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Bellezza
Beauty is cash – that's the Bellezzans' motto – Bellezza è moneta'.

Arianna Gasparini, City of Masks

Bellezza is a city-state of Talia, and one of the few not under the rule of the di Chimici family. It is located in northeast Talia, and is the Talian equivalent of Venice, Italy.

The Bellezzan city-state is made up of the main island, Bellezza, and the three minor islands, Merlino, Torrone, and Burlesca[1]. A winged ram is the emblem of Bellezza.[2]

Because of the city's beauty, the Bellezzan motto is "Bellezza è Moneta", roughly "Beauty is Cash." The city is famously known as the City of Masks, which inspired another motto: "Ove Beltà porta una Maschera" - "Where Beauty Wears a Mask".[1] By an ancient law, all unmarried women over the age of 16, including the Duchessa, must wear a mask in public.

Bellezza is the primary setting of the first book in the series, City of Masks.

Form of RulingEdit

Bellezza is ruled by an elected Duchessa, a Ducal Senate made up of 24 Senators who decide on civil policy, and a council made up of 240 Councillors judges criminal cases[1]. Though apparently dominated by men, it appears that women may be gain seats on the Council and serve as politicians, nor does there appear to be a definitive limit on age if the individual is capable of proving their ability.[3] The Senate meets once a month to examine all new laws before they are passed. Both political bodies are presided over by the Duchessa.

The current Duchessa is Arianna Rossi, who was elected in 1577, after the assassination of Silvia Bellini, who ruled the city from 1552 to 1577. Until Arianna comes of age at eighteen, her father, Rodolfo Rossi, serves as the Regent of the city and educates the Duchessa in matters of diplomacy, politics, and statecraft. Upon her age of majority, Rodolfo discerns that Arianna is capable of ruling on her own and chooses to step down from his place as Regent.[4]

The People's SenateEdit

Any twelve Bellezzans can bring any case to the Ducal Senate; these twelve called "the People's Senate"[1]. The People's Senate can be formed for any reason and the case will be considered by the Senate. A notable People's Senate was a case brought against Arianna Rossi, questioning her right to be Duchessa[5].

Voting ProcessEdit

Elections in Bellezza are won by majority vote, with the candidate receiving the most votes winning the election. Candidates must be Bellezzan citizens to qualify for political office; Bellezzan citizenship can occur by birth or through naturalization processes, such as by marriage. By law, illegitimate children may not hold office, though legitimacy may be obtained if the two parties who are parents of the illegitimate offspring marry. By convention, the daughters of a previous Duchessa tend to be very popular candidates and are highly likely to be elected into office.

On the day of the election the representatives of each candidate would stand up and give a speech about their candidate. After the speeches, any citizen can take a pebble from two (or more depending on the number of candidates) large crates containing different color pebbles in them (black and white for two candidates), with the different colors representing different candidates. After all eligible citizens have placed a pebble into a bowl, the pebbles are later counted in the Council chamber.[1]

Industry and TransportEdit

Bellezza's main industries are tourism, lace, glass, and daggers. Many of these items come from Bellezza's lagoon islands of Burlesca and Merlino. The lagoon island of Torrone is also known for its cathedral and adjoining museum.

Mandola

A mandola

Because the city is composed of many islands in a swamp area, the primary means of transportation is mandolas in the city's canals. Horses are banned in Bellezza. Training for being a mandolier takes place at the Scuola Mandoliera, where mandoliers must sit for exams in Bellezzan history, music, literature, art, and pass a proficiency test on his water-skills[1]. The mandatory retirement age for mandoliers is age twenty-five, after which they receive a generous pension. Traditionally, young men under the age of twenty-five were permitted to present themselves as potential students at the Scuola Mandoliera on the day after the Marriage with the Sea, when the Duchessa would select mandoliers herself. The current Duchessa, Arianna Rossi, proposes shortly after her election to allow that young women also be included in the selection process, should they have interest in becoming mandoliers.

