Studying Venice in the context of celebration provided an interesting lens to understand a city that is very well known for its festivals. While I found events like the Carnival of Venice interesting, what most fascinates me about these types of events is their transitory nature. The constant influx and outflow of visitors is a story that has been inherent to Venice’s identity for hundreds of years. Pilgrimages to Venice was a field I found worth exploring.
While Venice had been a destination for pilgrims as early as the 11th century, I focused on the period of pilgrimages beginning around the second half of the 15th century when the number of pilgrimages increased enormously. As early as the 1200s, Venice had been the main administrator of transportation in the Mediterranean for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Though by the mid-1400s, Venice was less a gateway for pilgrims to travel through and more a place for pilgrims to actually spend time in as the city featured numerous holy sites and important relics. Exploring the idea of Venice as an earlier “tourist” city is what caught my attention. The pilgrimage experience in Venice included guided itineraries, required tour guides known as tholomagi, and restricted pilgrims from visiting certain locations within the city. Wealthy Venetian families profited heavily from pilgrims who were required to pay large expenses.
Working with Omeka Items and Neatline allowed for increased experience with digital tools. I believe Omeka’s strengths included its ability to create a story between different locations through geographic visualizations. The plug-in ability with Omeka allowed us to easily transfer our collection items which for me included paintings of St. Mark’s Square, not only the main square in the city, but one of the earliest spots pilgrims would pass through after arriving. Despite their useful applications, each software has a steep learning curve and I found the breakdown of Omeka difficult to understand — exhibits v.s. items v.s. collections.
I am not able to continue my project into the spring, but if I had the opportunity to do so, I would want to further explore the Venice-pilgrim relationship. Several of the readings I had used — The business of pilgrimage in fifteenth-century Venice and How to be a Time Traveller: Exploring Venice with a Fifteenth-Century Pilgrimage Guide — explored this relationship in great depth highlighting the transactional nature. Furthermore, I would hope to map places within the city that pilgrims were told to visit would, thus recreating the pilgrim experience on the interactive Ughi Map. Further incorporation of sources like the translated full-text Canon Pietro Casola’s Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the year 1494, which features his time in Venice on his way to the Holy Land, could help further conceptualize the pilgrimage experience.
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