Every year for the thirty they have been married, Louis Begley and Anka Muhlstein have escaped to Venice to write. In Venice for Lovers, Begley and Muhlstein fashion their own personal homages to Venice, one with a novella, the other with a personal essay. In her contribution to the book, Muhlstein charmingly describes how she and her husband dine at the same restaurant every night for years on end, and how becoming friends with restaurateurs has been an unsurpassed means of getting to know the city and its inhabitants, far from the tourists in San Marco Square. They meet Venetians like Ernesto, who tells them of the great flood that nearly destroyed the beautiful city; and Nerone, an authoritarian chef who serves the freshest seafood and throws yesterday’s catch to the cats. And they spend blissful hours at Da Fiore, named by the International Herald Tribune as one of the ten best restaurants in the world but which, unfazed, retains its rustic simplicity.
In his short novella, Begley writes a story of falling in love with—and in—Venice. His twenty-year-old protagonist, enamored with an older, far worldlier woman, is lured by her to the City of Water, only to be unceremoniously dumped after a brief rendezvous. But he discovers a lasting love for Venice itself—not an uncommon romance, as Begley’s brilliant essay on the city’s place within world literature demonstrates.
By turns humorous, nostalgic, and spellbinding, Venice for Lovers is a memorable collaboration by two fine stylists—a very private view of a place that will forever inspire dreams of love and passion.