Venice: Eight Authors Share Their Love

Dream of Venice: Eight authors’ perspectives on one of Italy’s most alluring cities

Dream of VeniceDream of Venice is a compilation of images and text by extraordinary writers and notables, edited by JoAnn Locktov. This large format picture book captures the mysterious allure of the ancient floating city with the evocative photography of Charles Christopher and the beguiling words of a diverse group of contemporary Venetophiles.

With a captivating foreword by bestselling author Frances Mayes, Dream of Venice will inspire you to listen to the silence of the canals and lose yourself in the ethereal mist of Piazza San Marco. The luminous photographs compliment the intimate thoughts, memories, poems and stories of notable contributors from the worlds of art, literature, design, cuisine, music, and filmmaking. You ll find anecdotes from actors and directors who have worked on location in Venice.

Foreword by Frances Mayes

Venice is a state of mind. That is, the scintillating, kaleidoscopic, shifting colors of that watery realm remain alive inside me long after I depart the actual city.

While there, the sensory overload constantly leaves me spent and happily exhausted at the end of every day, reeling with images of the man peeling artichokes at fifty miles an hour in the Rialto market, stalls mounded with lurid fish, waving clothes lines, squadrons of pigeons, the flashing oars of the gondoliers, the lure of luxury shops, the shadowy windows of the ombrabars, tourists gorging into San Marco, lost narrow streets leading me further into a labyrinth, even the sparrows pecking at my bread basket at a canal-side restaurant.

I’ve let myself wander all day, following a glimpse of a façade, a snatch of violin music, a child kicking a ball, and a cascade of blue plumbago hanging over a distant garden wall. I’m almost thoughtless in Venice, reverting to a primitive creature who takes on the color and temperature of where I sit in an ochre, apricot, and stone piazza, sipping a spritz. narrow streets leading me further into a labyrinth, even the sparrows pecking at my bread basket at a canal-side restaurant.

Later and far away from Venice, the city floating through memory is silent. It belongs only to me, the traveler. I stand again in Palladio’s Il Redentore, watching that white-as-icicles light fall through the lofty coved windows. Was the cold light a part of his architectural plan? In a city patched from an abbondanza of tints and hues, did he think you shall be immersed in white air?

I step outside and the Grand Canal– suddenly still–has darkened under a cloud to shimmering blue, like the supple Venetian velvet cape I once glimpsed on a woman stepping off a yacht in the rain. If I ever saw another, I’d mortgage my house to buy it. But maybe it’s enough just to remember an expanse of water faceted with light.

Venice, the literal gate to the watery subconscious. Under an arched bridge, the narrow canal – what is that green? Liquid malachite? The eyes of the first boy I loved?

Yes, and when the sun hits, the color shifts to the green of a Coca-Cola bottle! At lunch, nearby motor launches break up the surface, cutting the reflections into cubist angles of blue, yellow, red, white, churning and reforming. At night the reflections turn silver and gold; long wands of starry shapes that easily mesmerize…. You might be momentarily convinced that you have landed in one of Italo Calvino’s invisible cities.

A Powerful Moon

Always in memory, the moon is full. Nowhere is the moon so powerful, enormous, so… well, heavenly. Because it floats, as the city floats, a mirage of a mirage. The moon could be chipped from travertine by an artist. Why not? Haven’t humans created this unlikely phantasm of a city? Couldn’t they just as easily hang a moon over it?

On the brink of sleep, I sense the light in the Carpaccio painting at Gallerie dell’Accademia,The Dream of Saint Ursula. She is sleeping with her little dog at her bedside. At the door, the angel has just arrived, holding the palm of her martyrdom. He steps into the room in a triangle of sunlight. All these years, that golden light has fallen into the calm bedroom where she is dreaming. The memory of a place is like that. You are the dreamer. You are the room. You open the door over and over.

Dream of Venice is a compilation of images and text by extraordinary writers and notables, curated by Charles Christopher. Below are some highlights from the book.

