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Italy: Venice and the Italian Lakes - Books & Movies
RECOMMENDED READING 
  • The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. Turning to the magic, mystery, and decadence of Venice, Berendt gradually reveals the truth behind a sensational fire that in 1996 destroyed the historic Fenice opera house. Encountering a rich cast of characters, Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise as the stories build, one after the other, ultimately coming together to portray a world as finely drawn as a still-life painting.
  • Italy, A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience (ed. Camille Cusumano).  Legendary for fabulous food, persistent men, and a lyrical language, Italy has inspired many great love affairs with the country itself. From the notorious occupants and cuisine of Sicily, to the ancient marvels of Rome, to the couture of Milan, women throughout the ages have invented and reinvented adventure in this diverse and voluptuous land. 
  • A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich. A comprehensive study that traces the rising empire of this city from its 5th century beginnings all the way through 1797 when Napolean put an end to the thousand year-old Republic. 32 pages of black and white photos, 4 maps and charts.
  • The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal. A compelling novel of passion and daring. Set at the beginning of the 19th-century in northern Italy, it traces the joyous but ill-starred amorous exploits of a handsome young aristocrat named Fabrice del Dongo. The novel's great achievement is to conjure up the excitement and romance of youth while never losing sight of the harsh realities which beset the pursuit of happiness.
  • The World of Venice by Jan Morris. A fascinating exploration of the history, sights, seasons, arts, food, and people of an incomparable city.  The most comprehensive and the most engaging history of Venice available in English, this book will be treasured by all those who share the author's fascination with "the most beautiful and magical of cities."
  • The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin. John Ruskin, Victorian England's greatest writer on art and literature, believed himself an adopted son of Venice, and his feelings for this city are exquisitely expressed in The Stones of Venice. This edition contains Ruskin's famous essay "The Nature of Gothic," a marvelously descriptive tour of Venice before its postwar restoration. As Ruskin wrote in 1851, "Thank God I am here, it is a Paradise of Cities."
  • An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser. When Laura Fraser's husband leaves her for his high school sweetheart, she takes off for Italy, hoping to leave some of her sadness behind. There, on the island of Ischia, she meets M., an aesthetics professor from Paris with an oversized love of life. What they both assume will be a casual vacation tryst turns into a passionate, transatlantic love affair.
  • Venice is a Fish: A Sensual Guide by Tiziano Scarpa. In this homage to his native city, Scarpa guides readers down tiny alleys, over bridges, and through squares, daring us to lose ourselves, forget the guidebooks, and experience Venice as Venetians do.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING 
  • Summertime (1955) by David Lean. Dreams of romance for American spinster Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) become a bittersweet reality when she meets a handsome but married antiques dealer (Rossano Brazzi) while vacationing in Venice, Italy. David Lean directed this sensitive portrait of an independent woman who finds that, even in a beautiful European city, her sense of loneliness is unavoidable, and her initial disgust with the idea of an illicit love affair doesn't last.
  • Death in Venice (1971) by Luchino Visconti. Italian legend Luchino Visconti creates a visually stunning adaptation of the Thomas Mann novella about an older gay man, composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde), who goes to Venice to escape past loves and professional failures. All his woes are forgotten when he sees an angelic blond Polish boy whom he follows everywhere (without ever approaching). Soon, his life is transformed in ways he could never have imagined.
  • Dangerous Beauty (1998) by Marshall Herskovitz. Prevented from marrying her nobleman lover (Rufus Sewell) because of her commoner status, real-life historical heroine Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) is left with two choices: join a convent or become a courtesan. Following in mother's (Jacqueline Bisset) footsteps, she chooses the latter. Set in 16th-century Venice, this biographical drama follows Franco as she rises to power and fearlessly fights off accusations of witchcraft.
  • Bread and Tulips (2001) by Silvio Soldini. A cosseted, unhappy housewife (Licia Maglietta) who's taken for granted by her philandering, self-centered husband (Antonio Catania) finds bella fortuna when she hitchhikes to Venice and starts to construct a brand-new life for herself. Blossoming with newfound independence, the woman begins a tentative relationship with a lonely, suicidal waiter (Bruno Ganz) that seems to bode well for both of them.
  • The Tourist (2010) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck Watery Venice, Italy, provides the setting as Johnny Depp, playing an American tourist seeking solace for his shattered heart, instead finds it in danger again after encountering a beautiful Interpol agent (Angelina Jolie). Little does the Yank know that the artful lady has gone to great lengths to arrange their "chance" meeting and is using him to trap a thief who happens to be her ex-lover. The film earned Golden Globe nods for Depp and Jolie.
  • Letters to Juliet (2010) by Gary Winick (with Amanda Seyfried, Gael García Bernal). By responding to a letter addressed to Shakespeare's tragic heroine Juliet Capulet, a young American woman (Amanda Seyfried) vacationing in Verona, Italy, sets in motion a series of events that leads her -- and the missive's lovelorn author (Vanessa Redgrave) -- in search of romance. Directed by Gary Winick, this deeply tender and uplifting drama also features Gael García Bernal and Franco Nero.
  • ​A Month by the Lake (1995) by John Irvin (with Vanessa Redgrave, Uma Thurman, and Edward Fox.)  While vacationing on Lake Como in pre-World War II Italy, a middle-aged English woman develops an interest in a fellow guest, a stuffy major in the British army. Before she can make her move, the arrival of a young nanny complicates her plans.
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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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