It may not surprise you that I first met the Sixteen Venetian Courtesans in Venice.
It was late one night. I had restlessly tried to go to sleep in the warmth of an overheated hotel room and eventually decided to go out to walk the streets instead. By remarkable coincidence I met a woman whom I had previously met in Florence a week earlier. She lived in Venice and invited me home.
I accepted her invitation and she took me to one of those Venetian buildings that seems like nothing special on the outside but is vastly expansive and sumptuously decorated on the inside. I had always thought that Venice wears a mask that disguises its true identity. This place certainly proved that assumption to be true.
Whether there was a party in progress, or whether we simply drank too much I am not sure, but as the night progressed a mass of people came into the rooms of her apartment dressed as if for a costume ball as only a true Venetian could host.
Among the people at this party were the Sixteen Venetian Courtesans. They came dressed not in sumptuous gowns but simply in white masks. And there was one Courtesan whom I remember as the Red Courtesan who wore not only a mask but also a red cape or gown.
What happened next is in the book.