“She hid from her enemies amid a seductive array of islands, 118 in all. Damp, dark, cloistered, and crowded, she perched on rocks and silt.” (11)
So starts Laurence Bergreen’s book Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu. Venice is so often referred to as female—La Serenissima, the Queen of the Adriatic—but Bergreen’s opening lines depict a crouching, disheveled woman with real weight and body. And he describes her as seductive more than once: “Venice—seductive, Byzantine, and water-bound—was among the most important centers of commerce and culture in thirteenth century Europe, a flourishing city-state that lived by trade” (13). Is it any wonder that he found Seductive Venice as he began his research for a new book?
Bergreen emailed me a few weeks ago after reading my book. He wrote, “I’ve read your engaging guide, Seductive Venice, with interest and pleasure in preparation for an upcoming trip to that city for research on a book (under contract to Simon & Schuster) about the 18th century and Casanova’s legacy.” I also helped get him in contact with a couple other researchers, though I’m surprised he needs my help, seeing that he has written seven books and has a research assistant! But I was pretty excited to be contacted, nonetheless, and love to think that my work could help someone else.