Venipedia

The Republic of Venice, given the enormous potential of the immense market that could have generated the sale of wine, immediately decided to focus on the quality of the same, which had to be and remain of the highest level. To achieve this there was a ban on watering it down - since the very ancient law of Doge Sebastiano Ziani of 1173 - and on altering it with the addition of rocheta - that is, the arugula herb with a sharp taste - of rock alum or molasses, such as establishes a subsequent provision of 1521. The wines that had been adulterated were thrown into the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge, while those produced correctly, but seized for other reasons, were freely distributed to the monasteries or to the Pietà.

In order to obtain the best possible result, all the phases that preceded the sale and trade of wine were strictly regulated. Well-defined figures were in charge of the transfer and transport of the wines, namely the portadori and travasadori de vin, experts in this art that can be defined as mechanical. They, even before 1609 - when they joined the Scuola dei mercanti da vin - gathered in the church of San Bartolomeo, under the protection of All Saints. The Council of Ten, on 30 December 1568, authorized the founding of the school which brought together: vendidori, travasadori and portadori de vin. There was also an obligation to register for the peàteri, those who carried the wine on board the peàte - the typical Venetian boats - and for the portadori de orne, that is, the barrels built with a wood very similar to ash.

The travasadori di vino, by Zompini.

Above the peàte, laden with large wine barrels that were stationed at the Riva del Vin, it was allowed to taste and wholesale the wines, but there was a ban on using the boards for rolling the barrels that could have function of seats for buyers. Equally, it was forbidden to keep dogs on board as with their barking they could warn the owners of the arrival of the officers to check the quality of the wine.

The travasadori were given a wine barrel - corresponding to the wooden spoon they used to collect wine from the bottom of the barrels - for each barrel they managed to unload. The historical anecdote from which this type of payment was born was recounted in 1895 by Levi - who reports the ancient custom from a thirteenth century chronicle - when Pope Alexander III, incognito, wanting to cross the Grand Canal by water, after having cursed the boatmen who refuse him the passage, he rewarded the travasadori de vin who instead willingly accepted this task. Thanks to this generous gesture, the travasadori de vin managed to obtain, through the Pope's intercession, the reward of a bareta de vin for each discharge made.

Thanks to the traditional foresight of the Serenissima Republic, to this set of iron rules and also to their "industrial" approach combined with effective incentives - such as the one just mentioned in the wine bareta - the Venetians managed to transform what up to that time he could have considered a simple drink.

Read also