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Welcome to Bargrave's travels and collection. From here you can explore locations from Bargrave's travels and browse selected items from his "Cabinets of Curiosities" by selecting Explore Travels or by selecting Explore Collection.


From the south of France it was only a short distance to travel into Italy. During the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period Italy was divided into a number of smaller city-states and territories: the kingdom of Naples controlled the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal States dominated the centre, the Republic of Genoa and the duchy of Milan the north and west, and the Republic of Venice the east. 15th and 16th century Italy was one of the most urbanised areas in Europe and was, of course, the birthplace of the Renaissance movement. However, during the first half of the 16th century Valois France and Habsburg Spain competed for possession and political dominance of the country. Ultimately Spain prevailed. The Treaty of Chateau-Cambresis signed by both countries in 1559 recognised Spanish dominance over the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. Thereafter, the political and religious alliance between Habsburg Spain and the Papacy ensured Catholic domination of the peninsula.

General image of mosaic fragments and labels B77ii

Mosaic fragments and their labels

Bargrave spent a considerable amount of time in Italy, travelling the northern, central, and southern regions of the present-day country. More detailed evidence of his journey into Italy in 1646-7 appears in the Mercurio Italico. It is apparent that Bargrave travelled extensively in Italy and collected many items, probably more than those which made it into the present-day cabinets. In his catalogue he specifically refers to Rome, Venice, Naples, Peutoli, Tivoli, Loreto, and Siena. While it is unlikely that he retraced his steps on each of his visits to Italy, he does seem to have concluded his trips to Rome with a journey to Naples and Vesuvius on each occasion.

Of all of the places, though, it seems to have been his experiences in Rome which really introduced Bargrave to the pleasures of collecting. On observing the activities of the labourers, he remarked 'My often seeing of them put me likewise into a humour of curiosity, and making this collection insuing'. Read on to learn more about some of these places that he visited in Italy.

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