New Views of Casanova

Casanova always wanted to be the center of things–the one people noticed in the room, the one to catch a woman’s eye, the one befriended by the wealthy and well-connected. Many past writers have instead relegated Casanova to the margins, believing the oversimplification of him as a serial seducer with a head only for women.

Many Casanovists have focused on checking the historical facts within C’s History of My Life or in researching the people that C writes about. But in this new collection of essays, Casanova in the Enlightenment editor Dr. Malina Stefanovska views Casanova as an integral and important member of Enlightenment Europe, thus the subtitle “From the Margins to the Centre.” The essays stem from the 2016 conference Casanova: Libertine Legend at UCLA hosted by Dr. Stefanovska and Thomas Harrison. Each essay was presented by its author (except one that was read by a proxy), and Stefanovska has now edited, and translated where necessary, the papers into this whole, with her Introduction to provide context.

Stefanovska arranged the essays into three sections: “Libertine Traces,” which explores issues of gender, body image, and sexuality; “Emerging Sociabilities” focused on C’s social interactions, including his times in Paris; and “Representational Shifts and Legacies” looking again at Parisian encounters, mythologies, and film representations, particularly Fellini. We see many of the most important names in Casanova scholarship, including Chantal Thomas, Michel Delon, Jean-Christophe Igalens, Bruno Capaci, and others who have written extensively on C or Enlightenment topics. In fact, a number of these writers also attended and presented at the Casanova in Place Symposium in 2019.

If you have read all or parts of C’s memoirs and writings, you’ll appreciate these essays’ insights into his state of mind, his travels, and his desires. This collection offers an important resource for those who wish to study further into Casanova’s life, the 18th century, and contemporary connections.

Igalens, Brin, and Delon at the 2016 conference, from which these essays come.

Here is the summary advertising Casanova in the Enlightenment:

“Illuminating the legend that Giacomo Casanova singlehandedly created in his famous – and at times infamous – autobiography, The History of My Life, this book provides a timely reassessment of Casanova’s role and importance as an author of the European Enlightenment. From the margins of libertine authorship where he has been traditionally relegated, the various essays in this collection reposition Casanova at the heart of Enlightenment debates on medicine, sociability, gender, and writing.

Based on new scholarship, this reappraisal of a key Enlightenment figure explores the period’s fascination with ethnography, its scientific societies, and its understanding of gender, medicine, and women. Casanova is here finally granted his rightful place in cultural and literary history, a place which explains his enduring yet controversial reputation as a figure of seduction and adventure.”

Here I am with Chantal Thomas in 2016 at the conference

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Gondola Stuff: Espresso Cup

Nooo! I think the gondola stuff is starting to breed in the cupboards! I have found yet another gondola-themed thing: this lovely little espresso cup and saucer. A friend gave it to me. It really is a wonderful, simple design, quite in contrast to the kitschy mug I shared previously. And the saucer is the perfect size to add a biscotto or bussola, those yummy cookies from Burano.

Uh oh, now I need an espresso and a cookie….

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Just Sayin’ … Don’t Miss This!

Last week I mentioned that Live in Venice was starting. Well, the week is well under way, and I hope you’ve been enjoying it!

There are soooo many excellent interviews for you to check out–glass etchers, bead makers, chocolatiers, wig and mask artists, textile artisans…there are too many to tell you about! You’ll meet some of Venice’s best known artisans in behind-the-scenes interviews. What a treasure!

Some interviews take place in the shops, others inside restaurants or along the Grand Canal. If you’re unable to visit Venice and need your fix, this will do it for you! You can watch for hours and meet all these remarkable and gifted Venetians who keep the culture alive.

This weekend there will be meet ups with authors and they’ll be discussing my book Venice Rising: Aqua Granda, Pandemic, Rebirth. It’ll be 3:00 in the morning for me, so I won’t join the conversation, but the great news is that each interview is recorded and available on the Facebook page. Check them out at your leisure!

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In Casanova’s Footsteps: Rome–Church of San Silvestro

Portrait of de Bernis (Wikmedia)

François-Joachim de Pierre de Bernis crossed paths with Giacomo Casanova a number of times.

