If you are like me, you want to read a book or two about the places you plan to visit on your holiday.
I was lucky enough to go to Venice and I can recommend two books to get you into the mood and to give you an idea of the city you are visiting, the history, the people, the islands, the churches and the campo’s.
Venice, Jan Morris
This is a highly personal account of Venice, written by somebody who spend a lot of time in the city and actually lived there.
The book is divided into three sections, the people, the city and the lagoon and in each section a little bit of history is mixed with personal observations and anecdotes and it gives a lot of information about the Venice you see today.
The book is funny and engaging and a joy to read.
Published in 1960, but revised in 1993
Venice, pure city, Peter Ackroyd
But even better (at least, for me) is this history of Venice. Peter Ackroyd wrote several biographies, including one about London, and I loved this one about Venice: Venice, pure city.
It tells the chronological story of this amazing city and how it differs from all other cities in the world. The city that grew to be the richest and one of the most powerful cities of Italy. Venice traded with the east and the west, always looking where the profit for Venice was.
A city that loved splendour and putting up a show, but also loved secrecy and formed a highly original state, until the decline set in after the 18th century.
Peter Ackroyd writes very well and I could not put this book down, I loved the broad sweeps of history mixed with anecdotes and little details. And it does explain why Venice is the purest city of them all!
Published in 2009