Helmut Hundsbichler

title.none: Santonino, Itinerario (Helmut Hundsbichler )

identifier.other: baj9928.0402.005 04.02.05

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Helmut Hundsbichler , Institut f|r Realienkunde,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2004

identifier.citation: Santonino, Paolo. Gagliardi, Roberto, trans. Itinerario in Carinzia, Stiria e Carniola (1485-1487). Series: Biblioteca de "l'Unicorno," vol. 1. Rome: Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 1999. Pp. 239. ISBN: 88-8147-202-3.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 04.02.05

Santonino, Paolo. Gagliardi, Roberto, trans. Itinerario in Carinzia, Stiria e Carniola (1485-1487). Series: Biblioteca de "l'Unicorno," vol. 1. Rome: Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 1999. Pp. 239. ISBN: 88-8147-202-3.

Reviewed by:

Helmut Hundsbichler
Institut f|r Realienkunde

In the second half of the fifteenth century the Turks seriously tried once more to invade Central Europe in order to wipe out Christianity. In the end those invasions were not successful, but they impaired ecclesiastical life heavily: The "Itinerarium" under review focuses on a large number of churches, chapels, altars, and churchyards which had to be rebuilt and reconsecrated after the invasions in the southern parts of Austria and in the north of Slovenia. In some places a bishop had not been seen for many decades.

The bishop who was sent from northern Italy to make up that huge backlog in ecclesiastical necessities was accompanied by his secretary, Paolo Santonino, a lawyer who composed on that enterprise a private report in medieval Latin: Santonino's "Itinerarium" covers 114 days spread over the years 1485, 1486, and 1487. For those knowing this evidence, it is famous for quite unique details on cultural life in the regions visited; above all, descriptions of persons, landscapes, buildings, and settlements; traces of Roman antiquity; the authentic horary; daily practice of travel; Christian mentality and devotion; hospitality within local clergy and lower nobility (including table manners, food and meals, wines, housing), and many other topics. Moreover the text includes much indirect information on Paolo Santonino's mentality and personality.

The "Itinerarium" is handwritten and remained in the Biblioteca Vaticana until it was published by Giuseppe Vale in 1943. In 1946 followed a German translation by Rudolf Egger, 1987 a Japanese one (!), 1992 a Slovenian translation and 1999 the Italian translation which is part of the book under review.

The German translation has extraordinarily popularized the "Itinerarium" within the German speaking regions it describes. Since that publication, two totally different strings of "Santinono reception" can be observed: on the one hand the popular and rather uncritical one, which is highly satisfied by reading so many "interesting" and striking details about a remarkably foreign culture; and on the other hand the scholarly one, which partly follows the same voyeuristic attitude, partly intends understanding and explaining the "Itinerarium's" foreigness in the sense of mental history and historical anthropology.

The reviewer's numerous individual publications show clearly that the "Itinerarium" first of all fascinates as "thickly" written evidence of late medieval material culture. According to this utilitarian interpretation, the German translation of 1946 was incorrectly entitled "travel journals." Just so the Italian translation introduces the "Itinerarium" as "un racconto di viaggio" (5). But recently, it was found that the "Itinerarium" should rather be assigned to the literary type historia: In this type, an allegoric component "behind" the mere narrative of facts and reality is constitutive. In the "Itinerarium," this essential characteristic is represented by the elevating message that the successfully re-established ecclesiastical order after the Turkish devastations would prove the will and advice of God.

To confirm the reliability of this historia, Santonino utilized a simple facility which was nearly exclusively accessible only for him: He apparently grounded the composition of his "Itinerarium" on the official documents which he himself as secretary had written in the authentic places.

The now published Italian edition was directed by Fabio Cavalli and was produced by the "Accademia Jaufre Rudel di studi medievali" in Gradisca, a town close by Santonino's former place of activity. Roberto Galgiardi's well-versed Italian translation is page by page opposite the text of the medieval Latin original. However, the original's numerous marginal notes have been left out in both versions, although many of them would be essential to understand the structure and the meaning of the text. On the other hand, the text is commented on and explained by numerous footnotes. After their frequency decreases throughout the "Itinerarium," they apparently came into being rather coincidentally. Many of them point out Santonino's idiomatic parallels to classical Latin. These footnotes are contributed by Angelo Floramo, Harald Krahwinkler, Fabio Cavalli, Marialuisa Cecere, G. Paolo Cecere, Donata Degrassi and Gianna Paolin. Most of these authors also give short introductory remarks concerning certain characteristics of the "Itinerarium" and its time. Oddly enough, the remarkable number of publications in German concerning Santonino's "Itinerarium" have been regarded rather incompletely, in the introductions as well as in the footnotes.

However, the editors' intention was not to work out a critical or a "definitive" translation but to unfold that plentiful historical evidence to readers amongst its author's cultural offsprings. In consequence, for the interests of scholars none of the translations available can replace the original edition. Even more inadequate would be reading or using Santonino's "Itinerarium" as evidence of daily life and common reality. Because in fact Santonino got in touch with the upper classes mainly, and nowhere he experienced or described normal conditions but explicitly the festive mood of all these hosts and their extraordinary hospitality towards a strongly desired bishop. After this szenario happened day by day in other places, uncritical readers would easily drop into errors and wrong conclusions; for example, Germans would have daily eaten and drunk excessively. In this respect, the editors should have paid more attention to the confrontation with foreigness.

Nevertheless, or probably better: therefore, the Italian translation might provide Santonino's precious and lovely "Itinerarium" a lot of new friends.