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Venice: Pure City by Peter Ackroyd

Venice: Pure City by Peter Ackroyd is an intriguing read about the floating city. The book, rich in details, revolves around centuries of history that make the Venetian Republic. If you’re looking for a book set in Venice, Peter Ackroyd’s Venice: Pure City is the one to pick! It is mysterious, seductive and factual and you’ll soon find yourself longing for the secluded waters of the lagoon.

What makes Venice globally famous and eternally unique?? What can be the best testament to the most serene city?? Let’s find out more about Venice with Ackroyd’s prose about La Serenissima~the most serene.

Venice: Pure City- A Synopsis

Venice: Pure City by Peter Ackroyd starts by describing the lagoon and its history. Ackroyd’s expansive style of writing tells his readers about what is about to come next. He talks about the channels of the Venetian lagoon, giving an introduction to the rivers Brenta, Sile and Piave (which I had no idea about!) He then talks about the currents that flow from the Mediterranean that create a porti, an entrance to these channels. There is an extensive detail about the islands that make up Venice- Chioggia, Malamocco, Torecello and Burano are some familiar names that come in the book often. The author then delves into the Byzantines, which highly influenced the Venetians.

It is believed that the earliest tribes came as early as 8th century BC.

peter ackroyd

The book puts a lot of emphasis on the daily aspects of Venetian life, especially how the Venetians are more island people, different from the rest. One of the most striking facts is the way the Venetians describe themselves. Andare alla deriva means to be adrift, but what it really implies is the temperament of the Venetians. The people of Venice also describe the foggy winters of the city by using words such as nebbietta or foschia for fog. When the city of Venice is engulfed in this nebbia, the only sounds the Venetians hear are the muffled footsteps and church bells.

Of course islanders must look out to sea. It is their context. It is their horizon. Where would they be without the sea??

peter ackroyd
Venice: Pure City by peter Ackroyd (Pixabay Image)
Grand Canal, Venice

Never Enough Venice

One can never know completely about Venice. It is almost impossible to get a thorough understanding of this floating city with one book. However, Akcroyd’s book touches on all aspects of Venice from merchants, traders, glass makers to politics, art and religion. Furthermore, he breaks the book into different chapters such as The Merchant of Venice, The Lion City, Bells and Gondolas, Learning the Language etc. From time to time you’ll find yourself moving around the campi and canals of today to the market life of yesteryear. You’ll find yourself falling in love with Venice and it’s many islands- one can never have enough Venice!

Venice is the most visually seductive of all cities of the world.

peter ackroyd

Final Thoughts

If you’re a fan of non fiction, you must pick this historical book on Venice. It will be the first of many books on Venice that you will love. This is not a guide book but a bibliography of a city with illustrations and pictures. So you will find historical, geographical and cultural details all entwined together. Have no expectation and simply go with the flow! Happy Reading!

Further Reading:

La Passione by Dianne Hales

Other Books by Peter Ackroyd

Venice is most characteristic at night. It has a quality of stillness that suits the mood of time preserved.

peter ackroyd
Venice: Pure City by Peter Ackroyd (Credits: Pixabay)
Venice at night

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