Venice, My Muse: An Interview with Candace Magner

Candace Magner 1

Candace Magner is a lyric singer, baroque guitarist, and musicologist. She created the website to collect all the known information, and has now finished publishing The Complete Works of Barbara Strozzi along with co-editor Dr. Richard Kolb through her editorial house Cor Donato Editions. When I was doing research for A Beautiful Woman in Venice, I reached out to Candace, who was immensely generous with her knowledge and resources. Since then, we’ve met up in Venice, attended a couple concerts together (what a treat!), and she even gave me a tour of Barbara Strozzi sites. I hope you’ll enjoy her responses here, which are lyrical and visual and evocative.


How has Venice seduced you?

My first visit in 1996 was barely planned and I had zero idea of what I would find or see. I stepped off the train and had the thought, “Finally, I’m back.” That made no sense, since I had never been in Italy before. My second thought was, “Well, obviously I need a project that will keep me visiting again and again.” I had already been researching women composers and knew that Barbara Strozzi had lived and worked in Venice, but at the time only one researcher had studied her work. That has become my project and passion since that first visit: to know and catalog all her music, and to publish her complete works.

I immediately sensed that I was walking in the footsteps of a pioneering woman in the arts. The feeling of déjà vu has continued.

The most seductive element is my feeling of time travel. During late-night walks the sounds and smells, the twists and turns of the calli, the spaces of the campi are the same as 400 years ago. The addresses are the same. The buildings have changed but little. To me there seem to be layers of time – by day people wear their modern dress and wheel their suitcases, looking into windows of modern displays. In a slightly different dimension, the shops are those of artisans, the clothing is of the 1600s. This slight phase-shift takes place in a background of the same canals, bell towers and church facades, the same palazzi. Blink, it is 1640. Blink, it is 2019.


What do you never fail to do in Venice?

My first walk is often along the Zattere. I’ll have a nice dinner at Trattoria Antiche Carampane in my usual neighborhood. I’ll have a gelato and sit in Campo Santa Margherita at some point[s], go to any concert (the less-advertised the better), attend the 10:30 Mass at San Marco to hear the choir (or maybe even to sing with my friends there), have a class with YogaVenezia.


What is your Venice soundtrack?

My personal soundtrack is the vocal music of Barbara Strozzi. I’ve been known to sing it as I walk along, and over a couple years became friends with one marinaio who always heard me singing to myself on the night vaporetto 1 and would sing back to me. And of course my Italian fonino rings with a bit of Vivaldi.


Walk or take a boat?

I walk walk walk walk in every out-of-the-way place, anywhere I’ve not been for a while, and into the areas where my research takes me. Then I’ll go out to Lido, walk the Murazzi if the weather is good, take the circolare one direction or another. I love to take the number 1 late at night and sit outside in the prow even when it’s cold, and imagine myself rowed down the Canal Grande alone.


Which church or campo best epitomizes you? Please explain.

My first campo fascination was Campiello degli Squelini near Ca’ Foscari. I loved the (then) tall trees and the herringbone bricks. I usually stay near San Barnaba and Santa Margherita, both of which are fun for sitting and people-watching. I love any spot which has a bit of living greenery.


Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?

I enjoy the traditional activities the most. Around Carnevale time I’ll go to the Festa delle Marie starting at San Pietro. Likewise, I like the festivities at San Nicolò as the Doge’s ship arrives during the Festa della Sensa. Walking the ponte votivo to the church of Santa Maria della Salute, lighting a candle, and following the pilgrim’s course through the church and the cloister always has me feeling like I am inhabiting the spirit of 1640 when the church was first opened.


Spritz or Bellini?

Spritz, usually with bitters. Over the years I’ve switched to prosecco.


What do you always tell friends to do when they visit the city?

First, I tell people to get off the beaten track. I also tell them now to NOT use any sort of electronic map. (There is one that is accurate for addresses, however: 2GIS. Get the general map for Padova and scroll over to Venice). I recommend the campanile and the gardens at San Giorgio. Walk through the Viale Garibaldi, have a caffè at the Serra dei Giardini, stroll down to or through the Giardini Biennale, and then sit a moment under the trees in the Parco delle Rimembranze at Sant’ Elena. Hear a concert at Palazzo Grimani. Visit Ca’ Rezzonico. Visit artisinal shops for traditional arts. Attend some event at the Arsenale.


If you could have dinner with any Venetian, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would dinner be?

Of course it would have to be with Barbara Strozzi. First topic: what happened to the now-missing Opus 4? I would let her decide the menu.


What would you do with $30,000 U.S. to spend in Venice?

