Destination: Venice

Did Canaletto Paint Venice as Tourists Wanted to See It?

The Economist’s Prospero blogger thinks so. In a recent post, he describes a new exhibit at London’s National Gallery, Canaletto and His Rivals, as “painted propaganda,” and argues that the Venice depicted in its paintings bears little resemblance to the real deal:

The sun always shines in Venice; the sky is always blue. This is how visitors like to remember that most beautiful island city. Not coincidentally, that is how Canaletto most often painted the place. His clients, after all, were Grand Tourists, many of them back home in dark English country houses, worrying about farm rents. They longed for the gorgeous, licentious place their memories turned into paradise.

(Via The Daily Dish)

World Travel Watch: Protests in France Turn Violent, Entry Fee in Venice and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Let Us Now Praise Tour Guides

Here's to the men and women willing to go off script

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Venice Faces Backlash Over ‘Grotesque’ Billboards

I don’t get it. Why would a city that’s banned shirtlessness, pushed back against souvenir vendors and fought a war against pigeons—all in the name of preserving the urban scenery—allow its most famous views to be obliterated by building-high billboards?

But that’s just what Venice has done, and the results are hideous. And the Mayor’s response to criticism over the ads? “If people want to see the building they should go home and look at a picture of it in a book.” Nice.

Photo You Must See: Santa and his Gondola

Photo You Must See: Santa and his Gondola REUTERS/STRINGER Italy

In Venice, a man dressed as Santa Claus distributes candy from a special Christmas gondola.

Jan Morris Reveals her Favorite Cities

She fields this question in the Guardian: What is her favorite of them all?

Dear God, what a question! To my mind cities are distillations of human life itself, in all its nuances, with all its contradictions and anomalies, changing from one year to another, changing with the weather, changing with history, changing with the state of the world, changing above all in one’s own personal responses. How can I have a favourite? Sometimes I prefer one city, sometimes another. Inconstancy governs my responses to cities—fidelity in personal matters, promiscuity in civic affairs.

Morris does have a ready answer, though, when asked about her least favorite city: Indianapolis. (Via @ben_coop)

Remaining Venetians Stage Mock Funeral for the City

Frustrated residents carried an empty coffin to the mayor’s office this weekend, in a mock funeral procession designed to highlight the city’s dwindling full-time population. Venetian officials responded by calling the funeral stunt “premature”—not the most forceful rebuttal I’ve ever heard, and none too comforting for those of us who’d like to see the city live for a long time yet.

‘Venice Doesn’t Smell’ and Other Things You Should Know

Over at WhyGo Italy, Jessica Spiegel offers some blunt myth-busting and advice about Venice. That infamously mediocre, overpriced food, for instance? It’s real but avoidable.

In Venice, Will Tourists Put up With the Advertising ‘Bombardment’?

In Venice, Will Tourists Put up With the Advertising ‘Bombardment’? Photo by linz ellinas via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by linz ellinas via Flickr (Creative Commons)

As Judith Martin writes, “Venice has always been frankly and happily commercial.” But it’s also taken pride in its beauty. Now that Venice is in a bad place financially, it’s turning more and more to commercial advertising that resides on and around the iconic places we all want to see when we visit. Martin’s piece in the Financial Times looks at the possible repercussions.

Brit Lit and Venice: A Love Affair

Brit Lit and Venice: A Love Affair Photo by Alaskan Dude via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Alaskan Dude via Flickr (Creative Commons)

In the Independent, Peter Popham has a thoughtful essay about the world’s—and, in particular, the British writing community’s—ongoing fascination with Venice. He writes: “Venice is the great seducer, the feminine city incarnate, risen like Venus from the waves and always threatening to sink into them again; demanding to be rescued, to be immortalised yet again by pen or brush, even though already, 250 years ago, one jaded visitor complained it was a city ‘about which so much has been said and written—that it seems to me there is nothing left to say.’”

He wraps up the essay with a list of artistic Brits who’ve gotten caught up in the city’s charms, from Lord Byron to Elton John. I’d add Jan Morris’ “Venice” to the list of worthy titles Popham mentions.

National Geographic on ‘Vanishing Venice’

The latest issue of the magazine includes a lovely story on the city, and the rising flood of tourists that threatens to destroy it. (Via @italylogue)

‘How Much are Venice, the Everglades, and New Orleans Worth?’

‘How Much are Venice, the Everglades, and New Orleans Worth?’ Photo by delgaudm via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by delgaudm via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Andrew Sullivan points the way to a Matt Steinglass post about the limits of measuring climate change damage in economic terms:

There will be no Everglades in 100 years. The economic cost of that change to US GDP is marginal. There will be no Venice in 100 years. The economic cost of that change to US GDP is tiny. There will be no New Orleans in 100 years. The economic cost of that change to US GDP is extremely small. ... But the worth of many precious things cannot be measured in money.


Beyond the Gondola: Kayaking in Venice?

Beyond the Gondola: Kayaking in Venice? Photo by Eva Holland
Photo by Eva Holland

If you think about it, paddling on the canals of Venice makes a whole lot of sense—and yet, you don’t see many kayaks competing with the gondolas and vaporettos. WhyGo Italy checks in with a Danish entrepreneur who aims to change that.

My only question: Will kayakers be allowed to pack bag lunches?

Venice, Italy

Members of traditional Maori group "Waka Huia" perform in San Marco square, as part of the opening of the New Zealand pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The Biennale, one of the world's major art festivals, is traditionally held every two years dating back to 1895.

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Morning Links: Venice Cokes Up, an Epic (Paper) Plane Video and More

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