A Trip to Venice II: Literary Highlights

Following from my previous post where I talked about Venice’s cultural highlights, below is the overview of my literary exploration of Venice.

I. Studium Bookshop

This stylish bookshop, not far from St Mark’s Square, exceeded my expectations. It is packed with beautiful fiction and non-fiction books on many subjects, from travel guides and children’s fiction to Italian cook-books and illustrated marvels on Japanese art. There are also sections devoted to English, French and Spanish books, and the staff is very friendly. It is here that I bought my now-much-cherished Spanish-language edition of Italian classic The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni, and, as you can see from the photographs below, I was very impressed by this bookstore’s Corto Maltese section. Corto Maltese is a series of comic books by Hugo Pratt that talks about adventures of sailor Corto Maltese in the first and second decade of the twentieth century. One of those is titled Corto Maltese: Fable of Venice, and people also recommended to me the book The Secret Venice of Corto Maltese: Fantastic and Hidden Itineraries.

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A Trip to Venice I: Cultural Highlights

Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” Truman Capote

This August I went to Venice and Venetian Riviera for my holidays, and below I am sharing some of the cultural highlights from my trip.

I. Piazza San Marco

I started my excursion with the Piazza San Marco, probably the world’s most famous town square, bordered by the Doge’s Palace and Basilica San Marco. The tall bell tower is the Campanile, constructed in 1912, since the original collapsed in 1902. The famous Café Florian (which some say is the most expensive café in the world) can also be found on this square, once being a host to a diverse literary clientele, including Stendhal, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Thomas Moore, Charles Dickens and Henry James.

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The Whimsical Art of Giovanni Boldini

Giovanni Boldini was a well-known Italian artist born in Ferrara, Italy in 1842. He lived most of his life in Paris, France, where he mostly painted commissioned portraits of “celebrities” and socialites. Once friend of Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent, he began his career as one of the artists in a group Macchiaioli, that challenged traditional styles in painting, but soon developed his own style that could be very loosely described as being somewhere between the Impressionists and Realists. Boldini was known for using rapid, loose, flowing, sweeping or swirling brushstrokes, as well as rich colours, that gave his paintings a peculiar quality. For this technique, he was named the “Master of Swish”. Below are six of his paintings that exemplify his style.

I. Les Parisiennes [1873]; II. La Pianista [1912]

La Pianista
Les Parisiennes
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5 “The Last Supper” Paintings

In past centuries, many artists have depicted the Last Supper scene found in the Gospels. This is a scene where Jesus shares a meal with his Apostles before his crucifixion, making his prophetic announcement. It is very easy to see why it is one of many favourite Biblical scenes to depict. There is a special dynamism to this scene since the Apostles can be presented having their own personalities, and their interaction with each other, their reaction to Jesus’s words, as well as a sense of foreboding, can give a painting a special aura/interest. The interesting thing for many when looking at these paintings is how Judas “The Traitor” is depicted in this scene, and most artists paid special attention to ensure that he stands out from the scene. Below are five “The Last Supper” paintings which I personally find particularly interesting (they are not necessarily the most famous ones).


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