Contenuti della pagina

The Redentore Feast-day Italiano Français deutsche español
The plague

  Pianta panoramica di Venezia in un affresco del sedicesimo secolo

Venice in the 16th century

If the city was losing its central role politically, demographically it was continually expanding. With over 175,000 inhabitants it was one of the most densely-populated cities in the world.

Tiziano Vecellio, ritratto di Pietro Aretino

It was a European capital that hosted painters, sculptors, architects and literary personalities such as Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, the Bassanos, Palladio, Sansovino, Pietro Aretino, and Galileo Galilei.

This cultural vivacity was made possible by a freedom which allowed many persecuted foreign intellectuals to find a second home in the Serenissima.

  This was all before the terrible plague epidemic that later engulfed the city.  

Medico che cura un appestato The plague breaks out

In the three years between 1575 and 1577 the Serenissima was tormented by the plague: aided by the high density of the population, the disease spread through the city, causing terrible losses, with a dramatic new outbreak in the summer of the second year.Capezzale di un appestato

Almost 50,000 died, which was more than a third of the city’s inhabitants.

Due mainly to promiscuity and precarious living conditions, the disease spread almost exclusively among the poorer classes.
Initially the seriousness of the epidemic was played down, but as the disease spread the government was forced to adopt extreme hygiene and sanitary regulations which helped to eradicate the disease after the first dramatic months. Pianta del Lido di Sant'Erasmo  

Doctors and pizzicamorti

During the plague, the two figures primarily concerned with the disease could be found wandering the city streets: the doctor and the pizzicamorti.
Giovanni Grevenbroch, Medico industrioso

The doctor was greatly at risk of infection and had to take many precautions: he was covered by a black cloak, probably made from a waxed fabric, and well perfumed with juniper berries. He wore gloves and had a mask that covered his face and hair, with its characteristic hooked nose containing aromatic antidotes.
  Giovanni Grevenbroch, Pizzicamorti
  The pizzicamorti was the gravedigger, who was also protected by a tarred cloak and who usually wore gloves. He had the unpleasant task of transporting the plague-ridden bodies and burning them.

The Redentore Feast-day  |  The vow  |  The end of the plague  |  The Redentore today