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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
3 months ago

It’s interesting how the Romantic conception of Venice has won out in Western culture, when for most of its 1300-year history it’s been a city populated by a race of profoundly hard-headed people who sold anything anyone would buy, used the cash to buy everything they could, and stole everything else they couldn’t, or that wasn’t nailed down. When your city fathers refuse to draw the line at stealing saints, you know you’re dealing with some seriously hardcore materialists.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 months ago

A charming article. Thank you, Olivia.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 months ago

A very perceptive and well crafted article. Links is by far the best guide, but it is also well worth reading John Julius Norwich’s great history before boarding the train – you simply must arrive by train.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
3 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

No! You must arrive by sea in the great Mistress of the Adriatic.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 months ago

In a three masted schooner, the rigging singing, the sails flapping. and the glorious sounds of creaking woodwork under your feet. Not by motor or steam.

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
3 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I’ve never been and always wanted to, but now, in my 60’s I’ve come to accept that I’ll probably never see Venice, even in January it would be an utter nightmare. No, Venice will remain a dream city for me now.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

Au contraire. Venice in late November / early December and January / February can be pretty magical – foggy, bum freezingly cold, cutting winds if you turn down the wrong alleyway BUT minimal interlopers and still plenty of welcoming hostelries large and small where you can warm up. Highly recommended.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Ruskin’s ‘The Stones of Venice’ is also useful, if somewhat bulky by modern standards.

Julian Newman
Julian Newman
3 months ago

You should also stay in the Pensione Calcina (Ruskin describes it as “a little inn, fronting the Giudecca [canal]”). Ruskin was staying there in 1877 when he wrote his impassioned letters to Count Zorzi supporting the nobleman’s passionate protests against the “restoration” of St Mark’s and offering his own watercolours made on earlier visits as evidence of the harm which restorers had already committed. After Ruskin’s death Zorzi persuaded the civic authorities to place a wonderful memorial plaque to Ruskin on the facade of La Calcina. Take with you a copy of Sarah Quill’s superb book “Ruskin’s Venice: The Stones Revisited” – a wonderful combination of text, photographs and reproductions.

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
3 months ago

Beautiful though it is, Venice is indeed a theme park. It has been so since the 1800’s. Does it make it less authentic? Most certainly this is now its “authentic” reality (along with the centre of Rome or Florence) but it isn’t the one the tourist is chasing, though.
If you look for something that hasn’t quite morphed yet into a theme park YET, I would suggest Naples and Palermo; allow plenty of time to enjoy them (and Pompeii and, especially, Sorrento can wait), but make haste before it is too late.

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 months ago

I suspect what many tourists are seeking in Venice, Rome, Naples, is something that looks and feels like a Merchant Ivory movie, or, better yet, “Enchanted April”. All lush scenery and haunting music–an extended fin de siĂšcle sigh before the onslaught of modernity, or something equally escapist.

Arkadian Arkadian
Arkadian Arkadian
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Enchanted April *is* lovely, though. Who wouldn’t want to go there… 😉

Louise Kowitch
Louise Kowitch
3 months ago

If you read some history and fiction about Venice, the Italian city-states, Byzantium and the rise of modern capitalism, you can easily dispel the myths and walk through the city charmed and engaged. Braudel, Mann, Hammarfelt. Also, view some art before e.g. Canaletto and during e.g Gugenheim Venice.

El Uro
El Uro
3 months ago

I remember the bright light coming from my wife’s eyes on the day we first arrived in Venice.
Both that day and the next I saw these women with huge shining eyes.
Take a woman who has never been to Venice, bring her there without giving her time to come to her senses, put her on that stupid water bus and enjoy her dazed eyes.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 months ago

Wander off and get lost.
This technique has been working for us for about 10 years now and seems to be city independent – by that I mean it seems to work everywhere. Guaranteed to provide some sort of surprise.

jane baker
jane baker
3 months ago

Is good in Paris too but have a paper map on you,just in case your pleasant lostness starts to turn into panicky,sweaty,no sign of any bus stops,metro stops or taxis lost. Oddly enough that happened to me years ago in an unfamiliar area of MY HOME CITY where I live! Should I take a right or left turn. I chose wrong and ended up walking what felt like miles. Later looking on a map (pre Google maps) I saw there was a bus stop just round the corner the other way so I learned from that and I always have a local map on me if I start to feel a bit too lost,in a not fun way. We all have Google maps now too of course,but I like to have both options.

Last edited 3 months ago by jane baker
Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 months ago

Venice may have been built for greatness, but it was built from trade. When the Doges became greedy and wanted a share and started to control who could trade the rot set in. Now it has become a theme park. Venice is a warning of what will happen to the rest of the West unless it returns to free, completive trade.

Arthur G
Arthur G
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Venice lost its trade because of the discovery of the sea routes to Asia that undercut its trade through the Islamic world. Free trade has absolutely destroyed Western industrial economies over the last 30 years. Why do you think the middle class is disappearing? In wealthy countries free trade inevitably benefits owners of capital at the expense of the owners of labor; i.e. it makes the rich richer, and the working classes poorer.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Agree.
The persistence of theories that contradict reality (like fundamentalist free trade) is getting to be a bit frightening.

Last edited 3 months ago by laurence scaduto