“When in Venice walk in a single file” by Fabrizio Berger is an instruction manual for the use of the city, as it also recites its subtitle. It was released in June by Tostapane Edizioni. You can find it in many Venetian bookshops but, if you are not in Venice, write directly to the publisher who will surely find a way to send it to you.
Why this title? Because it is a good rule, especially in the narrowest alleys, to walk in single file, especially so as not to hinder the passage in the other direction. Then we continue chatting with friends and family when we arrive in the next campo (the Venetian little squares).
I’ve known Fabrizio Berger for some time, so when the book came out, I was curious about the fact that it dealt with a topic, how to live the city to the full, which is particularly dear to me. I have treated it several times in the blog.
It is an atypical guide of the city of Venice: inside, you will not find descriptions of monuments and squares to visit but advice for living the city to the fullest.
The book starts with instructions on how to get, how to move, the services available in the city, what to eat and how to do it, where to sleep, how to live the city, what to do to discover the city and its inhabitants. In the end, there is a glossary of some common Venetian words.
Each part of the book is accompanied by accompanying photos that help you understand how unique the city is. The images are not only from Berger but also by other friends involved in the project.
The book can is easy to read, and it is not so unusual to find oneself smiling: even for those who know the city well, it is still a pleasant reading that also tells the small habits that each of us has made our own.
Time in Venice is conceived “on a human scale”, so to speak: indeed, ‘I’ll see you in 20 minutes’ means that it will take me 20 minutes to get there (normally, it will take me 5 minutes to walk up and down the bridges, 10 minutes for the unavoidable chit-chat with all the people I will run into, 5 more for a coffee or a ‘spritz’ cocktail that some acquaintance will inevitably insist on offering me, an other 10 minutes of unavoidable chit-chat with all the people that I will meet again exiting the café or the tavern, 5 more minutes to run up and down the bridges, knowing I’m now late, and an other 10 minutes to wait for the person I was supposed to meet, who will obviously have been intercepted by a relative or an acquaintance or had some unexpected inconvenience…).
The sentence is possible to explain also because the author of the book is a very social human and full of humor: impossible when you meet him just not being “molested” by his unlikely jokes.
That being said, it’s true: you don’t know how many times my clients ask me how big Venice is. I don’t measure it in kilometers but in time of walking distance, saying that our times will be different in any case: I will stop talking to someone I meet and maybe take a spritz, they will stop to take pictures or consult google maps, inevitably losing.
Assalto al vaporetto | VeneziaWhat I particularly liked in the book by Fabrizio Berger is that he did not approach the visitor thinking that in Venice he wants to spend only a few hours but that in reality, we want to transfer to Venice. Let me explain: we read this book is interested in understanding the character of this city, to scratch under the surface of things that may strike at first glance. I would like there to find a book like this in a city where maybe I have already been, but I want to live even better. It is a Venice explained by the Venetians and not by those who gather information here and there and gives us yet another guide.
It is a book for those who want to hear the city, better if they spend some time to listen to it. The other day, talking to one of my clients, I said that I have Italian friends who come back every year to Venice. With astonishing air, they asked me, “why?”. I was appalled. For example, because there are always new exhibits, because it is nice to eat along the street, because are there a thousand islands to explore? It is as if someone once went to London, Paris, or New York and thought they had seen everything. Venice is like this: even if you’ve seen everything, which is impossible, isn’t it nice to enjoy a stroll in the city?
San Marco dalla GiudeccaIn these instructions for use, I rediscovered the Venice I fell in love with: not only its monuments but a way of life that is unique in the world made up of people, meetings, trips to the lagoon, traditional festivals, and age-old habits.
I, therefore, recommend reading to everyone, if only to fall in love again with the Venice specialty. And if you’re in town, follow the Facebook page because the project continues through organized events.