I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to Venice: it’s one of my favourite haunts, and there was a time when I visited every single year. Nowadays, I don’t go quite so often, and it was good to be back last week after a three year gap.
Just like every other time I’ve been, I took lots of photographs, hoping that somehow they’d distinguish themselves by showing the well known landmarks in a different light. And, with the exception of snow, I thought I’d seen it all before – the mist, the fog, the rain, the cold sunny days with glimpses of the snow capped Dolomites in the background. But this time there were two glorious sunsets affording wonderful views over Salute and the Grand Canal.
I’ve even used Venice as a location in one of my books. There is a brief interlude in The Art of Killing when my heroine, Julie, goes to Venice to get away from the worries she has at home. But I am by no means the only writer who has succumbed to the charms of Venice. Thomas Mann and Daphne du Maurier are among the first who spring to mind, and then there is my own more contemporary favourite: Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti, particularly as Brunetti wanders round parts of Venice which I know and love.
I had with me an old guide book from the early 1990s, in which I’d marked San Nicolo dei Mendicoli as a church to visit, but, until last Friday, I had never followed up on this. Its original appeal was that it was one of the oldest churches in Venice, but on Friday, to my delight, I discovered that it was the church which Donald Sutherland was restoring in the film version of Don’t Look Now. Compared with a lot of Venetian churches, and certainly at odds with the atmosphere created in the film, it almost felt cosy with gilded wooden statues looking down, and this was underlined by a table laden with local artefacts for sale. I don’t have much use for a red knitted Christmas tree, but I did buy a small grey felt candle holder embellished with a red heart, and a kindly lady, accompanied by her docile hound resplendent in a bright red Father Christmas coat, was pleased to make the sale.
So, 2015 certainly got off to a good start for me.
Happy New Year!