Today you come here to drink wine and eat cicheti, but from the middle of the 14th century to the end of the 18th, osterie played another role, too. That’s why we’re going to tell you some interesting facts concerning the ancient osterie in Venice, when they were used as guest houses.
Where did Medieval tourists stay?
Besides institutional accommodations and monasteries, other important lodgings where the osterie, i.e. pubs. Better still, they were the official lodgings, and since 1355 they were even part of a real Scuola.
Something peculiar happened in the 14th century, though: at the beginning of the 16th century, Venice had 23 bacari. In the 18th century, on the other hand, they definitely became 20. In 1347, though, they were forced to reduce their number to 13: in the official documents, the reason for this measure was the “grave lack of wine” which was bringing Venice to its knees.
In all probability, the government of the Republic of Venice was trying to bring some order into the world of Venetian hospitality. There were, indeed, too many hotels and the like, which were damaging the quality of life.
Does this maybe sound familiar to you?
The Cantina Do Spade in the middle of the 18th century
The “Water and Food in Venice” exhibition shows a video on the Cantina in 1754, revealing, among others, that:
- guest rooms were located on the upper floors and were 13;
- some people couldn’t be lodged in the osterie. But they could come and drink here, anyway.
Who couldn’t spend the night in the ancient osterie in Venice and why
Innkeepers, then, couldn’t do as they pleased, since they had to comply with the rules imposed by the Great Council (Maggior Consiglio), namely:
- they had to pay a tax – in 1820, it added up to 500 lire;
- they had to put blankets and sheets on all of their beds – clearly, it wasn’t that obvious;
- they couldn’t accommodate bandits, beggars and prostitutes. Why? To maintain public safety. And the innkeeper had better observe this law, unless he wanted to end up in jail.