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Very rare and little known collection of Italian Renaissance merchant voyages to India

CIGNANO, Ludovico.
Quieta solitudine di varii ragionamenti, discorsi, et concetti, ove si narra quattro navigationi ...
Bologna, Alessandro Benacci, 1587 Small 4to (21 x 15 cm). With the woodcut coat of arms of the dedicatee Giovanni Luigi Scappi. Goatskin morocco (ca. 1870/80?), richly gold-tooled spine and turn-ins, signed in foot of front turn-in by the Paris bookbinders "DARLAUD FRÈRES". 166 pp.
€ 45,000
First and only edition of a fascinating combination of Italian Renaissance travel account, literature and philosophy. The publication is rare and hardly appears in the literature, so it is little known and provides a wealth of curious information. Real and imaginary stories of mercantile voyages to the East are combined with philosophical reflections on travel, in an endeavour to lift travel to a higher philosophical level. There are seven numbered chapters (each called a "spatio"). The fourth chapter lays out an extensive trade route from Italy to India that runs through the Arabian Peninsula, resembling the famous Silk Route. It names many Arabian locations including Aleppo, Mecca, Hormuz and Basra. The final destinations are the cities of Magalore and Canonore (Kannur) on the Indian west coast, which are reached via Cambaia (Khambhat). Another chapter tells the story of a mercantile voyage by ship to China, with a stopover in India. The traveller describes a stay of several days in Calicut (Kozhikode), where they acquired a certain liqueur from a tree that was "molto buono, & excellente". Some of the other destinations, as well as the names of some of the people and ships, seem to be allegorical (many of the ship names, like Castor and Pollux, could well be real, but we have found none that seems relevant to the present accounts). The preliminaries include the author's dedication and dedicatory poem to Giovanni Luigi Scappi, a professor of law at the University of Bologna (Mazzetti, Repertorio di tutti i professori ... Università ... Bologna, 1848, no. 2831), a laudatory verse by Nicolo Campani, a note to the reader and the curious 4-page "Lettera la quale scrive il cavaliero erante", in which a knight errant muses about the nature of travel. Some chapters take the form of letters written by the knight errant. Little is known about the author, though he was probably Bolognese, like the dedicatee. Other members of the Scappi family around this time included patrons of the arts and a famous cook.
With an early owner's inscription on the title-page ("Cesar de Ego Villa Bononiensis") and a modern bookseller's ticket on the paste-down, with an earlier owner's(?) label removed. Washed by the nineteenth-century binder but book and binding in very good condition. A charmingly bound copy of a rare and curious work on the Near and Far East. BMC STC Italian, p. 184; Edit 16/ICCU 14145 (5 copies); USTC 822630 (9 copies); not in Atabey; Blackmer; Howgego (neither real nor "invented and apocryphal"); Mortimer.
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