Monday, 1 July 2013

Marseille - Hospice de la Charite

 When Lorenzo and family arrived in Marseille the city was going through a boom. A golden period. It had become the port of all ports in the western Mediterranean. The city was full of busnissmen and entrepreneurs ........ and Italians - 52,000 of the total population of 300,000. The port was not only the point where the riches of the east arrived - the Suez Canal had only recently been completed giving Marseille traders unprecedented access to that wealth - but it was also the port of exit for hugh numbers of economic emigrants from Italy.

Where once there had been a safe but small harbour where the Greek and Roman empires had established a presence now, the city created a huge artificial harbour to cater to a larger volume of merchandise and a larger size  and number of ships.
Not a convent but rooms for the poor in large numbers

.In the 17th Century the local catholic community had built a large institution to house the poor and homeless. It was still operating in the 19th century and is situated in the old city behind the harbour, one of the only old parts of Maeseille not to have been deliberately demolished by the Germans during WWII. My guide for the day, Bertrand, suggested that the family may have spend time here on arrival.

 Today the original harbour is the playground of the rich and famous and is crammed with boats big and small. Below is the view from Bertrand's balcony. He is a lucky man and very generous. He spent six hours accompanying me around the old city and had done an amazing amount of preparation relevant to my quest. He had developed a personalised itinerary based on his understanding of what Lorenzo and his compatriots may have experienced. Thank you Bertrand.

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