Venice, My Muse: An Interview with JoAnn Locktov


The Cappella di San Marco at San Francesco della Vigna

Here is the third installment of the new interview series, “Venice, My Muse.” Today we’ll hear from JoAnn Locktov, editor of the Dream of Venice series. JoAnn established Bella Figura Publications in 2014, as an imprint dedicated to publishing books on contemporary Venice. Prior to publishing, JoAnn wrote two books on contemporary mosaics. Her work as an international publicist in design and architecture has brought her to Italy annually for last decade. I also want to thank JoAnn for helping me develop this interview idea.

How has Venice seduced you?

She has taught me to understand the great beauty of audacity.

What do you never fail to do in Venice?


Walk or take a boat?


Which church or campo best epitomizes you? Please explain.

The deconsecrated Church of San Lorenzo. It is massive and decrepit, with 9th century mosaics hidden under mounds of sand, and boxes of bones that may or may not belong to Marco Polo. It occupies a liminal space, too large to resuscitate, too noble to demolish. I feel connected to this building because it exists in Venice without a purpose, except to hold the legacy of memory.

Horton Dream of Venice Architecture

The Church of San Lorenzo, from Dream of Venice Architecture

Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?

Festa della Madonna della Salute, which is celebrated on November 21. There is a votive bridge erected across the Grand Canal, and we form a procession walking slowly towards Madonna della Salute, the baroque masterpiece designed by Longhena and consecrated 1687. The Basilica was built as a promise, as Venetians prayed to the Madonna to deliver them from a plague which had decimated over 30% of the population. The prayers worked, the basilica was built. It is an elegant Venetian festival, both sacred and profane, reflected in the illumination of a thousand tapers. It even has its own delicious mutton stew called castradina. For me, it is a significant experience of remembrance and gratitude. November is the only month I come to Venice, and Festa della Salute is one of the reasons why.

dedication. Dream of Venice Architecture

The Salute, from Dream of Venice Architecture

Spritz or Bellini?

Aperol spritz, sempre.

What do you do when you’re alone in Venice?

Listen to the silence.

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

To understand the spectacle of Venice, the city needs to be observed from a distance. I always recommend to friends that they hop over to the island of San Giorgio, and ride up the campanile at Palladio’s 16th century San Giorgio Maggiore. It is this view that gives Venice beguiling unity between water and stone.

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

Casanova, of course. That’s the only way I would be able to answer Question #10.

What would dinner be?

A man doesn’t write of oysters without obliging him, “‘I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing, she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips. I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers.” To serve him anything else would be inconsiderate.

Casanova: genius or cad?

I’ll let you know after dinner.

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

I would donate the funds to help restore St. Mark’s Chapel in the courtyard of the patronage of Saint Francis of the Vigna. Currently deconsecrated, the chapel has been reduced to a warehouse for storing garden tools. According to legend this is where Mark found shelter the night he was shipwrecked in the Lagoon. It was here the Angel assured him “Pax tibi, Marce Evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum.” Peace to you Mark, my Evangelist. Here your body will rest.

Monies are being raised to restore the chapel to its original dignity.

Salviamo la Cappella di San Marco a San Francesco della Vigna:

Save the Capella

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

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, built in 1748, designed by Lorenzo Boschetti.

Never finished, the palazzo is only one story, which is perfect because I really don’t need a lot of space. It would be quite an adventure to live with the spirits of the former occupants: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, & Peggy Guggenheim. This book inspired me: The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice by Judith Mackrell.

Would you rather be a courtesan or a noblewoman? Make your case.

A courtesan, absolutely. The courtesans in Venice were educated, the better to influence their customers and earn their patronage. Courtesans became equal participants in intellectual salons, discussing literature, poetry and politics. They also, like Veronica Franco, penned and published their own verses. Being a courtesan was one of the only ways a woman could remain independent and support herself. And besides, their zoccoli (shoes) were not only practical, but also gorgeous.

