The natural phenomena of Switzerland, and the political complications in the Valtellina, where the Catholic inhabitants had thrown off the yoke of the Grisons and called in the Papal and Spanish troops to their assistance, delayed him some time; but he reached Venice in time to see the ceremony of the doge's wedlock with the Adriatic. After paying his vows at Loretto, he came to Rome, which was then on the eve of a year of jubilee - an occasion which Descartes seized to observe the variety of men and manners which the city then embraced within its walls.
The two most striking buildings in Venice, St Mark's and the Doge's Palace, at once give us an example of the two earlier styles, the Byzantine and the Gothic, at least in their general design, though both are so capricious in development and in decoration that they may more justly be con sidered as unique specimens rather than as typical examples of their respective styles.
The form it took was a solemn procession of boats, headed by the doge's maesta nave, afterwards the Bucentaur (from 1311) out to sea by the Lido port.
The grand flight of external steps entering the mansions of the medieval nobility or high officials was considered in itself a mark of jurisdiction, as it is said that sentence was there pronounced against criminals, who were afterwards executed at the foot of the steps--as at the Giant's Stairs of the Doge's palace at Venice.
The poet Petrarch, who was the doge's intimate friend, was sent to Venice on a peace mission by Giovanni Visconti, lord of Milan.