Stay longer. Take rowing lessons. Hire someone to take me around all the islands in the lagoon and explain the history of each place. Buy one splendid piece of Fortuny-style fabric. Take classes with all the traditional artisans. I think I already overspent….


Palazzo Widmann

If money were no object, which palazzo would you buy?

This is harder than it seems. I would buy a palazzo that had a connection to my research. Contenders might be Ca’ Sagredo, Palazzo Loredano (now Ruzzini Palace Hotel), Palazzo Widmann, Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, or the former Palazzo Strozzi at San Canciano on Rio dei Santi Apostoli. I’m sure they all hold secrets and ghosts that can solve all the mysteries!


Piazza Priuli Ruzzini

Which gelato flavor are you?

I love nocciola. But if I were to be described as a flavor… it would probably look pale and maybe nondescript yet have some crazy tart undertone that you only notice after you’ve finished half the cup.


How can readers learn more about you and your creative pursuits?

The catalog of Barbara Strozzi, her works, the poetry, modern editions, and recordings is at

The website for my publishing house for The Complete Works of Barbara Strozzi is  Over the past 8 years I have published every piece of Strozzi’s in scholarly print and digital editions. Go buy the set for your library.

Candace Magner 3




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Towards the Light #2

2014-07-06 06.08.48

Today is a day I need light.

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Gondola Stuff: Candle Holder


My mom’s friend gave me this lovely little candle holder, knowing I like gondolas. But is it really a gondola?  Please vote!


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Unboxing Campari

I got a cool gift in the mail recently, related to First Spritz Is Free. This is my first ever “unboxing” video. Hope I did okay! A toast to Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz for sending me this lovely book, and to my neighbor Rick, Bob’s cousin, who sent my book to him. I hope we get to meet in person one day!


A picture of Mr. Kunze-Concewitz, from the website

And here are some spritz photos to make you thirsty!


Image by Adriano Contini


Image by Piero Bellini


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Venice, Wish You Were Here #5


Okay, more mysteries here!

The postcard shows a huge nighttime festival on the Grand Canel, with numerous boats and lighted platforms. It reads “The Floating Fiesta on the Canal Grande,” but is this the Regata Storica? Festa della Salute? Redentore? Something else? I’ve been to Redentore many times, but it’s usually centered out bacino or lagoon basin. The festa in the photo is on the Grand Canal. Both the Regata Storica and Salute, which I’ve never attended (yet!), take place on the Grand Canal. Or is there a big party later? Anyone know more of the history? Perhaps you attended it in the 1960s, when this photo seems to be taken? Can you read the date on the stamp?

The written message appears to say “voyage superbe. vous embrassois” but, though I don’t speak French, I think “I embrace you,” or in colloquial English, “sending you a hug,” would be “vous embrasse.” So French speakers, help me to understand this, please!

And the signature–is it Marq? Luca? Both? Who is good at deciphering these things?

Looks like it’s being sent to Madame / Monsieur Bernhardt, 16 allee Weber, Troyes, France, a town southeast of Paris. As part of the address, it appears to say “aube,” which in this case is the commune where Troyes is located. But “aube” also means “dawn,” which is much more evocative.  Did Marq spend the night out partying on the Grand Canal for the festival and send this card at dawn? I prefer to think that.

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The Venice Walkby

Are your eyes tripping out?

In San Francisco I was passing by an art gallery and saw this 3D painting. Cool, right? I’ve seen this artist’s work in Venice since then, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the artist’s name. Does anyone out there know it?


***A friend later posted to Facebook that the artist is Patrick Hughes. Thanks, Gary!

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Venice, My Muse: An Interview with Katia Waegemans

Like so many other “Venice, My Muse” interviewees, I met Katia because she is a Venetophile who I invited to contribute to First Spritz Is Free. She runs an excellent blog, The Venice Insider, with many great tips and insights into traveling in Venice, plus lists of books, restaurants, shops, festivals, and more. (Links are at the bottom of this post.) Katia has met up with other Venetophile contributors to First Spritz when she’s in Venice. I hope one day I’ll meet her in person!

How has Venice seduced you?

I visited Venice for the first time at the age of 16, first as part of my Italy school trip and later that year with my family. It took me, however, 15 years to return and fall in love with the city.

Venice is completely different from any other city I know. It’s very quiet and peaceful. I love wandering around without the noise of cars, admiring the beauty of the palazzos, the culture, and history, enjoying a spritz outside on a terrace, taking in the view of the Canal Grande. It’s a place where I can forget about everything and enjoy every moment, even when it is hectic and crowded. On top of that, there are so many things going on in Venice. There is always something to discover, whether it’s a new restaurant, an exposition, a calle that I hadn’t seen before or just the people walking around.

