Let's get lost: On the importance of itineraries, detours and dead-ends

This article is inspired by Carlo Ginzburg and Adriano Prosperi's book Playing Patience [Giochi di pazienza]. It argues that narratives written by historians about past events should be presented as the result of a process, including all the false leads, dead ends and misunderstandings passed through along the way. Historians journey through archives, and should lay out the course of their itineraries. A case study involving seventeenth-century Venetian spies illustrates this argument.