Pitima

The "pitima"
a famous historical figure of the Venetian Republic
Pitima

The “pitima“, a famous historical figure of the Venetian Republic, was not a direct debt collector but one who solicited payment in a public way. Whoever had a debt that he could not collect, turned to the service of the “pitima“. This personage then continuously followed the debtor dressed in red. Everyone had to know that the persecuted was a debtor in arrears. Shouting loudly and pointing at him, he threw the insolvent in the embarrassment, making him yield to exhaustion until he honored the debt.

The “pitima” was an institutional figure commissioned by the Serenissima, recruited from among the poor and marginalized people, who enjoyed public assistance in soup kitchens and hostels reserved for them in exchange for being available at institutions request. Despite the understandable intolerance, the persecuted person could not in any way harm the “pitima” under penalty of condemnation.

For Venice, whose prosperity was based on trade, the credibility of merchants and shipowners, the commitments between private individuals including gambling debts, the respect of the rules and the commitments undertaken, were considered primary obligations that were part of the very structure of the State. Although it was an advanced democracy open to all and to all ideas, there was a strict rigor of rules on which no one could compromise.

Over time, with the abandonment of this profession, the term “pitima” remained in popular speech to designate a complaining and annoying person.

Location: Venice

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