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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 10.djvu/16

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6 NOTES AND QUERIES. [12 S. X. JAN. 7, 1922. to us, with ' Hernani,' from the imaginative fancy of the Victor of Romance. The newer guide-books, however, are discarding the old belief. The *Michelin Guide,' as we have seen, throws it over altogether. The popular ' Guide Davrinche ' seeks a compromise : Maisons espagnoles diseiit les uns, hispano- flamandes affirment d'autres ; c'est juste, si Ton entend par la que les premieres des ces maisons datent de la domination espagnole ; mais que Ton ne pretende pas y voir une importa- tion etrangere : elles sont filles du genie frangais et de 1'art artesien. But the better course is to say quite frankly with M. Enlart, " No trace here of Spanish art." F. H. CHEETHAM. THE SOTTO PIOMBI, OR THE PIOMBI, VENICE. IN The Times of Dec. 14, 1921, p. 9, c. 5, 4 Modern Use for Venice Prisons ' is an editorial note in which it is stated that " The prisons underneath the leaden roof of the Doges' Palace, known as the Piombi, were destroyed in 1797." As to these prisons guide-books are not agreed : Prom the landing-place from which the Ducal apartments are entered, stairs lead to the famous Sotto Piombi at the top of the building as their name denotes, " under the leads." They were formerly used as prisons. . . . Jacopo [sic] Casanova was shut up in them in 1775 [true date 1755-56]. Silvio Pellico was not confined here as so often stated. ... A few have been recently converted into dwelling apartments ; the others are used for lumber rooms. (Murray's * Handbook, Northern Italy,' 1874, p. 3-15.) The Piombi, or prisons under the leaden roof of the Palace, were destroyed in 1797, but have 'recently again been made accessible. (Baedeker's Northern Italy,' 1886, p. 252.) From the Anticollegio a staircase leads to the famous Piombi, the "Prisons under the leads" (not shown) of the suffering in which Jacopo '[sic] Casanova, who was imprisoned there in 1755, has left such a dramatic description. Describing his imprisonment in the Piombi, Silvio Pellico says . . . [Here follows a quotation (trans- lated) from ' Le Mie Prigioni.'] (Augustus J. C. Hade's ' Venice,' 1896, p. 52.) From the Hall of the Ten . . . there was a narrow staircase leading out, by which one could go up to the Piombi. . + . Originally there were four of them ; but during the revolution in 1797 three were destroyed and only one preserved to act as a reminder. In these prisons Giordano Bruno before being handed over to the Inquisi- tion was kept ; and later on, Silvio Pellico was detained there by the Austrian Government before being sent to Spielberg. (' "Venice and Neighbourhood,' A. Scrocchi, Editor, Milan, Venice, p. 77.) Being in Venice in 1889, after one day visiting the Pozzi, having heard that the Sotto Piombi had been restored, I told one of the attendants, or guards, that I wanted to visit them. He replied that they had been destroyed, and did not exist. The same reply from a second man. I made my request to a third. A similar reply. I answered " But they have been restored." He then told me that I should have to get leave from the director of the Palace. r'A few days later I called at the director's office. He at once gave me leave, and sent for a man to conduct me. Meanwhile, this very polite director told me that Casanova's prison room was to be seen, also that lately there had been found many papers about him, which would be published in France. I was taken up many flights of stairs by one of the guards. I find in my diary : I don't think that he [the guard] knew much about the t place. However, he showed me the prison room of Jacques Casanova. Like most of the rest of the Sotto Piombi it appears to be quite a restoration. Still, there is a little room. ... At the window side it is about 12 feet [the gther end is smaller]. The window is very strongly barred, and looks into the build- ing, being some feet away from the outside roof wall. The door is undoubtedly old very low and very thick, about 6 or 7 inches. It has a round hole through it, about 7 inches in diameter, and a heavy lock bar on the outside. There is not much else to be seen in the way of dun- geons. The guard showed me a place which he said had been the torture chamber. There is a big sort of block (pulley block) in the roof. The rough outline in my diary makes the window end of the Casanova room about 12 feet wide, the opposite end about 10, the door side about 14, and side oppo- site about 13. If this room is a reproduction of one occu- pied by Casanova, it is probably his second cachot, that from which he escaped. The assertion in Murray's ' Handbook,' that Silvio Pellico was not confined in the Sotto Piombi, "as so often stated," is a contradiction of what Pellico writes in chaps. 22, 39, 44, 47, 49, where he says that he was imprisoned there before his removal to the prison of San Michele, whence, after being sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment, he was taken to Spiel- berg in Moravia. I am referring to * Mes Prisons,' 1838, an abbreviated translation of * Le Mie Prigioni.' ROBERT PIEBPOINT.