Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Post and Review with Blair McDowell

Good Morning Everyone!

I'm excited to be having a guest today. I am pleased to welcome Blair McDowell to Picked by Poison. Without further ado....take it away Blair!

Venice, A City for Lovers
Blair McDowell
Blair McDowell

In the fall, I will be traveling again to Venice, visiting the scene of the denouement of The Memory of Roses. I will get to walk the paths and glide through the canals in vaporetti and gondolas that my heroine, Brit, traversed after her shocking discoveries about her father’s past, as she rushes back to the arms of her lover, Andreas. It is no accident that I chose Venice for this important scene in my book. It is a city so breathtakingly beautiful, so dramatic in each and every vista that it calls out for mystery and romance. It is a setting just waiting for a story, as countless famous authors in the past have realized.

But Venice has its problems. The Scirocco, a warm wind that comes from the south, brings with it the aqua alta, high water, to Venice. There are only three openings to the sea in Venice. The southern wind pushes the waters of the high tide inside the lagoon, into all of Venice’s waterways, and doesn’t allow it to flow out. When the next high tide comes, it is piled on top of the already high water levels.

I was there once for an aqua alta. The night before, I wandered in the Piazza San Marco and saw what looked like platforms piled all around the arcade. I wondered if a performance of some kind was scheduled for the next day. I was correct. The performer was Mother Nature at her worst.

The next day, in the Piazza San Marco, I was walking on those platforms, above two feet of water, while water shot into the air from all the drains as if from fountains. Vaporetti, the water busses everyone uses to get around, were not running on most routes, because they could not get under the many bridges that connect the islands that make up this city. The water levels were too high.

Aqua Alta routes were posted at every vaporetto stop. These were pedestrian routes, and in Venice, everyone is a pedestrian. The only modes of transportation are boats and feet.

Four million people a year visit Venice. This is a city with only sixty-five hundred inhabitants. According one innkeeper, most tourists spend only one night in Venice. This man, who used to be a concierge at the Danielli, one of the most prestigious hotels in Venice, told me that “tour groups would check in at six pm, take a gondola ride, have dinner, and check out the next day, having seen Venice.” He said that Venice was sinking as much under the weight of tourists as under the aqua alta.

Be that as it may, if Venice isn`t on your Bucket List, it should be. It is the most magical of cities. If you can only give it a day, so be it, but if you can spend a week or more there, do so. If you do, I guarantee you will return. It gets into your blood. Venice, to my mind is the most beautiful city in the world. A city made for lovers.

In the following scene from The Memory of Roses, Andreas and Brit have just arrived in Venice.

“I think you’ll like this place,” Andreas said. “I always stay here when I come to Venice.”
They climbed a long flight of stairs to the pensione and were shown to a small, comfortably furnished room on the front.
Brit went to the tall windows, looked out and drew in her breath sharply.
Andreas came up behind her and encircled her with his arms. “I think this is the most beautiful view in Venice,” he said.
She leaned against him. Together they gazed across the Grand Canal, to the magnificent colonnaded marble church and monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore on its own small island in the Lagoon. Below them the waters teamed with vaporetti, private motor launches and boats filled with produce heading for the market, water taxis, and, slipping silently among them, beautiful black gondolas decorated in gold and red, some hundreds of years old, navigated by striped shirted gondoliers wearing the same traditional straw hats they had worn for generations.
Andreas said, “This is the reason I prefer this little guest house to any of the larger hotels in Venice. I know of none of them with such a view of Venice. Just wait until you see it at sunset.”
“Can we go for a walk?” Brit asked. “I want to see the Piazza San Marco. I’ve wanted to see it all my life, but somehow, I never wanted to come here alone. If any city was meant for lovers, I think Venice is.”

1 comment:

  1. Love hearing about Venice! Thanks so much for making me feel like I was there. Looking forward to reading The Memory of Roses. Sounds fabulous!