The classic book of the 20th century on Venice and its history,
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This review is from: Venice (Paperback)
I digested this wonderfully written and brilliantly researched book on a recent trip to Venice. Indeed, reading Jan Morris's evocative passages on Venetian history, legends and myths in Campo Santa Margherita, Piazza San Marco and Campo San Polo cafes really brought the city to life for me in ways that standard travel guides could never achieve.
The book's early chapters unravel the Venetians as people, with wry observations about their character traits and how distinctive they are from other Northern Italians. It also sets out the city's glorious and colourful history where Morris explains how Venice was for a long time the cultural and religious bridge between West and East and played an important role in various historical epochs like the Crusades, the Byzantine Empire, the Renaissance and pan European political and religious struggles of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The book is filled with passages of purple prose describing ordinary Venetian life, its canals and gondolas and iconic locations, and is well illustrated with quotes and reportage from famous writers, artists and statesmen who at one time or other have fallen under Venice's spell.
The later chapters are equally fascinating, covering the history, society and environment of the other small communities located around the lagoon like Murano, Torcello etc.
The book was a pleasure to read, just as Venice was an absolute joy to visit.