Navigational Manual

Pinetti, Francesco, Genoese navigator (fl. 1680s). Portolano of the Mediterranean.

[Liguria, Genoa], 1689.

Large 4to (180 x 270 mm). Italian manuscript on paper. 60 written pages on 35 leaves, textually complete, ca. 30 lines. Contemporary vellum over card.


A 17th century working handbook providing sailing instructions from the port city of Genoa, written in two parts: westwards towards southern Spain and to Cadiz, and south through the Liguarian and Tyrrhenian Sea towards Calabria. It contains a description of the city of Genoa (2 pp.), directions along the southern French and eastern Spanish coasts to Sanlúcar de Barrameda via Menton, Monaco, Villefranche, Marseille, Cadaques, Barcelona, Valencia, Cartagena, Marbella, Gibraltar, and Cadiz (39 pp.); and directions from Genoa along the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy to Capo Vaticano in Calabria via Livorno, Fiumicino, Naples, etc. (18 pp.). The invocation of the muses before the text is a quotation from Torquato Tasso's "Gerusalemme Liberata": "O Musa, tu che di caduchi allori / non circondi la fronte in Halicona [...]".

The genesis of the portolan chart as we know it in pictorial form is inextricably linked to the production in the late medieval period of these textual sailing instructions of the Mediterranean Sea, known as "portolani" in Italy, and later as "roteiros" by the Portuguese and "rutters" by the Dutch and English, written by mariners as guides for sailing from port to port in the Mediterranean.

Binding torn and frayed. Lower corner damaged with insignificant loss to letters; edges frayed, marginal thumbing and staining, final leaf loose. Provenance: inscription on first leaf, "Io Fran[ces]co Pinetti della Riva di Taggia", dated 16 Dec, 1689, the hand matching that of the main text. 18th century inscriptions on upper pastedown, one dated 27 March 1705: "Rotta di uno instrumento fatto in Genoa".

Stock Code: BN#48493 Tags: ,