Un Piccolo Poema: “Ca’ d’Oro”


Ruskin’s unfinished sketch of Ca’ d’Oro’s facade


I want to live in the Ca’ d’Oro.

I deserve such beauty.

Each morning I’d rise to be framed by

gothic arabesques and marble,

columns of rose, melon, and cerulean blue.

I’d gaze down upon green waters as

gondoliers call out “Oeee!”

And the jealous would gaze at my

windows draped in billowing white.

I would be beautiful in this house of gold,

looking down on the backs of white

seagulls gliding below me.

And at my elbow, standing guard,

a humped lion, grimacing, and

glaring at my enemies.

My bricks, my disks of thick glass,

my mosaics of multicolored marble,

beneath my so deserving soles.



Oh, those mosaics


(Thanks to Wikipedia for the images.)

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Venice, My Muse: An Interview with Karen Cogan

As you may remember from a recent post, Karen Cogan is a fellow Venice addict who recently sent me a painting she made of Ca’ Memmo. Clearly, she loves this city, so this month she shares with you her responses to the “Venice, My Muse” interview here on Seductive Venice. Every Venice lover has his or her own way of loving this city! Enjoy Karen’s responses this month.


Karen painting plein air in Venice.

How has Venice seduced you?

Venice is my inspiration to paint, it is a place I can never imagine, not returning to. It is the one place in my life where I feel true to myself.

What do you never fail to do in Venice?

Get lost. They say you really find yourself, when you are lost. But in Venice, one is never truly lost. And also, try to connect with a true Venetian. I travel alone, so I guess many locals feel sorry for me and chat with me. I love it! I have been blessed to have made wonderful acquaintances that I look forward to seeing again and again.

What is your Venice soundtrack?

It is not a song about Venice, but the Lucio Dalla song “Tu Non Mi Basti Mai” “You never get enough” makes me feel so happy, and Italian music is so soulful. Any Italian love song I hear, I just exchange the lyrics to translate to my love affair with Venice. My most profound memory is when I was on the streets of Venice painting “plein air” listening to true popular Italian songs on my little MP3 player – that is when I was the happiest – and seeing Italians walk by connecting to the songs was so amazing.

Walk or take a boat?

Walk. Or better, walk and then sit. Sitting at a caffé alone in Venice is the most amazing experience.

Which church or campo best epitomizes you? Please explain.

I cannot say. It would be like choosing one child over another. But mostly, I try to attend a service at a new church each time, staying at a different neighborhood. It is a time to thank my God for allowing me the amazing experiences I have had in life, and I can feel all the souls that have passed through the church before me. It is a spiritual connection.


It’s easy to fall in love with any campo in Venice

Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?

I mostly travel in the winter to avoid the crowds, so I have not experienced many festivals – I was in Venice one summer for the Venice Film Festival, and the media and tourists were so thick, I vowed not to return during that time. I do appreciate Carnevale. A few years ago, I planned a trip to Venice which ended the day BEFORE Carnevale began – it was wonderful! I saw Venice all dressed up, but I was able to leave before the crowds came.

Spritz or Bellini?

Neither I am ashamed to say! I love the Veneto region white wine Venetians are so proud of. But, I love seeing the spritz drinks break out in the afternoon – it is a wonderful ritual. You can set your clock by it, and I know it is time to look for my favorite caffé to imbibe.

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

If it is their first time, then of course, they must visit the typical attractions, which unfortunately are usually over-crowded. However, I try to tell everyone to visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The collections of paintings by Tintoretto are on par with the Sistine Chapel. The second floor is very moving, so remember to bring your box of tissues. Also, I tell friends to see the Vivaldi Four Seasons Concert, performed in the ancient Venice Prison Palace linked to the Doges Palace. The acoustics are unbelievable. An Unforgettable evening – imagining the departed souls that were there.

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 any true Venetian living in Venice. I have been fortunate to have met Venetians. To share their love for Venice for an evening, is my idea of fun. Dinner would be one of “their” favorite places, which would be someplace where only Venetians go. You never know what secrets they will impart, or where the evening may lead.

Casanova: genius or cad?

Both. His adventures and boldness has filled us with amusement, and I think there is a little “Casanova” in all of us. I will take Kathleen’s walking tour of Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps with me next time… After reading, I realized I have walked by these historical spots, and now I will revisit them, looking for his spirit. I am amazed at the amount of research she did.

