A stunningly illustrated history of Venice, from its beginnings as 'La Serenissima' – 'the Most Serene Republic' – to the Italian city that continues to enchant visitors today.
'Everything about Venice,' observed Lord Byron, 'is, or was, extraordinary – her aspect is like a dream, and her history is like a romance.' Dream and romance have conditioned myriad encounters with Venice across the centuries, but the city's story embodies another kind of experience altogether – the hard reality of an independent state built on conquest, profit and entitlement and on the toughness and resilience of a free people. Masters of the sea, the Venetians raised an empire through an ethos of service and loyalty to a republic that lasted a thousand years.
In this new study of key moments in Venice's history, from its half-legendary founding amid the collapse of the Roman empire to its modern survival as a fragile city of the arts menaced by saturation tourism and rising sea levels, Jonathan Keates shows us just how much this remarkable place has contributed to world culture and explains how it endures as an object of desire and inspiration for so many.
'Keates is an enthusiastic, serious and careful writer, and this delightful book, though designed up to the hilt, contains a lot to muse over' Guardian.
'As well as having magisterial critical judgements, this is a book rich in dry humour and telling anecdote' Spectator.
'Keates appraises his works with passionate scrutiny' Sunday Times.
'A beautifully paced and meticulously detailed narrative' Literary Review.
'Admirably concise and evocative' The Times