Dream of Venice is a beautiful new book for Venetophiles and dreamers alike edited by JoAnn Locktov with photography by Charles Christopher, a New York native who currently works in Hollywood as a motion picture and TV still photographer. Printed on luxe Italian Garda Silk paper, the 96-page hardcover includes photographs by Christopher that have been carefully paired by Locktov with the words of writers, actors, poets, singers, and others who have fallen in love with this near-mythical city. I am one of them in fact. My poem Leaving Venice appears in the book alongside a forward by novelist Frances Mayes, and contributions by Woody Allen, opera soprano Sylvia Sass, and Venetian cookbook author Marcella Hazan, among others.
I first visited Venice as a undergraduate in the early ’90s with a group of Italian language students attending a three week mini-session during our winter break. It was my first trip out of the country and the longest I had ever been away from my family. It was January, a time when the city belongs to the Venetians rather than tourists.
One misty afternoon I remember walking through a campo (a small Venetian square) and I could only see a few feet in front of my face. It was one of the most incredibly magical moments of my life to this day – I felt completely absorbed by the city itself. Then there was my first acqua alta (high water) where I was yelled at by the hotel owner for holding the door open long enough to shoot a photograph of her husband walking away in ankle deep water.
After three weeks we began to fall into the daily pace of the city — we’d listen each morning outside our hotel window for the sound of our visiting colombi (pigeons) and for the local fruit vendor to whistle a tune as he unloaded his goods from his boat on the canal below us. Needless to say, I was enamored, and whenever I think of the city my heart still hurts a little like it does for a lost love.
This book proves I’m not alone in my infatuation. I recently asked Locktov a few questions about her collaboration on Dream of Venice.
When did you first fall in love with Venice?
JoAnn Locktov: When I stepped foot in the city for the first time in 1996. The revelation was that you could “fall in love” with a place, an emotion that before Venice I thought was reserved for other humans.
How did you ending working with photographer Charles Christopher on the project?
JL: I met Charles on Twitter four years ago. He was posting his photos and I was completely mesmerized. His vision of Venice was intimate, evocative, and real. I asked him if he’d like to do a book together. Our idea was to celebrate a contemporary Venice, a living breathing city.
What is your favorite part of the city?
JL: Peggy Guggenheim’s terrace, at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which is now a museum. You are practically on the Grand Canal, right at the water’s edge, you have a view of both the Accademia Bridge and the Dogana. You are joined by Marini’s Angel of the City, the most ecstatic sculpture in Venice. There is nothing to buy, nothing to eat, nothing to drink. Just a home, with a place in history, in the most astonishing city in the world.
Do you have a favorite photograph in the book?
JL: Si, every day I have a different favorite photograph!
A portion of the proceeds from each book will be donated to Save Venice, Inc. to support vital art and architecture restorations in La Serenissima. Dream of Venice retails for $26.00 and is now available at Amazon.com.
All images © Charles Christopher Photography.