Have you ever wondered what gondolier pants looked like, you know, way back in the day?
Me, neither, and I like all things gondola.
But I hit a lot of museums this summer in Venice and took 8 zillion photos of all the paintings (even climbing onto a chair once when no one was looking). At the Accademia, came across this painting (Miracolo dell reliquia della Croce al ponte di Rialto by Vittore Carpaccio ). I took the close up photos because I was interested in the forcole, the wooden fork that the gondolier fits his oar into. But today as I glanced at these shots, I noticed their pants!
Notice the gondolier of African descent:
This guy’s pants are a bit baggy in back:
And this rear view makes up for it: (notice the looks of the woman passenger)
Gondolier pants generally showed the livery or colors of the house they worked for (the color usually matched by the poles or pali out front of the palazzo where they tied up their boats). This is why gondoliers today still wear stripes.
There was also something called the Brotherhood (or Companions) of the Hose in Venice, a sort of fraternity of guys putting on parties and wearing outrageous tights. Pompeo Molmenti write about them in Venice: The Golden Age (Part II, Vol. 1, page 90-91). According to him they “planned spectacles, directed festivities, enlivened the ducal banquets with music and song; they revived the ancient Roman Comedy and carried a note of gaiety and refined taste into the churches.”
Molmenti also gives us a few examples of their glorious hose: The Accesi … bore a lion with a snake twisted round its neck. The Floridi wore the right leg divided lengthwise, the inner half scarlet, the outer purple; the left leg all green. The Reali wore the right leg scarlet, the left azure inside and purple out. The embroidery showed a cypress with the motto Al ciel s’erga il dolce nome. The Modesti wore pale rose-colored hose) (90 n3).
And people think that today’s fashions are outrageous.