Author(s): John Julius Norwich
Nineteenth-century Venice offered respite from the outside world. It was a city in which the pace of life was slower, geared either to the amble of the pedestrian or to the glide of a gondola; in which the sun shone, if not all the time, at least far more often than in more northern latitudes; and in which beauty was to be found on every side.
For this portrait of Venice in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Lord Norwich has therefore abandoned the historical approach, preferring to look at the city through the eyes of the most distinguished of its foreign visitors or residents. Napoleon, Byron, Ruskin, Browning, Wagner and Henry James are among those who made the city their own, together with the two great Anglo-American painters James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. The survey ends with the insufferable 'Baron Corvo', who poisoned the life of the British colony in Venice in the years immediately before the First World War.