Among others famous Venetians, Marco Polo best describes the very heart of Venice sharing its merchant and cultural history.
Marco Polo was born in Venice on 1254 a.C. from a merchant family. After losing his mother, an aunt and uncle raised him. They educated him in mercantile subjects until 1269, when his father came back from Asia and met the young Marco for the first time.
In 1271, Marco Polo, his father and his uncle set off to Asia again and here the adventures of Marco Polo start, as later written in Il Milione.
Once in China, Marco became a trusted man of Kublai Khan, for his intelligence and his capacity to see through appearances.
That is the reason why Kublai Khan refuses to let Marco Polo return to Venice many times.
During these years, Marco Polo travelled extensively in China, as foreign emissary of the same Kublai Khan.
Only in 1295, after 24 years, he was able to go back to Venice after travelling more than 20,000 km.
However, his adventures, did not end. One year later, he was captured and imprisoned by Genoans, against whom Venice was at war.
During this captivity, Marco Polo was able to dictate his book to a fellow inmate, Rustichello da Pisa.
The book, called The Travels of Marco Polo or Il Milione, was the first comprehensive travel book about China and a worldwide literature masterpiece. The same book became so famous among European merchants that it inspired many others, like Chistopher Columbus.
In 1299 Marco Polo came back to Venice and he became a wealthy merchant, married and with three children. He died in 1324.
Marco Polo is particularly loved in Venice because, in his life, he mixed some of the most important elements of Venice: the merchant nature, but also the importance of culture and a strong patriotism.