Friday, 5 June 2015

New Project: a little book about Venice



For some time now I've been experiencing the urge to distil everything I find so wonderful about Venice into a single publication. So I've finally decided to take the plunge and get started on a little book. Because every writer needs a good collaborator, this work will be a joint project with Lynn Reynolds of Lexis Writing. Handily, she's my wife.

In a nutshell the book will be a response to a question someone once asked us, namely: "What is so wonderful about Venice?" 

Venetophila is hard to explain in a couple of throwaway phrases. Like all places, Venice means different things to different people. The city in the water, with canals instead of roads. The architecture and art. The history of the independent Republic that lasted for over a thousand years, longer than most nation states in existence today, with its unique form of government. 

But apart from all that, Venice is also on one level a truly modern city for our time, and a model for future urban development. A high density, totally pedestrianised city, built on a human scale, where walking and public transport--rather than private motorised vehicles--are the norm for getting around. Most tourists might visit it because it's one of the great historic cities, but there's also lots of modern art in evidence. There might not be many of the world's greatest artists living there these days, but the latest contemporary art and architecture is on display at the Art and Architecture Biennale.

And then there's the environment out of which Venice was created, such as the lagoon with its unique geology and wildlife, and the sea beyond, all in delicate and somewhat unstable balance. The historical and contemporary responses to these challenges, and the situation today, with the very existence of the city under threat.

Most (but not all) writers on Venice seem to have a background in the arts or in history. We have both, with between us a background in medicine, radiology, molecular biology, computer programming, art history and writing pedagogy, so our perspective is probably a little different from the typical Venetian chronicler. The book will be short and aimed primarily at people who might not know much about Venice, but who are open minded and curious not just about history and art, but also about science, nature, and modern cities. We hope that people who know and love the city will enjoy it too. It's will be a very brief introduction rather than a guidebook, with sections provisionally titled History, Man and Nature, Art and Architecture, and the Modern City, but we'll also include few travellers tips on getting there (don't be posh if flying from Britain) getting around (walk), food and drink (interesting ways with cod), and so on.

It's intended to be in the spirit of this article.

I'll keep you up to date with developments in this blog.
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