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The Museo della Musica and the Food of Venice's Poor

Aug 28, 04:27 PM

The Museo della Musica inside the former church of San Maurizio in Campo San Maurizio offers up a collection of baroque instruments and some interesting notes on the times of Vivaldi. It’s also one of the few things, outside of getting gloriously lost, that are free in Venice.

You’ll find that Vivaldi taught at the Ospedale della Pietà, “a shelter for orphans and abandoned young women who were forced to study music, and later for the daughters of good families, who were sent there before a favorable marriage was arranged for them.”

There are also some interesting notes on the poor and the food available to them.

The condition of the Venetian “people”, the poor, never reached dramatic extremes: their poverty was held in check, and the presence of a vast number of charatable institutes, such as the Ospedali, bear witness to the fact. It is also curious to record that, to the almost two hundred places of worship in town (for the restoration of the soul), corresponded at least as many “second-grade” butcheries, a different category than the ones that sold expensive cuts of meats to the patricians and citizens. They sold “luganeghe”, sausages, ground or mixed meats, tripe and entrails, which guaranteed the entire population a diet of low-cost “meat” that was important for their health. This is only a curiosity, but it goes to show the intelligence of the Most Serene Republic’s idea of public administration, and the harmony between the lower and upper classes of which the capillary diffusion of music and theater at all levels is a reflection.

What’s happened to those food of the poor these days? Does it all get rolled up into hot dogs and animal feed?

You might also like: Venice Arsenale: Venetian Shipbuilders and Their Wine

James Martin

Filed in: cucina povera italy

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