Long be­fo­re mo­vies, whi­ch con­ti­nue to show the beau­ty and charm of the ci­ty, pain­ters and wri­ters lo­vin­gly re­pre­sen­ted Venice. It was a sour­ce of ad­mi­ra­tion and awe, and a sto­po­ver on the Grand Tour whe­re young ari­sto­cra­ts di­sco­ve­red Ita­ly. Nu­me­rous im­por

Where Venice - - Contents - BY RO­ME­NA BRU­GNE­ROT­TO

Look among the ci­ty's in­nu­me­ra­ble li­te­ra­ry sour­ces for a spe­cial gui­de whi­le vi­si­ting Venice.

If you're plan­ning a trip to Venice, look among in­nu­me­ra­ble li­te­ra­ry sour­ces for a spe­cial gui­de that will help you di­sco­ver its my­ste­ries. And, if you wi­sh to pre­ser­ve the me­mo­ry of its mar­vels on your re­turn ho­me, he­re is a small se­lec­tion of mu­st-reads to keep on your bed­si­de ta­ble.


Wi­th its ca­nals, gra­ce­ful brid­ges and se­clu­ded squa­res, Venice is the perfect bac­k­drop for lo­ve stories.

You can pe­ru­se the tor­men­ted and in­tri­guing co­me­dies written by Ve­ne­tian play­w­right Car­lo

Gol­do­ni. And, when in Venice, it is im­pos­si­ble not to think about the amo­rous ad­ven­tu­res of

Gia­co­mo Ca­sa­no­va (17251798), who­se me­moirs pro­vi­de us wi­th a weal­th of de­tails about Pa­laz­zo Du­ca­le and its pri­sons whe­re the ad­ven­tu­rer was im­pri­so­ned on char­ges of ma­gic and ma­son­ry. Tho­se wi­shing to learn mo­re about the at­mo­sphe­re of the ci­ty should ma­ke su­re to read his book ti­tled ‘The Sto­ry of my Esca­pe: from the pri­sons of the Re­pu­blic of Venice other­wi­se kno­wn as “The Leads”'. Al­ter­na­te­ly, de­tails of his in­nu­me­ra­ble amo­rous esca­pa­des can be found in ‘The Me­moirs of Gia­co­mo Ca­sa­no­va'.

Our jour­ney ta­kes us from the 18th cen­tu­ry to the 19th cen­tu­ry, when Ca­mil­lo Boi­to, the au­thor of ‘Sen­so', tells us about the lo­ve sto­ry bet­ween Ve­ne­tian Con­tes­sa Li­via and the hand­so­me Au­strian lieu­te­nant Re­mi­gio (Lu­chi­no Vi­scon­ti's fa­mous film is ba­sed on an adap­ta­tion of Boi­to's no­vel­la).

In his fa­mous no­vel ti­tled ‘Dea­th in Venice', Tho­mas Mann (1875-1955) tells the sto­ry of a midd­le-aged wri­ter who falls

ob­ses­si­ve­ly in lo­ve wi­th a young boy. This dee­ply mo­ving sto­ry ta­kes us to the Li­do of Venice at the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Count Gu­stav von Aschen­ba­ch's pas­sion for the ado­le­scent Ta­zio un­folds amid­st the sump­tuous set­ting of the Ho­tel Des Bains (whi­ch is no mo­re sin­ce quie­tly clo­sing its doors in 2010), and the bea­ches of the Ho­tel Ex­cel­sior and the Al­be­ro­ni. This is a unique op­por­tu­ni­ty to re­di­sco­ver the la­vi­sh ear­ly

20th cen­tu­ry Bel­le Epo­que set­tings of Venice's ce­le­bra­ted Li­do. On the other hand, the Ho­tel Da­nie­li was the pla­ce whe­re the scan­da­lous lo­ve af­fair bet­ween Geor­ge Sand and Al­fred De Mus­set oc­cur­red. Their let­ters are fil­led wi­th rap­tu­rous re­fe­ren­ces to the ho­tel and Ve­ne­tian li­fe, whi­ch to­tal­ly cap­ti­va­ted their hearts. When not loc­ked in ea­ch others arms, they would spend their ti­me loo­king out of the ho­tel's win­do­ws at the bu­stling Ri­va de­gli Schia­vo­ni be­low.


