Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
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Pietro Casola
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the year 1494
page 3


When the letter had been despatched, by the same messenger, our captain thought of another plan -- that is, to re-write the letters and say to the Captain of the island that if the said galleys had not yet started, that he must despatch them at all costs, and that he himself would not depart until he received his reply. But it appeared to him that, without laying himself open to blame, he could not take such a course without the consent of the pilgrims, because four or five days would thus be lost and was very inconvenient on account of the dearth in the place and the lack of victuals.
On Sunday, the 13th of July, having heard Mass in the chief church because there were no others, our magnificent captain, through the interpreter whom he had taken at Rhodes, as was the custom, summoned all the pilgrims before the door of the church and told them what he thought, and asked their opinion. When he had made his proposal -- whether, because they did not understand, or for other reasons -- the magnificent captain remained almost alone or at least with very few supporters. The rest of the company departed one by one, thinking some evil of the captain, and the only conclusion come to was, that he must do as he thought best, and this he did. For when he returned to his lodgine, he wrote again to the Captain of the island, asking him at all costs to send the armed galleys for the protection of the pilgrim galley, and he was much blamed for this. Many of the pilgrims, expecially the Ultramontanes, murmured, saying that this was an invention made on purpose to extort many ducats from the pilgrims, as had been asserted already. In consequence, the captain, reassurred by his officers and galeotti, having sent the letter, determined to continue the voyage.
Thus, at the hour of Vespers, the trumpet was sounded among those ruins to give notice to the pilgrims and to the galeotti who were outside with their goods to sell, that all must be on board the galley that evening. And his magnificence, together with Don Frate Francesco, and those belonging to his mess, having had supper, entered the galley, and so did the others.
On Monday, the 14th of July, after sunrise, when the anchor was heaved, we set out and went to anchor at a place called La Canute, six miles, so the sailors said, from Limasol, where there are many common woods, from what I could understand. Many galeotti, skilled in that work, were sent to cut down wood enough to supply the galley all the time it had to stay at Jaffa, because wood is not to be found there for love or money, and also to get a supply of water, because there were the springs freshly made, as I said above. Close by, there was a place called the Case of the Cats,(4) where, as the persons said who knew it well, there used to be a hospital which kept many cats. Because that place was uninhabitable on account of the multitude of serpents, and many cats were brought there who destroyed the said serpents which infested those places.

4. The ancient Cape Curias of Herodotus. There was a monastery there of Greek Monks of St. Basil who had charge of the immense swarms of cats (Porro).

While we were there, the secretary of the galley or the scribe, as they call him, arrived at the twenty-third hour. He had remained at Limasol to await the rely to the letters written to the Captain or Vice-Governor of the island of Cyprus to secure our way, for the reasons above stated. He brought letters, in reply to those written, which said, in short, that our captain might confidently continue his voyage, and that those two galleys he had asked for, for his protection, had gone to recover the ship of the Commander of Cyprus (of which I spoke above when I described the events at Rhodes), which had been seized by Arigi, the Turkish Corsair, and that, finding it had been recovered, they would return towards Syria. When he had read this letter the captain ordered a mortar to be fired, and gave orders that every man must return aboard because he wanted to set sail, and this he did without losing any time in the world.
On Tuesday, the 15th of July, we sailed through the great Gulf of Satalia with all the three sails spread to catch the wind, which was garbino and not a stern wind. There was no land to be seen, nothing else, though the sailors comforted us continually with the assurance that on the morrow we should reach Jaffa.
On Wednesday, the 16th of July, there was a calm at sea for a while, which did not at all please the company, beginning with the captain, because no land was to be seen in any direction, as had bee hoped. After midday there arose a considerable war of words between the comito, the councillor and the pilot (or guide, as he may be called), who was taken by order at Modone. One said we were near our destination, another said no; at length a galeotti was sent up to the masthead of the galley to look carefully if he could make out land on any side. And remaining thus, at the twentieth hour, two towers at Jaffa were sighted, which greatly cheered the company.
While the captain was preparing letters to send to the Governor of Rama (5) and to the Governor of Jerusalem, we arrived at Jaffa, with the aid of a little good wind, which sprang up a little before the twenty-third hour. The scribe, bearing the letters, was at once put into a small boat and sent to Rama for permission to land, as is the custom, and all the rest of us remained on board the galley in the greatest heat I ever experienced in all my life. The Te Deum Laudamus was sung by the pilgrims, especially by the priests and friars, and many prayers said at the good pleasure of each one.

5. The modern Ramleh, not far from Jaffa and close to Lydda.



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