Many, many moons ago, I got an email asking if I’d like to contribute to a book about Venice. The canal city is one of my favorite places on the planet, so I readily agreed. I submitted a short piece to accompany one of the many gorgeous Venice photos, and that was that.
To be honest, I sort of forgot about it for awhile. All those years that I was busy doing other things, however, the book was being lovingly nurtured by editor JoAnn Locktov – and I’m happy to say it’s finally reached its conclusion. The book, Dream of Venice, is nearing its release date. JoAnn recently sent me a PDF of the whole thing, so I could get a preview of it, which made me even more excited to have a copy in my hands. I’m humbled to see my words included in a book that also features odes to Venice by Woody Allen, Julie Christie, Marcella Hazan, Linus Roache, and Erica Jong, as well as a foreward by Frances Mayes.
(I say “humbled,” but the other reaction is that I kind of squealed with fangirl glee when I saw the other names on the list. It’s pretty stellar company, I think you’ll agree.)
The glue binding everything together (in addition to a mutual love of a surreal city) is the exquisite photography of Charles Christopher, which appears throughout. Each piece of text is paired with a photograph. I remember when JoAnn first asked me to be involved, the first two photographs I chose had already been selected by other authors – so I found that I had the same (excellent) taste as Marcella Hazan and Julie Christie, as it happens. In the end, I love the image that’s paired with my words, both for the ghost-like figure walking down the street and for the terra cotta-colored building.
The book is available for pre-order on Amazon right now – it’ll be released officially next month, on December 5th. And stay tuned, folks, because I may just have a little surprise for you readers coming up, in which one of you could be the lucky winner of your very own copy of Dream of Venice. You’ll find out details early if you’re subscribed to the Italy Explained newsletter (you can subscribe right here on this page – just scroll up and look at the right-hand column).
Thanks again to JoAnn for inviting me to be part of this project, and for giving me permission to share Charles’ lovely Venice photo here. Below, you’ll find the text I contributed to the book. Believe me when I say that this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you love Venice, you’ll love this book.
A famously romantic city, Venice is also notoriously hard to love. Complaints about expensive hotels, bad food, smelly canals, and cruise-ship crowds are not entirely unwarranted. Yet Venice remains alluring – she is the vixen on another man’s arm winking at you from across the room, the word at the tip of your tongue that you can’t quite remember.
Major streets give way to alleys not much wider than your arm span, the shadows simultaneously thrill and terrify. Suddenly, a darkened calle is fraught with sexual energy and potential danger – and you find you like it. You blame your increased heart rate on the grappa, but you know better.
Venice is incapable of fidelity, so there’s no use crying when your affections aren’t returned. Should you need that kind of validation, stick to the Sienas and Positanos of the world. Expect no more of Venice than she’s willing to offer and you’ll never be disappointed.