Magical Venice | Arts.21 - The Culture Magazine | DW | 10.06.2005
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Magical Venice

Venice ... city of dreams. Its atmosphere redolent of melancholy and joie de vivre has an irresistible attraction for artists in every medium.


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American author Ernest Hemingway often frequented the market in the Rialto and wrote that wandering through it was like visiting a good museum. And that's still true of the Rialto market today. Luca di Vita and Judith Rüber would agree with him. The market is where Luca buys prime fish for his artists' restaurant, and Judith Rüber finds inspiration for her travel books here.

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Grand Hotel des Bains

One prime tourist attraction is the Grand Hotel des Bains at the Lido. This is where the rich and famous congregate. Luchino Visconti took over the entire hotel for six months while filming his famous adaptation of Thomas Mann’s "Death in Venice".

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Gran Teatro La Fenice

Another of the city's many legendary buildings is La Fenice opera house , which bears witness to great musical history and traditions ranging from Handel and Monteverdi to Vivaldi and Wagner.

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Gran Teatro La Fenice

Maria Callas sang on this stage and performing here is a high point in the career of any of the world‘s leading singers. La Fenice has been lovingly restored following a devastating fire during building renovations in 1996.

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The Jewish quarter is another destination not to be missed. In 1516, the republic required that Jews should live in a district known as the "geto", the "Foundry" in English. This is said to be the origin of the term "ghetto", which designated Jewish quarters from then on. Although William Shakespeare never came here, his play, "The Merchant of Venice" has fascinated audiences for centuries. The city itself provided a lavish backdrop for the latest film version directed by Michael Radford, which starred Al Pacino.

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Modern-day writers are also inspired by this city, especially crime novelists like Donna Leon. The British mystery writer Timothy Holme set his novel "A Funeral of Gondolas" amongst the criminal freemasonry of the gondoliers. In it he describes one of the most important events in the annual calendar: the Venice historical regatta.

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After touring the Lido, Ghetto and the regatta what better way is there to finish the day than to turn into one of Venice's many charming Osterias? Luca's 'Osteria alle Testiere' is packed as usual. It’s long been a popular meeting place for artists and writers. Good wine and food and stimulating conversation create the perfect atmosphere to gather ideas for another book.

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And if that doesn’t do the trick, Judith Rüber recommends a ride in a vaporetto … preferably at night.