Wi­th its cen­tu­ries of hi­sto­ry, Venice is ine­vi­ta­bly the pro­ta­go­ni­st of legends and fan­ta­sy, a font of po­pu­lar be­liefs, to­po­gra­phi­cal de­tails and the li­fe of en­ti­re ‘se­stie­ri' (di­stric­ts). Al­ber­to To­so Fei is a na­me whi­ch ma­ny peo­ple as­so­cia­te wi­th anec­do­tes, gho­st stories and legends about Venice. ‘My­ste­ries of Venice. Se­ven Nights of Hi­sto­ry and My­th. Legends, Ghosts, Enig­mas and Cu­rio­si­ties' ena­bles rea­ders to di­sco­ver a my­ste­rious, noc­tur­nal Venice, a night­ti­me ex­cur­sion wi­thout the unin­ter­rup­ted day­ti­me flow of tou­rists. Fi­nal­ly, this is the fir­st book of its kind to fea­tu­re QR co­des (whi­ch may be scan­ned for ac­cess to ad­di­tio­nal mul­ti­me­dia con­tent), ma­king it pos­si­ble to re­li­ve so­me of the stories on vi­deo, nar­ra­ted on lo­ca­tion by the au­thor him­self. Fur­ther­mo­re, his book ‘Ve­ne­tian legends and gho­st stories' can be used as a gui­de whi­le strolling through Venice's ‘se­stie­ri' and fol­lo­wing four iti­ne­ra­ries amid­st the ci­ty's squa­res and la­by­rin­thi­ne ‘cal­li'.

The au­thor de­scri­bes the pla­ces whe­re cri­mes we­re com­mit­ted, and whe­re the ghosts of the mur­de­red peo­ple are still be­lie­ved to wan­der. Se­ve­ral Ve­ne­tian tou­ri­st agen­cies of­fer tours fol­lo­wing the iti­ne­ra­ries ou­tli­ned in the­se books.


The ci­ty's ma­ze­li­ke ‘cal­li' and ‘cam­piel­li' ser­ve as a perfect bac­k­drop for th­ril­lers and crime novels set in Venice. Be­st kno­wn are the se­ries of mur­der my­ste­ries by Don­na Leon. Her Com­mis­sa­rio Gui­do Bru­net­ti is the pro­ta­go­ni­st of novels set in Venice whi­ch, de­spi­te its re­pu­ta­tion as a sa­fe ci­ty, can be the sce­ne of cri­mes and the di­sco­ve­ry of bo­dies in its ca­nals. Pla­ces of­ten men­tio­ned in her novels in­clu­de the ‘Que­stu­ra' over­loo­king

Rio San Lo­ren­zo – the area's nei­gh­bou­ring re­stau­ran­ts and bars are fre­quen­tly vi­si­ted by the ‘Com­mis­sa­rio' – and the ‘Ospe­da­le Ci­vi­le di Ve­ne­zia ai San­ti Gio­van­ni e Pao­lo' whe­re the com­mis­sio­ner of­ten goes to con­duct his in­ter­ro­ga­tions (we re­com­mend a vi­sit to the beau­ti­ful Scuo­la Gran­de di San Mar­co, the hea­d­quar­ters of the ho­spi­tal).

In ad­di­tion to abo­ve, her novels al­so fea­tu­re in­te­re­sting re­fe­ren­ces to other Ve­ne­tian land­marks, and are an ex­cel­lent means of bo­ning up on the artistic hi­sto­ry of the ci­ty.

An in­te­re­sting fact: no­ne of Leon's novels are trans­la­ted in Ita­lian. Ru­mour has it that Don­na Leon is afraid of at­trac­ting too mu­ch at­ten­tion in this ci­ty whe­re she has li­ved for so ma­ny years.

Ano­ther par­ti­cu­lar­ly no­tewor­thy book is Pa­tri­cia Hi­gh­smi­th's ‘The Ta­len­ted Mr. Ri­pley'. The mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions men­tio­ned in the no­vel in­clu­de Venice, whi­ch is a lu­xu­rious hi­dea­way and the perfect pla­ce to bu­ry se­cre­ts and hi­de iden­ti­ties.

Ma­ny novels, li­ke Ja­son Good­win's ‘The Bel­li­ni Card', are set in the 19th cen­tu­ry. The book, whi­ch re­fe­ren­ces Ita­lian pain­ter Gen­ti­le Bel­li­ni, fea­tu­res an ex­ci­ting meld of Ve­ne­tian and orien­tal at­mo­sphe­res be­cau­se eve­ry­thing be­gins in Con­stan­ti­no­ple.

Others, li­ke Ti­zia­no Scar­pa's ‘Sta­bat Ma­ter', ta­kes us back to the era and mu­sic of

An­to­nio Vi­val­di.


