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22 November 2007


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A place I've always wanted to visit and never managed, so I've contented myself with Commissario Brunetti since the late 80s after being introduced by a friend. You can get an extra fix with Francisco da Mosta on his History of Venice BBC DVD, and repeat as necessary.

When is a good time to visit to avoid too many crowds?

Avoid high summer Pamela: too crowded and the canals get a bit whiffy. February is carnival time, when Venice is packed, so I'd give that a miss too. Apart from that, Venice in winter can be delightful. My daughter and I spent Christmas 1990 there and had a wonderful time. Relatively few tourists and, unlike the UK, Italy does not close down for at least two weeks over Christmas/New Year; only Christmas Day is quiet. And some excellent Christmas concerts in many Venetian churches. We went to several, including one in S Maria Gloriosa dei Frari; nothing to do but sit back, listen to the glorious music and gaze at the massive Assumption altarpiece painted by Titian . . .

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Thought for life

  • The House of Breath, William Goyen
    We are the carriers of lives and legends - who knows the unseen frescoes on the private walls of the skull?

Thinking about . . .

  • Daniel Klein, Travels with Epicurus
    I too listen to music more and more. Throughout my life, music has stirred me more than any other art form, and now, in old age, I find myself listening to it almost every evening, usually alone, for hours at a time.
  • Julia Blackburn, Thin Paths
    I began writing because I liked to write things down. I learnt foreign languages because they seemed to enter my head by a process of osmosis.
  • Joan Bakewell, Stop the Clocks
    I live contentedly alone. It's better that way and I am often thoughtful about what has been and what might have been. There are many like me.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Oh to be reborn within the pages of a book.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Why is it that we lose the things we love, and things cavalier cling to us and will be the measure of our worth after we’re gone?
  • Judith Kerr, Observer Magazine, 22 November 2015
    I don't believe in God. I find it much easier to believe in ancestors. I like to imagine they are pointing us in the right direction.

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