18th Century Venice: Sewage

A little piece of Venetian history, for those who love that city.

Make sure you read the linked article, but not at breakfast perhaps.

Thank you Robin.

Robin Saikia

Zompini’s engraving shows a workman, the Cura gatoli, deferentially greeting two immaculately-dressed toffs. The image is very much à clef, as only a Venetian would immediately grasp how disgusting the job really was. In the accompanying rhyme the workman describes his task in Venetian dialect. “Co xe l’Alba per tute le Contrae / I gatoli curemo dal sporchezzo; / E se mantien le strade ben netae.” My translation: “At dawn we trudge round all the lanes / Unblocking all the filthy drains / And keep the streets clean for our pains.” The word gatoli means not only drains for rainwater but also the labyrinth of conduits channeling human waste out of buildings and into the canals. It was critical to keep these in good order at all times, and the draincleaner’s job was as important as that of the canal dredgers mentioned in a previous post…

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11 responses to “18th Century Venice: Sewage

  1. Reminds me of the Sano Man who paid us a weekly visit in the early hours, right up until I was fourteen and we finally got sewerage (thanks to Gough Whitlam by the way)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m reading “The Weight of Ink” right now (set in the 1600s and the present) and one of the characters is taken out of London to the country for the first time in her life. She cannot believe the green and the freshness of the air which makes us realize just how horrible the conditions must have been in places like Venice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes. Thanks. Our septic tank drains are blocked 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting. I am reminded that Lord Byron allegedly swam the Grand Canal every day

    Liked by 2 people

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