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Ad Oriente. The extraordinary journey of Marco Polo.

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The Carnevale of Venice devotes itself to the theme of one of La Serenissima’s most famous sons, Marco Polo and his incredible journey to the East. Born in Venice in 1254 the merchant explorer was the first to travel East and through Persia and India, towards the Mongol Empire and China and its Yuan Dynasty, opening up the West, for the first time to the wonders of the Eastern world and the cultures of Asia.

The journey is much recounted and every school child knows of Polo’s adventures along the Silk Road and tales of limitless wealth and mysterious worlds of the regions previously unknown to the mind of the European westerner. Indeed, Polo’s own account of his incredible journey, The Travels of Marco Polo, known colloquially as Il Milione, or The Million (the alleged number of lies contained within), remains one of the most extraordinary tales of intrepid adventure ever written. Upon his deathbed, Polo is recounted as declaring “I told you only half of what I saw, as you would never have believed the whole of it”.

Polo’s exploration and Venice’s strategic position allowed the city state to become the hub of world trade. Goods were received by see in the Laguna and disseminated across Europe by land, creating the first globalised, integrated economy. Art and culture flourished as the cross-pollinating of ideas added to the accumulation of wealth and riches.

This year marks the 700th anniversary of Polo’s death and with the Carnevale dedicated to him it is worth contemplating what the Venetian’s legacy is.

In a world evermore divided and segregated, Marco Polo still represents the Venetian spirit of connection, of the welcoming of foreigners and the openness to cultures different to our own. If Marco Polo can be considered the first protagonist of globalisation, he can also be considered the instigator of open mindedness and curiosity on the grandest of scales. This is the defining feature of Venetian hospitality. An open door and a welcome table for all who visit to share in the beauty that surrounds us every day. And it is a candle that we keep lit at Hostaria Bacanera, where we work every day to uphold the precious traditions of our culture while opening up to those who travel from afar dine with us.

Hostaria Bacanera is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week throughout the Carnival period and beyond, to share the treasures of its cuisine.