“An emporium of beauty and wealth to feast your eyes upon, lose your mind and empty your wallet.” (Edmondo De Amicis)
During the 18th century, writers and artists wrote enthusiastically in travel journals about the “bazaar”, a place through which the exotic ‒ in the variety, quality and combination of objects, material artefacts, spices and fabrics ‒ was evoked. Its charm, evocative of countless images and stories, as well as naturally fitting the entirely 19th-century taste for a plurality of styles and their free combination, sprang from the richness and seeming “disorder” of the merchandise that was being presented. From the beginning, therefore, the idea of the bazaar was a familiar model with immediate appeal among the audiences the exhibitions were aimed at. The succession of different types of goods, coupled with the alternation of different geographic locations, suggested a journey through distant lands, giving rise to a genuine virtual journey: from the atmosphere of a “Tunisian Bazaar” to a “Garden in Algiers” or to a “Cairo Street”. The commercial event therefore became a genuine spectacle, and the exhibition route through the various pavilions became a journey that traversed increasingly expansive “Eastern” scenes, as well as colonial territories and trading routes.