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MANSIO

THE FIRST “HOTEL” IN JESOLO

4th-6th century

The ancient compound of Jesolo stood on an island, known as insula Equilus, surrounded by the lagoon. In Late Antiquity, 4th-5th centuries CE, when the Roman Empire was in decline, a Mansio (stopping place) was created here, which provided lodging for people travelling by water along the internal protected network of lagoon canals that connected the main towns along the Adriatic basin, from Ravenna to Aquileia. The excavation campaigns performed between 2013 and 2016 uncovered a large number of complex structures, including:

  • a large building which provided hospitality to travellers (officers and merchants): a guesthouse or hotel building, as it would be called today, characterised by a series of similar spaces set side by side, which would have housed beds and kitchens (each room was fitted with a brick fireplace).
  • a series of storerooms and workshops for the processing of iron and bone.
  • traces of better quality buildings, decorated with marble tesserae, perhaps to accommodate high-ranking figures and officials.

In those days Equilo enjoyed a flourishing economy based on the resources and raw materials obtainable from the lagoon (fish, salt) and on the dense network of trade both over a wide area, with imports from the Near East and North Africa, and closer to home, with goods being distributed locally and regionally. This wealth is testified by the great number of relics recovered: amphorae, plates, pans, coins, combs, jewels, lamps, goblets…