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Venice in the 18th century was in a serious state of financial and political decline. Yet, this extraordinary city – “La Serenissima” – continued to hold her head high as tourists flooded in from the continent. English gentlemen with a penchant for spending money, gambling the night away, making love to beautiful Venetian courtesans – and buying copious amounts of art – swarmed to the city. Taking their treasures back to Britain, their aristocratic palaces and country houses were transformed.
Top of their wish-list were works by the celebrated Giovanni Canaletto. Taking a slice of Venice back home with them, they could transfer the grey days of England to a world of a light bouncing off bridges and shimmering off water, yapping dogs, tripping children, campos stuffed with bartering traders, gondoliers yelling across the water, washing blustering in the wind, fish drying in the sun.
We’ll be diving deep into this world to get to grips with why Canaletto was so beloved by this new class of tourist. Pour yourself a Spritz Veneziano (AKA an Aperol Spritz), roll out some cicchetti and revel in one of the most magical cities in the world.