Saturday, April 14, 2018

Venice

The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon via
I recently read Donna Leon's twenty-seventh novel in her Venetian Commissario Brunetti series.  The prose and the book's cover photograph brought me back to Venice. I began reading Donna Leon's Venetian mysteries on vacation visit to Venice years ago. The book was deeply satisfying as all of her novels are for me. Commissario Brunetti investigates crimes that often question what is wrong and right. The characters are compelling, we want to follow them from book to book. Then there is that Venice setting! We have yet to return, but our delayed Spring has me dreaming of vacation.
Donna Leon's characters inhabit Venice as locals do, traveling mostly by foot and vaporetto. We landed at Marco Polo and went directly to a water taxi stand. With jet lagged, sleep glazed eyes we sailed by yacht directly to our Venice hotel doorstep. 
Our first breakfast at the Danieli.
In Leon's books, the main character, Commisario Brunetti, is married to a professor who is also the daughter of an old Venice family. Old translating to,inhabiting a family Palazzo. The Hotel Danieli is composed of three buildings, one a 14th century palace or palazzo. In Leon's novels the lust for venetian property inspires fraud and sometimes murder. I can certainly understand this urge while admiring the beautiful atmosphere of the Danieli. The novels also describe the complexity of life in Venice; its residents inhabitants of both an historic ancient seaport and modern tourist destination.
During our visit, we walked and ogled all of the beautiful classic buildings and bridges. We visited Peggy Guggenheim's Palazzo, now a museum, and imagined what it must have been like to live there. 
Our visit was packed with amazing experiences, one I especially cherish was an evening of Musica a Palazzo, a studio performance of La Traviata presented in the rooms of a Palazzo. The evening began mysteriously, like a scene from a novel. We dined, unfashionably early, before the performance. While sitting in the sparsely occupied trattoria, I overheard a conversation at a table nearby. A supposed covert deal was apparently under way. Snippet overheard, "We'll need night vision goggles".....  English was spoken. Did they think only Italian speakers were sitting nearby and no one would overhear? Someone didn't do their, Spy 101 Compliance Training. After dinner, we walked to the opera performance through dark winding narrow Venetian streets. I kept glancing over my shoulder. What if they knew I had overheard? That phrase, "If I tell you, I'll have to kill you" floated through my brain. We arrived at the Palazzo unscathed, to an evening of glorious music performed in the intimate surroundings of 15th century palace. La Traviata had its premier in Venice in 1853. Our performance began in a candle lit salon with a raven haired Violetta singing in our midst, champagne glass in hand. As she passed by in a fitted red gown, she touched Hugh on the shoulder, establishing La Traviata as Hugh's favorite opera for life. 
Musica a Palazzo via
Carnival accoutrements are everywhere
I loved seeing this couple dressed in carnival finery. Oh to have a ball to attend, to wear such a gown.
Of course we had to have lunch at Caffé Florian on St. Mark's Place. Caffé Florian "the oldest coffee house in the world" had been in operation since 1720. Since it was February with cool and sometimes wet, Aqua Alta days, there were no tables set up outside, but plenty of room indoors for a cozy meal. 
It did not disappoint.
Piazza St Mark's
A postbox for anonymous denunciations at the Doge's Palace
"Secret denunciations against anyone who will conceal favors and services or will collude to hide the true revenue from them." via
When we visited renovation was being done on the outside masonry of the Palazzo Ducale. The Bridge of Sighs was framed by banners covering the construction scaffolding. The bridge is so named because you pass over it from the Palace interrogation rooms to the Prison.
Much of Venice is faded grandeur, none more so than the gondola, with its weather beaten plush. A sail in one is a must nonetheless. 
If you haven't been, YES, put it on your bucket list.


3 comments:

  1. Our visit was in 2008..very different visit than yours..yet unforgettable.To me..a very romantic city.I saw beauty..sadness..the lights alone on the canals..at night..
    Lovely ..thank you for taking us along:) Have you read Marlena Di Blasio's books?A Thousand Days In Venice?:)I read a book re murders in Venice ..once home..I forget the title..but I was glad I was home..It was good..:)

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    1. Monique, I know what you mean about the sadness... a sense of what is lost perhaps... Since it was February we weren't beset with the crowds of visitors.

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  2. I love your visit to Italy -- isn't it fun to have all these wonderful memories? I do love Donna Leon. She makes me want to see Italy in person -- you add to that dream!

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