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Venice is known to be the most romantic city in the world. But you don't have to wait for Prince Charming in order to visit it. You only need a girlfriend, curious, with good taste and a pinch of irony. Like this "little black book", which you can download and bring with you in your discovery of a Serenissima only for women: sightseeing, hotels, restaurants, cafes, lounge bars and shops. And much more: you'll find here everything about the Venetian ladies who shaped the city, all you must know about the gondoliers and many other oddities.
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All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or trasmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsiquent purchaser.
ISBN 978-88-901883-3-6Publishing director: Daniela de Rosa Epub developer: Massimo Impinto
Customs and Traditions of the Serenissima Repubblica's Women (and Their Gentlemen)Flirtatious Men and Their ColleaguesWine and Other SpiritsGondoliers and Other "Conquistadors"Nighttime and Other ConcernsHumidity and Other Issues
Venetians of Yesteryear
When to VisitJanuaryFebruaryJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
What to Pack
How to Get ThereBy CarBy TrainBy AirOnce landed you can choose to get to Venice:
How to Get AroundVenice ConnectedPublic TransportationPrivate Transportation
Going at it AloneCannaregioCastelloSan MarcoSan PoloDorsoduroSanta Croce
Venice with Children
Fifteen "Musts"1. Walk around the Rialto market2. Visit the Ghetto3. Have a seat on the stone throne at the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim4. Go for a jog along the Zattere5. Drink a cup of coffee at the Cipriani Giudecca6. Admire the lagoon from the Giardini del Redentore7. Stroll on the floating dock from the movie "Bread and Tulips"8. Paddle Venetian-style on a mascareta (or similar) boat 9. Have an aperitif at Florian10. Walk amongst the stars on San Michele island11. Help transport the works of art at the Fondazione Vedova12. Climb the tower at the Punta della Dogana13. Mingle amongst the VIPs during the Mostra del Cinema14. Go up to the terrace of the Molino Stucky15. Stroll through the garden at the Fondazione Cini
Go All Out
Free (or Nearly)
Outside VeniceIl LidoPellestrinaMuranoBurano e MazzorboTorcelloSant’ErasmoLe VignoleSan Lazzaro degli Armeni
Where to Stay
Eating (and Drinking)
Staying out late
Basic ServicesLaundriesHairdressersHeels and solesCosmetics
What to doSpaGymsPharmacies
Ten Commandments for the Smart Traveler
On the Web
About the author
This book isn't intended to be a typical Venice travel guide; there are dozens of them that are probably far more authoritative than this one. Instead, this book - one might even call it a "black book" - provides a unique, feminine vision of the city, of which rivers of ink have flowed in an attempt to capture it on paper. Instead of the recounting the city's history or providing a detailed description of its many monuments (which can be readily found in the other above-referenced guidebooks), here you'll find tips on how to see Venice at its best, and get tidbits of advice that only a girlfriend would be able to give: tried and tested information by a woman for other women.
"No city was superior to Venice for its number of high-profile women, beautiful in body as in spirit and mind.
Roman ladies were pretty, but not always chaste (...) those that lived in the Caucus were pretty (and still are), but cruel and vindictive at the same time.
Only the Athenians could be compared to the Venetian women in regards to their beautiful figures, liveliness, their graceful speech - but the Venetians surpassed them in their softness, modesty and subtle wit.”
Eugenio Musatti, “La donna in Venezia”, Draghi, Padova, 1891.
That’s easy: it’s the city that everyone wants to see at least once in their lifetime. It was built on the water against all logistical odds of construction, and has withstood the test of time throughout centuries without changing (much); it’s both an anti-modern yet anti-conformist city at the same time. It’s quite an architectural feat: building a city - and what a city indeed! - on wooden poles stuck in the mud and mire… it’s nothing to sneeze at. Yet the handful of "Venetians" fleeing from the barbarians around 400 AD did just that - they built the city on the water, counting on the fact that the enemy wouldn’t be able to reach them through the swamps and lagoons. Even if only for this reason - to see how an “aquatic city” lives and breathes centuries later - it would be worth seeing.
But there are other reasons too: Art, for example. In its age of glory (that of the Serenissima Repubblica), Venice was busy building, decorating, and embellishing. Among its palaces, museums, works of art - its array of cultural assets is dazzling. And then there's romanticism: they say that Venice is the most romantic city in the world. It's true. But it's worth seeing without having to wait for the love of your life to walk with arm in arm through the narrow streets, because it is also a safe city that is well-suited for women, provided they're not wearing heels (but we'll talk more about that later).
