My Venice and Other Essays
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My Venice and Other Essays is a treat for lovers of Italy and La Serenissima. Collected here are over fifty funny, charming, passionate, and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. Leon shares episodes from her life in Venice, explores her love of opera, and recounts tales from in and around her country house in the mountains. With poignant observations and humor, she also explores her family history and former life in New Jersey, and the idea of the Italian man.
I do not understand—certainly not for any vigilance on the part of city authorities—things improved, and one would often see dog owners cleaning up after their animals. I once observed a well-dressed woman stoop and pick up her dog’s leavings with a paper handkerchief, after which she walked to the top of a bridge and tossed it into the canal. “Bene,” I dared observe, “città pattumiera.” The woman turned on me and said, in a voice so savage I was forced to wonder if she often had comments
urge toward the tasteful and well made. Even the most simple meal in a workers’ trattoria provides another example of this desire for excellence. And it is in this, I believe, that one sees how much the new Italy really is the legitimate child of the old, for Italian history, if it tells anything, tells the story of the people’s eternal love affair with beauty, with elegance, and with that elusive quality of bella figura. The Italian man has also been discovered—that daytime macho who will go
always chose her. The woman played badly and so Gert would always lose when they played together, but bring her she would and play with her she did. And have her to Christmas dinner, by God. I remember little things about Gert. She always put the flowers in the refrigerator at night so they would last longer; she telephoned and complained to the parents of any child who stepped on her grass; she always wore a hat when leaving the house. Toward the end of her life, after Mad and Trace had died,
smoked again. She was, as well, a woman with a wry sense of humor and an affection for the absurd, much given to joking and, as far as I remember, usually in good spirits. People liked her and trusted her, often confided in her, and for the last decades of her life she was pretty much the unappointed center of our very large extended family. She was a woman of extraordinary generosity and, I suspect, the silent helper of many of my aunts and cousins. God, the woman loved a joke, loved a drink,
keep their eye on the illegal immigrants who, in the absence of a sane immigration policy or the capacity and will to enforce it, flood into Italy. What lies hidden under the other shells is the Mafia in its many branches and manifestations, though, given the enormity and extent of Mafia activity in this country, it would have to be very large shells under which the Mafia could hide. In the same newscast that discussed the proposed law regarding immigration, mention was made of a report