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

I would probably live my dream of renting an apartment for several months, along with bringing my paints and easel, and painting in the streets of Venice again. I have done this twice before, and it was a dream of mine that I finally “checked off.” But it is difficult schlepping the supplies to Venice. But I want to stay in Venice long enough, to almost feel like I live there. After reading Kathleen’s Free Gondola Ride and seeing how she spent weeks in Venice alone, only empowered me more to keep my dream alive.


Kathleen hangs out in Venice with gondoliers a loooong time ago

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

Again, how can you choose? But if I have to, it would be Bauer Il Palazzo, Palazzo Dandolo (now Hotel Danieli), or Palazzo Papadopoli, (now the Aman Hotel).

Which gelato flavor are you?

I hate to say, I do not have a sweet tooth! I save my calories for the pizza, cicchetti, and Venetian dishes.


One of Karen’s views of Venice

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

My paintings are mostly posted on Pinterest, just google “Karen Cogan, Painter on Pinterest” My website (which sometimes loads slowly) is Karen Cogan On-Line Studio – karencogan.webs.com
Email is cogankaren@yahoo.com.

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Redefining Beauty: Anna Maria dal Violin

While recently speaking to the Dante Society in Santa Cruz about remarkable Venetian women, we veered for quite a while onto the topic of Anna Maria dal Violin and the musicians of the Piéta. I realized I had not shared this video here on my blog, so this seems like a good time to rectify that! Ann Maria was one of the remarkable women musicians at the Ospedale Santa Maria della Piéta, which took in orphans and gave them a musical education. Anna Maria became the special student of Antonio Vivaldi.

Thank you to the receptionist who was selling tickets for the concerts given in the church on the day I visited last. He was kind enough to allow me past the barrier for a couple minutes so I could give you this glimpse of the interior.

When Anna Maria began her musical instruction as a child here at the orphanage, this actual church had not yet been built. But it was completed during her lifetime, and it is believed, by researcher Mickey White, that Anna Maria is buried beneath the stone of the church along with her musical sisters.


The original church. Notice the small door on the left side. It was known as the scaffetta, where babies were left for the nuns to pick up anonymously.

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2015-07-15 03.13.56

Just sharing a photo today.

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Venice in the Mail

It’s so rare we get mail any more, unless it’s an Amazon package! So when I received an oversized envelope from an unknown person, I didn’t know what to expect.

But it’s so lovely to get a surprise!


Statue of Andrea Memmo

I opened the package to find a hand painted picture of Ca’ Memmo, Procurator Andrea Memmo’s home on the Grand Canal. Though he was a skilled statesman and Venetian noble, Memmo is often best known today for his affair with Giustiniana Wynne, the beautiful and talented young woman who later went on to write Les Morlaques, which is one of Italy’s first published novels. I’ve written about both these icons in two of my books. (Their relationship is chronicled in Andre di Robilant’s book A Venetian Affair.)

So who sent me this painting? It was Karen Cogan, an American painter who is as smitten as I am with Venice. She had read my books Free Gondola Ride and Seductive Venice and decided to just send me a painting in gratitude and shared love for the city of Venice. She wrote to me, “I still care more about sharing my art and I always must feel connected to my paintings.”

head shot, bridge of signs

Karen in our beloved Venice

Karen was actually interviewed for a blog post where she tells how painting and traveling solo have changed her life. You may find your experiences in this story, too. At the very least, check it out so you can see more of Karen’s paintings. She also posts on Pinterest or on her website.

It turns out that Karen and I live only about two and a half hours apart in California, and we’ve both been to the Sacramento Italian Cultural Society multiple times. I have no doubt we will meet in person soon! We can swap more stories about traveling as solo women.

Karen points out that giving her paintings to others has brought her much more satisfaction than selling them. I often feel that way about my books (though, of course, I do have some boxes of books in my basement that would be happy to be united with readers!). Her generosity has brought her immeasurable satisfaction.

And her generosity has brought me immeasurable satisfaction too!


Doesn’t the gondola look like a smile?


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Radio Spritz

Exciting news–I’ve been interviewed for the radio show “Eye on Travel” with Peter Greenberg! He somehow learned about my book First Spritz Is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts and decided to interview me. (Thanks, Laura Morelli, for helping to connect us!)
The show will air Saturday, Feb. 16, at 10:00 eastern time on CBS radio. It will later be available online at Peter Greenberg: Eye on Travel for February 16. I think it gets posted to this site the following Monday. (I will actually miss hearing it live, as I will be on a plane to Cambodia with my high school students!) My interview begins at roughly minute 56:30.
Peter Greenberg loves Venice, and for a guy who travels daily, it’s saying something that he has picked my favorite place as his favorite place. He was very complimentary during the interview and also wanted to share his particular tips for traveling in Venice. What–did you think I’d tell you his tips here? Nope! You need to listed to the interview!
I hope you don’t mind me tooting my own horn, but I’m sort of bursting with the excitement of it. 🙂
Btw, if you want the book, it’s free as an ebook. You can access it on Smashwords or on my website: https://kathleenanngonzalez.wixsite.com/firstspritz

All profits from the sale of the paperback book are donated to these three organizations: Save Venice, Venice in Peril, and No Grandi Navi. (In fact, I just made another donation–thanks to those who bought the book and made this donation possible!)


