Marco Polo serves as a gentleman-commander and is imprisoned in Genoa

Marco Polo did not return to Asia again.

He entered the service of Venice in its war against the rival city-state of Genoa. In 1298 Marco served as a gentleman-commander of a galley in the Venetian navy. In September 1298 he was captured and imprisoned in Genoa. His fame as an adventurer had preceded him, and he was treated with courtesy and leniency. He was released within a year. Little is known of Marco Polo's life after his return to Venice. He apparently returned to private life and business until his death about 1324.

During his captivity in Genoa, Marco Polo dictated the story of his travels. The man he told his story to was a fellow prisoner named Rusticiano, a Pisan who wrote in the romantic style of 13th-century literature. A combination of Marco Polo's gift of observation and the literary style of Rusticiano emerged in the final version of Marco Polo's travels. The book included Marco Polo's personal recollections as well as stories related to him by others.

We next hear of Marco Polo in a militant capacity. Jealousies had been growing in bitterness between Venice and Genoa throughout the 13th century. In 1298 the Genoese prepared to strike at their rivals on their own ground, and a powerful fleet under Lamba Doria made for the Adriatic. Venice, on hearing of the Genoese armament, equipped a fleet still more numerous, and placed it under Andrea Dandolo. The crew of a Venetian galley at this time amounted, all told, to 250 men, under a comito or master, but besides this officer each galley carried a sopracomito or gentleman-commander, usually a noble. On one of the galleys of Dandolo's fleet Marco Polo seems to have gone in this last capacity. The hostile fleets met before Curzola Island on the 6th of September, and engaged next morning. The battle ended in a complete victory for Genoa, the details of which may still be read on the fa├žade of St. Matthew's church in that city. Sixty-six Venetian galleys were burnt in Curzola Bay, and eighteen were carried to Genoa, with 7000 prisoners, one of whom was Marco Polo.

A few years after his return to Venice in 1295, Marco found himself aboard a Venetian ship under the post of gentleman-commander during a regional war between Venice and Genoa. The ship was captured by the Genoese fleet and Marco consequently spent the next few years, until May of 1299, in a Genoa prison. It was during this period that Marco found the time to dictate, possibly with the help of notes taken during his voyage, the story of his years abroad. Rustigielo, a citizen of Pisa and fellow prisoner of Marco, took down Marco's story. The book was dictated in prison and copied by hand, as the technology of mass printing had not yet immigrated to Europe from China. As a consequence, there exist today many versions, translations, and reconstructions of the Rustigielo transcript.