Anonymous from Piacenza
Itinerarium Antonini Placentini (570 ca.)
The itinerary is a very detailed description of a journey by an anonymous pilgrim who left Piacenza to reach the Holy Land along with some companions, during a period when pilgrimage routes were still quite and protected by the Byzantine Empire.
The pilgrim was well impressed with Nazareth: there he saw “marvellous things,” like the synagogue where Jesus studied and the house where Mary lived, transformed into a basilica. From his testimony, we can deduct that the village still had a Jewish majority and that some religious tensions with the Christian community persisted.
« From Tyre, we arrived in the city of Nazareth, where there are many wonderful things. There the volume is hung on which the Lord wrote abc.
The beam on which he sat with the other children is in the synagogue. The beam can be moved and raised by Christians, but the Jews for some reason cannot budge it; the beam will not let anyone bring it outside.
St. Mary’s house is now a basilica and many beneficial effects come to those who can touch her clothes.
The charm of Jewish women in the city is so great that one could not find women that are more beautiful in that land. They say that St. Mary granted it to them; indeed, they claim that she was their ancestor, and while the Jews have no charity toward Christians, they are instead full of attentions.
The region is similar to paradise, similar to Egypt for its plentiful wheat and riches. Although small, it excels in the production of wine, olive oil, fruit and millet.
Millet is taller than normal, with a thick stem that exceeds the height of a man. »
C. MILANI, Itinerarium Antonini Placentini. Un viaggio in Terra Santa dal 560-570 d.C. (A journey to the Holy Land from 560 to 570 AD), Milan, 1977, pg. 238