You can find out more about JoAnn’s creative pursuits on her social media and in her books: 

Web site:

FB page:


Her books include:

Dream of Venice, Dream of Venice Architecture, and Dream of Venice in Black & White,  available September 2018.

DoVA Final Cover v3

And a special bonus! To promote more engagement with my blog, we’re offering a raffle! If you “like” this post and also leave a comment, I’ll enter your name into a drawing. JoAnn will mail the winner a copy of her latest book Dream of Venice Architecture. You can post your comment and “like” here on WordPress, on my Facebook page (Kathleen Ann Gonzalez), on my LinkedIn page, or on my Goodreads author page, where this blog also appears. Deadline: October 31, 2017, midnight Pacific time. (Don’t let Halloween slow you down!)



About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
This entry was posted in A Beautiful Woman in Venice, Casanova, Venice, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

93 Responses to Venice, My Muse: An Interview with JoAnn Locktov

  1. Great answers; great use of words.

  2. paula russell weiss says:

    Venice is a dram, and this is a great interview.

  3. Cheryl Morcos says:

    Just to be there is enough… the sights , the smell of delicious food… and the sheer beauty .. I am homesick!

  4. N Peterson says:

    I’ve enjoyed your images on Facebook. Venice changed the topography of my dreams. What I’d give to be there now!

  5. Patricia Droandi says:

    Upon return to Venezia, I shall be reliving my past life there… again! #Venice

  6. Judy Kiel says:

    Una bella foto, una bellissima città! Thank you for sharing the interview, and thank you for the series. ❤

  7. Julie Busa says:

    Love this interview. Love Venice. There’s no other place like it in the world.

  8. Venice is my Muse at the moment – I’ve been inspired to paint, and the subject is a palazzetto in Cannaregio my family and I stayed in 5 years ago.
    Mmm – Bellini was my go-to aperitivo until July, when the bartender at the bar in the hotel made a wonderful Aperol Spritz – sold. 🍹

  9. Pamela Mallett says:

    I need to be back in Venice especially now; we are in the midst of the wildfires in Sonoma County. So far our place has survived and we are more fortunate than so many.

  10. Jann Dougherty says:

    I’ll never forget this place; I dream of it often.

  11. Kate Burns says:

    Delighted..loved reading this…especially the restoration projects such as St Marks chapel…I so love Venezia…just returned from my only second magical visit…just to wander the laneways and take in the ancient essence…this time we stayed on peaceful Guidecca and I got to experience the Nebbia mists that shroud Venice in a cloak of mystery. I also stumbled upon a free beautiful exhibition by Stephen Chambers The Court of Redondo at the amazing Ca Dandolo on the Grand Canal in San Polo …the architecture is beautiful but more amazing were the ancient murano glass chandeliers by Alberto Striulli and stunning terrazzo floors …could spend months here wandering and enjoying the magic of Venezia revealing herself…discovered the fun of crossing the canal easily on the traghettos…could spend months here exploring but that will be another day ..always returning

  12. kaseyclark says:

    I must attend the Festa you mentioned….it is just a few days after my birthday! And ditto on the Aperol Spritz 🙂

  13. Jon Gerrard says:

    Good answers to a nice set of questions (although Cynar > Aperol). The Dream of Venice book is firmly on my list, it is gorgeous.

  14. I have visited Venice each year since 2006 and could never tire of this beautiful city. Every time there is something new to discover. I have a little book now called ‘Secret Venice’ which is great fun as it takes me to even more hidden beauty and history! I love the opportunities to take photographs, to try the local food, to visit old favourites. Thank you for your blog and facebook page it fills the gap until my next visit 🙂 Sue

  15. Tracey Bromage says:

    Venice is my home from home, if I could afford an apartment I would live there and live on fish from the fish market, I learned a little bit of Italian to be able to converse and love an aperol spritz but you don’t see them much in Venice, but the special espresso in the Doges Palace is something else, Venice managed to get the first snow in 50 years on my birthday March 10th imagine waking up to snow shovelling on your birthday in a hotel, Awesome

  16. Tracey Bromage says:

    Aperol spritz is my favourite but the special espresso from the doges Palace is something to behold, I adore Venice, it feels like home from home and best still they had heavy snow, the first I think in 50 years, on my birthday, what was the competition, do I get to win Venice, I’m in lol

  17. RD says:

    I love Venice! I would like to get the chance to win this beautiful book. Thanks for this opportunity.

