by Gregg Chadwick
Tiziano Scarpa’s “Venice Is a Fish: A Sensual Guide” provides a unique, almost magical, means of exploring the canals and alleyways of Venice. Be warned, this is not another guidebook that will lead you on a shopping excursion from Piazza San Marco to the Rialto Bridge, but instead Scarpa’s volume is almost a book of spells that will enchant you and subsequently haunt you. Scarpa grew up in Venice and the ghosts of his past flicker in and out of our view as he leads us through the labyrinth of stories that is Venezia. We embody the feet, legs, hearts, hands, faces, ears, mouths, noses, and eyes of those who have come before us. Their senses conjured by Scarpa summon us to a dance of time. We meet Casanova and Vivaldi, Titian and Veronese, Ruskin and Maupassant.
Scarpa reminds us that for centuries, each viewpoint in Venice has been recorded in verse, paint, and song. The weight of beauty as much as the high water (alte acqua) threatens to sink this illustrious city. Scarpa’s splendid volume acts as a literary life raft to lift us and carry us through the Venice of memory, dreams, and decay.
*photos by Gregg Chadwick