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Venice in My Soul
An interview with writer Servane Giol
Servane Giol is the author of a new book, Soul of Venice, featuring thirty unforgettable Venetian experiences, none of which involve a gondola ride or legends from the Bridge of Sighs. Sharp, stylish and surprising, it’s a refreshing and jubilant look at her home city. Here she shares her thoughts on magic carpets, dazzling jewels and an extraordinary 1915 menu from her personal archive.
- If someone arrived in the city on a magic carpet and could only stay an hour, which experience would suggest the quintessence of Venice to you?
Waoo an hour is really short…If it’s their first time in Venice I would rush to the piazza San Marco visit the basilica and enjoy a hot chocolate at Florian, Otherwise a boat to Torcello, visit the Basilica and lunch at the Locanda Cipriani
-The book has some fabulous suggestions for pizza-and-lasagne-free dining ( we especially loved number 26 “An Aperitif in the Countryside’) What do you particularly like about the Venetian approach to food?
The Venetian approach to food is rather “poor”. Healthy, seasonal, no sauces or butter… For many centuries only the islands and the lagoon were providing food for its residents. So in Venetian food you can still find a lot of local produce like artichokes, (island of san Erasmo) and fish ( my favorite being the little crabs called moeche).
- You have lived in Venice for more than twenty years and raised your family here, as well as founding a children’s theatre company. Do you have any tips for Venice lovers with children?
Well Venice is a dream for children,
I would definitely take them to the top of a" campanile” clock tower so that they could see the city from above, and then take them on a boat ride.Here there are many options: the vaporetto, renting your own boat or just crossing the Canal Grande on a traghetto-then a pit stop for ice cream on the Zattere at Nico is a must.
One of my favorite museums for children is actually the Guggenheim, they can run around in the garden of the palazzo and they love to look at the names of Peggy’s dogs on their grave.
- Your personal style comes through so strongly in the book- please suggest an ideal outfit for a day (and a night) in the city.
Well in the day I would definitely go for stripes… If you are in Venice it’s cute to play that marine card as the city is so much one with the sea, the lagoon and all water elements.For shoes in the day time opt for the Venetian slippers , the Friulane, so confortable that it is what the gondolier choose to wear. They exist in all colors and materials.
Nights in Venice are magical so go glamour! I love the Venetian jewellers’ historical styles-one can still find Grace Kelly’s Moore brooch at Nardi or the typical ornate skulls of Codognato. Baroque and gold are great for a dinner in Venice.
- Your book has already been translated into four languages. What are your future writing plans?
For now its is to be found in Italian, English, French and German , four others are still under translation.
I am preparing another book, a bit more historical, on the Venetian way of life for a French editor.
-You can bottle one Venetian memory in an exquisite Murano flask and throw it into the lagoon for eternity to find. What’s in the bottle?
Actually I found a “bottle”, in the treasures of an archive, of the palazzo I live in and its …a Menu… dating from 1915.
I love it cause it is still exactly what I could prepare for my guests…
Riso con Piselli (Risi Bisi), carciofi , Italian red wine
I think I would just keep it like this and bottle it up again in one of Alessandro Zoppi’s lovely antique glass flasks and send it to future generations.
Find Servane’s book Soul of Venice here
Soul of Venice (Jonglez Publishing, 2020)