Need a Break? Float down the Grand Canal!

My friend and fantastic tour guide Luisella Romeo is offering a virtual cruise down the Grand Canal this Tuesday, May 30, 2023, at 6:00 pm (Britain’s time). Starting at the train station on a private boat, she’ll point out and provide back stories for the palaces, bridges, churches, and museums along the Grand Canal. It’s a twilight sojourn, ending at the Doge’s Palace as the light fades.

Bookings close on May 29, so don’t delay! You can watch from anywhere you have an internet connection, and if you are signed up, you’ll also receive a recording after the event to watch at your leisure.

I have participated in Luisella’s tours a number of times. They were my lifeline to Venice during the Dark Times. She is as knowledgeable as a history book and does not disappoint! (But I won’t be joining you on this tour because I’ll be arriving in Venice just a few days after her tour and can cruise the Grand Canal in person.)

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New Casanova Book: Casanova a Trieste e Gorizia

For those of my readers who enjoy the study of Casanova’s life, good news: there is a new book! Casanova a Trieste e Gorizia by Alessandro Marzo Magno and Federico Vidic will be presented this coming Sunday, May 28, 2023, at the Festival Internazionale della Storia in Gorizia. Gorizia is at the extreme eastern edge of Italy, northeast of Venice.

The authors will be in conversation with Casanovist and Ca’ Foscari professor Antonio Trampus. (Trampus also edits Casanoviana, the academic journal.) I won’t arrive to Venice until the following week, so if you attend the event, please write and tell me how it was!

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Venice at the Vatican

I was in Rome a couple months ago and of course visited the Vatican museums. Overwhelming and amazing! I forgot how astonishing Raphael’s work is and felt like I saw things anew. My husband and I also found seats along the wall in the Sistine Chapel and were able to gazed to our heart’s content.

I always feel a jolt when I see Venice depicted anywhere, so in the gallery of maps I stared for a long time at the paintings of Venice. It’s fun to notice the little details: the two islands of San Michele are separate, though the whole thing is much larger now; there’s no bridge to the mainland; but the Arsenale looks unchanged. Notice how few buildings there are on Giudecca. What else do you notice?

This painting shows a miniature of the archipelago and the islands that protect it. It looks like the buildings are simply floating on the water, with no land beneath. No wonder people had the belief that Venice was a floating city! You also get a better sense of the marshlands abutting the mainland. I’ve heard that bringing back robust marshlands like this would greatly reduce the damaging effects of high tides, as the marshes would absorb and hold more of the water.

This is the fuller view of that painting, showing more of the Adriatic.

And of course we need St. Mark and his winged lion nearby to protect the city. They seem very modern, surfing the waves on a lion jet ski.

I have to include this one just for fun. Angels lounging on a raft! They look like bored children on vacation. “How long till we get there, dad?”

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Street Art / Venetian Stylin’ #14

Seen near the Biennale Arsenale entrance.

Those eyes are eerily realistic.

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Casanova Comes to Florida!

Casanova, the ballet, that is!

Kenneth Tindall’s Casanova ballet, which premiered in Leeds by the Northern Ballet in March 2017, is running May 16–19, 2024 in Steinmetz Hall in Orlando, Florida. Get the details here.

Here’s the description from the original Northern Ballet website, plus a link to this trailer:

“Throw caution to the wind. Be led into temptation. Casanova is back.

Consumed by his desires, Casanova lived every minute in a whirlwind of scandal and decadence. But behind the mask, there was more to the man. Casanova takes you inside the heart and mind of one of the most notorious figures in history, exposing a story so sensational you won’t believe it’s real.

With a cinematic score played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia, and opulent sets and costumes, Kenneth Tindall’s Casanova will flood your senses and take your breath away.”

I’ve only seen the film of the ballet by Sky Arts, but I can’t make it to Florida for this performance, unfortunately. If you go, please share a comment about what you thought of it!

