As the latest in the series of interviews, “Venice, My Muse” this month talks to Karen Koppett, a water conservation specialist, zombie aficionado, and traveler. I’ve known Karen since high school, and we’ve been to Venice together four times over the last 20 years–summer, Carnevale, with friends, for Biennale, on the beach, other islands, for festivals, in museums and churches, to try new foods or drinks–in other words, enjoying many things Venice has to offer in a variety of ways. Karen is an avid runner who enjoys early mornings in Venice, a scene I’m not usually up to join her for! Check out her responses and perspectives.
How has Venice seduced you?
Venice is a miracle and nothing else on earth is like her. First, she is beautiful–from her architecture to her art to her water to her traditions. Then you stop to consider how it’s possible that this magnificent city is sitting in a lagoon. It still seems like a miracle to me that she’s there at all. All the history, all the beauty, all the culture–it’s magic.
And, also like magic, Venice will someday–maybe soon–vanish. Because of climate change, the city that has stood in the lagoon may be underwater with rising ocean water within one hundred years. Venice’s beauty is a tragic one:
Because Venice’s time is limited, that makes her even more precious.
What do you never fail to do in Venice?
I love waking up really early and going on a run, before the tourists are up and about. Many parts of the city are mine and mine alone–or I’m sharing them with the city workers. I can get a quick coffee with the locals and then I’m off to explore a neighborhood on a run–heaven.
What is your Venice soundtrack?
Before I leave for Venice, I load up music in my iPod so that I had my soundtrack for running or walking. Somehow, the right music can turn an early morning run in Venice into a movie in which I’m starring (okay, there isn’t much plot in my movie but the cinematography is amazing).
Walk or take a boat?
Both! I love walking in Venice – it’s the most magical place on earth to walk. If you are a fan of art and architecture, this is the city to see on foot. However, you also need to see it by boat. Seeing the city at night, by boat, is like nothing else. And, of course, seeing it via gondola is the quintessential Venetian experience. I like gondola rides on the less popular routes, during less popular times of the year, when it’s possible to quietly glide past buildings and let the ride take you.
Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?
I’ve been to La Festa del Redentore twice now and love it. A festival to celebrate the end of the Black Plague? A floating bridge? Fireworks? Gondola races? Sign me up!
Spritz or Bellini?
Spritz! I’ve come to love it, especially in the summer. Cin cin!!
What do you do when you’re alone in Venice?
Along with running in the morning, I can happily spend an afternoon alone poking around shops and exploring museums and churches.
What do you always tell friends to do when they visit the city?
When my husband and I visited a few summers ago, we took a bottle of wine, a picnic, and a portable speaker and found a small, private place to sit down next to a canal for a few hours at night. It was magical, one of the best nights of my life. People on boats drifted by (we raised our glasses to them each time), the buildings reflected off the water, and it felt like we time traveled back a few hundred years.
One place slightly off the beaten path I suggest is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco because the Tintoretto paintings are beyond gorgeous.
What would you do with $30,000 U.S. to spend in Venice?
At first, I thought “Rent an apartment for xxx months!” but then I thought, since this is pretend money, maybe I’ll donate it to one of the charities to save Venice. She deserves it.
If money were no object, which palazzo would you buy?
Excellent question! I simply do not know. But it sure would be fun to go around with a real estate agent to view the ones that are for sale.
Another way to look inside a palazzo that is usually closed to the public is to attend Biennale. They open up palazzo for art displays and often the building is even better than the artwork. In 2015, we went to a palazzo that hosted a display by the country of Kazakhstan (wish I could remember the name of the palazzo) and, combined with the artwork, it was stunning.
How can readers learn more about you and your creative pursuits? (This is where I can include your website, blog address, books, etc.).
When I’m not thinking about water conservation in Santa Clara Valley, California, you can find me podcasting about zombies on The Walking Dead ‘Cast: