Venice Is a Fish: A Sensual Guide
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Venice Is a Fish: A Sensual Guide

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  267 ratings  ·  46 reviews
One of Italy’s brightest literary lights reinvents travel writing with a seductive, intoxicating celebration of the magical saltwater city.

“Venice is a fish,” writes Tiziano Scarpa. “It’s like a vast sole stretched out against the deep. How did this marvelous beast make its way up the Adriatic and fetch up here, of all places?” Paying homage to his native city in a lyrica...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 14th 2008 by Gotham (first published 2000)
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The City of Falling Angels by John BerendtVenice by Jan MorrisDeath at La Fenice by Donna LeonNo Vulgar Hotel by Judith MartinAcqua Alta by Donna Leon
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An evocative ode to Venice by a native writer, which excludes naming restaurants and shops and instead focuses on the life of the place. He's too indulgent in word choice, but good at portraying the atmosphere that "keeps desire forever inflamed, but at a mild level, without sudden fluctuations." Not all is romantic, since Venice is also a giant sewer-home to rat legions, and chunks of old plaster fall on people's heads.

Another writer, Diogo Mainardi, concludes in the coda: "For me, Venice is th...more
Stuart Hill
lyrical musings on the city by a venetian. This book attempts to describe the impact of venice on the senses. At best it is a witty and stimulating read, but it is let down by some weaker sections.

It is also rather short, and the central text is a mere 100 short pages (the edition I read was a small format), the remainder is made up of alternative versions of previous chapters which felt rather pointless , and a couple of pieces by other authors, one of which is less than 3 pages long! I did won...more
I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to read this book. If you try to skim its pages or cram its sentences between moments of your busy life, you will miss it. My favourite sentiment in this book is how the people of Venice are under constant assault by beauty, that the times when some of these great buildings or monuments are covered for restoration allows for a strange sense of relief, a tiny unburdening of the weight that so much splendour puts upon the residents.

The language th...more
Mostly, this book is amazingly fulfilling in its full-sensory engagement with La Serenissima, but then it simply ends, I suppose, just as my short upcoming visit will. Intensely felt, this geography lesson tells me how the place will lay claim to my heart. And I'm open to it.
Questo librettino è fantastico per avere una guida alternativa alla città di Venezia. Il volume è strutturato in capitoli nei quali vengono presentati aspetti diversi sì, ma sempre con qualcosa in comune che li lega. Ad esempio nel capitolo "Naso" si racconta degli odori e dei luoghi caratteristici come il mercato del pesce. Certamente non una guida classica che parla dei monumenti, ma una scoperta di cose particolari per imparare e comprendere aspetti di vita quotidiana. Si può dire di conoscer...more
Christopher Intagliata
Oct 10, 2007 Christopher Intagliata rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travellers to Venice and Italophiles
This is probably the best guide to Venice. You won't find hotels, restaurants, bars or museums on these pages - instead they are dedicated to examining the essence of all things perceived by the senses in Venice, unique among all cities. There is a chapter on the sounds of Venice, footsteps on stone alleys reverberating in the closed space. The smells of the fish market and the canals in the summer. The most beautiful and sensible guide to experiencing Venice.

The title, "Venice is a fish" derive...more
Una guida di Venezia bellissima. Ho trovato lo stesso approccio che adotto io quando vado in questa città che è la mia preferita: godersi Venezia con tutto il corpo e i 5 sensi, con la mente e con il cuore. Si trovano anche molte cose interessanti, che aiutano a conoscerla ancora meglio. Non è peró una guida per chiunque: solo per veri e irriducibili appassionati.
A interesting guide through Venice focusing on the different senses. The book is unlike any other "travel guide" I've read because it focuses on the nooks and grannies and obscurities of a world famous city. The language is thick and convoluted which makes for a good read and a feeling similar to eating a very rich meal.
Aug 06, 2011 Alan added it
Short book to whet your appetite for Venice. Each chapter comments on how a body part, legs for example, interactes with Venice. Eyes, ears, nose, taste, feet, legs each have a chapter. Basically saying Venice is sensory overload and so everyone is most serene.
David Gray
This is as much poetry as prose about the wonderful and bizarre world that is Venice. Another title that probably doesn't mean much to those wo don't already know or love the city, but certainly provides a unique perspective to those who already feel that connection.
Astrid Virili
ieri a venezia ho cercato la colonna con il capitello descritto da scarpa nel libro, quello con le scene che formano una storia d'amore.
ho messo le foto su flickr
Niki Costantini
Una piccola guida alternativa che è diventato un classico del suo genere. Comprata durante il mio ultimo soggiorno veneziano, si legge velocemente per ritrovare luoghi ed emozioni alla fine di una giornata di esplorazioni. Non è una guida turistica, non ci sono percorsi da seguire, solo racconti, accenni, episodi e sensazioni, con una bella bibliografia alla fine e una coda con una manciata di racconti brevi che chiudono un cerchio emotivo.
Unico appunto, che è anche il punto di forza di questo...more
míol mór
Anti-guida che invita a vivere la citt�� e non a visitarla, fin dall'iniziale inno al vagabondaggio (scontato per chi conosce Venezia ed abbia il tempo sufficiente ad evitare gli itinerari turistici a tappe forzate).
L'assunto �� semplice e pienamente condivisibile: Venezia �� un'esperienza sensoriale, chimico-fisica prima che estetica. Quindi perch�� non organizzarne l'esplorazione secondo le parti del corpo coinvolte, anzich�� per zone arbitrarie o percorsi prestabiliti?

Scarpa ha letto i test...more
Lothar Pawliczak
Dies ist wirklich ein seltenes Exemplar unter den Venedig-Kenner-und-Liebhaber-Büchern (deutschsprachige Ausgabe, nach der hier zitiert wird, 2002 ISBN 978-3803124333) die sich so im Teich der deutschsprachigen Literatur tummeln. "Die anderen Bücher würden lächeln über das, was ich dir da erzähle." (S. 7) Der Autor ist nämlich ein echter Venezianer, wenngleich er auch nicht mehr in Venedig lebt. Die Frage, warum Deutsche ebenso wie Österreichische und Schweizer Verlage, gern Englische und Franzö...more
No Books
Anti-guida che invita a vivere la città e non a visitarla, fin dall'iniziale inno al vagabondaggio (scontato per chi conosce Venezia ed abbia il tempo sufficiente ad evitare gli itinerari turistici a tappe forzate).
L'assunto è semplice e pienamente condivisibile: Venezia è un'esperienza sensoriale, chimico-fisica prima che estetica. Quindi perché non organizzarne l'esplorazione secondo le parti del corpo coinvolte, anziché per zone arbitrarie o percorsi prestabiliti?

Scarpa ha letto i testi ed...more
Non sono mai stato attratto da Venezia, poi un giorno casualmente vado in laguna e rimango stregato da questa citt� unica. Non � per il romanticismo, tutt'altro! Inutile dire che � una citt� che trasuda magia da ogni spigolo, tanto che dopo esser tornato sono andato alla ricerca di qualche libro che ne parlasse, magari in modo curioso, ironico e fuori dai soliti schemi. Be' grazie ad un prezioso consiglio, eccomi arrivato a Tiziano Scarpa. Ottimo. Perfetto. Delizioso. Da leggere anche se non sie...more
This is an unusual book. To my knowledge, it's a whole new art form. It has the elements of a Hallmark gift book and at the same time those of an underground travelogue. The beauty of Venice is given in prose that rivals that of Maupassant (pp 117-124) whether it is about the vistas, the architecture or scatological issues unique to the city (pp.69-77).

The writer clearly loves his topic and the translator the art of translation. (Not having read the original, I presume Shaun Whiteside has coined...more
Scarpa's account of Venice is not a guidebook or a history in any conventional sense, but he conveys an enormous amount about the city nonetheless. Quite the best book about Venice I've ever read. I also enjoyed his Venice-inspired musings on life, such as the story of Pucci, his great-grandmother's cat which, "emerging from a placid snooze, opened his eyes on to the fall. ...Life is a cat asleep on the window sill suddenly waking as it falls from the third floor." (p. 87)
My second book about Italy... I wanted to like it, but it wasn't what I was hoping. Too short on useful details for me.. except, once again, for the food.
Sulla carta geografica, Venezia sembra un pesce e il ponte che la collega alla terraferma somiglia ad una lenza.
Letto veramente con piacere.
Una guida originalissima e agile, ricca di simpatici aneddoti, per chi non conosce o per chi ama già questa città magica. L'autore propone un itinerario non fatto di percorsi stradali, ma di sensazioni seguite ed emozioni catturate perché a Venezia "smarrirsi" è l'unico posto dove vale la pena di andare.
Completa la guida, ricchissima anche di riferimenti l...more
Poetic, prosaic, descriptive, deceptive, inspiring, insipid, and, yes, sensual. An ode to a city if I've ever read one.
Although I really like the idea of Scarpa's book, I think the flowery writing and abundance of big words make this short read a bit tedious. Plus I think the translation is probably a bad one (I speak Italian and I felt that some of the word and phrase choices were probably too literal and/or mistakes). My favorite part of the book is an essay included in the appendix titled "going back to sleep in Venice" (the first letter is not capitalised) by Diogo Mainardi.
Overall I'd skip this sensory ode...more
Luca Pascotto
Interessante "guida" di e su Venezia. Da leggere possibilmente prima di andarci, per respirare la ricchezza di questa splendida città.
This book is a love letter to Venice. Reading it you will discover some quirky and funny stoies about the magic floating city. The bibliografy at the end of the book provides great sources for those who wish to further their knowledge of Venezia.
This spare, impressionistic, and exceedingly unconventional account of Venice is far from the usual tourguide. I liked some chapters better than others, but appreciated the effort to try something new in the travel writing genre. I read about half the book before visiting Venice for the first time, and the rest after my return, and enjoyed the latter more than the former. It may work better as a stimulus for reviving memories of the city, than as a guide for the uninitiated.
Marwan Asmar
It would hardly seem fair for me to trash this book, particularly when it received so much glowing reviews from all over the world, and in spite of the fact I may needed to use a dictionary here and there, and which I am not afraid to say. I understand that this book is handled from an innovative perspective, and I so much wanted to follow its rhythm, but there was always a nagging feeling that I wanted to know and experience more about this beautiful city.
This was recommended to me by one of CU's Italian professors, who was not very impressed to see me reading Io non ho paura (which I still like). Well, it's cute, but I can just barely understand the Venetian dialect, and had to look up many, many words. That must have been a good thing, since I discovered my favorite non-word Italian word:
derattizzazione. LOVE it.
Ho ascoltato il libro letto con la voce dell'autore. Un valore aggiunto soprattutto nelle frasi in dialetto.
Una guida ideale per vedere Venezia con altri occhi, perlustrarne gli angoli nascosti e sentire il respiro di una citt�� altrimenti sommersa dal turismo.
Più qualche aneddoto, non ho gradito molto. Compiacente e in alcuni passi di un umorismo poco vincente, mi ha dato l'impressione, l'autore, di dover scrivere qualcosa perché tale è il suo lavoro, non per molto di più. Simpatico, ma decisamente poco degno di nota.
What started as initially beautiful became a very difficult to read little book. Ultimately I'm not sure this provided the background and info on Venice that I was looking for. I might just stick with the guidebook.
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