to combat rampant illegal travel in tourism. Today’s Tolomazi include the owners of more than a dozen local tourist agencies, who have gathered in an association to counter illegality in tourism services. Insidecom, our company, is part of this association and is committed on a daily basis to carrying out this ancient and precious mission aimed at guaranteeing visitors an authentic and positive experience.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: The gondolier: the warrior of the lagoon

gondoliere
Mysteries & Legends

Everybody knows who a gondolier is and what he does: he is the person who, with dedication and ability, propels the gondola, the tradit...

View

Venice: Why is it called Titian Red?

rosso_tiziano
Figures of speech

Do you recall the sensual ‘Venus of Urbino’ or the elegant ‘Woman in the mirror’ by Tiziano Vecellio? Now, just focus on the re...

View

Cortina D'ampezzo: A Museum in the Clouds in Cortina d’Ampezzo

Museo-delle-Nuvole-Monte-Rite-a-Cibiana
Mysteries & Legends

If you reach the summit of Mount Rite at 2181 meters near Cortina d'Ampezzo, it will come as a surprise to find among the barren dolomi...

View

Venice: The Twin Bottles: art says NO to plastic in the sea

the_twin_bottles
Did you know that...

Did you know that on the Grand Canal of Venice, near Palazzo Ca' Vendramin Calergi there are two huge floating crushed bottles? They ar...

View

Top posts

Venice: How much does a gondola ride cost?

gondola
Did you know that...

Have you decided to visit Venice and included a nice gondola ride on the list of things to do? How could we blame you! Is there anythin...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Treviso: The ghost of Bianca di Collalto

castello-collalto
Mysteries & Legends

On the night between October 31 and November 1, telling a scary ghost story is a must... We have one related to the castle of Collalto,...

View

Padua: Prato della Valle in Padua

prato-della-valle
Historical Curiosities

Probably only the inhabitants of Padua and a few other people know of a particular record their city is boasting about: having the larg...

View