Fans of Fans

It’s the 18th century in Venice. You are fortunate enough to call on friends in drawing rooms like this:IMG_8635

Along with your stylish outfit, if you are a woman, you’d also accessorize with a fan. Ca’ Mocenigo displays such drawing rooms, dresses, robes, waistcoats, shoes, perfumes, and fans as would have graced noble Venetians. If you haven’t visited this lesser-known museum, here’s a slideshow of some of the fans to give you a taste of what you can see there.

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As you can see from the following two Venetian paintings, women often carried fans to cool themselves in stuffy salons, but also to titillate: What is behind that fan that she so artfully flutters in front of her face? How much more alluring those chocolatey eyes when they’re only glimpsed momentarily.


The Michiel Family portrait by Longhi


Playing cards at the ridotto

I had never thought much about fans in the context of Venetian history before this visit, but then I spent some very pleasant hours in this museum enjoying the fans’ many styles and patterns. See details about the museum and how to visit it in Venice: Palazzo Mocenigo

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Redefining Beauty Videos: Hermonia Vivarini

navicella copy

A replica navicella based on Hermonia Vivarini’s patented design

Though women worked in the glass bead industry of Murano, few women made glassware. Hermonia Vivarini is a rare exception. Check out this video to hear a bit more about her life:

Redefining Beauty: Hermonia Vivarini

The day I filmed the last video posted on this blog, where I crouched in the churchyard during a wind storm, is the same day I filmed this video about Vivarini, so I apologize for the wind noise! Thanks to the young couple who held the camera for me.

The Museo del Vetro on Murano supposedly has two samples of this navicella, but I’ve had the poor luck to not see either one. Three years ago, the museum was being renovated, so many glass objects were in storage. When I returned a year later, the bright new rooms were filled with dozens of glass plates, goblets, jars, and other vessels–but no navicella. Hopefully one day I’ll get to see one!

Here are a few pieces that show embellishments and styling similar to Hermonia Vivarini’s boat-shaped pitcher.


Some tools of the glassmaker’s trade.

It took a lot of sleuthing to find out anything about Hermonia Vivarini’s life. Thank you to Patricia Fortini Brown for pointing me in the right direction and sharing her research. If you wish to read more about Vivarini, I have a chapter on her and Marietta Barovier in my book A Beautiful Woman in Venice, available here:

A Beautiful Woman in Venice

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Sorpresa e Gratitudine

As many of you may know, Michelle Lovric has written numerous books set in Venice, including Carnevale and The Floating Book. She is also part of a wonderful blog with contributions from a number of women writers and historians (see the link below). Michelle recently interview Gregory Dowling, author of The Four Horsemen, the second in his Alvise Marangon series of mysteries set in 18th century Venice. Here’s the whole post, for your reading pleasure:

The History Girls Blogspot

Imagine my surprise and gratitude when I saw that Gregory had mentioned me in the interview!

<<From Michelle Lovric: One of your characters is a sexually rapacious noblewoman. I have heard it said that the 18th century was the most feminine of times – when women enjoyed more equality, freedom and power than at other periods. Is your Isabella Venier a metaphor for Venice of the 18th Century?

From Gregory Dowling: Well, I don’t like to think of my characters purely in terms of metaphors or symbols. I hope she comes across first of all as a living, breathing person. Of course, there had been women of influence and prestige before the 18th century (Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franco, Sarra Copia Sulam, to name just a few – and anyone who is interested should get hold of Kathleen Ann Gonzalez’s book A Beautiful Woman in Venice), but probably it did become easier for women, at least of a certain rank, to play a public role in the 18th century – and not only in Venice, of course.>>



Venetian women know how to have a good time

Full disclosure: I used some of Gregory’s research for my own books Seductive Venice and A Beautiful Woman in Venice. He’s a font of knowledge as well as a wonderful, generous person! We’ve had the pleasure of meeting up in Venice.


My meet up with Gregory a couple years ago, as he shows off the galley proofs for his book Ascension.

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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!)



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Celebrating Cinquecento

No, not the century, but my 500th blog post!

Raise your spritz in a toast!

I started this blog in April 2012, and today you are reading my five hundredth posting. Should I name the 500 things I most love about Venice? The 500 most interesting Venetians? What was happening 500 years ago in Venice? Or 500 ways Casanova tried to seduce women?

Instead, I decided to share facts about YOU, my lovely readers, who keep me going. I could blather on here about my love for Venice, fun gondolier stories, or fascinating Casanova facts, but hey, that’s what I do every day! So today I will post facts about you.

