The Trade Routes to the East. With the knowledge of the wealth of the East, and with the keen demand for spices, perfumes, drugs, fine silks, precious stones, rugs, and other products of the East, the merchants of Venice, Genoa, Milan, and other Italian cities built up a profitable trade between the East and the West.
The Italian merchants had their agents at Alexandria, Constantinople, Damascus, and other Eastern cities, where they bought the precious goods which had come from the Far East, often referred to as the Indies. To these cities the goods were brought by caravans across Asia, or by ships across the seas. From these cities the goods were sent to the Italian merchants, who in turn distributed them to the rest of Europe, where they realized a great profit.
Some were sent overland to France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Ships sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar and brought goods to Lisbon, London, and other western cities. In the Italian cities many merchants became wealthy as a result of this important and profitable trade.