DELLA VALLE, Pietro

DELLA VALLE, Pietro. Rome 11.4.1586 — Rome 21.4. or 11.4.1652. Italian (Roman) Traveller in Iran and India. In his youth served as a soldier. According to his own account left Rome because of an unhappy love in 1614. Sailed from Venice to Egypt, proceeded to Syria and Mesopotamia, where in 1616 he married a local (Assyrian Christian) girl. Then in Iran, in service of Abbas I, but after his wife’s death in 1622 continued his journey to India. Arrived in Surat in February 1623, visited Cambay and Ahmedabad, went from Cambay to Goa by land describing local politics and customs. Visited Mangalore with surroundings and Calicut, returned to Goa at the end 1623 and at the end 1624 left for Musqat, Basra and Alep. Returned in Italy in 1626, buried the corpse of his wife, married her maid and spent the rest of his life mainly in Rome. He described his travels in a series of letters to his friends, mostly published only after his death. DV was a keen observer and eager collector, who contributed much to the knowledge of Asian countries and civilizations. Among other things he brought the first Coptic MSS. and the first good copies of Cuneiform inscriptions to the West.

Publications: Viaggi di Pietro Della Valle il Pellegrino. 1-2. Roma 1658-63 and many editions and translations; also writings on music, etc.

Sources: *J. D. Gurney, “Pietro della Valle: the limits of perception”, BSOAS 49, 1986, 102-116; S. La Via, D.B.I. 37; Oaten 1909, 127-138; Wikipedia (with portrait originally published in his travel book).

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