Books about Venice

If you've been intrigued by my project of showing you some specialized aspects of Venice, then here is some further reading. All of these books went into the project in some way. The primary sources might be an interesting detour, as many of them show the perceptions of foreigners who came to Venice in the 15th-18th centuries. The secondary sources will give you more details than you ever needed to know. I used the memoirs and guidebooks when I was familiarizing myself with the city; most of them make good reading on their own.

A good map is essential for a detailed exploration of Venice, whether vicariously or in person. While John Freely's Strolling through Venice has very good maps for following his directed tours, they do not label things that aren't on his agenda. You should get a large foldout map. The Rand McNally/Hallwag City Flash lists most street names and many bridge names. It is also plastic-coated, which means that it will survive several months in your purse or briefcase, if required.

Primary Sources

These are historical accounts or descriptions of Venice. Some, like those of Sanudo and Sansovino, were written by native Venetians. The rest were written by visitors to Venice.

Casola, Pietro. Canon Pietro Casola's Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the Year 1494. Translated by M. Margaret Newett. Manchester: 1907.

Coryat, Thomas. Coryat's Crudities. Vol. I. Glasgow: 1905.

da Canal, Martin. Les Estoires de Venise: Cronaca veneziana in lingua francese dalle origini al 1275, ed. and trans. Alberto Limentani. Florence: 1973.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Italian Journey. Trans. Robert R. Heitner, ed. Thomas P. Saine and Jeffrey L Sammons. Vol. 6 of Goethe's Collected Works. New York: 1989.

Moryson, Fynes. An Itinerary Containing His Ten Yeeres Travell. Vol. 1. Glasgow: 1907.

__________. Shakespeare's Europe: Unpublished Chapters of Fynes Moryson's Itinerary. ed. Charles Hughes. London: 1903.

Sansovino, Francesco. Venetia città nobilissima et singolare descritta in XIIII libri. Venice: 1581.

Sanudo, Marin. De origine situ et magistratibus urbis Venetae ovvero La città di Venetia (1493-1530). A. Caracciolo Aricò ed. Milan: 1980.

__________. I diarii. ed. Rinaldo Fulin et al. 58 vols. Bologna: 1989. (Reprint of Venice: 1879-1903.)

__________. "Laus urbis Venetae." BCV ms. Cicogna 969, ff. 8v-19r: 1493, published in Chambers and Pullan, eds. Venice: a Documentary History 1450-1630. Oxford: 1992.

Tafur, Pero. Travels and Adventures 1435-1439. Translated by Malcolm Letts. London: 1926.

Secondary Sources

This group of books is mainly specialist literature about some aspect, generally architectural, but sometimes historical, of the city of Venice.

Piazza San Marco: L'architettura, la storia, le funzioni. Padua: 1970.

Arslan, Edoardo. Gothic Architecture in Venice. Translated by Anne Engel. London: 1971.

Boholm, Asa. The Doge of Venice: the Symbolism of State Power in the Renaissance. Gothenburg: 1990.

Chambers, David, and Brian Pullan, eds. Venice: a Documentary History 1450-1630. Oxford: 1992.

Davis, Robert. The War of the Fists: Popular Culture and Public Violence in Late Renaissance Venice. Oxford: 1994.

Demus, Otto. The Church of San Marco in Venice: History, Architecture, Sculpture. Washington: 1960.

Donatelli, Carlo. La gondola: una straordinaria architettura navale. Venice: 1990.

Goy, Richard. The House of Gold. Cambridge: 1992.

__________. Venetian Vernacular Architecture: Traditional Housing in the Venetian Lagoon. Cambridge: 1989.

__________. Venice: The City and its Architecture. London: 1997.

Gramigna Dian, Silvia, Annalisa Perissa Torrini, Giovanni Scarabello, and Alberto Favaretto. Scuole di arti mestieri e devozione a Venezia. Venice: 1981.

Hale, J. R., ed. Renaissance Venice. London: 1973.

Huse, Norbert, and Wolfgang Wolters. The Art of Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Sculpture and Painting, 1460-1590. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Chicago: 1990. Original German publication Munich, 1986.

Lane, Frederic C. Venice: A Maritime Republic. Baltimore: 1973.

Lauritzen, Peter. Palaces of Venice. New York: 1978.

Lieberman, Ralph. Renaissance Architecture in Venice. New York: 1982.

Marangoni, Giovanni. Gondole e gondolieri. Venice: 1970.

McAndrew, John. Venetian Architecture of the Early Renaissance. Cambridge, MA: 1980.

Molmenti, Pompeo Gherardo. La Storia di Venezia nella vita privata dalla origini alla caduta della repubblica. Torino: 1988.

Muir, Edward. Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice. Princeton: 1981.

Norwich, John Julius. A History of Venice. New York: 1989. (Original London publications 1977 and 1981.)

Perocco, Guy, and Antonio Salvadori. CiviltÓ di Venezia. Venice: 1973.

Pignatti, Terisio, Brian Pullan, and Maria Agnese Chiari. Scuole di Venezia. Milan: 1981.

Rizzo, Tiziano. I ponti di Venezia. Rome: 1983.

Webb, Michael. The City Square: A Historical Evolution. New York: 1990.

Zucchetta, Gianpietro. Venezia, ponte per ponte. Venice: 1992.

Twentieth-Century Memoirs

These are in the best tradition of travel writing, and did not fail to amuse and inform.

Littlewood, Ian. A Literary Companion to Venice. New York: 1991. (Contains excerpts from many writers including some of the primary sources cited above.)

Marquese, Michael. Venice: An Illustrated Anthology. Topsfield MA: 1989.

McCarthy, Mary. Venice Observed. New York: 1956.

Molmenti, Pompeo Gherardo. Venice. Boston: n.d.

Morris, James. Venice. 2nd revised, paper ed. London: 1983.

Vidal, Gore. Vidal in Venice. New York: 1985.


Present-day guidebooks to Venice can be remarkably useful in summarizing a lot of information about a very complex city. Here are the ones that I found to be most useful.

Facaros, Dana, and Michaul Pauls. Venice and the Veneto. Part of the Cadogan City Guides series. London: 1994.

Freely, John. Strolling through Venice. London: 1994.

Garner, Chas, and Alessandro Giannatasio. Venicewalks. Part of the Henry Holt Walks series. New York: 1991.

Kent, John. John Kent's Venice. London: 1988.

Wurman, Richard Saul. Florence/Venice/Milan Access. Part of the Access series. San Francisco: 1991. (Since replaced by Florence/Venice Access.)

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