‘On 1 October 1518, Cardinal Cornaro and Cardinal Pisani left Venice for Rome; they went by water to Chioggia, then set out on horseback.’ Thus begins the diary entry of a young Venetian patrician, Marcantonio Michiel, who was himself a member of the travelling party. Twenty-five days later they arrived in Rome, where Michiel was to stay for two years. During this period he noted in his diary both political events in Rome and news from Venice, but – unlike many diarists – he was keenly interested in art and music, and he also recorded detailed descriptions of Roman festivities. Having been brought up in Venice, with its magnificent state pageantry, he was prepared to appreciate Roman ceremonial, both civic and religious, and, with his entrée to the papal court, he was privileged to be present at private entertainments. For some of these occasions we have eye-witness accounts by other observers, but for several Michiel seems to be the only source known so far. He enlarges our picture of the music-loving pope and highlights the activities of Leo's private musicians. His reports of musical performances add new information to our meagre knowledge of early sixteenth-century instrumentation.