Did you know that in ad­di­tion to books, Venice has al­so been por­trayed in co­mic books? Among the­se, one of the mo­st no­tewor­thy is Hu­go Pratt's Cor­to Mal­te­se, the he­ro of nu­me­rous stories and co­mics set in Venice. To di­sco­ver the pla­ces men­tio­ned in the stories of Cor­to Mal­te­se, we re­com­mend ‘The se­cret Venice of Cor­to Mal­te­se. Fan­ta­stic and hid­den iti­ne­ra­ries' by Via­nel­lo and Fu­ga. This is a real al­ma­nac of Ve­ne­tian pla­ces seen through the eyes of the fa­mous co­mic book cha­rac­ter, su­ch as the ce­le­bra­ted ‘Cor­te Scon­ta det­ta Ar­ca­na'. Ano­ther means of ex­plo­ring Venice through ima­ges is of­fe­red by Ji­rô Ta­ni­gu­chi wi­th his ‘Louis Vuit­ton Tra­vel Book'. The fa­mous Ja­pa­ne­se Man­ga ar­ti­st tran­sforms his stay in Venice in­to the sto­ry of a man in search of his roo­ts. It's told through wa­ter­co­lour il­lu­stra­tions of­fe­ring rea­ders a

poi­gnant and con­tem­po­ra­ry vi­sion of the mar­vels of Venice. Au­to­gra­phed co­pies of the book can be pur­cha­sed at the Vuit­ton bou­ti­que in St. Mark's Squa­re. Al­so avai­la­ble in gra­phic no­vel form is Sha­ke­spea­re's fa­mous work, ‘The Mer­chant of Venice'. The idea of re­tel­ling Sha­ke­spea­re's com­pel­ling sto­ry in pic­tu­re book form was con­cei­ved by John F. McDo­nald, the au­thor of ‘The Mer­chant of Venice: The Gra­phic No­vel'. Sha­ke­spea­re's spell­bin­ding sto­ry, al­so fea­tu­red in nu­me­rous films, is pre­sen­ted in the gui­se of a co­mic book in­fu­sed wi­th all the dra­ma of the ori­gi­nal play. Tho­se wi­shing to ex­pe­rien­ce the evo­ca­ti­ve at­mo­sphe­res and pla­ces in whi­ch the ma­ster­pie­ce is set should de­fi­ni­te­ly ma­ke a point of vi­si­ting the Jewi­sh ghet­to of Venice.

The fa­mous Ho­tel Da­nie­li, for cen­tu­ries a fa­vou­ri­te haunt of lo­vers. On the right, a pa­ge from ‘Let­te­re di una viag­gia­tri­ce' (‘Let­ters of a Tra­ve­ler') whe­re, in a se­ries of li­te­ra­ry re­fe­ren­ces, Ita­lian no­ve­li­st Ma­til­de Se­rao (1856-1927) de­scri­bes the ho­tel as the pla­ce whe­re the scan­da­lous lo­ve sto­ry bet­ween Fren­ch no­ve­lists Geor­ge Sand (1804-1876) and Al­fred de Mus­set (1810-1857) oc­cur­red.

Abo­ve: the Brid­ge of Si­ghs and the ‘Piom­bi' pri­son whe­re Gia­co­mo Ca­sa­no­va, one of hi­sto­ry's mo­st no­to­rious play­boys, was im­pri­so­ned. The de­tails of his da­ring esca­pe are do­cu­men­ted in his book ti­tled ‘The Sto­ry of my Esca­pe' (on the left, an il­lu­stra­tion from the an­cient edi­tion).At the si­de, the sta­tue of ‘Si­gnor Rio­ba' who, ac­cor­ding to le­gend, was pu­ni­shed by being tur­ned in­to sto­ne. Hi­sto­ri­cal anec­do­tes about Venice are fea­tu­red in a book by 51 year-old Ve­ne­tian no­ve­li­st Al­ber­to To­so Fei.

Be­fo­re being a film by Lu­chi­no Vi­scon­ti, ‘Dea­th in Venice' is a no­vel­la by Tho­mas Mann. Ori­gi­nal­ly pu­bli­shed in 1912 (abo­ve), Mann drew in­spi­ra­tion for the book whi­le ho­li­day­ing in Venice. Mo­st of the sce­nes de­scri­bed in his short sto­ry are set at the Ho­tel des Bains. Be­low: wa­ter co­lour il­lu­stra­tions of Venice by fa­mous Ja­pa­ne­se Man­ga ar­ti­st Ji­rô Ta­ni­gu­chi who died in Fe­brua­ry 2017.Bot­tom: sin­ce 1992, Don­na Leon has written de­tec­ti­ve stories set in Venice, whe­re she now li­ves. At the au­thor's spe­ci­fic re­que­st, no­ne of her th­ril­lers are trans­la­ted in­to Ita­lian.

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