They first met in Paris in 1752, then sort of by accident in Venice in 1753 when de Bernis was assigned there as the French Ambassador to the city. He and Casanova shared mistresses, including the nun known by the initials M.M.–but that’s a long story for another day! (I wrote about this in great detail in my book Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps about sites in Venice.) Casanova and de Bernis then met in Paris and continued a warm acquaintance.

De Bernis was later transferred to Rome, where he was serving as French Ambassador at the time of Casanova’s second sojourn to the city in 1770. He was the Cardinal-Priest at the church San Silvestro in Capite, in Piazza San Silvestro, not far from the Trevi Fountain. Cardinal de Bernis served there from June 26, 1769, to April 18, 1774.

In his History of My Life, Casanova writes with glee that he “was delighted at  the thought of presenting [himself] to Cardinal de Bernis after [he] had become well known in the city.” Casanova’s letters of introduction to important Roman citizens paved his way to an illustrious sojourn.

All this being said, however, I’m not sure if Casanova met Cardinal de Bernis here at the church of San Silvestro; Casanova never explicitly says so. De Bernis lived at the Palazzo Decarolis and entertained his guests there; see a separate post about that site. 


Wikipedia image of the church of San Silvestro


Giuseppe Vasi’s etching showing San Silvestro in Capite, 1758

Screen Shot 2020-07-08 at 4.14.57 PM

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Vampires Are Forever

Dark alleys, spooky corners, moldering palaces, lonely footsteps at night. Venice has many ingredients for a good vampire story. Forever Young by Barbara Stanzl and Brett Fitzpatrick brings you a blend of modern Venice and historic backstory with plenty of Venice scenes for those who can’t get enough of reading about their favorite city.

Jasmine, an anthropology student in Venice researching folklore, haplessly stumbles into a vampire’s palace and befriends her. Though Violetta wears “vintage” clothes, speaks (a bit unconvincingly) in archaic language, and never goes out during the day nor eats a real meal, Jasmine is really slow to grasp the truth. Violetta’s handsome friend Sebastian shows up and complicates things, as does Violetta’s putative, abusive father. We get to see inside palaces and university offices, cafes and alleys. The women’s favorite haunt is Cafe Noir, a haunt of my own many years ago when it first opened and the owner befriended me. (Uh oh, does that mean he was a vampire too?)

image from

I won’t give away more of the story than that–that’s for readers to discover! Forever Young is Book One, though I don’t know when the sequel is set to come out. I heard about the book from Barbara Stanzl, who, it turns out, is a friend of a friend in Venice.

This is the cover of the edition I bought, but you’ll also see other cover art.

Forever Young is available on Amazon and also on Smashwords if you want the ebook.

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Sharing: Live in Venice! May 17-23

Live-In-Venice Press Release

Live-Streamed Event ‘Live-In-Venice’ Will Share City Secrets With The World

  • Live-In-Venice will take place between 17-23 May 2021
  • Over 70 interviews and events live-streamed on Facebook, Vimeo and the event website
  • Interviews with artisans, art galleries and museums, fashion designers, restaurant owners and more

Venice, Italy. Live-In-Venice will be a jam-packed week-long extravaganza of live-streamed interviews and events from the iconic city of Venice. From 17-23 May 2021, local reporters will be meeting fashion designers, artisans, gallery owners, performers and local business owners. The whole week of interviews, meetings and events will be live-streamed on Facebook, Vimeo and the Live-In-Venice website from 11 am to 8 pm. 

“Live-In-Venice is set to be the biggest ever live-streamed event from the city,” says co-organizer Monica Cesarato, a local food and travel blogger and culinary instructor. Those following the event online will have the opportunity to get an insider look at iconic crafts like gondola-making, glass-blowing and mask design. But they will also meet a cornucopia of other businesses they never knew existed like the designer behind Elton John’s eccentric glasses, one of the last bead stringers in Venice, or the bookshop that’s frequently underwater. Each day will focus on one or two different themes: Fashion, Artisans, Art & Culture, Murano, Boats, Carnival, Performing Arts, Food & Drink and Kids.    