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Sharing: Postcard from Venice

I’m a little late sharing this post from La Venessiana, but it’s still worth reading and viewing, if only for the gorgeous images of wisteria in Venice! Learn about the Festa di San Marco, risi e bisi (pea risotto), an interview by JoAnn Locktov, where to view wisteria in Venice, and the giant rose that people made in Piazza San Marco.

Happy spring!

Una rosa per Venezia, image from
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Sharing: Online Seminar–Why is this so controversial?

Author Laura Morelli is offering an online seminar about Michelangelo’s statue David, which has recently been in the news when it was banned in a Florida school. Learn more from an art historian who can provide a bigger picture. You can watch on demand, on your own schedule.

Join my online seminar to plunge into the heart of Renaissance Italy and learn why this work had the power not only to transform Michelangelo’s native city but also the history of art: ​

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Not a Reluctant Traveler, Just a Surprised One!

I am incredibly excited to share with you some big news: I got to appear on an Apple Tv show with none other than Hollywood star Eugene Levy, Andar Per Bacari will be out in English by August 2023  and my new website is finally live!

Imagine my surprise when I sat in my cozy living room watching episode three of The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV+ and saw not one but two of my Venetian friends on the screen!

In the series, actor Eugene Levy travels to various locales around the world, grumping along but being pleasantly surprised that he’s having a great time. In Venice, he stays at the Gritti Palace Hotel, a place I can never imagine existing within my travel budget. But he wants someone to tell him about Venetian food and drink, so he ends up with Monica Cesarato in the Ghetto, at a bakery, and at her favorite ciccheteria (the same one where she hosted a book release party for my book First Spritz Is Free, for which she contributed a chapter!)

With her ever-present smile, mirthful laugh, and vast knowledge, Monica introduces Eugene Levy to Venice’s offerings, such as a chilled raboso and bacala.

As you can see from the caption above, which Monica blogged today, she had to hide her participation on the show for the past year! When I texted her about it, she said that the tv show has really increased her visibility. If you want to book a tour with her, reach out early (here’s her website) because she gets really busy. (I’m not even sure she’ll have time to see me this summer when I’m there!)

I’m in the white dress, with Monica on my right, at the same restaurant she took Levy to!

So my mind was already blown, and next, after Eugene Levy marveled at the luxuries available at the Gritti, he decided to go on a gondola ride with none other than my friend Alessandro Santini!

In my anthology Venice Rising, Alessandro wrote about his experiences with the historic 2019 aqua granda as well as rowing down the empty Grand Canal during Italy’s covid lockdown in spring 2020. His story is fast-paced, nostalgic, but also appreciative of all the things Venice offers and that he missed while Venice closed all its doors. In his chapter, Alessandro told about going for a rowing lesson with his son Samuel–the same Samuel you see in The Reluctant Traveler. In a text to me this week, after I congratulated him on the tv show, Alessandro said that Samuel will be graduating from college soon and rowing alongside him this summer.

Alessandro gave me and my friend Cecilia a gondola ride in the same gondola you see Levy ride in.
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Salon Discussion: Redefining Beauty at Gabriella Cafe this Thursday, April 6

Make your reservations now so you’re sure to get a seat! The food and wine are excellent, so you’re in for a treat. See you there!

p.s. I’ll have books for sale, including the new second edition of A Beautiful Woman in Venice with new chapters about Giulia Lama, Marietta Robusti, and women healers.

Gabriella Café

910 Cedar Street
Santa Cruz CA 95060
(831) 457-1677

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Gondola Stuff: Wooden Puzzle

I picked up this puzzle at a tobacco shop in Venice and had some fun putting it together.

First the body of the gondola, with the ferro on one side and the popa di ferro on the other.

That’s quite a jaunty gondolier! He’s even wearing the requisite striped shirt and straw hat. His oar looks more like a pole, but lest there be any confusion, gondoliers don’t push the boat with a pole–they row with an oar.

The finished gondola, gliding on the glossy black lagoon.

You can even buy this gondola unpainted. But what color would you paint it but black? It’s been black for hundreds of years, ever since the Senate decreed it must be so in the Sumptuary Laws.

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