A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi
In an old specialty store was where I first glimpsed this book. After reading the first few pages, I really wanted to finish the whole book but, alas, I couldn't. There's somewhere I must go, I only stayed to pass the time, life happened, etc. It wasn't until years after when I finally chose to sit down and read it again.
Memoirs always have much affinity with the authors just as readers, in odd little ways, find a connection to a particular book. My own journey with this one more or less is wrought with nostalgia, an old acquaintance met again. There's a lot of Italian memoirs that I have read but none of Venice yet and I'm glad I took up Madame De Blasi's book first.
An American chef on a stop to Venice meets a Venetian banker who looks like Peter Sellers and months after, she is hauling up her things halfway across the world to move her life there. It sounds like a cliche in the travel genre already, I know. What drew me in was its cadence of tones among its passages. Where I usually would adore descriptive details of places, here, Marlena describes Venice using emotions and moods that flit from magical to melancholic to speechlessness to relief.
Her ways of trying to understand this famous city and its locals as well as sharing these to readers is tinged with grittiness, a sense of realism that balances the magical image travelers would have of a place such as the beautiful Venice. The chapter titles of the book got their own candid charms, funnily enough. I like how Marlena weaves her thoughts into words using metaphors that could be taken in humor if not seriously. Even her recipes at the end of the book wasn't spared with some little story to it.
Off its pages, what rises the most is the couple's obvious affection to each other all the while struggling with cultural differences,peeling the layers of an old life, and paving forward to new paths and adventures. You cannot help but feel affection for these two kind and lovable people and fall in love again and again to Venice.
"He saw her across the Piazza San Marco and fell in love from afar. When he sees her again in a Venice cafe a year later, he knows it is fate. He knows little English; and she, a divorced American chef, speaks only food-based Italian. Marlena thinks she is incapable of intimacy, that her heart has lost its capacity for romantic love. But within months of their first meeting, she has packed up her house in St. Louis to marry Fernando, "the stranger, " as she calls him and live in that achingly lovely city in which they met.
Vibrant but vaguely baffled by this bold move, Marlena is overwhelmed by the sheer foreignness of her new home, its rituals and customs. But there are delicious moments when Venice opens up its arms to Marlena. She cooks an American feast of Mississippi caviar, cornbread, and fried onions for the locals and takes the tango she learned in the Poughkeepsie middle school gym to a candlelit trattoria near the Rialto Bridge. All the while, she and Fernando, two disparate souls, build an extraordinary life of passion
Featuring Marlena's own incredible recipes, "A Thousand Days in Venice" is the enchanting true story of a woman who opens her heart and falls in love with both a man and a city.
Title: A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance (Italian Memoirs)
Author: Marlena de Blasi
Genre: Memoir, Romance, Travel
Publisher: Virago Press
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ ( 4 cups - Full of dry wit, anecdotes, a little history, some tragedy and, of course, a menu of dishes and some romance, it is a treat to read.)