At the time of this writing, 22,348 people have visited this site, racking up 49,585 views. I know, in the big scheme of modern social media, those numbers are pretty small. Kim Kardashian would laugh at my excitement. But I am not Kim Kardashian. I am thrilled by these numbers and humbled that so many people would bother to look at, and maybe even actually read, my posts.

You come from all over the world. I’m in the United States, so it’s little surprise that most of my views are from here. But big thanks go out to folks in Italy for their many views, and my readers across the pond in Great Britain. Apparently most of Belgium is checking out SeductiveVenice, followed by Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. And though they don’t come up on the analytics, I sometimes see hits from India, Greece, Turkey, Lithuania, Russia, Brazil, Isle of Man, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Iceland, Algeria, Pakistan, and a whole host of other countries I want to visit.

In the month of May 2012, only 131 people looked at my blog. But in July 2014 I cleared 1,000 views for the first time, and July, August, and September of this year have all topped that, with August reaching 1.8k views. Monday is the most popular day and 12 p.m. the most popular time to check out the site. My day with the most views ever was August 1, 2017.

A door people apparently just want to sneak into

What are people reading? The most popular blog posts by far have been “Sneaking into Casanova’s House” on January 17, 2013 (with a reprise on March 31, 2014) and “Casanova’s Bambini” on October 28, 2012. Go back and check them out if you missed them the first time. But the search term that garnered the most looks was “black buttocks.” Umm, I don’t remember what that was about….I suppose I should look it up. What was I thinking? I guess you’ll have to read the June 2, 2013 post to find out.

White buttocks, not black.

Looking for black buttocks.

No black buttocks here.

…but I spy a black buttocks here….

Some of you are clicking through to other sites and writers such as becomingitalianwordbyword.type,,, and Or you’re apparently checking out my other websites or YouTube channel or visiting to buy my ebook. Thanks! This blog is but one small member of a huge community of Venetophiles and Casanovists. It’s been my great pleasure to connect with so many of you.

Huge kudos and thanks go to SuperCommenter Nancy, who has commented 270 times! She is followed by Yvonne, Mr. DrinkWineToday, Albert, Cecelia, and Liz at DreamDiscoverItalia. Jealous of them for getting mentioned here? Post more comments and you’ll be included in the next shout-out! Thank you to all who comment, letting me know that someone exists out there. Keep ’em coming!

Or grazie, merci, tak, ahsante sana, danke, mahalo, arigato, dhanyavaad, and efharisto.


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Random Journal Entry #7

Another in the continuing series of random writings I pull from old journals. This is kind of a weird topic, but I bet many of you have experienced the zanzare

If you were a mosquito, wouldn’t you want to hang out here?

Aug. 6

I’m being eaten alive by bugs. I spent a restless last night waking every time I heard a fly buzz near me, though what I really fear are the mosquitos or whatever monster has bitten me so many times. The bite on my shoulder is a series of little bumps, while the one on my left leg is as big as a welt. Neither has diminished in size or itchiness since Saturday morning when I discovered them. Now I have two on my face—my right cheek and eyebrow—and I’m afraid I’ll become a monster when they grow to match the size of the others.

Gondolas looking ominous and threatening. At least they don’t bite.

I just had pizza and caffe freddo at a cafe on the Rio Tera d’ Leonardo. I was looking for the Cafe Costarica recommended in the Rough Guide, but I couldn’t find it. Many of the stores, bars, and cafes don’t seem to have names anywhere. Last night I tried to find a trattoria near Ca’d’Oca, also listed in the Rough Guide, but to no avail. I’m starting to think the Rough Guide is poorly written or else I’m stupid, or maybe Venice is just beyond confusing.

The Torrefazione Caffe Costarica (photos from their Facebook page)

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A Peek into the Past


A vaporetto from bygone days

A reader recently shared this link from the Telegraph. Check out the Venice of a hundred plus years ago. Some are black and white only, while others are hand tinted.

21 Photos of Early Venice

I’m trying to make sense of this one: the Church of San Moise. I know that bridge very well and have crossed it hundreds of times. The building right up against it seems too close, or does it only appear that way because of the awnings? Maybe it’s something about the angle that makes the campo in front of the church appear too tiny.


But this is my favorite, particularly since I recently met Marisa Convento and have developed a keener interest in Venetian bead stringers, the impirarese. It’s hard to see the details, but it appears that the women have the shallow, shovel-shaped wooden trays on their laps that were filled with beads to be strung. As Marisa taught me, this was usually women’s work done in the campi near their homes. If these women are not stringing beads, then what else do you think they’re doing? It’s not making lace because they don’t have the tombola on their laps….


These are only three of 21 photos. Enjoy the rest as you travel back in time today!

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