Kate: It’s one way to research…

When my best friend asked if I wanted to go to Venice for her birthday, my first thought was “Ooh, I could use that in a book!” (Actually, my first thought was “Hell yeah!” followed by a quick check of my bank account, but that’s not the point here).

I’ve been toying with a new book about a love triangle between a con artist, a journalist, and a Hollywood movie star. I wanted to set a few scenes around a glamorous party, the kind where the host thinks nothing of flying a few hundred of his nearest and dearest out to somewhere amazing, hiring the Rolling Stones to perform, and serving cocktails with real diamonds in. I haven’t quite got the wherewithall to go out to Hollywood to research that (although I’ve flown into LAX, which surely counts for something) but Venice, well that’s only a few hours away, isn’t it? And I know how to order drinks in Italian.

So really, it was a research trip to discover amazing locations for glamorous Hollywood parties. I reckon a palazzo like one of these might be nice…

Palazzo on the Grand Canal

Palazzo on the Grand Canal

Ca' d'Oro from the Grand Canal

Ca' d'Oro from the Grand Canal

Only…look a little closer at that second one (the Ca’ d’Oro), and you’ll see what we didn’t expect to find. Venice might or might not be sinking, depending on who you ask, but it turns out that in December the tides get REALLY high. And that’s when fronting onto the Grand Canal isn’t quite so desirable. The loggia, the colonnaded bit at the front, is where your gondola is suppose to moor up so you can saunter straight in to your palazzo. It’s not supposed to be under several inches of water…

However, as city highways go, the Grand Canal really is a bit different than most. This is like, say, Whitehall. With boats.

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal

And some of those pesky high tides again. Those are definitely going in the book.

The edge of St Mark's Square, rapidly disappearing under the high tide

Edge of St Mark's Square, disappearing under the Grand Canal

The upside is that for once, we could see most of St Mark’s Square without throngs of people. It’s probably never so empty as it is when it floods!

St Mark's Square, the Doge's Palace

St Mark's Square, currently the Doge's private paddling pool

I also fancy my Hollywood movie star taking home some Murano glass. Some of the chandeliers we saw were pretty epic, but then on the island of Murano itself, there are sculptures like this just dotting the streets and squares.

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If Venice did Olympic torches...

And of course, whilst it’s no longer the most cost effective way to travel, you can’t deny the gondolas are romantic.

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When Venice sparkles, boy howdy does it sparkle!

Then there’s your commute to the airport. Get on the airport bus, slog around the M25…or cross the Lagoon in a vaporetto. That’s a speedboat to you and me.

The Lagoon, with the Dolomites in the background

The Lagoon, with distant Dolomite mountains

The lagoon from the vaporetto

The Lagoon on a choppy day

I reckon that’s a few good ideas for the book!

(Pictures taken by said best friend: thanks Alysia!)