When Marco Polo returned to Venice in 1295, he told fantastic tales of what he had seen, drawing scorn and accusations of exaggeration. Marco’s descriptions appeared to the Venetians to be the wild ramblings of a child’s imagination.
Marco, however, insisted that his stories were true. On his deathbed, Marco said, “I have not told half of what I saw.” Today we might not know the name Marco Polo had he not been captured while battling Venice’s rival city, Genoa.
In prison, Marco shared his stories with a fellow prisoner named Rustichello of Pisa. Rustichello, a writer of romances, wrote down Marco’s stories and printed them in a book, The Description of the World. Later, these stories would inspire a whole generation of European explorers to look for the wealth and wonders of the East.
One sea captain read through the book and took careful notes. He even kept the book with him when he embarked on a daring voyage west across the Atlantic Ocean. His name was Christopher Columbus.