Old stars in Venice

Venice ended my longest ever relationship. Well, that and a sinus infection. The trip to Italy had been his idea and against my better judgement, I decided to go. It was November, I was already feeling ill and the cracks were showing in our relationship. He was a tax lawyer who loved mountains and spending as little money as possible while I had grown tired of the great outdoors and loved buying dresses and going to the cinema every afternoon. We were supposed to have only one day in Venice to go to the Biennale and would camp close to Vicenza the day before. Whether it was real or psychosomatic, I really don’t know, but a terrible nausea overcame me and I decided not to do anything as ridiculous as camping in winter and checked myself into a four star hotel in Venice where he refused to accompany me.

I have never forgotten the magic of those first impressions or the love I felt for the city. In a way, Venice spoiled me by showing that I didn’t have to do things I no longer enjoyed, that I was much better off alone appreciating its beauty. So when we met the following morning, I told him we were through and began the long train journey back to Berlin, feeling sadder than I had thought I would be and still really ill. I missed the last train to Berlin and spent a miserable few hours in a waiting room at Leipzig station among the drunks and homeless because I was too broke to get another hotel room, trying and failing to sleep a little with my head on my suitcase before waking up bleary eyed and confused to get a train at 4am. I have never forgotten the relief at finally getting into my bed in Charlottenburg and the long sleep which brought me some relief.

In a couple of weeks, I’m heading to Venice again and I can’t tell you how excited I feel about returning there (though hopefully with less dramatic circumstances). Of course, one of things I’m most looking forward to is going for walks through those labyrinthine streets, particularly early in the morning, and taking photos. Before the tourists arrive, it’s wonderful seeing the locals getting off the boats and going for an espresso before starting work.

I’ll be staying at the same apartment as last time, close to the Rialto and the market where I went each day to buy fish, fruit and vegetables. I go to Caffè Florian on St. Mark’s Square as often as possible, get an ice cream from Grom or from Rosa Salva opposite the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (although ice cream in Venice seems to be good everywhere) and love to walk along Fondamente Nove before taking the boat across to Isola San Michele. Last time I was in Venice, I even got the chance to go to the Film Festival on the Lido to see Terence Malick’s beautiful but baffling ‘To the Wonder’. Thinking about it made me want to revisit some old photos with great stars which is probably the next best thing if you can’t come with me.

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Maria Callas at the festival in 1957


Alain Delon getting some close-ups of pigeons

Monica Vitti stands with Michelangelo Antonioni in Venice in 1964.:

Michaelangelo Antonioni and Monica Vitti in 1964

American actor Warren Beatty pictured outside the Excelsior Hotel  in 1965. The hotel was ...:

Warren Beatty and girlfriend in front of the Excelsior Hotel in 1965

Legendary American actor Paul Newman, wearing a tuxedo and a bow tie during a trip on a water taxi with St. Mark Square in the background, Venice 1963

Paul Newman, 1963

Later, donning a hat,  Gene Tierney tries her hand at rowing a gondola. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven

Gene Tierney having a go at rowing a gondola in 1951

Taken around 1960, Elizabeth Taylor and her then husband, singer Eddie Fisher, on holiday on Burano Island in the lagoon at Venice

Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher on Burano

Toshiro Mifune is 2 times named best actor at the Venice Film Festival for "Yojimbo" (1961) and "Barbarossa" (1965):

Toshiro Mifune on St. Mark’s with a few feathered friends

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Marcello Mastroianni with Anna Karina in 1967

Sophia Loren attends the Venice Film Festival, 1955.:

Sophia Loren at the Festival in 1955


Claire Bloom and Rod Steiger in 1963

Cocteau and Orson Welles 1948 Venice:

Orson Welles and Jean Cocteau in 1948


8 thoughts on “Old stars in Venice

  1. Oh my God, this post is everything to me and then some! The photos make my heart pound so fast. I’m so jealous of you, you will return to my beloved La Serenissima very soon. Have a wonderful journey, I will be there with you in my dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

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