Elegance in Venice, Italy

“Thank you,” I told him, while I was observing his appearance. 

He was wearing orange trousers, a jacket in a shade of olive green, and a scarf in a hue of apricot. He was enjoying his pipe and had a copy of the Gazzettino, the local paper, folded under his arm.  He was loosely holding his dog’ s leash in his gloved hand. Ah yes, the Venetian love of elegance is so deeply embedded and, up until quite lately, the masculine part of the population was even in the habit of airing themselves with fans in the summer.

The Promenade  by Giandomenico Tiepolo, Venice

The Promenade by Giandomenico Tiepolo, Venice

But where is their melancholy? I often asked myself and nothing could convince me that the Venetians feel or even see their city as melancholy.  It is us foreigners who use this word, much as a cliché. Writers use it, tour operators advertise it, but what does melancholy really mean?  Moroseness, a constant sadness. Is that Venice?  No, not at all!  At least, not in my eyes, not living in the time of the city’s demise, and seeing it only in its newest incarnation, protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site and playing a significant role in European culture. Its old-time grandeur is history, and when this was understood by its residents, I believe the melancholy vanished.

An excerpt from the book: My Venice

Gala dinner in Venice

Gala dinner in Venice

Barbara Athanassiadis