This month you’ll meet another person fascinated with both Venice and Casanova. Andrea Perego is a Berlin-based Italo-Australian journalist and writer. He lived in Sydney where he worked as a broadcaster journalist for SBS Radio, and in Venice, where he earned his diploma in Archival Studies, Palaeography, and Diplomatics at the Archivio di Stato. Andrea and I actually share the same publisher in Venice: Supernova Edizioni. With Supernova, he has published the novel The Laws of Time, set in 1730 Venice, Casanova in Berlin, from Giacomo Casanova’s original manuscript, in four languages (French, Italian, English, and German), and the short story collection Red Moons and Cornflowers. He is now working on projects in Venice and Berlin.
How has Venice seduced you?
I had begun writing the novel The Laws of Time when I was living in Sydney, working as a journalist. Then I decided to come back to Europe. I chose Venice for two reasons. First, of course, was to write the novel and to be where it takes place. Second, because I always felt attracted and rejected by Venice, depending on Venice’s moods, not mine. I wanted to understand why that happened, and how that seduction and rejection could live together and be part of the same feeling of love.
That’s how I got trapped.
What do you never fail to do in Venice?
Smell the sea, the lagoon, the calli, look for rats (I find them funny and sweet), visit my friends and a couple of museums, sit al mercato, on the Grand Canal, on a pier, for a spritz.
What is your Venice soundtrack?
“Ohè… Ohè, pope…” Ah, I’m joking. That’s what the gondoliers say when they row around a corner. It’s probably, as for many others, the not-so-silent-silence, the lapping water, chirping birds, distant chatter, mixed with the smell of wet stone and the canals. “The gentle swash on the shores and the embankments, almost inaudible, had the remote sound of monotonous immobility, of time suspended between night and early morning.” (The Laws of Time). And the bells. They are so distinctive. A friend of mine can recognize all the different bell towers from the sounds of their bells.
Walk or take a boat?
It depends how tired I am. Mostly I walk, but when I have to cross the Grand Canal I far prefer the gondola-traghetto.
Which church or campo best epitomizes you? Please explain.
Venice epitomizes only itself.
Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?
I’m not going to be popular here. I’m not into festivals, far too many people and too loud. I’ve seen them all: Salute, Regata storica, Carnevale, Redentore… Maybe Salute is still quite real and November is wonderful. But, again, not really my cup of tea.
Spritz or Bellini?
Do I have to choose? There’s a time for a Spritz and a time for a Bellini. Why discriminate?
What do you always tell friends to do when they visit the city?
I suggest they should visit Palazzo Mocenigo, Ca’ Pesaro, and Ca’ Rezzonico. They are great museums, a little off the beaten track, and allow you to explore different areas of the city. Piazza San Marco and that area is a must, of course, but if you want to have a more personal experience of Venice, go between midnight and 6 am. You will avoid the crush of people. Try not to take pictures. It’s all about what you feel, not just what you see. Try to take memories, not photos.
If you could have dinner with any Venetian, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would dinner be?
There are a few choices here. It could be Caterina Cornaro, the “queen of Cyprus,” to see what her court near Asolo was like and have dinner with her friends, Pietro Bembo and so on. But I think I’d be more attracted by some composer or some painter, just to see how they worked, to observe how they wrote their music, what paper they used, what ink, their creative process, or how they painted, where they painted, what their studio was like, how they mixed their colours. That does it for me. One name above all? I think Giorgione. He was born in Castelfranco, in the Venetian mainland, but he lived and worked in Venice. Finally I would find out something more about his magnificent, mesmerizing portraits. And about the actual dinner? Anywhere. I’d let him decide and take me to some taverna near his studio. Menu: a meat dish and red wine. I want to try something cooked on the fire, see how they did it, and taste the wine of the 1500s.
Casanova: genius or cad?
A genial cad. One does not exclude the other, like it or not. Many liked him, many others didn’t.
What would you do with $30,000 U.S. to spend in Venice?
I’d rent a palace for a night, for a great dinner. I’d have some cooks preparing dishes from the 1700s, meat, fish, cakes, and biscuits. Just for the pleasure of trying those recipes. I’d pay the students from the Conservatorio to have music in every room, and I would leave the doors open for everyone coming and going, for all the Venetians, and not only. I’d invite students, homeless people, friends. With boats available and ready outside the door to go… wherever.
If money were no object, which palazzo would you buy?
This is a difficult one, there are so many. Maybe Palazzo Mocenigo on the Grand Canal, the first floor where Byron lived. Or Palazzo Polignac, one the most elegant Renaissance buildings. Third option: Palazzo Donà dalle Rose at Fondamente Nove. Last but not least, Ca’ Dario, it’s not opulent but cosy and I like its garden. And I’m not superstitious.
Which gelato flavor are you?
Amarena (black cherry).
How can readers learn more about you and your creative pursuits?
Please see my Facebook page:
There’s also a page about The Laws of Time. The whole world of the novel is there: pictures, paintings, and everything about Venice in 1730, how people dressed, what they used, etc. It’s a great site for whoever likes Venice:
And, of course, read The Laws of Time.