To Venice and Rome
From acclaimed poet and New Yorker writer Cynthia Zarin comes a deeply personal meditation on two cities, Venice and Rome—each a work of art, both a monument to the past—and on how love and loss shape places and spaces.
“There's a feeling, for me, of at-homeness in Rome,’’ Zarin says, “and the idea of a part of my life occurring there that I really am at a loss to explain. I am enamored. You never can really tell why you fall in love with a person, can you? You can say lots of things, but it's all completely meaningless. For me, it's the same feeling about Rome.”
Image: Canaletto, View of the Grand Canal looking toward the Punta della Dogana from Campo Sant’Ivo, second third of the eighteenth century (detail). Pinacoteca di Brera
The best way to approach Venice from the airport is to take the water taxi. It is also the most expensive. Like most things in Venice, there are convolutions before the payoff. There is no transport between the airport proper and the boat dock where the water taxis come in. You pull or carry your luggage down a long pathway, a distance of perhaps a quarter of a mile, following signs put up to encourage the traveler. This is the last direct route in Venice, the last walk on which not to get lost.
Read excerpts from “Serene’’ and “Roma’’, chapters in the forthcoming book Two Cities by Cynthia Zarin.
You can also listen to the author reading the excerpts at the bottom of this page.
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Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast
In this conversation, Zarin speaks about Venice and Rome in a celebration of Italy as the country begins to loosen the longest coronavirus-related lockdown in Europe. The episode features evocative readings from Two Cities, which captures the meditative yet constantly surprising nature of travel from a deeply personal point of view.
Canaletto, Piazza San Marco, late 1720s. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Canaletto, View of the Arch of Constantine with the Colosseum, 1742–1745. Getty Center