"Anyone interested in learning what is really going on in Venice should read this book."-- Donna Leon, author of My Venice and Other Essays and Death at La Fenice
What is Venice worth? To whom does this urban treasure belong?Read more...
"Anyone interested in learning what is really going on in Venice should read this book."--Donna Leon, author of My Venice and Other Essays and Death at La Fenice
What is Venice worth? To whom does this urban treasure belong? This eloquent book by internationally renowned art historian Salvatore Settis urgently poses these questions, igniting a new debate about the Queen of the Adriatic and cultural patrimony at large. Venetians are increasingly abandoning their hometown--there's now only one resident for every 140 visitors--and Venice's fragile fate has become emblematic of the future of historic cities everywhere as it capitulates to tourists and those who profit from them. In If Venice Dies, a fiery blend of history and cultural analysis, Settis argues that "hit-and-run" visitors are turning landmark urban settings into shopping malls and theme parks. This is a passionate plea to secure the soul of Venice, written with consummate authority, wide-ranging erudition and elan.
Salvatore Settis is an archaeologist and art historian and former director of the Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles and the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa. He is chairman of the Louvre Museum's Scientific Council., Settis, often considered the conscience of Italy for his role in spotlighting its neglect of national heritage, is the author of several books on art history.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Few urban landscapes are as recognizable as Venice’s, but as Settis, an art historian and former director of the Getty Research Institute, writes, tourists now outnumber inhabitants and dozens of municipal institutions have decamped to the mainland, replaced by luxury hotels and “a tourist monoculture.” Meanwhile, around the world, prefabricated doge’s palaces flanked by a few desultory canals have been “constructed with cheap building materials, but nonetheless presented as the epitome of luxury.” These cut-rate imitations are often more tourist-friendly than the real thing. Plans are even afoot to build a theme park of Venice on one of its own outlying islands. “The virus of the simulation has wormed its way into Venice and has ensnared it,” Settis writes, “like a mirror that swallows up the face of whoever looks into it.” He observes that as cities worldwide are swept up in the “rhetoric of heights”—the race to build ever taller skyscrapers—people are herded into anonymous cubicles, sapping the vitality of the streets below. Settis laments the commodifying, transactional effect of capitalism on communities’ ideas about their identities, purposes, and aesthetics, and this brief book is at once a moving eulogy for Venice and a resounding manifesto, enriched by a dense web of historic, literary and cultural allusions. (Sept.)