  18. Lynda Aurilio says:

    My husband and I have been to Venice five times and love it. The best is when we rented an apartment and stayed for a week to really enjoy the city. We were just there in August. We’ll be back soon! It’s my happy place.

  19. Hilary luke says:

    What a totally delightful read about the most beautiful city in the world la Serenissima, my friend , I long to visit you again for the 10 th time , last time with my daughter who is also in love with Venice & has visited 3 times , It’s hard to describe how Venice makes you feel , in love with it I guess , The art , architecture, grand canal , lagoon , islands , bridges , campos , alleyways , getting lost , bars , great food , cafes , museums, music , churches , serenity , Prosecco of course & cicchetti I couldn’t leave those out & so much more , each time I visit I discover something different

  20. Sophia Psarra says:

    Great interview, great book! If I had money to buy a Palazzo that would be Palazzo Barbara ‘watching the sun on the stirred sea-water, flickering up through open windows, played over the painted subjects in the splendid ceilings’ of Tiepolo.

  21. Steve Gangsei says:

    Genius or cad? Cannot one person be both? A cad with money is a troublesome noble. Thoughts?

    • Definitely! But I find that many people will label Casanova as one or the other and dismiss his other qualities. By forcing someone to try to label C, I hope to spark the exact question you have raised! And in C’s case, he was not a noble and so was held to different standards. His monetary fortunes fluctuated so wildly, too, that he couldn’t always rely on money to get him out of difficult situations. He seemed to be skilled at social interactions, though, which sometimes saved him from his caddish behavior.

    • Good call. Yes, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive characteristics!

  22. Mirta Silvana Domínguez says:

    Amo Venezia. Su cultura, su arquitectura, sus rincones mágicos, sus callejuelas. Me encantaría volver.

  23. Kate Burns says:

    How I’d so love ❤️ this book…Venice is so so magical…it’s my first and only stop when flying to Europe from Australia…I cannot go past this beauty…she’s entrancing, enthralling,mysterious.
    I love just wandering and discovering new places..this last a few weeks ago I got to enjoy the mists rolling in over the lagoon…we stayed on the Guidecca and I got to experience local hospitality…
    bellisimo 💕🌺

  24. Amber Terry says:

    These photos are absolutely gorgeous…thank you for the chance to win 🙂

    (Liked and shared this post on Facebook)


  25. Susan Marando says:

    My words will never explain how wonderful and important this article is. You brought me to each place and person described and quickly I felt I was there . It has always been my dream to visit Venice and immerse myself in the culture, architecture and people both present and past- this helped fulfill that dream until I can actually be there! Thank you!

  26. Robert Toth says:

    Beautiful thoughts of a mysterious, enchanting, ancient City-State that continues to exude, excite and enchant.

  27. Stephen P Williams says:

    Palazzo Venier dei Leoni gets lots of sunlight, it’s airy and open. I can see why you would pick that. I would pick something older, more gothic, hemmed in by walls and narrow canals.

  28. Meg says:

    I have enjoyed your books as they are a lovely reminder of all of the time I was privileged to spend in Venice.

  29. Robert Toth says:

    Casanova WAS sly yet, I’d prefer a dinner with Domenico Monegario….. to ask why? and how?

  30. Gavin smith says:

    That sums up my feelings on the city, it’s not a destination it’s a state of mind,

  31. C G Estabrook says:

    An interesting interview, both about JoAnn personally and what Venice suggests on how we should live together.

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