Like all touristic cities, Venice is filled with... tourists. That is also young ladies and women, maybe in small groups, that go there to take in the scenery and monuments. There are some Venetians who are convinced that these women only want to have fun with the locals, and they've created a proper "Club for Flirts", with the goal of "conquering" as many foreign women as possible. They have a scoreboard and point system: Swedish women are worth less of than Spanish women because they're easier to conquer, for one thing. … And so on and so forth. They "work" in the neighborhoods around Piazza San Marco, and when all is said and done they run off to tell their friends how it went. In short, they're real gentlemen. It's not easy to pick them out of a crowd, as they don't exactly go around wearing a particular uniform. But if you encounter a flirty local guy, keep this in mind. Whether you play along or walk away, that's up to you.
"A fisherman from Chioggia put his bare elbows on the same table as that of a fine gentleman. No one would blink twice at a tavern, nor notice a seated well-dressed woman, drinking a semata and eating fresh fish."
George Sand, 1833
Venice, like all of the cities within the Veneto region, has a higher alcohol consumption rate than the rest of Italy. Here, drinking an “ombra” (a very Venetian word for “a glass of wine”) or a spritzer is not only considered proper, but also quite feminine. In fact, no one – including the bartender - is shocked when they see young ladies or more mature women sitting or standing at the bar with a glass in hand.
Gondoliers are in Venice like lifeguards on Muscle Beach. They believe themselves to be amazing and irresistible seducers, and indeed some American women fall for it. Italian women have caught on, and are more easily able to resist the charm of the striped shirt. Don't be surprised if you receive glances, compliments, or loud comments from their direction. When you take a gondola ride you'll always have one in front of you and one behind. Remember this fact when you're wearing a revealing dress or clothes that might be slightly transparent (as to expose your underthings).
Venice is one of the few cities that can be considered safe for women at any time of day. Despite being deserted after eight o'clock at night, you could peacefully walk until three in the morning, go home from a restaurant or dinner without having to be "escorted" by a friend, and go to the movies alone without being bothered. That says a lot.
The Venetian climate is extremely humid both in summer and winter, which can spell disaster for your hair (hairstyles will not hold) and shoes (if it rains they will soak up the salt, which forms rings that won't ever go away). Not to mention those who suffer from bone disorders or headaches, which may increase when there is low pressure. Fog can envelop the entire city in the fall months, and can be so thick as to stop some of the waterbuses or even shut down the Marco Polo airport. The sirocco wind from the south brings humidity and low pressure, and the bora wind comes from the east and blows in cold air from the Karst region (this can occur in winter). In regards to the phenomenon of high water, we'll discuss that a little further on.
For one reason or another, in Venice women have always had a special place in society. It's true that at the time of the Serenissima the doges (male) were in charge, but the women (at least not all of them) didn't just rest on their laurels.
For example, the first woman in the world to obtain a university degree was Venetian. Elena Cornaro Piscopia was born in 1646 to an upper-class family. Her father, the procurator of San Marco, soon realized that his daughter was intellectually gifted, and at as early as seven years old he encouraged her to study Latin, Greek, music, and grammar. She took up learning Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish and French on her own. His goal and her ambition was only that of increasing her knowledge, but to please her father she enrolled at the University of Padua to pursue a degree in theology. He did not count on the fact that the Church would retain that theology was "unfit for women", and she was "only" allowed to enroll in studies related to philosophy. When the time came to present her thesis, the ceremony had to be moved to the Cattedrale della Vergine due to the huge crowds who came to watch. On June 25, 1678 Elena received her degree. She refused several marriages of convenience and continued her life studying and dedicating herself to the poor, after having joined a monastic order. She died at 36 years of age in 1684.
"If it's true what you say," Virginia said at this point, "and if men are as imperfect as you say they are, then why are they our superiors on every count? To which Corinna replied, “This pre-eminence is something [men] have unjustly arrogated to themselves. And when it's said that women must be subject to men, the phrase should be understood in the same sense as when we say we are subject to natural disasters, diseases, and all the other accidents of this life: it's not a case of being subjected in the sense of obeying, but rather of suffering an imposition, not a case of serving them fearfully, but rather of tolerating them in a spirit of Christian charity, since they have been given to us by God as a spiritual trial. But they take the phrase in the contrary sense and set themselves up as tyrants over us, arrogantly usurping that dominion over women that they claim is their right, but which is more properly ours. For don't we see that men's rightful task is to go out to work and wear themselves out trying to accumulate wealth, as though they were our factors or stewards, so that we can remain at home like the lady of the house directing their work and enjoying the profit of their labors? That, if you like, is the reason why men are naturally stronger and more robust than us - they need to be, so they can put up with the hard labor they must endure in our service."
These are the wise words written by Moderata Fonte
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