English wool was in great demand in Europe by the late 1200’s, especially in Northern Italy.
The Italians sent ships directly to England from 1305. The great galleys from Florence and Venice brought prosperity to the town.
The Venetians sent a yearly fleet with spices, wines, glass, silk, dates, olive oil and ivory and took back fine fleeces.
The volume of trade meant some Italians settled here. The Florentines adopted St. John’s church and the Venetians St. Nicholas’s chapel which stood somewhere near St. Mary’s. The Genoese used the Friary near Gods House. A Venetian, Gabriel Corbet became Sheriff in 1453 and a Florentine, Christoforo Ambruogi became Mayor twice.
However, in the early 1500’s Italy had a period of internal conflict and trade declined.