For eating out, a popular locale is Fiorentino's in the Piazza Maddalena. A shop of note is Egidio Rossi's shop for marbled paper, notebooks, and other stationery items.

It is known that there is a university in Bellezza[6], though it appears that Bellezzan residents tend to enroll in institutions in other cities, such as the nearby Padavia or further away in Fortezza.

CustomsEdit

Bellezza's Cathedral is the La Maddalena. The city has many feast days, some of which originated from the ancient customs of the city before the acceptance of the Reman Church.

Carnival

Masks at Carnivale

Among the most notable days is the Marriage with the Sea ritual held on the Ascension Day to honour the Goddess. The rite involves the Duchessa being lowered into the sea by priests until the water reaches the top of her legs, which symbolizes that she and the sea are married and they have ensured prosperity for another year. The Venetian equivalent of the rite involves the Venetian Doge tossing a golden ring into the sea. The day after the Marriage with the Sea is known as the Giornata Vietata (Forbidden Day), during which no person who is not born in Bellezza is allowed in the city. Citizens who were born on the lagoon islands are also included as those who were not born in the city proper. The penalty disobeying this law is death.

The Feast of the Maddalena and the Carnivale are also notable feast days in which the entire city celebrates. The Carnivale is well known for all citizens wearing costumes and masks.

HistoryEdit

The Mask TraditionEdit

Masks

"Where Beauty Wears a Mask"

Sometime in the 15th Century, before City of Masks, the Duchessa requested the Glass Master on Merlino to create a glass mask for her to wear for the Carnival. She wore the mask during the ball held at the end of Carnival at the Piazza Santa Maddalena, outside the cathedral. During her dance with Ferrando di Chimici, the young Prince of Remora, he whirled her faster and faster and she tripped. When the mask shattered, she screamed and her guards believed that the Prince had tried to kill her.[1]

The Duchessa always wore a mask after that whenever she made a public appearance. Because she was vain, she made all unmarried women over the age of sixteen to wear one as well by law; it is believed that she must not have considered young girls and married women were rivals to her. If a young woman is widowed, she is not required to wear a mask again[7], but a woman whose marriage was annulled (therefore regarded as never having married) would be required to wear a mask again[8]. In addition, the Senators and Councillors were required to wear masks when the Senate and Council are in session, supposedly so that their arguments would be considered rather than the identity of the speaker.

The Duchessa commisioned the Glass Master make a duplicate of the first Glass Mask, which is still found in present day at the Glass Museum on Merlino. The Glass Master was said to have died in agony from a violent stomach disorder that came over him the day after the replica was placed in the museum. Because his symptoms resembled poisoning, rumours suggest the Duchessa had murdered him. Prince Ferrando would die of fever.

The PlagueEdit

In 1557 the plague swept Bellezza and killed a third of the population. Twenty years later a church was finished, Santa Maria delle Grazie; "Saint Mary of the Thank-yous", in thanks that the plague didn't take more people then it did.[1]

BellezzansEdit

StravagantiEdit

OthersEdit

Notes and ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 City of Masks
  2. City of Secrets
  3. City of Masks
    Not many people could remember her election, as a young woman of twenty. No one remembered her family name or history.
    She had just been a brilliant politician and orator, gaining a seat on the Council when still in her teens.
  4. City of Ships
  5. City of Masks, Rinaldo di Chimici paid twelve Bellezzans to take the case to the Senate
  6. City of Ships, Andrea mentions attending a university in Bellezza to become a teacher
  7. City of Masks, the case of Leonora Gasparini
  8. City of Flowers, the case of Francesca di Chimici

Locations in Talia
Independent City-States
Bellezza · Padavia · Classe · Montemurato · Romula · Cittanuova
Di Chimici City-States
Giglia · Remora · Fortezza · Bellona · Volana · Moresco
Other Locations
Burlesca · Torrone · Merlino · Santa Fina · Belle Vigne · Saint-Mary-among-the-Vines

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