It is not possible to visit Venice at the moment, but nobody forbids us to bring the city and its wonders directly to your home. Sometimes all it takes is a book to immerse yourself in extraordinary scenarios, to detach yourself a little from the current reality, to ease the tension and travel with your mind and imagination. I have selected for you some of the best books, by Venetian or adopted authors, who have been able to tell their city as only the eyes of those who know it perfectly can do: history texts and unusual guides, to enter the meanders of the Serenissima, staying comfortably on the sofa at home.
Ready to turn the pages of these extraordinary stories?
La Repubblica del Leone by Alvise Zorzi
The true history of Venice is written in the pages of Alvise Zorzi's La Repubblica del Leone (Lion's Republic), a true cornerstone of the genre. A historical story that manages, however, not to be too specialized, thanks to Zorzi's wise writing that is able to reach everyone. The narrative parable starts from that distant 25th March 421, the legendary date of the foundation of the city, until 17th October 1797, when the treaty of Campoformio put an end to the splendour of the Serenissima: in the middle a story sometimes nebulous, mirroring certain times narrated, sometimes exhilarating as the legendary periods of the conquests in the East. Zorzi's words perfectly outline the political line that is at the basis of the exponential growth of the Venetian Republic, extremely efficient and well prepared, which gave rise to a myth that then grew relentlessly, becoming one of the most powerful and culturally lively centres in Europe.
Alvise Zorzi was one of the most famous journalists of our time: a Venetian doc, he was also director of the Venice Film Festival of the Biennale di Venezia in the immediate post-war period and obviously a writer. Among his other works dedicated to Venice, I would like to remind you: His Serenity Venice, One Thousand Years of Good Government (1971), A City, a Republic, an Empire (1980), Light of Venice (1988), Venetian Palaces (1989), Grand Canal (1991), Austrian Venice (2000), Venice Disappeared (2001), Venice Rediscovered (2005) and many others... all to read!
To immerse yourself in a thousand years of history of the Serenissima.
Venezia quotidiana by Carla Coco
In her Venezia quotidiana (Daily Venice), Carla Coco drops the veil of the usual stereotypes linked to the city to lead us into the truest and most authentic Venetian reality, between stories of yesterday and today, which give voice to the calli and the fields, the stones, the kitchens of the houses. A premise and 12 chapters that take us to every corner of the city, to tell us historical anecdotes, fundamental to understand the reality of our times: a tale of time but timeless, in which everyday life becomes the common thread that links the various eras. The story is accompanied by maps of the areas involved in the narration, a splendid selection of period photos and prints, but also recipes and in-depth analysis of facts and characters.
Carla Coco is Venetian by adoption: Sicilian by origin, she came to Venice in adolescence to study languages at the University of Cà Foscari. Her boundless love for the city immerses her in deep studies that lead to the writing of 22 books, among whose pages the author tells the city through history, gastronomy, spices: among the most famous are Venezia Levantina (1993) and Venezia in cucina (2009).
An authentic guide, a true story.
Venezia è un pesce by Tiziano Scarpa
Venezia è un pesce (Venice is a fish) is a guide but absolutely unusual. Yes, because Tiziano Scarpa fully rejects the idea of visiting the city with guides and maps, preferring an itinerary that "is entitled: a random one. Subtitle: aimlessly", the ones that make you wander around deliberately, because "getting lost is the only place worth going". And this is how the author becomes an accompanist, a spiritual Cicero, leading us through the city in an unusual and totally singular way: listening to the organs of body and soul. Then the paths follow the feet, legs, heart, hands, face, ears, mouth, nose, eyes, "because Venice, even before an urban anomaly, is an unusual way to visit the world, it is the existence reinvented from top to bottom, it is a laborious and delicate whim of being". It is impossible to resist this completely bizarre way of living the city. The book is completed with an appendix that presents the best literature on Venice told by the great authors: like the excerpts of Venice by Guy de Maupassant, of Riaddormentarsi a Venezia by Diogo Mainardi.
Tiziano Scarpa is one of the most famous and appreciated novelists of our country: born in Venice, in his professional life he was divided between novels, short stories and poetic works. In 2009 his work Stabat Mater won the prestigious Premio Strega, one of the most important and sought-after awards in Italian literature.
A way to discover the unusual and bodily city.....
Corto Sconto by Hugo Pratt
In Corto Sconto, Hugo Pratt leads us in an entirely unique way to his beloved Venice, which he has never made a mystery of considering the centre of the world. Cicero is Corto Maltese, that imaginary gentleman sailor born from his pencil and his extraordinary creativity. A guide that branches off into 7 specific itineraries: the Door of adventure, the Door of the sea, the Door of the East, the Door of gold, the Door of love, the Door of the heart, the Door of travel. A journey between famous and emblematic places and those "discounts" of the lesser known and certainly more authentic Venice, between narration of legends and mythical stories, but also between advice on places to visit, the right places to have dinner or an aperitif. But the book is also an emotional walk in places to live simply with the heart and soul, completely detached from the tourist and chaotic itineraries, so loved by Corto and Hugo. The book is completed with useful maps showing the 7 itineraries, a list of useful addresses of various places and more than 500 drawings by Pratt himself, which you can have fun coloring in moments of relaxation, as I did! The title, Corto Sconto, plays a lot with the typical Venetian expression "corte sconta", which usually indicates the hidden courts far from the prying eyes of strangers.
Hugo Pratt was a cartoonist, illustrator and writer. He was born in Rimini to a Venetian family, with whom he soon moved to the lagoon city. But he travelled a great deal around the globe, between Europe and the new world, never abandoning his extraordinary ability to draw the stories he told, managing to explore the vast physical and mental universe of man. Corto Maltese is undoubtedly the most famous of his characters.
A wonderful journey in the most hidden Venice, following in Corto's footsteps.
Forse non tutti sanno che a Venezia... by Alberto Toso Fei
Are you looking for curiosities and strange facts, stories of mysteries and historical anecdotes between legend and reality that let you discover aspects of an unusual Venice? Here, the book by Alberto Toso Fei, Forse non tutti sanno che a Venezia... (Maybe not everyone knows that in Venice...) it's the right thing for you! The author in the pages of the book takes us on a narrative journey through the lesser known things of Venice, revealing hidden and unusual faces, telling us unpublished stories and curious facts. A light and funny, unusual narrative parable that, I bet, will often make you exclaim "but you think!". But it couldn't be otherwise, because she, Venice is used to amaze us and leave us speechless. And so you will discover that it is in Venice that the word "hello" was born, that the first woman to graduate in the world is Venetian, that the Old Ghetto is newer than the New Ghetto. But I don't want to tell you any more...
Alberto Toso Fei is an Italian writer and journalist, Venetian doc, descended from one of the most famous and ancient family of master glassmakers of Murano. He is considered one of the most authoritative experts on the history of Venice. Among his most famous works Misteri di Venezia (2011), a journey into the most disturbing aspects of the Serenissima.
A light and funny reading to immerse yourself in the most unusual aspects of Venice!
Reading these books, also available in digital versions, gives you the chance to get to know Venice while sitting on the sofa at home. But you could take notes, mark places and places to discover when you can return to travel!