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The Layout of Erezi


Erezi is divided in three parts by the rivers Lise and Parto.

South of the Lise:
The south-western corner of the city is occupied by the Palazzo di Mantoneschi (formerly the Palazzo Munizipale). This was built around the 5th century by the King of Calanz as his summer residence, though not much of the original edifice still stands. It was fortified in 776 during the siege of Rache, and then later by Kings who attempted to recapture Calanz but feared retaliation, most recently by Franco III. Part of the castle was destroyed during the civil uprising of 1011, and then fell into disrepair during the reign of the Oligarchs, who used only the undamaged North Wing to conduct their business (most of them were busy building their own Palazzi in the city and reusing the stone from the original castle). Rennovations were made possible by the wealth which was pouring into the city by the mid 9th century and the North Wing was nearly rebuilt. When Amando Mantoneschi usurped the power of the Oligarchs in 1303 he had the other parts of the Palazzo rebuilt, as well as the massive and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Directly in front of the gates to the Palazzo Mantoneschi one finds the Piazza dei Clonchi (Bell Square), which was officially renamed the Piazza Mantoneschi in 1303, but noone takes any notice of this. It is so named because of the ornately chiselled bell tower which stands on the side of the square opposite the Palazzo. The bell tower belongs to the blue-domed Cerylleum further back amongst the densely packed streets.

The construction of the Cerylleum and bell tower began in 1130, when the oligarchs' religious motives came into question over the Lacini scandal, when Piero di Lacini made blasphemous comments in the Piazza.

This Piazza is the scene of all the major public meetings in Erezi: the name of the year ceremony takes place here, as do hangings and other corporal punishments.

Back from the Piazza stretches a maze of narrow streets and alleyways, with buildings varying from small ristorantes and osterias to the oversized wooden doors of merchant palaces.

In the east these streets become seedier and darker, the buildings being taller and smearing out the light. This is a prelude to the ghettos further north.

North of the Lise, South of the Parto

This is the fork of the confluence, and is the home of the shabbiest housing with the peeliest plaster. The hotter half of the year it stinks with twice the river effluent experienced by the other segments of the city. This is the region where the Makasti were housed by the Oligarchs, and the backstreets bear witness to the violence of the ghetto: piles of bones and deserted clothes litter the hunting ground of thieves and illegal guild assassins. Drab washing hangs out of balconies and the drips stain the walls below, gradually washing away the earlier stains of blood.

This is the territory of the Orzi Verci, and men clad in black can be seen scaling the roofs and emerging from locked cellars late at night. The shops and houses bear the black cloth which is the mark of the Orzi, declaring their allegiance through hidden, sinister symbols.

There are a few old churches, but no architecture of note in this quarter. The only bridges are over the Lise. This was one of Amando di Mantoneschi's ways of separating the ghettos.

North of the Rivers

In the west, the merchants' quarter extends to this side of the river by means of the Ponte Amando, Ponte del Oglio and several other elaborate bridges. The river itself stinks, but most merchants' palaces are so thick-walled as to be impervious to the smells.

In this area are the Libraria (built by Proscutio di Mantoneschi to help the education of the merchant classes), the Monda (a theatre built originally out of wood by King Leonardo II, but subsequently burned down and then rebuilt by the Oligarchs in order to gain popular support) and the small Univercita built contemporarily with the Cerylleum, to train priests. Since 1190 it has also educated laymen in the field of natural philosophy.

To the east is the Aldabian ghetto, which mingles with the industrial district, where the stink of the rivers is cancelled by the stench of kilns and small furnaces. The Aldabian ghetto is nowhere near as desolate as the territory of the Orzi Verci, but it is equally dangerous. Men are more subtle about their associations with the Mace d'Ars and only wear small red sashes or headdresses.

The city walls were first erected in 776 to hold back the siege of Rache. The first walls were wooden, erected hurriedly, and by the time they had been burned the masons had built an inner wall to confuse and dishearten the besieging army.

The walls were improved by the Kings during the campaigns against Calanz in later years. They were about ten feet thick by the time the Oligarchs came into power. The main gate was on the north side of the rivers, and even today the Piazza Barbicani is named after the gate which stands at its centre.

When the city expanded during the wealthy reign of the Oligarchii, the walls had to be rebuilt around the edge of the new suburbs. The old walls were only partially kept, and were mainly used for building materials.

Now there are three gates, one to the north, one to the south and one to the west, and the resulting sideways "T" of main roads meets at the Piazza Crocicchio degli Mercantii, on the north side of the Ponte del Oglio. This is the main market square of Erezi and has been since the time of Ando I when he decreed it as a legal place of trade. From it the Via Palazzo leads southward, the Via Settentrione leads northward and the Via Mare leads to the west. These are the main veins of the city. They run to the very edges, with a capillary-like arrangement of smaller streets leading from them.

The Via Palazzo contains the Piazza dei Clonchi and the Cerylleum; the Via Mare boasts the Libraria and the Monda, while the Via Settentrione is the home of the Univercita, and the splendid pre-Oligarchii Barbicano.

Moderately famous streets include the Via Lambrosco (home to the notorious winemaking family and their palace), the Via Lacini (home to the grain merchants and their palace), the Via Fernando I (riddled with good restaurants and trattorias) and the long Via dei Palazzi (with the d'Ententi, di Serenci, di Maresa and d'Asietto palaces spaced along it).

Many streets are named after the churches on them (which are in turn named after Carycian saints or ideas). Most streets in the ghettos are unnamed by plaques, and only have names in the minds of the residents.


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