Edition: 2018
Pages: 384
Series: EL
ISBN: 9788858121832

Foreign Lands, Strange People. Tales of Mediaeval travellers

Duccio Balestracci



In southern India the Zoroastrians are so honest that a specially appointed official collects lost objects from the street and goes in search of their owners. The women in Malabar are the most uninhibited and in the Canaries jealousy is unheard of. In the waters of Alexandria swims a delicious fish, either roasted or boiled, but its consumption provokes embarrassing erotic dreams. The Iwalatan desert, in Mali, is populated by evil spirits that cause lone travellers to lose their way by magically moving the sand dunes. This is just one part of the enchanted world, a cross between truth and invention, that springs into life in the tales of the mediaeval travellers. Their stories are in reality just a device to capture the attention of the reader, in fact “the traveller is not so much interested in seeking out and describing the fantastic aspects of a dreamed up world, but is above all attracted by the modus vivendi of others; his curiosity is aroused when he discovers this way of life to be different from his own”. Duccio Balestracci lets the ancient travellers speak for themselves. It is they who are both protagonists and narrators of this fascinating epic of the imagination and the singular world we live in.

The author

Duccio Balestracci

Duccio Balestraccihas been professor of Medieval History and Medieval Civilisation at the University of Siena. Among his most recent publications Terre ignote strana gente. Storie di viaggiatori medievali (2008); La battaglia di Montaperti (2017); Il Palio di Siena. Una festa italiana (2019).

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