In Les voyages du Signeur de Villamont (1610), which was the most popular French travel book of its time. Jacques de Villamont (1560 – 1625) describes a rather curious fashion peculiar to the women of Venice:
“Married women wear gowns padded in front and behind. They wear their hair dyed blonde, prettily braided, and raised up in front to form two horns almost half a foot high. They wear nothing on their heads save a veil of black crepe that reaches below their shoulders. However, they make sure that it does not prevent anyone from admiring the beauty of their hair, shoulders and breasts, which they expose almost to their belly.
They seem a foot taller than their husbands because they wear shoes covered in leather that are at least a foot high. They need to have one servant help them walk and another to carry the train of their dress. There they walk along, with an air of dignity, while completely exposing their breasts, the old ones as much as the young.”
A rather unsettling image occurs of a cloud of unfettered titties bobbing along above most mens heads
About fifty years later the travel writer Richard Lassels (1603 -1668) comments in his Voyage of Italy (1670) that there was more to the custom that meets the eye. It was a subtle way to keep the wives at home, or at least prevent them from straying too far.