My Marco Polo plaque successfully traveled to its destination. My friends Carol and Linda were in Venice last week and delivered my creation to  Carrion Gallery on Giudecca. Here’s Manuel Carrion holding my square.


Now the square will become part of the project to collect people’s impressions of  the famous Venetian explorer.


In fact, tomorrow is the birthday of the project. You can see more at #marcopolocarrión or or click here: Carrion Gallery on Facebook

Here’s a taste of what was there in July, when I last visited. Stop by and pick up your own square to create.


Posted in Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quattro Minuti con Casanova: The Casino

Americans think of a casino as a place to go gambling. During Casanova’s 18th century, a casino was a small casa, the sort of pleasure apartment that they brought their friends or lover to. Wealthy nobles often had casini where they could enjoy a more intimate evening away from the drafty palazzo and formal manners.

Casanova was no nobleman, but he did rent a casino for a very special guest–M.M., a nun who he had an affair with. He wanted to impress her, so he rented the casino of Lord Holderness, the English resident. His description of the rooms is quite delicious!

This summer, I visited the building that used to house C’s casino. It’s now the Hotel Lisbon, off the Campo Barozzi near Campo San Moise and the Gritti Palace Hotel. The manager was kind enough to film this episode of Quattro Minuti con Casanova. I especially like that the gondoliers keep gliding by outside the window.

Click on this link: Casanova’s casino

If you want the full description of the casino, please read it all in my book, Seductive Venice, page 121. Or of course you can read Casanova’s memoirs, History of my Life, which is where I got it!

In this video, I tell about C’s first meeting with his lover M.M., who he met across town at Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo. I posted this video a while ago, but in case you want to see the two of them together to get the full story, here it is: Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo


Posted in Casanova | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Sounds like “Opa!” right? But it’s the name of a restaurant. Check out this gem in the Campo di Gheto Novo. I haven’t eaten a meal there, only had drinks and snacks, but I wanted to share it today for the artwork. You’ll have to let me know how the food is.IMG_9801IMG_9800

Tony Green painted these panels that frame the door to the restaurant. He’s an American artist and musician, well-known in New Orleans for his many murals and poster art. In Venice, he shows his work around local venues, and he’s often to be heard playing with his band in a number of restaurants, such as Remer and Da Mario. Watch for signs that Gypsy Jazz is playing and you’ll be in for a treat. Tony actually lives in the Ghetto, so he gets to stroll by his own artwork daily.



Tony at one of his shows a few years ago.

Posted in Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sailing the Oakland Seas

I recently enjoyed a gondola ride on Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. Torin, our gondolier, sang to us and regaled us with Oakland history. For example, did you know that Walt Disney gathered ideas for his iconic theme park by visiting Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland? Lake Merritt is the country’s first officially designated wildlife refuge, granted that status in 1870.


We also enjoyed some cheery pinot grigio, sipped from the Gondola Servizio’s own glasses. Gondola Servizio owns and operates two authentic Venetian gondolas, and during the winter months they even offer rides under a felze, the wooden cover used on gondolas of yore. If you need a little Venice fix and can’t afford the plane ticket, this is a pretty good alternative much closer to home!IMG_3018

Posted in Gondolas, Venice | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Celebrating Women’s Equality

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Elisabetta Caminer Turra

In the US, August 26, 1920, was the day women were granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified. To celebrate this, I’d like to share with you the story of an early pioneer in women’s equality: Elisabetta Caminer Turra. Here’s a video where I outline her life story and contribution to women’s rights. She lived way back in the 18th century, born in 1751 in Venice. She followed in her father’s footsteps to forge a career in journalism, using her writing and editorial power as a platform for promoting other women writers and women’s equity.


One of the journals edited by Caminer Turra

While lots of people have heard of Mary Wollstonecraft, often credited with being a forbearer of women’s equality, Caminer Turra was actually the person to introduce Wollstonecraft’s ideas to the Italian public. In 1792, Elisabetta wrote about the book A Vindication of the Rights of Women, “Her book proves for the millionth time that women might deserve the honor being considered part of the human race.” Notice her sarcasm, which she often employed to ward off the male contemporaries who railed against her ideas.


