Paula Weideger boarded a "vaporetto" on the Grand Canal, and under the sunny blue Venetian sky she, like millions of others, fell in love with the city. Venice was where she wanted to live and, with a combination of luck and determination, she did. This is the story of her adventures in one of the world's most treasured places.
Follow in her footsteps as Weideger makes her Paula Weideger boarded a "vaporetto" on the Grand Canal, and under the sunny blue Venetian sky she, like millions of others, fell in love with the city. Follow in her footsteps as Weideger makes her way into the labyrinth and discovers the city's secrets.
There are mysteries, obstacles, and surprises -- many of them delightful -- at almost every turn. Always there are puzzles to solve: How to find an apartment? Where to buy take-away lasagne? Will she ever learn Italian or, more urgently, can she stop getting lost? Is it true that Venice is about to drown -- or that speeding drivers destroy magnificent buildings in this city without cars? Weideger's search for a home eventually takes her to "Palazzo Dona dalle rose," perhaps the last palace in Venice to be continuously occupied by the family of the man who built it -- in this case a legendary "doge.
Venice's art and architecture are a constant presence. Yet even more strongly felt is the passage of time, the panorama of the seasons as reflected in special events -- Carnival, the Film Festival, September's historic regatta, Midnight Mass at San Marco -- they are all here. And people. Always people. We accompany Weideger as she explores the Ghetto, meets nobility and boatmen, artists and fish mongers.
We learn how she makes peace withthe ghost of Peggy Guggenheim, how her home is threatened, if briefly, by the Merchant Ivory crowd, and how she manages to survive both high water and high drama with her landlady, along with much, much more. Weideger's vision of Venice -- wry, intelligent, and love struck, if occasionally blurred by tears -- is at once haunting and down-to-earth.
With a glass of "Prosecco," the traveler, armchair or otherwise, will experience a perfect pleasure. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews.
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Venetian Dreaming | Book by Paula Weideger | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster
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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 15, NancyS rated it liked it.
When I began reading this book I thought it was going to be a 5 star. It gave interesting, vivid descriptions of Venice exploring and living there.
However, about half way through the author's personal issues and personality took over the narrative and it became much less interesting. It deteriorated rapidly in the second half. Mar 03, Avid Series Reader rated it did not like it Shelves: year-long-memoir-reading-chall , feminist-reads-challenge , in-the-middle-reading-challeng , new-authors-challenge , nonfiction-reading-challenge , readbooks-inweeks , reading-challenge-addict , tbr-double-dog-dare , venice-in-february-reading-cha , women-challenge. Venetian Dreaming by Paula Weideger is a non-fiction memoir of the year she lived in Venice.
Paula was from New York, and her husband Henry was from London. Paula had a dream of living in Venice, and Henry agreed — as long as she took care of the details. Due to her connections, she was able to return to Venice to stay for a year in the year-old house of her dreams. Not long into the book you suspect Paula was high maintenance, and she confirms it with this quote: "There is plenty I can ignore but when it comes to the look of things around me, I am, alas, a delicate flower. Forced to live in a visually blighted zone, I do not rise above, I wilt.
Paula loved it enough to fight continuously with the landlord over the terms of her stay. Reading how much Paula was cheated and tricked, not only in real estate but many other transactions, makes me resolve never to stay in Venice. Some other tourist will fill your seat tomorrow, no matter what awful stuff is on the plate and how much it costs. The high-handed tendency to gouge people applied not only to restaurants, I now understood.
This, as it always has been, is the drainage system for Venice. Paula and Henry had a policy of never passing by an unvisited church, to view the artwork inside. Paula had a lot of trouble getting lost in Venice, until she began associating places with the nearest church.
