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Life in

Piccolo

Life in Piccolo was typical of any small fishing port of the middle ages. The locals depended upon the sea for their livelihood, whether it was from fishing and the associated trade, or from the travellers that would visit the village looking for accommodation before continuing their journey by boat to distant lands.

Across the Adriatic Sea from Piccolo is the Croatian city of Split, an important hub of the Ottoman Empire. Although some travellers, crusaders and pilgrims stopped over in the village before making the journey over to Croatia, much more dangerous were the slave ships and naval forces of the Ottoman Empire that used Split as a transport hub. These ships would regularly journey near the town as they went on raids across Asia, Europe and Africa, and locals had to be on guard for the slave raids these ships would often carry out on coastal towns and villages such as Piccolo. As it was a coastal town there was a constant steady stream of visitors and travellers coming and going from the village, but the locals were always wary of outsiders.

Hygiene

In the Middle Ages hygiene and bathing was essential to the upper class, however to the villagers of Piccolo these were things done only when necessary. This might have been due to the fact it was often believed that bathing in water could carry disease into the body through skin.

Quote

‘D’you think the landlady would send up a bath and hot water?’

Isolde shook her head. ‘I already asked. She is boiling our linen in her washday copper and she was displeased at having to get that out for us. She washes her own things only once a month. They bathe only once a year, and that on Good Friday. She was scandalized when I said we wanted more than a jug of water for washing.’

Superstition

Because of a dependence on the sea for their livelihoods the locals were superstitious folk and especially wary of anyone they thought could be a stormbringer – someone who could cast spells and whip up storms and bad weather bringing disaster for a small coastal village such as Piccolo.

In the period Stormbringers is set people believed in tempestarii, or magical weather makers who could create or prevent storms and catastrophic weather events at will. Tempestars were feared and hated but also respected for the powers they commanded, and locals sometimes paid a form of insurance to tempestarii in the hope of preventing storms wreaking havoc on their villages and towns.

‘You will name the tempestars?’ she insisted. Luca glanced at the priest. ‘She means tempestarii,’ he said. ‘This is a fishing town, dependent on the sea for their livelihood, dependent on good whether for their safety. They cling to the belief that there are storm people –tempestarii - who can call up storms’