Venice on page and screen – here are some of our favourite books and films set in Venice.
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My Favourite Guidebooks
My dog-eared copy of The Rough Guide has been stuffed into my bag on several trips. Amazingly its spine is still intact and its in-depth detail pretty relevant. But I’ll be investing in this shiny new updated version before my next visit. The Rough Guide to Venice & the Veneto (Rough Guides)
The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Venice & the Veneto (Eyewitness Travel Guides) 2016 is visually a pleasure. It’s worth the price alone for its palazzo-by-palazzo illustrated guide to the vaporetto journey along the Grand Canal. Lots of photos and illustrations help to make sense of the art and architecture. Little historical anecdotes bring the place alive. It’s a book that all the family will enjoy using, its not too big and heavy to carry around and it’s my Must Buy.
Francesco’s Venice by Francesco da Mosto. One for the coffee table rather than the hand luggage. This is a lively insider’s history by a man whose aristocratic family have lived in Venice for 1000 years. It doesn’t seem to be in print at the moment but there are still copies on Amazon. Or try By Francesco Da Mosto – Francesco’s Kitchen. An Intimate Guide to the Authentic Flavours of Venice
Historian and architect da Mosto is a gossip’y and compelling story-teller and fronted a BBC series of the same name. Francesco’s Venice : Complete BBC Series [DVD]The Complete Series DVD, would be perfect viewing for anyone planning a trip.
Fiction and Memoirs set in Venice
A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi Marlena took a trip from St Louis, Missouri to Venice and met a man in a restaurant. Two months later she was giving up her business and selling her house to go and live with him on the Lido. I must say I was feeling the same way as her estate agent at one point “Oh dear, are you sure….” But for Marlena this is the love of her life. It’s a rich and colourful take on an American’s new life in Venice with lots of foodie and local details thrown in. [ A THOUSAND DAYS IN VENICE: AN UNEXPECTED ROMANCE ] by De Blasi, Marlena ( Author) Aug-2013 [ Paperback ]
Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers is a thoughtful read set in Venice. On the most superficial level it’s fun to spot the references to the places and scenery you’ll be visiting yourself. A retired spinster schoolteacher rents an apartment in Venice. She meets an attentive art historian who seems too good to be true. As she finds a lifetime of attitudes thrown into question her story is interwoven with the ancient tale of Tobias and the angel. It’s a subtle, elegiac book, not a bundle of laughs but with a haunting atmosphere that’s at one with the quiet corners of Venice.
Not forgetting the literary giants: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann which I read again recently and absolutely loved Death in Venice
The Wings of a Dove by Henry James The Wings of the Dove (Wordsworth Classics).
And one that’s not about Venice:
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell I’m including this just for fun because I picked it up at the airport on the way to Venice. Five minutes into the flight and I was engrossed. It’s easy-reading, thought-provoking social psychology. For instance, is Bill Gates a genius, or was he simply in the right place at the right time? Unfortunately I reached the chapter on Gladwell’s ethnic theory of plane crashes just in time for our flight home. Outliers: The Story of Success
Stories for Children set in Venice
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke what at first appears to be a straightforward children’s adventure story takes a magical twist… Readers will enjoy picking out one or two landmarks – I wish more were mentioned. Some copies available on Amazon.
The Glass Heart by Sally Gardner, a Venetian fairy tale of three princesses in picture book format. Sadly it’s out of print though there are copies on Amazon.
Films to get you in the mood
Summertime 1955, I am ridiculously sentimental about old movies set in Italy. This is Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi falling in love all over Venice. KH apparently suffered from a string of eye infections after her scripted dip in a canal. This is despite director David Lean helpfully pouring in some swimming pool chemicals before the shot! Summertime aka Summer Madness  [DVD]
Don’t Look Now 1973, or rather don’t watch now if you are of nervous disposition. Nicolas Roeg’s classic shock horror thriller stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie and Venice too at its menacing Gothic best. It’s one of the all time greats. But I’ve never managed to watch it all the way through….. Don’t Look Now (Digitally Restored) [DVD] 
Moonraker, 1979, From the era when James Bond, and presumably Q, had a sense of humour. In another globetrotting battle to save the world, the late, great Roger Moore as 007 takes control of a gondola that holds one or two surprises. Perfect for nostalgic family viewing on a rainy afternoon. Moonraker [DVD] 
Books and films set in Venice
For our sightseeing guide Venice: city break with teenagers Part 1 click here
Venice with teenagers Part 2: Day trip to Verona click here