She struggled to learn Italian, at the bottom of her Intermediate language class. One wonders why she did not drop down to the lower Beginner class where perhaps she could have achieved basic fluency. Paula loved to eat olive ascolane, a stuffed fried green olive appetizer, and ordered dozens to serve at dinner parties: "As far as I could work it out, olive ascolane are made by taking a large green pitted olive, stuffing it with a mixture of such mild minced meats as chicken and veal to which herbs and maybe Parmesan cheese have been added, then smoothing another layer of the same mixture over the stuffed olive, rolling it in bread crumbs and giving the whole business a plunge in the deep fryer.
As you bite into one of these oval tidbits, layer upon layer of tastes and textures are revealed, pleasure and calorie count rising together toward the sky. She described them and the council and board members' long-standing disputes in extensive detail, more than I would ever care to know. A fascinating detail I did not learn from other books on Venice: "The funeral boats carrying the dead to their burial on the cemetery island of San Michele are painted acid blue and have a singular design.
In between, on the open deck, rests a metal frame that can be raised or lowered for the coffin. These coffins were often piled high with lavish floral creations, draped with satin sashes on which were written messages in a gold or silver metallic script. The book wraps up with her painful recuperation in the stucchi. Apr 19, Kerry rated it it was amazing. I now wish I could go back! I was initially mildly annoyed by Paula, hoping she was not going to be too gushy or flowery in language.
Trying to find her feet, she stumbles about like a tourist — like me, essentially. But I soon forgave her when I realised her knack for describing interiors intricately. Her chapter-long description of the stucchi in thorough detail created a strong image in my mind that stayed with me throughout the book.
Luxury Venetian Hotel with Private Beach
It would be so interesting to go to their habitation and see how it matched up. Paula ends up living in a palazzo apartment still owned by one of the last pure lines of Venetian nobility, direct descendants of a Renaissance era doge. This was fascinating in itself, and I wish I could go and peer at this building, having pinpointed its location on a map.
I recommend reading with a map at hand. She rubs shoulders with local historians, and some of the movers and shakers at the Peggy Guggenheim collection. The book ends on a poignant note. By this time, I cared about the author more than when I started, and am keen to locate and read the articles she wrote for the press while living in Venice. Opinion seems to be divided down the middle about this book and I can see why especially if you haven't been to Venice.
Without being able to visualize the descriptions of the streets and people, the detail in the church of San Marco, the transport, the food and bridges and general beauty and wonder of Venice, this may come across as just a book about a group of entitled individuals and one women's opinions of them. Having been to Venice, however, just a few months ago, I thoroughly enjoyed the Opinion seems to be divided down the middle about this book and I can see why especially if you haven't been to Venice.
Having been to Venice, however, just a few months ago, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I had my map out tracing the routes Paula took on her walks, I loved the pieces of history she put all through the novel, whether it be tenth century or twentieth, the detail of the various festivities and buildings especially the 'stucchi' she lived in. I was entertained by her journey in learning the language and descriptions of those she met or heard Venice gossip about; the Dona's, Peggy Guggenheim and various other unknown but fascinating characters I wouldn't want to read this book if I was some of them as she holds no punches when someone annoys or upsets her.
Occasionally Paula Weideger comes across as a high maintenance, whining child, but having a few friends like this, I realize this doesn't always mean they don't have hearts of gold or other redeeming qualities -I just wouldn't want to live with them, I can only assume, Henry, her English partner has the patience of a saint or is of a similar disposition.
The last chapter just before Paula is due to leave Venice, is unfortunate, in what happens to her but also in that this is our last impression of the book and isn't really about the city but as she has been open about her experience throughout her time in Italy, so I suppose this had to be continued to the end. Recommended reading after a trip to Venice or before you return to this Italian gem! Dec 17, Laurie Byro rated it it was amazing. I read some of the reviews as I was reading this book, and came to the conclusion it is a book to be read shortly before or after a trip to Venice.
I DO understand that some of the details regarding her contract for the apt etc may have dragged it, but I am in the midst of writing a Peggy Guggenheim poetry sequence and so that alone was interesting and true to what I have read about Peggy. I was a travel agent for 25 years.