What are diapers doing on the Palazzo Ducale?

I’m reading a fascinating book just now, At Home: a short history of private lives, by that excellent writer, Bill Bryson.

To quote from the Amazon précis:

“With his signature wit, charm, and seemingly limitless knowledge, Bill Bryson takes us on a room-by-room tour through his own house, using each room as a jumping off point into the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted. As he takes us through the history of our modern comforts, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up in our home, in the paint, the pipes, the pillows, and every item of furniture. Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.”

I’m finding I have to frequently put the book down, and go to the computer, to read more on the topics he has discussed. So, among other things,  I’ve found out about various forms of notches used to construct log cabins, and discovered how and why the Erie canal was built and how that impacted on the wealth and growth of New York City.  I’ve also been riveted by the saga of Fonthill Abbey (also known as Beckford’s Folly). Do yourself a favour and read about this online! For anyone interested in this piece of history, here is one link http://www.hvtesla.com/fonthill/

Anyhow, what does this all have to do with diapers and the Palazzo Ducale in Venice? Have a look at the facade of the palace. Note how the brickwork forms a diamond shape which is known as a “diaper”. Why a diaper you ask? Because, as Mr Bryson explains, those “baby undergarments were originally made from linen threads woven in a diamond pattern”. I wonder who first decided to call this brickwork pattern diaper, rather than diamond? If that hadn’t happened, I would have had to find a different topic for this post! Thank you, Anon.

(Image sourced on the internet)

(Image sourced from the internet)



Filed under Venice

13 responses to “What are diapers doing on the Palazzo Ducale?

  1. Thank you for your blog. I did a posting this morning on the Erie Canal. Please stop by and visit some time.


  2. I enjoy his work as well, and haven’t read that book. I’ll have to order it! I enjoyed your lesson! Who knew? I certainly didn’t! 🙂


  3. JoanneH

    He has a new book out it just came in yesterday called one summer- America 1927 haven’t read it yet and deep into Bound in Venice the history of the book trade in Venice. Also Picked up a copy of Donna Leon’s new book not a novel but a book of Essays at the book show last week its her take on Venice, Men, her family, America and other essays about life. Some are great some IMHO not so hot, but that’s what you get when someone does essays on several topics.


  4. Well, that brickwork does attempt to keep the moisture where it belongs….so…

    Isn’t it amazing when a good read can lead to so much additional information?


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