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 Royal Gardens of Venice are returning to life

giardini-reali
Unknown places & works

Venice never fails to amaze. After the disastrous high tide last November, the city shows its strong pride with the reopening, after ex...

View

Treviso: The curious legends about the origin of Treviso Red Chicory

radicchio_CC.Mon CEil
Did you know that...

Did you know that, according to an ancient popular saying, red chicory (radicchio as it is known in Italy) seems to have been born as a...

View

Venice: Acqua Alta: when a normal phenomenon becomes tragic

Acqua-alta-a-Venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that ‘Acqua Alta’ is an expression of Venetian dialect used by its inhabitants to describe the high tides that occur p...

View

Venice: Mars, Adam and Eve: the Doge's Palace celebrates their return

restauro-adamo-eva-ducale
Unknown places & works

After four years of delicate restoration work, the three fifteenth-century statues by the great artist Antonio Rizzo will be exceptiona...

View

Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

casone-millecampi-detto-casone-dei-sette-morti
Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...

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

Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

mappa-venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...

View

Verona: The roman walls of Verona

porta-borsari
Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...

View