April 2001 | Volume 52, Issue 2
You can fly to venice via a number of European gateways, but Delta, leaving three times a week from JFK Airport in New York City, offers the only nonstop flight from the U.S.
Two classic meditations on Venice are still in print and well worth reading: Mary McCarthy’s Venice Observed (Harcourt Brace, $11.00) and James Morris’s The World of Venice (Harvest, $12.00). The best account of its past—and Venice has a past wholly different from that of any other city on earth—is John Julius Norwich’s great A History of Venice (Vintage, $25.00).
There are any number of guidebooks, but one of the most lively, helpful, and intelligently designed is Richard Saul Wurman’s Access Florence & Venice (HarperPerennial, $19.00); another valuable work, as readable as it is knowledgeable, is Hugh Honour’s The Companion Guide to Venice (Boydell & Brewer, $24.95). And do not set out for this miraculous place without first acquiring a copy of Venice for Pleasure by J. G. Links (Bishop Museum Press, $19.95), which the London Times called “not only the best guide-book to that city ever written, but the best guide-book to any city ever written.” Although a deep—indeed, omniscient—student of Venetian history and culture, Links is a relaxed, affable, funny companion in his book, which is divided up into four walking tours of this most walkable of all cities. Something of the spirit of the guide is evident in the first paragraph of “Walk 2: The Riva degli Schiavoni, SS. Giovanni e Paolo, the Rialto Bridge”: “The first object of our next walk is to reach a charming café on one of Venice’s most attractive canals; the second is to enter another picture gallery. Fear not; it is a very special gallery and has but nine pictures.”