Our thanks to Anka Muhlstein for permission to use her title, Pen & Palette for our Venice Literary Tour. Ms. Muhlstein Uses this title for her brilliant Lectures on Proust & Balzac that highlight the links between authors and artists. Venice for Lovers, a collection of Essays by Anka and her husband, Louis Begley, offers their unique views of Venice with their favorite restaurant tips, some of which we will follow.

Byron, Henry James, Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Ruskin, Robert Browning all lived in or visited Venice often. You’ll learn about the books they wrote and the art they produced. See the palazzos where they lived, sip an espresso at the cafes where they hung out, walk in their footsteps.

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VISIT THE SITES where your favorite authors lived and wrote.
Readings ... discussions ... lectures.

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May 2016

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).

The Grand Canal

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.
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 miss it!
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 break.
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.

Day 1
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.


The Grand Canal

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.

Gondolas On The Grand Canal

Venice Canals

Day 2
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 library.

Palazzo Barbaro

Commissario Guido Brunetti's Hang Out

Day 3
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.

Day 4
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 Time. 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.

Palazzo Barbaro Palazzo Barbaro

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.

Day 5
Optional day… To do what you wish. We will give you our recommendations
And help you plan.

Day 6
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 Giorgio

Ruskin Lived and Wrote Here

Spritz is THE drink of Venice

Day 7
More Proust in Venice including Fortuny influences and "that walk" and Commissario Guido Brunetti walk (optional).

Day 8
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.