View from Palazzo Fortuny of the Church of San Benedetto

Get your daily dose of Venice as I stand in front of the Church of San Benedetto, where Elisabetta was baptized. You can also get a fuller story of her life in my book A Beautiful Woman in Venice.

Redefining Beauty: Elisabetta Caminer Turra

Posted in A Beautiful Woman in Venice, Venice, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Granddaughter of the Doge!

2015-07-18 01.33.38

Last summer I met Patrizia, who was working at the time as a barista at Caffe Frari. I was staying nearby and went in most days, and  she always chatted with me and my friends. She’s super friendly, and we got into conversations about such things as the cats of Venice. After a few days of this, while we spoke I noticed her necklace: the Indian god Ganesh, the dancing elephant. Like a bolt, I suddenly realized that I knew Patrizia from years ago.


A Ganesh necklace (not Patrizia’s)

“I know you!” I exclaimed. “You used to own Ganesh Ji!” It’s an Indian restaurant in Venice, tucked away in a back neighborhood but well worth finding. I remembered that when she was working there during Carnevale, Patrizia served everyone while wearing a Ganesh hat.

“Yes, yes!” she replied. “But running the restaurant is too much work. I am happy to work here and make the coffee.”

Patrizia explained to my friends and me that she is the great-great-(etc.)-granddaughter of the last doge of Venice, Ludovico Manin. This is on her mother’s side, so her father’s last name doesn’t give away the secret. He was a farmer and married into a social class above his. Ludovico Manin was the 120th doge and reigned from 1789 until his abdication in 1797, when Napoleon’s forces stomped into Venice and scared the crud out of the senators and doge.


Great-Grandpa Manin

I had wanted to blog about this all year but then thought I should ask Patrizia’s permission first. So this summer I went back to Caffe Frari and saw that it was being nearly gutted and remodeled. I returned a couple times until I saw that it had reopened. Sadly, the entirely new staff didn’t know anything about Patrizia’s whereabouts. She’s always so open and effusive and unabashed and public, so I’m hoping she won’t mind that I’m sharing this (and not publishing her last name just in case).

Here’s what the caffe looks like nowadays:

Gorgeous, right? Stop in for excellent coffee and atmosphere and check out the cool cat-eating-a-rat logo, even if you don’t get to meet the granddaughter of the doge.


Posted in Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spying with Marco Polo

Remember the exhibit in Venice commemorating Casanova with over a thousand mosaic tiles? It’s called “Spying on History with Casanova.” Well, artist Manuel Carrión has begun a new project honoring famed Venetian traveler Marco Polo. Here’s a video from the project inauguration three months ago:

Spying on History with Marco Polo

Manuel’s gallery is on Giudecca, and I stopped by a couple times this summer. Though most of the Casanova tiles are put away in storage until their next showing, a few are still on display.

I took home with me a blank tile and wondered what to do with it. I finally decided to find stamps from places Polo had visited. I settled on Italy, Armenia, Afghanistan, China, and Mongolia. Thus ensued many eBay auctions and vigils. But finally I came up with something:

IMG_0228 2

My friend Carol has generously offered to deliver the tile when she heads to Venice next week. Being an artist herself, she hopefully won’t be embarrassed to be seen with my amateur art. But I’m happy to think that my little offering will live with the offerings of a thousand other Marco Polo fans and explorers. Manuel Carrión hopes that these projects will introduce these personages to a wider audience. It seems to be working!


I met up with Manuel before I went to watch the Redentore fireworks. (You can see that I wanted to be as sparkly as the sky.) Here were the tiles already on display a month ago. If you watched the video at the top of this post, you’ll see that the number of tiles is growing rapidly!

Stop by the Carrión Gallery on Giudecca or follow the project on Facebook at this link: Facebook page for Carrion Gallery

Who will Manuel commemorate next? Rumor has it that Peggy Guggenheim is at the top of the list.

And I’ll leave you with this TV ad. When I was a kid, in the swimming pool we’d play “Marco Polo” where one person had to keep her eyes closed and call out “Marco.” The others in the pool answered “Polo,” and the first kid tried to find them based on the sound of their voice. I wonder if Italians play this game and would understand the joke in this ad? And I wonder if Americans watching this ad understand what Marco Polo is saying? I know it just makes me giggle.

Marco Polo ad


Posted in Uncategorized, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment