In-Depth Look at Viaggio in Ponente written by Domenico Laffi
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An In-Depth Look at Viaggio in Ponente written by Domenico Laffi
Many of the gaps in the historical record of human civilization have been filled in by journals written by people about the events surrounding them. Such journals give a unique view into the life of an everyday person even in the most extreme of circumstances. An example of this is the log kept by Domenico Laffi, which he wrote as a travel guide for other pilgrims in the seventeenth century. Among the common events of river crossings and wells tucked away on high mountain peaks, Laffi writes a detailed description of cities, holy rights and the scientific and technological works he encounters during his travels. Laffi's record of his travels is very important to the understanding of how pilgrims themselves were the main means of information exchange at a time when most cities were isolated from one another.
In order to put Laffi's experiences into perspective one must understand a bit about the man. Laffi was a priest in Bologna, Italy. Laffi never had his own parish, instead his passion was for traveling and he made the pilgrimage from Italy to Santiago de Compostela, Spain three times in his life. In addition to these journeys, he also made pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Lisbon. In his journal it is quickly apparent that his status as a priest gives him great advantages in education as well as the way in which he was treated, over his fellow pilgrims. An example of how differently he was treated occurs when Laffi and his companion join up with another pilgrim known only as "the Roman." The Roman is a more ordinary sort of pilgrim and must often stay in hostels with little food while Laffi and companion are entertained by Lords, Canons and other such nobility. Wh...
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...oo went on pilgrimage.
Laffi's journal is important both in the context of his time as well as in the context of our own. He relates his travels as a guide to his fellow pilgrims, but the guide is also rich with information that the average person of his time did not have access to. His guide is an important source of information to modern historians in recreating the past from a more personal as well as a more scientific point of view. Laffi's journal truly demonstrates how a person can become information just as a signpost becomes the information written upon it.
1. A Braccio was a unit of measure usually equaling 55cm.
Laffi, Domenico. A Journey West; The Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Pilgrim from Bologna to Santiago de Compostela. Trans. James Hall. Leiden, The Netherlands: Primavera Pers. 1997. Trans. of Viaggio in Ponente.