From 1620 to 1640 the technicians and engineers in the service of the Venetian
Republic constructed a picture of the island's history and topography, both
urban and territorial, which was actually much more detailed and precise than
the reports written to the
Senate by the General
Captains. The engineer Francesco Basilicata is typical of this period. Born in
Palermo, he started working for the Republic in 1612. Between 1629 and 1630 he
served in Candia under
General Sea Captain Pietro Giustinian, where he
gathered the material later used in his comprehensive report 'Relatione di
tutto il Regno di Candia' ('Report on the Entire Kingdom of Candia'). He
celebrated the extraordinary urban fabric of the site, in a poignant evocation
of that land of the 'hundred cities' made famous by Homer and other poets. The
description of the landscape, farmhouses, fortresses, and ruins becomes the
history of many different civilisations, following each other in a series
culminating in a synthesis of the history and traditions of Venetian culture.
This Venetian quality even inspired and influenced technical projects for the
re-organisation and renewal of some areas. In 1625 Basilicata proposed to the
Venetian Senate that techniques and materials used in the capital city should
also be used in the restoration of the San Giorgio area.
Scholarship and technical skills were employed in an ideological approach
which intended to recover the symbolic importance of the island at a time in
which the Venetian ruling class was faced with dramatic choices in domestic and
foreign politics alike.