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In the 14th century, Nicolo and Antonio Zen journeyed from Venice up the North Atlantic, encountering warrior princes, fighting savage natives and, just possibly, reaching the New World a full century before Columbus. The story of their adventure travelled throughout Europe, from the workshop of the great cartographer Mercator to the court of Elizabeth I. For centuries, the brothers were international celebrities, until, in 1835, the story was deunced as a 'tissue of lies' and the Zens faded into oblivion. But was it a hoax? And what if these Venetian navigators really did make their incredible journey? Intrigued by the myth, Andrea di Robilant sets out to discover the truth about the Zen voyages. Following in their footsteps, his quest to solve one of Venice's most intriguing mysteries takes him on a fascinating journey of his own, from the crumbling Palazzo Zen in Venice to the Orkney Islands, Shetland, the Faroes, Iceland and even as far as an isolated monastery in Greenland. Part history, part travelogue, Venetian Navigators is a charming tale of great journeys, fine detective work and faith against the odds.
Andrea di Robilant was born in Rome in 1957. He was educated at Columbia University, where he studied history and international politics. He has worked as a journalist all his life, in Europe, the United States and Latin America. His previous books, A Venetian Affair and Lucia in the Age of Napoleon, were published to great acclaim. He lives in Rome with his wife and two sons.