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.


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.


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!)

15 thoughts on “Kate: It’s one way to research…

  1. I was quite happy sitting in front of the fire until I read this, Kate, now I want to go to Venice! Lovely, evocative photos – it’s unusual to see St Marks Square like that, isn’t it? Every other photo I’ve seen of it has it heaving with tourists. I’m looking forwards to the book!

  2. Yes, I remembered it absolutely rammed with people from the school visit I did years ago, so this was quite odd! We’d underestimated all the reports of flooding, but to be fair, it was only for a few hours a day, and not terribly high. If only my boots hadn’t turned out to be as much good as paper towels!

  3. I think it’s called Aqua Alta? Something like that – very high tide to you and me. Looks lovely and also a bit creepy – great starting point for a book — water is completely relentless about getting where it wants to go.
    (If you’re flying guests in and dishing out diamonds, don’t forget to put my name on the list) 🙂

  4. It is something like that, Evonne, but my Italian isn’t nearly good enough to find out! (those pesky Venetians kept speaking English to us and we forgot to speak Italian back!) And you’re right, it would be a great spooky way to start a book…just not this book! However, I foresee a Sophie Green trip to Venice in the future (hey, might as well get my money’s worth!) and the washing up of bodies is really her forte!

  5. I went to Venice a couple of years ago and loved it! You’ve made me want to go back now. And yes, a palazzo would be the perfect place for a glamorous party – go for it 🙂

  6. Oh Kate

    This is where sitting at the bottom of the world is soooo tantalising. These photos are gorgeous and what an amazing chandelier.

  7. Venice is totally fabulous. I love it and hope to go back there next year. Looking forward to reading your Venice book, Kate!

  8. Oh Kate – I loooove Venice. It’s one of those places I keep needing to go back to. Although, confess to it not being quite the same with the two boys in tow. The pictures are great – and what a fantastic way to research a book. You may just need a return visit as the book progresses 🙂

  9. Lovely pics, Kate. I have never been, but now you’ve given me a taste for it. And I’m with Evonne on the diamond front 🙂 x

  10. Terrific photos, Kate. Venice is one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit – as a romantic novelist how is that I’ve never been?
    Your plot for a novel sounds glamorous and one to set the readers yearning . . .x

  11. I went to Venice many moons ago – now I want to go again. I’d like to go on one of the cruise liners because there used to be a travel ad. which showed a ship going in, and it looked so lovely. Thanks for the memories, Kate.

  12. I nearly went to Venice a couple of years ago (long story), and seeing these pics, I really wish I’d made it. What beautiful buildings! Maybe one day…

  13. It really was wonderful, and it doesn’t feel like a city at all but some kind of fairytale. It’s so strange to have absolutely no wheeled vehicles around at all, no cars or even bicycles, and I can’t even say I saw a pushchair! By the time we got back to the airport it was like, “Oh yeah, cars…I remember cars!”

    Monte Carlo…I actually went to the Grand Prix there when I was about 19. The whole place felt as if it was a playground for the rich and famous, and it did feel like outside of the Formula 1 season they wouldn’t let me in!

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