They know all about plague in Venice and what happens when you don’t heed social distancing.
But the City of Masks survived it before and they’re not about to have it curtail their lives any more than they have to.
Hence them coming out in full regalia for their famous regatta.
Here’s a choppy history of Venice but be buoyed by their recovery.
Quarantino in Dubrovnik
The Italian word for 40 days (but you knew that already, si?) it was first implemented on the Adriatic port city of Ragusa which is modern-day Dubrovnik.
And sailors and traders in 1377 were told ‘they should not enter [Ragusa].
Or its district unless they spend a month on the islet of Mrkan or in the town of Cavtat, for the purpose of disinfection.’
It was actually started as a trentino (30 days) but got extended, partially because of science but also because of religion.
Because 40 days was always the Biblical go-to number and it was thought that locals would get on board with that better.
The Plague Doctor
Now you’ll have seen these in the shops in Venice.
But luckily for you nobody in person wearing them, or in full cloak, hat and mask (unless you’re at Carnivale).
The bad news for you back in the Middle Ages was that the menacing Black Doctor wouldn’t cure you.
The general practitioner might but the Plague Doctor would be an enumerator, counting the casualties.
He looked after himself, of course, filling his mask with aromatic herbs in the hope that it would keep him safe.
Thought for the day: it didn’t.
The Plague island
While you relax with your Cappuccino or Aperol Spritz by the Rialto Bridge you’ll be oblivious to those poor souls.
Those who would have given their lives for the soothing balm of a glass of water.
Those who were plague-ridden and were sent to the island of Poveglia.
The Island of Ghosts
The Island of Ghosts where they sent their virulent, 160,000 of them over the centuries.
Classic Boats Venice will take you there and show you around, and it is only ten minutes from St Mark’s Square.
Who was that masked man?
Yes, who was that masked man, you say?
The big one, of course, is the Carnevale which you can look forward to, from Saturday, January 30- Tuesday, February 16.
Venice may have its grisly past but it makes mask-wearing fan.
And maybe come back with a Plague Doctor’s Mask.
If nothing else it could keep the In-Laws at bay. Maybe!
And who to go to Venice with?
Well, Ireland’s national airline carrier, Aer Lingus has Venice, down from €45.99 to €29.99 for September. See terms and conditions.
And if you like The City of Masks then why not check out The City of Frescoes, Padova, up the water.
MEET YOU IN THE ALLEYS