Paradise of Cities: Venice in the 19th Century by John Julius Norwich

By John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich's A background of Venice has been dubbed "indispensable" by way of none except Jan Morris. Now, in his moment booklet at the urban as soon as often called l. a. Serenissima, Norwich advances the tale during this stylish chronicle of 100 years of Venice's highs and lows, from its ignominious catch by means of Napoleon in 1797 to the sunrise of the twentieth century.

An compulsory cease at the Grand journey for any cultured Englishman (and, later, Americans), Venice limped into the nineteenth century--first below the yoke of France, then as an outpost of the Austrian Hapsburgs, stripped of riches but indelibly the main ravishing urban in Italy. even if subsumed right into a unified Italy in 1866, it remained a magnet for aesthetes of all stripes--subject or atmosphere of books by means of Ruskin and James, a muse to poets and musicians, in its method the main gracious courtesan of all eu towns. by way of refracting pictures of Venice throughout the visits of such extravagant (and occasionally debauched) artists as Lord Byron, Richard Wagner, and the inimitable Baron Corvo, Norwich conjures visions of paradise on a lagoon, as enduring as brick and as elusive because the tides.

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This was the neighbourhood of St Peter’s and of the Castel Sant’Angelo, with the raised and fortified corridor running between them. National churches of the Germans and the Hungarians were located here, along with a number of hospices and hospitals, the most famous being the hospital of Santo Spirito. The colour of the Borgo caporione was violet, or purple, the colour of bishops and emperors. The republic re-named this the Vatican section. If Napoleon dreamed of the Forum and the Campidoglio, other men dreamed less powerful, but no less passionately held, dreams.

On ceremonial occasions, their caporione, district chief, wore a colour described as ‘changing’ (perhaps shot silk). The republicans divided it into two parts, to be called the Terme (baths) and Suburra districts. Trevi (Rione II): A much smaller area in the heart of the city, bordering on the Corso and including, in addition to the famous Trevi fountain and palace, the even grander palace of the popes on the Quirinal hill, and the little church of Santa Maria della Vittoria with the famous (or infamous) Bernini scene of St Theresa in Ecstasy.

The coronation went well, despite potential hazards. Josephine’s sisters-in-law despised her, and did their best to make her trip on her train, but she remained erect; Napoleon’s sense of dignity showed only occasional lapses, as when he prodded Uncle Fesch in the back with his sceptre; and the pope was left sitting alone on his throne for the best part of two hours when the coronation party was late. Perhaps most irksome of all, the emperor’s mother never showed up. Angry with Napoleon for having quarrelled with, and exiled, his brother Lucien, she had taken herself to Rome to show her displeasure.

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