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The most famous books and films set in Venice

The most famous books and films set in Venice

December 2021

It is no surprise that over the centuries Venice has inspired writers and artists and that it has become the ideal backdrop for literary and cinematographic works. In today’s article we suggest you three books and three films set in Venice to recollect the unique atmosphere of the city at home.

“The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare

Starting from the classics, how not to mention one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays? The Merchant of Venice probably dates back to the last years of the 1500s.

In this play the lines between comedy and tragedy are blurred and the character of Shylock, the Jewish merchant / usurer, gives good food for thought.

In 2004, The Merchant of Venice also became a film, directed by Michael Radford, starring Al Pacino and Lynn Collins.

“The Eyes of Venice” by Alessandro Barbero

Let’s go back again to the end of the Sixteenth Century: in Venice the Doge is inflicting ruthless punishments on the civilians and the young Michele, in order to escape from an unfounded accusation, is forced to leave the city, embarking on a turbulent journey to the Sultan’s lands.

In the meantime, his seventeen-year-old wife, Bianca, is left alone in Venice, where she has to face even more terrible misadventures in a maze of streets and alleys, in the ghetto or in the humblest areas of the city.

“The Aspern Papers” by Henry James

The story takes place in a silent and calm Venice of the late 19th century, in full decadence. The city is the perfect setting for the story that tells the desperate attempts of an American literary critic (whose name is never revealed), to get hold of a collection of papers written by the late poet Jeffrey Aspern.

The critic is so devoted to the author that he is willing to do anything to get close to Miss Juliana Bordereau, the woman Aspern had loved and from whom the critic will try to get information.

The Tourist (2010)

The Tourist is probably one of the films that dedicates the highest number of shots to Venice. A cast of excellence – Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are the protagonists – interprets a fascinating and curious plot, fully set in some of Venice’s most popular places.

To mention some of them: Santa Lucia station, the Rialto Market, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Marciana National Library, the Arsenale and the Fondaco dei Turchi.

Casanova (2005)

The story tells in a fictional way the adventures of the famous Venetian seducer and writer Giacomo Casanova (Heath Ledger). Casanova has a certain reputation in terms of women: it seems that he has never been rejected. One day, however, he meets Francesca (Sienna Miller), the first woman who doesn’t seem to reciprocate his interest. It is on this occasion that Casanova experiences the true passion and anxiety of waiting.

In the film you will recognize Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel, the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal.

The Wings of the Dove (1997)

Set in England in the early 1900s, the film tells the story of Kate Croy (Helena Bonham Carter) who, after her mother’s death, suddenly finds herself on the breadline. The only hope she has left is her aunt, who, however, expects Kate to completely change her life and cut off her relationship with the journalist Merton (Linus Roache), with whom Kate is secretly engaged.

The way out comes from Millie, a rich, dying heiress who strongly wishes to move to Venice to spend the last days of her life there. Kate follows her to Venice, but when Millie meets Merton, she falls in love with him. Thus, a dangerous love triangle made up of clandestine relationships and lies develops.

Many Venetian glimpses appear in the film. To name a few: Campo dei Fiori, the squero di San Trovaso, the Basilica dei Frari, the Ponte della Pescheria and Campo Santa Maria Formosa.

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