What do you never fail to do in Venice?

One of the first things I do when I arrive in Venice is enjoy a good Aperol spritz. This moment always feels like the official start of the holidays. Even though I also drink spritz at home, the setting in Venice makes it taste much better.

Walk or take a boat?

I usually walk as much as possible in Venice as it’s the best way to discover the city. Getting lost is part of the fun and brings you to unexpected places. It also ensures that you don’t rush from one place to another by jumping from one vaporetto to another. I take the time to stop whenever I see something new or beautiful, so the walk is always longer than I planned. Venice is also not that big, so you can easily walk from Sant’Elena to Cannaregio to Dorsoduro. If I would use a step counter, I’m sure that a day in Venice would be similar to one or two weeks of my daily routine at home.

Since I took 2 rowing classes with Venice On Board earlier this year, I love to be on the water and admire a canal view of Venice. Once, or if ever, my rowing skills have been perfected, I would probably be tempted to take a boat on a regular basis.

Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?

My favorite traditional event is the Festa del Redentore in July. I’m a huge fan of fireworks, and the ones in Venice are amongst the best ones I have ever seen. I also love the lively atmosphere on Saturday evening when friends and families join for dinner on the Riva or the Parco delle Rimembranze. Finally, crossing the pontoon bridge on Sunday and watching the regattas in the Giudecca canal is the perfect finale of an amazing weekend.

Spritz or Bellini?

I’m clearly a spritz fan, especially the version with Aperol. The company celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and designed new glasses for this occasion. I ordered a set of these to enjoy my favorite drink at home in style. I’ve only had a Bellini once and it’s not really my taste.

What do you always tell friends to do when they visit the city?

If they are visiting for the first time, I will advise them to climb the campanile on San Giorgio Maggiore. It gives a beautiful overview of the city, and it doesn’t have long lines such as the one on San Marco. If they visit during summer, I will recommend a visit to Palazzo Ducale at night, when the daytrippers are gone and there are no queues. I will also tell them to spend the majority of their time away from the main landmarks and the crowded areas. Sestieri such as Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, or Giudecca also have stunning palazzos, canals, campos and so on.

Villa Hériot on Giudecca

If you could have dinner with any Venetian, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would dinner be?

I would love to have dinner with one of the doges to better understand the political intrigues and the social relationships during La Serenissima. Ideally, we could have a candlelight dinner on the terrace of Palazzo Ducale overlooking Piazza San Marco, which for the occasion would be completely empty.

What would you do with $30,000 U.S. to spend in Venice?

I would stay in Venice for a couple of months at a time and spend the money supporting local organizations. I would certainly take plenty of rowing classes with Venice On Board, so they can continue restoring old boats and I can perfect my rowing skills. I would buy beautiful handmade objects from Venetian artisans so I have plenty of memories to take home. I would also book several guided tours to better understand the cultural heritage of the city. Finally, I would probably spend quite some money in tasting Venetian drinks and food at the numerous bars and restaurants.

If money were no object, which palazzo would you buy?

This is a difficult question as there are so many options. For several years, I would immediately have answered the villa along the Riva dei Sette Martiri, next to Palazzino Canonica. It seems quite large and has a beautiful terrace. It is close to Giardini and the Viale Garibaldi and far enough from the crowded areas around San Marco. The only disadvantage is probably the noise coming from the nearby vaporetto stop. I love the villa so much that I even put a note in the letterbox asking to notify me if they ever plan to sell it (even though I doubt that I would be able to afford it). I’m still waiting for their call. Another stunning palazzo is Palazzo Contarini Fasan along the Canal Grande. It’s located in front of the Salute, and the colored poles are covered in real gold. I saw some pictures of the inside, and it has been beautifully restored. Finally, Palazzo Fortuny is another palazzo that I love to visit and where I wouldn’t mind living.

Palazzo Contarini Fasan

Which gelato flavor are you?

I am not a big gelato fan, contradictory to my husband who eats one every day while we are in Venice. If I have to choose, I will pick chocolate, caramel, or coffee. On our last trip, I discovered a new (or new to me) ice cream place on Zattere: Gelateria Al Sole. It’s delicious and according to their sign, they include happiness in the ice cream. What more do you want?

How can readers learn more about you and your creative pursuits? 

Katia Waegemans is a Belgian citizen who loves Venice and travels several times per year to the city. To share her passion with other frequent visitors, she started her travel blog The Venice Insider in December 2015.










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