You’re invited: Follow your writing dreams down Venice’s Grand Canal
When Peter Benchley first visited Venice, he wrote to his editor at the New Yorker: “Streets full of water. Please advise”.
Venice has both fascinated and repelled writers for centuries, and still continues to serve as inspiration – both by those who find it magical and those determined to view it in a curmudgeonly light. Yet even they seem unable to escape the romance of the place.
That was why we, at All About Writing, were drawn to hold our annual writers’ retreat there. Forget the tourists. It takes five minutes to escape them. We spirit our writers into another age: a seventeenth century palazzo in a cobbled square, where the nuns bring the children out to play.
There’s a peculiar silence here. At first, it’s hard to place what is so different, and then it hits you. No cars, no motorbikes. No hooting or alarms. No idling engines. Just the sounds of another era. After a day or two you notice something else – a more precious quiet, the creative calming of one’s inner clamour.
There’s no escaping it. The palazzo is every writer’s dream: fling open the window and write with a view of a canal or a cobbled square. Seek inspiration in its frescoed halls and art-lined ballrooms, or sit thinking on the terrace, gazing out over the domes and rooftops of Venice.
An early walk could carry you through the fruit and fish markets, just setting up for the day, over silent bridges, with just the splish of boats passing beneath.
“The black, sleek gondola, and the way in which it moves, light, without any sound, retains a strange character, a dream-like beauty, and is an integral part of the city of idleness, love and music,” wrote Hermann Hesse. “In no other city … have I found such a unity between contemporary life and the life which speaks to us of the works of art of its golden age, and in which sun and sea are more essential than all of history”.
Venice is a place you can walk, observe and write. Theatrical architecture, centuries old, houses real Venetians going about their daily lives. A tiny jewellery store huddles beside a fashion store and, just around the corner in a narrow alleyway, a couple who lovingly create handmade books.
Out-of-the-way galleries are discovered beside hand-crafters of musical instruments. Pause at the museum of perfumes or for a coffee in a quiet square. Peer through metal grates at hidden gardens and sculpture-filled courtyards.
For the writers who join us in Venice each September, the retreat offers something rare and essential: the opportunity to escape the din and demands of our everyday lives for an environment that inspires and encourages creativity.
As Peggy Guggenheim said: “One always takes for granted that Venice is the ideal city for a honeymoon, but this is a serious error. Living in Venice, or simply visiting it, means to fall in love with it, and there is no space left in the heart for anything else”.
Why not join us on the perpetual honeymoon that is Serenissimo – the Queen of the Adriatic?
Hope to see you there!