A Thousand Days in Venice:by Marlena de Blasi
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Hardcover, 272 pages
Marlena de Blasi's A Thousand Days in Venice is the perfect book for anyone who believes in love at first sight--or, even more, for anyone who wants proof that it exists.
The story begins when the author, a divorced American chef and cookbook writer with two grown children, receives a phone call in a Venice restaurant from an Italian who asks to meet her. She declines, though she likes the sound of his voice. The stranger, Fernando, doesn't give up easily, and a few days later she agrees to a meeting. He proclaims his love; she hesitates; he persists; she accepts a kiss; and from that moment, it becomes inevitable that the two will soon be living together and planning their wedding in Venice.
A Thousand Days in Venice is an account of both the author's love affair with Fernando and her new role as an adopted Venetian. The book's jacket copy describes the personal challenges that face the new couple:
"But nothing perfect is every easy. Fernando speaks no English. The only Italian Marlena speaks is the language of food. He's a buttoned-up pessimist. She's a serene optimist She wears bright red lipstick and vintage Norma Kamali. He finds her lipstick too bright and the meals she makes too much for him. It's 'festival cooking,' he says. Fernando likes things simple, and there's nothing simple about Marlena."
There are more practical challenges, too: such as renovating Fernando's gloomy bachelor apartment and coping with a local bureaucracy that seems bent on preventing their wedding:
"The direttrice's glasses fall repeatedly from the end of her nose, so she picks up Fernando's, which he has laid casually on her desk. These do not appear to help.
"She closes the portfolio and says, 'These papers are old and without value. The laws have changed....You must return to America, establish residency, wait one year and refile your documents.'"
Finally, there is food--not just descriptions of victuals bought and meals prepared, but also a bonus in the form of a 19-page recipe collection by Marlena de Blasi, who is the author of two cookbooks: Regional Foods of Northern Italy and Regional Foods of Southern Italy.
Whether you're interested in love, Venice, or food--or, better yet, all three--A Thousand Days in Venice is the perfect book to read while planning a trip to Venice or to rekindle your Venetian memories after you get home.
This is one of our favorite books about Venice. Read the accompanying excerpts, then buy A Thousand Days in Venice at your nearest bookstore. If you can't find the book locally, order it from Amazon or another online bookseller.
Excerpt 1: The first encounter with Fernando
|Review of Marlena de Blasi's book|
|The first encounter with Fernando|
|The Rialto markets|
|Cooking an American meal for Venetians|