VENE­TIAN ADVENTURES

Harper's Bazaar (UK) - - Women - BY EVE­LYN WAUGH

What do I like about Venice in Au­gust and Septem­ber? I like the fact that it has a tra­di­tional cul­ture against which many of our friends ap­pear in an en­tirely new as­pect. The French Riviera is the cre­ation of its vis­i­tors – a bar­barous strip of rocky shore on which for­eign hol­i­day­mak­ers have perched ho­tels and bars and Casi­nos. It has no his­tory or na­tion­al­ity. It is morally the prop­erty of the sun­bathers and bac­carat play­ers who fre­quent it. And they are am­ply jus­ti­fied in be­hav­ing ex­actly how they like, and dress­ing how they like, and in swag­ger­ing about as though the place did, in fact, be­long to them. Venice had the gay café life of the Pi­azza be­fore the Amer­i­can colonists had learnt to speak with an ac­cent and I en­joy very much the fact that they in­sist on their own stan­dards of pro­pri­ety. The Lido is the for­eigner’s prop­erty. Peo­ple can dress how they like there. But if they wish to sit at Flo­rian’s in the evening they must dress as the Vene­tians think suit­able. Young English­men who at­tempt to ap­pear like gross school­boys in shorts and vests present a very vul­gar spec­ta­cle in­deed un­der Vene­tian eyes.

…And I rel­ish very much the com­pact­ness of Vene­tian life. On the Riviera there are so many vil­las, so many ho­tels, so many plages and Casi­nos, so many miles of Cor­niche. Here there are at the most about forty English or Amer­i­cans, who know ex­actly what ev­ery­one is do­ing ev­ery minute of the day. They all meet ev­ery evening on the Pi­azza and dis­cuss how they dined, and on the morn­ing af­ter a party I love to see the con­ver­gence of pati­nas, ca­noes and bathers, some­times into a sin­gle Sar­gasso Sea of gossip, some­times into ri­val camps with rare swim­mers trav­el­ling be­tween and fan­ning the dis­sen­sion.

Left and top: vin­tage ho­tel luggage la­bels from the col­lec­tion of Gas­ton-Louis Vuit­ton

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