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Querini and its gang

The Venetian merchant Pietro Querini became an Italian legendary name as it is considered the first person who introduced stockfish to Italy. Read more about his journey.

In the spring of 1431, the Italian merchant Pietro Querini (from Venice) was on his way from the Mediterranean to Flanders. His ship and crew of 67 were equipped for a peaceful trading expedition, but instead, they met the roaring powers and drama at sea. In a terrible storm, they lost their ship to the black depths and drifted for weeks in open lifeboats. Finally one of the boats with 29 remaining survivors made land in Røst, the outermost of the Lofoten Islands in the North of Norway.

It was in January 1432. Here the inhabitants of the island came to their rescue. After four cold winter months on the little island, Querini and the remaining 10 of his men had a safe return to Italy in May 1432. Back home he made a written account for his journey. Querinis account is an historic document of great value to Norwegians. It is the first one to describe everyday life, not only in Røst, but also for the rest of North Norway.

The conditions on Røst was totally different from the noble life Querini was used to. But the Italians were very thankful and appreciated the simple way of life and the simple food. The Italians also hailed the abilities and piety of the people of Røst. When Querini left the island he brought with him stockfish as provisions for the journey. He wrote: «…he presented me, as being superior in rank to others, with sixty stockfish dried in the wind, and three large loaves of rye bread…». Because of this we might say that Querini was the first Italian stockfish importer.

The fantastic story of Querini lived on in the oral traditions for centuries. In 1932, after 500 years, a stone momument was raised on the shores of Røst. The old ties connecting Røst to Italy have been very important through out the history. And it is all about the stockfish. Italy is by far the largest importer of stockfish from Norway, and a large share of it is produced in Røst.

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