The aim is to give viewers an in-depth look at a city that visitors all too often only scrape the surface of. Cesarato says, “It is a way to show that Venice is not just the iconic monuments, but most importantly its people.” There are only around 50,000 residents left in Venice, but they remain the beating heart of the historic city. Their workshops and businesses are often hidden away down side streets, off the beaten track, but they are well worth taking the time to seek out. “People need to stay more than two days to really appreciate the city,” adds Cesarato. 

Those interested in following along for the week can register for events or follow the Facebook page for updates and watch the live-streamed interviews. 

The event is a collaboration between Sofa Tours, an expert company for virtual live experiences located in Germany, and a team of talented, diverse professionals with significant industry experience in the world of tourism and Venice.

Social Media:


Twitter:  @liveveniceweek

Instagram: @liveinveniceweek



For more information/material:

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Venetian Emoji #6

Either this looks like someone gritting his teeth, or maybe it’s two faces, one atop the other? What emotion is this Venetian emoji expressing?

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Sharing: “Like Walking on Water”

Check out this great pair of kicks, Venetian styling! (For those who don’t hang around teens and shoe aficionados, “kicks” refers to shoes.) I’m sharing this blog post from VeneziaBlog, featuring these amazing gondola-inspired shoes designed by Rolando Segalin and now showcased in the shop of his one-time apprentice Daniela Ghezzo.

Post your comment below: Would you wear these? If someone gave you a pair in your size, what might prevent you from wearing them? Where would you wear them? And with what outfit?

I’d probably wear them with my slim black jeans, or maybe go bold and wear black tights and my black sequin mini skirt! Life is short–wear fun shoes!

Click the link to VeneziaBlog to find out where this shop is and where these shoes have been featured as artwork.

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Happy Anniversary, Venice Rising!

One year ago this week, I agreed to Rosemary Wilmot’s idea to create the book that became Venice Rising: Aqua Granda, Pandemic, Rebirth. She and I had met via email because of Venice blog posts that brought us together and because Rosemary had enjoyed my first anthology, First Spritz Is Free. She pitched her idea to me of a collection of stories by Venetians living through the flooding and the pandemic. It was April 7, 2020, that I said yes to begin our amazing odyssey! Here’s my reply to Rosemary:

>>>I LOVE your idea for a new spritz book. And it sounds like you have some excellent connections that we should follow up with. What do you think–Shall we reach out to people who live in Venice/Veneto and gather those essays first? Then reach out to other Venice lovers? I think the most powerful stories might come from people living in the city/region during these events.

I’ve drafted this “pitch” to send out to people to solicit essays. I want to capture their stories of the hardships and obstacles but also make sure the stories aren’t all focusing on loss and trauma. We want readers to keep reading and hear about the lessons learned, the jewel moments, the intimacy or insight or growth that came from these times. Whenever I write something, I always consider it a draft and very much welcome others’ input, so please feel free to share your thoughts for revision. <<<

Rosemary, who has great ideas

All profits from Venice Rising are donated, and at this point I’ve donated $1,673.12 USD to We are here Venice, Venice Calls, and No Grandi Navi. Please consider celebrating our Venice Rising anniversary by buying a copy of the book for yourself or a friend so that we can keep those donations rolling in!

By the way, if you’re in the US, may I suggest ordering the book directly from me, rather than Amazon, and I’ll mail it to you. The turnaround time is faster, and a much bigger portion of the profit gets donated (rather than paid to Amazon). You can order from me and pay via PayPal through this website, using the Buy Now button.

If you want more information about how to protect and preserve Venice, here’s a panel discussion from the World Monuments Fund, March 25, 2021, with panelists discussing ways to reshape and rethink tourism in this unique and beloved city of ours.

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More Puzzle Therapy #7: Fin!

All done! If it weren’t for the gondola and maybe the bridge, I’m not sure you would know this was Venice. It’s a beautiful scene but not quite accurate. But it was a fun and very satisfying puzzle to complete!

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