PEN & PALETTE
LITERARY VENICE IN THE 19th CENTURY
Experience Venice in the 19th century through
the eyes and writings of authors (Byron, Browning, Henry James,
John Ruskin), and an artist (John Singer Sargent). All were inspired
and seduced by Venice.
The most prominent writers of the 19th century made their way to Venice where
they lived Venice life to the fullest. We explore many of these authors from
Byron to Proust . They caroused (Byron), lived in famous palazzos and wrote
( Henry James ), gloried in wandering the calles and getting lost (Proust)
marveled at the art and architecture (Ruskin).
Authors and Artist Influentials
Clockwise from top left - Henry James, Byron
Self Portrait -Tintoretto and
John Singer Sargent
Of the many contemporary artists who shared Venice with these authors,
John Singer Sargent stands
out. We visit many of the sites that Sargent painted so brilliantly from
a gondola. His stunning watercolors of Salute and San Marco are luminous.
2012 Literary Venice expanded itinerary:
VENETIAN ARTISTS: Any discussion of Venice
must include its renowned artists from other centuries. Titian, Tintoretto,
Carpaccio & Veronese are the Venetian artists who were strong influences
to writers and artists alike. We visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco to
see Tintoretto as Ruskin did; San Sebastiano church for a soaring collection
of Veronese; and Carpaccio at the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni..
Proust in Venice… we explore Proust’s dream
of Venice, San Marco, the Piazzetta, the Fortuny connection. And you will
follow us on our creation of Proust’s famous “lost walk” through
Venice Update : use your Optional Day to see the latest
Venice lures: The Palazzo Grassi and a new contemporary
museum right next to the Salute, Punta della Dogana. Don’t
What’s Cooking : Venice’s restaurants have improved
a lot in the last couple of years.
We have a new favorite and there’s lots of fun little places now
right by the Rialto Market.
Of course, we’ll take a cicheti stroll; introduce you to Venice’s
favorite drink, the
Spritz and recommend my favorite, addictive little sandwiches for a lunch
Donna Leon…if you’re a fan of these mysteries that are placed in
Venice we can even treat you
to a Commissario Guido Brunetti walk.
Arrive in Venice, transfer
on your own to our hotel with a perfect location, just a 5 minute walk from
San Marco and a few steps from a vaporetto stop (our water bus transportation).
As our introduction to Literary Venice, we listen to the words of Ruskin,
Dickens, George Sand, Marcel Proust, Robert Browning and others.
Salute at Night
See what these writers saw as we glide down the Grand Canal, not in
a gondola, as they did, but in our private motor launch. We will see
famous and infamous palazzi; hotels they called home; glorious Ca' Rezzonico
where Browning died; and a peek at where Lord Byron lived. Tea at Jeremy’s…most
Sundays. Jeremy, a Brit who teaches at Ca' Foscari University in Venice,
hosts a tea for expats, many of them writers, at his lovely apartment. He has a vast collection
of books and videos.
Gregory Dowling, who teaches American literature at Venice University,
will regale us with Byron stories and readings from Childe Harold and Don Juan.
He will also touch on Robert Browning and his days in Venice after his wife,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, died in Florence. Ca’ Rezzonico on the Grand
Canal was the scene of Browning’s death.
Dowling’s article on Byron states, “There are several good reasons
for talking about Byron in Venice, one is that he has become one of the many
legends of the city ... there is much talk of his notoriously debauched life
here, his hundreds of women, his palazzo on the Grand Canal complete with monkeys,
dogs and foxes and his incredible swimming feats.”
Visit to the Armenian Monastery where Byron made a desultory attempt at studying
the Armenian language. The monastery is a fascinating place with a magnificent
Commissario Guido Brunetti's Hang Out
Henry James Day, with particular emphasis on Wings of the Dove and Aspern
Papers. James loved Venice and this novel and short story are engrossing
stories set in Venice.
A stroll on the eastern end of Venice will take us to San Francesco della
Vigna, off the beaten track and visited by few tourists. The church boasts
two paintings by Veronese and a Madonna and Saints by Bellini.
8:45…Meet Luisella, our guide extraordinaire, at the entrance to the Doge’s Palace. Ruskin described the Doge’s Palace as “the work” of art in Venice. The palace is filled with huge paintings, especially those of Tintoretto and Veronese. After our hour long highlight to tour, we will visit St. Marc’s and its golden altar screen and the mosaics that so intrigued Proust. If you have small opera binoculars, bring them. They give you a better view of ceiling art.
Lunch at Pensione Calcina, if the weather is good. Lovely waterside terrace. Ruskin lived here briefly
Afternoon: I am joined by Stan Burnett and his wife Fiona who are travelling Europe for over a year. Stan
And Fiona are good friends. Stan is a Proust Group Lecturer, Center for Fiction, NYC. Senior Research Fellow, Yale University; a prize winning author. We have studied Proust together for about ten years.
Our Proust in Venice discussion will cover the Venice section of Proust’s iconic novel, In Search of Lost
We will “try”to recreate Proust’s wanderings through Venice. If we find what we think is his “spacious
Piazza”, we will celebrate and accept the fact that we might not be able to find it again. That’s part of the Venice mystique. For the dedicated Proust reader, there will be more Proust discussions Perhaps on the morning of your Optional Day.
Wandering through Venice and getting lost along the way
Gondolas figured prominently in Venice's history
HOMAGE TO THE GONDOLA… The gondola is much more than the iconic tourist ride complete with serenade.
I will discuss our featured authors’ fascination with the gondola, famous gondolieri and their influence and other juicy tid-bits.
Optional day… To do what you wish. We will give you our recommendations
And help you plan.
One of our most popular events of our last tour was our visit to the atelier
of Venice’s best bookbinder, Palo D’Olbi. We will have a private
tour and viewing of many of his most extraordinary leather volumes executed
with craftsmen of other skills (Murano glass, enamel, paintings).
Visit to San Sebastiano to see Veronese and Carpaccio at the Sculoa di San
Spritz is THE drink of Venice
More Proust in Venice including Fortuny influences and "that walk"
and Commissario Guido
Brunetti walk (optional).
Depart for home.
$3,450 USD includes 7 nights hotel (no single supplement), 7 buffet breakfasts,
4 group dinners, most activities, 2-3 day vaporetto passes. The price does
not include airfare, airport transfers, lunches, coffee stops, wine or
alcoholic beverages, personal expenses.
Itinerary subject to minor revisions in itinerary, mostly switches in
days of activities.