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Healthy Living in Late Renaissance Italy$
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Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199678136

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678136.001.0001

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Worrying About the Air

Worrying About the Air

(p.70) 3 Worrying About the Air
Healthy Living in Late Renaissance Italy

Sandra Cavallo

Tessa Storey

Oxford University Press

Air quality became increasingly important in accounts of healthy living and disease prevention. We find that concerns shift from putrid air and ‘miasmas’ to a focus on the properties of winds and the dangers of cold damp air. Medical authors focused particularly on the impact of dangerous cold airs on the head, brain, hands, feet, and pores. The Hippocratic text Airs, Waters, Places had great influence over medical advice, stimulating this new attention to winds and local climates. Likewise health advice within Vitruvius’ and other classical texts had considerable impact on Renaissance palace building and debates on the healthiness of urban versus rural living. The chapter examines objects and practices adopted to improve domestic air; from fireplaces and foot-warmers to windows, wall hangings, and perfumes, albeit noting a decline in perfuming practices. Lay correspondence echoes the importance attributed by medics to the impact of air and wind on the body.

Keywords:   healthy air, winds, Hippocratic tradition, architecture, geography, climate, homes, heating, perfuming

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