Italy – The Prisoner, Marco Polo

Detail from front of 1000 Lira banknote of Italy.

With Whom, it might be said, it all began; Marco Polo.  Although other travelers had journeyed from Europe to China, it was Marco Polo’s written memoir that moved those to come.  His detailed chronicle of his 24 year long, 13th century, journey to China, sparked the imagination, and supplied inspiration, for much of the Age of Exploration to come. The manuscript became known as “The Travels of Marco Polo”, and was disseminated throughout Europe.

And to think, much of his stories were written while imprisoned!  Upon his return from the East, he found his city, Venice, at war with Genoa, and, consequently, he was imprisoned.  During this time, he dictated the stories of his amazing travels to his cellmate.  It’s not unlikely, that, had he not been imprisoned, he’d have been too busy to write this memoir that would inspire many to come, including Christopher Columbus.

Detail from back of 1000 lira banknote, Italy.

The back of our banknote illustrates one of the great landmarks in Venice, the hometown of Marco Polo.  Known as the Doge’s Palace, it was the official residence of the supreme authority of Venice, known as the Doge.  It’s history dates back to the time of Marco Polo and beyond.

The winged Lion is prominent in the Emblem Of Italy which adorns the front of our banknote.  The passant, the winged Lion, is the ancient symbol of Venice.  It represents Saint Mark, one of the four Evangels.  Saint Mark became the patron saint of Venice following a miraculous sailing survival story attributed to him.

1000 Lire banknote of Italy, featuring Marco Polo

1000 Lire banknote, Italy

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