I was just thinking about the fact that four years ago today I was strolling around Venice. My husband was sent there on business, but for me it was strictly vacation – 9 days with nothing to do but explore a city that’s like no other place on earth. World-class art museums, pokey little alleys, guilded palazzos, incredible cathedrals, and of course canals everywhere – grand and otherwise. I don’t get a chance to travel all that much, so I’m still living off the afterglow of that trip.
You might be surprised to learn that there’s a Jane Austen connection to Venice too. It’s mentioned in Emma, in reference to looking at some pictures during the excursion to Donwell to eat strawberries:
Thinking of what was then our recent trip, I managed to work a larger reference to Venice into the story as I was writing For Myself Alone. The heroine’s brother Tom, who has a special interest in architecture, takes the grand tour on the continent, and sends a letter home:
“It is a place of rare enchanment, quite apart from the everday world. It is not only the famous canals that distinguish Venice, but the unique style of the buildings. Here one can clearly discern the blended influences of eastern and western cultures. This place is an architect’s paradise. My sketch book is filling rapidly; at every turn, I find a prospect worth preserving on paper.”
Tom includes a few sketches in the letter to illustrate his comments, and I’ll include a few photos to illustrate mine. Hope you enjoy them, and I hope you have a chance to visit Venice yourself someday. It’s a truly magical place.
(Since then, I used Venice briefly again as a setting in The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen: La Comtesse de la Fontaine basked in the sun’s afternoon rays with eyes closed, listening to the varied music of daily life and commerce afloat on the Grand Canal twenty feet below. Venice, for all its antiquity, remained as novel to her as the day she arrived months before, following her marriage to the count…)
[top to bottom: the Grand Canal, Basilica San Marco, view from campanile San Marco, gondolier, Rialto bridge] The header photo on this site is also from Venice – a balcony overlooking the Grand Canal.