Lord Byron in Venice
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Lord Byron in Venice
Categories : Fine ART
In Venice, during the autumn of 1816, Lord Byron was staying near Piazza San Marco in some rooms above the workshop of a textile merchant - his landlord Mr. Segati. The city had the gentle atmosphere of twilight, as it was in commercial and political decline, but full of lively social events that immediately captivated the poet, along with the beautiful Venetian women whose hearts he immediately went about breaking.
Letter to Thomas Moore, 17th November 1816
“It is my intention to remain in Venice during the winter probably, as it has always been (next to the East) the greenest island of my imagination… I have got some extremely good apartments in the house of a ‘Merchant of Venice,’ who is a good deal occupied with business, and has a wife in her twenty-second year. Marianna (that is her name) is in her appearance altogether like an antelope. She has the large, black, oriental eyes… her figure is light and pretty… her natural voice... is very sweet; and the naïveté of the Venetian dialect is always pleasing in the mouth of a woman.”
Life in the lagoon proved itself to be so pleasant for the poet that he decided to extend his stay, abandoning himself to the lighthearted carnival and guest at the most important salons in the city, such as that of the countess Teotochi Albrizzi , a close friend of Ugo Foscolo. He undertook the study of Armenian and also the Venetian dialect, another sign of his wanting to become more and more part of the context of a reality that he enjoyed as one might a close friend and which suited his new personality; inadvertently, the poet was getting used to his new nomadic life as a citizen of the world.
He wrote to his friend Webster in September 1818:
“Venice is not an expensive residence (unless a man chooses it) it has theatres, society and profligacy rather more than enough. I keep four horses on one of the Islands where there is a beach of some miles along the Adriatic, so that I have daily exercise. I have my Gondola, about fourteen servants including the nurse (for a little girl, a natural daughter of mine) and I reside in one of the Mocenigo palaces on the Grand Canal ...the rent of the whole house which is very large and furnished, with linen inclusive is two hundred a year (I gave more than I need have done) in the two years I have been at Venice I have spent about five thousand pounds. I needed not have spent one third of this - had it not been that I have a passion for women which is expensive in its variety everywhere but less so in Venice than in other cities.”