Photos from Dream of Venice by Charles Christopher

Marcella Hazan
Marcella Hazan – At night Venice’s lights dim, its sounds are submerged in those of slapping water, and it wraps itself in mystery, as does our consciousness when dissolved in sleep.
Eleonora Baldwin – an excerpt from her original text
Eleonora Baldwin – The season that best fits the most beautiful man-made city is winter, when the laguna is in monochrome. No crowds, no tourists, no noise. Just the sound of languid canal water lapping the sides of the gondola, the distant wailing horn that announces high tide.
Julie Christie - The unexpected mystery of Venice... misleading reflections, startling shadows, ominous light and shade, and endless corners. What's round the next one? My view may, of course, be coloured by the film I was making there. It was winter and raining, but winter is Venice's season. As water is Venice's element.
Julie Christie – The unexpected mystery of Venice… misleading reflections, startling shadows, ominous light and shade, and endless corners. What’s round the next one? My view may, of course, be coloured by the film I was making there. It was winter and raining, but winter is Venice’s season. As water is Venice’s element.
Claire Bloom –Where do they lead, these enticing, forbidding, spectral stairs? Do they lead to the well-trodden bedchamber of Casanova - or the closet of an all-powerful Doge, impatiently awaiting his secret mistress, naked under his ornate velvet robe?
Claire Bloom –Where do they lead, these enticing, forbidding, spectral stairs? Do they lead to the well-trodden bedchamber of Casanova – or the closet of an all-powerful Doge, impatiently awaiting his secret mistress, naked under his ornate velvet robe?
Roger Crowley – "The merchants of Venice became the richest people in Europe in the presence of this clock. For hundreds of years the rotation of its golden rays brought pepper, silk, ginger, glass, furs and pearls, frankincense and carpets – anything that the world might contain – here to the Rialto. This was the souk of the Western world.
Roger Crowley – “The merchants of Venice became the richest people in Europe in the presence of this clock. For hundreds of years the rotation of its golden rays brought pepper, silk, ginger, glass, furs and pearls, frankincense and carpets – anything that the world might contain – here to the Rialto. This was the souk of the Western world.
Jessica Spiegel - Venice is incapable of fidelity, so there's no use crying when your affections aren't returned. Should you need that kind of validation, stick to the Sienas and Positanos of the world. Expect no more of Venice than she's willing to offer and you'll never be disappointed.
Jessica Spiegel – Venice is incapable of fidelity, so there’s no use crying when your affections aren’t returned. Should you need that kind of validation, stick to the Sienas and Positanos of the world. Expect no more of Venice than she’s willing to offer and you’ll never be disappointed.
Nan McElroy- Ci conosciamo dai nostri passi - we know each other by our footsteps. 9. Sheila Buckmaster Electric lights twinkling here and there in the dark, it seems as if the buildings of Venice are whispering. "Don't worry about us. Sure, there's high water, pollution, and other threats - but can't you see our pride and resilience? We are survivors.” In the darkness, the majesty of this city overwhelms.
Nan McElroy- Ci conosciamo dai nostri passi – we know each other by our footsteps.
 9. Sheila Buckmaster Electric lights twinkling here and there in the dark, it seems as if the buildings of Venice are whispering. "Don't worry about us. Sure, there's high water, pollution, and other threats - but can't you see our pride and resilience? We are survivors.” In the darkness, the majesty of this city overwhelms.
Sheila Buckmaster -Electric lights twinkling here and there in the dark, it seems as if the buildings of Venice are whispering. “Don’t worry about us. Sure, there’s high water, pollution, and other threats – but can’t you see our pride and resilience? We are survivors.” In the darkness, the majesty of this city overwhelms.

Charles Christopher

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Charles Christopher works in Hollywood as a motion picture and TV still photographer for clients that include Universal Pictures, NBC, Lifetime, Hallmark and Syfy. His travel and cityscape photographs have been featured in exhibits up and down the West Coast. He is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild as well as the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA). He is a native of New York City.

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