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Venice, My Muse: An Interview with Rita Bottoms


Rita at a friend’s apartment in Venice

Venice brought us together. Rita and I met through my blog and developed an online friendship until we met in person last year to attend the Casanova exhibition together last year in San Francisco. Since we live only about 45 minutes apart, we’ve been able to meet up again and again. Now retired, Rita Bottoms was Librarian and Curator of Special Collections at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and worked with many photographers, writers, musicians, publishers, artists, and filmmakers. Her books of particular interest to Venetophiles are Riffs & Ecstasies, Venice with paintings by her husband Tom Bottoms (Cafe Margo 2013); Riffs & Ecstasies: True Stories in Italian & English (Damocle Edizioni, Venezia 2014); and,  Venice: Writing Under the Influence, in Italian & English (Damocle Edizioni, Venezia  2016). She contributed a chapter to First Spritz Is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts, where her chapter riffs on that love affair.


Mirrors–always seductive

How has Venice seduced you? 

I am ensorcelled by her grand waterway, her mirrors and damask covered walls and rooms with golden lighting,  her color palette of wine and coral and terra cotta, her stones, her carvings, her tiles and floors,  the curved and gathered drapery tende alla veneziana  under the Florian and Quadri arches of Piazza San Marco, and by my friends, that gathering of inspirers and encouragers  who welcome my wild ideas and with whom I am always home.


Caffe del Doge for more than just coffee

What do you never fail to do in Venice? 

Rejoice at the first sight of the city perched on the water,  spend as much time as possible next to the Grand Canal, walk endlessly, go to Bookshop Damocle, drink many cups of coffee at Caffe del Doge,  and  eat Spaghetti alla Vongole Veracci and Coda di Rospo at Trattoria alla Madonna.  

What is your Venice soundtrack? 

Church bells, water lapping, and  silent nights.

Walk or take a boat?                                                                            

Love to do both. 

Which church or campo best epitomizes you?

I love the space of l’Erbaria that makes it possible to sit and watch the action alongside the Grand Canal, while enjoying a drink or a meal, or simply stepping into the water.  Its proximity to the bells of San Giacomo dell’Orio is a plus.  


L’Erbaria in the late sunlight. Who wouldn’t want to spend time here?

Spritz or Bellini?                                                                   

I definitely choose a Campari Spritz as much for that gorgeous red color as for the lovely bitter taste.

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

Take the vaporetto both directions on the Grand Canal in daytime and at night. 

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 the fabulous contemporary art collector, Peggy Guggenheim, in the dining room of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni.  Her unwavering support of artists  made her a favorite of mine. I feel she would  welcome Emily Harvey to the table, also a collector and champion of contemporary artists, and who, before her death, established a foundation to bring them to Venice.  It would be dellightful  to break bread and drink with these two dynamos! I have no doubt that whatever was served for dinner would be divine, followed by delivery to our homes on Peggy’s gondola.


Rita in Peggy’s garden

Casanova: genius or cad? 

Since he continues to generate interest among scholars  and excite  imaginations for all these years as the subject of more than one film and a feature of a recent art exhibition that toured major U.S. museums, there must  be more to Casanova  than his  detractors would allow.  

What would you do with $30,000 U.S.?

I would purchase many meters of damask cloth from Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua, stay at the Hotel Danieli for at least three  nights, and divide the rest between The Emily Harvey Foundation, and Publisher, Pierpaolo Pregnolato, to make a marvelous publication.

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

I would buy the very narrow light red and cream striped Palazetto Tron Memmo, across from vaporetto stop San Silvestro.


Isn’t this mini palazzo adorable?

Which gelato flavor are you?                                                       

Gelato di Limone.

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

Rita’s books can be found at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco; Libreria Pino, San Francisco; Bookshop Santa Cruz; Bookshop Damocle Edizioni, Venezia, and from the author at cafemargo@baymoon.com.

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