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A Beautiful Woman in Venice

Length: 451 pages6 hours


A stately woman in a brocade gown steps off a golden boat. A mirror merchant in simple white blouse takes action to preserve her republic. An elegant singer poses in a private salon. Standing at a university podium, a woman holds forth in Latin on women’s education. A cloistered nun in a walled up convent uses the only power she has—her pen. Artists hold in their hands pastels or pens or glass or thread to document or protect or adorn or embellish those around them. A hostess orchestrates the conversation to keep culture alive.
All these beautiful women represent Venice, Italy’s city of water and light. Venice, associated with Venus, the goddess of love, was a city ruled by men. However, though men wielded the power and made the decisions, Venice was still a city of women: women who maintained culture, who attracted tourists and lovers, who entertained in both sacred and secular venues, who founded refuges for others or prayed for their wellbeing, who sold or delivered the goods and foods that maintained life. Women who were mothers, wanting the best, fair education for their children. Women who were daughters, dutiful or seeking or devout. Women who were wives, working alongside their husbands or forging their own talented paths. Women who prayed faithfully. Beautiful women, each in her own way.
Dip into 28 chapters on over 35 Venetian women spanning six centuries. From poets Veronica Franco and Gaspara Stampa, to orators like Cassandra Fedele, regatta winner Maria Boscola, and dogaressa Maria Morosini Grimani, you'll read a wide variety of stories about their remarkable lives. Women often changed history or saved lives, like Giustina Rossi who helped quell a rebellion to Giovanna whose painting kept the Black Death at bay, plus a myriad of nuns and laywomen who founded institutions to care for orphans, widows, and the destitute.
A whole host of writers are represented here: from Arcangela Tarabotti, Modesta Pozzo, and Lucrezia Marinella, some of the earliest proto-feminists anywhere, to Elisabetta Caminer Turra, Luisa Bergalli Gozzi, Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi, Giustina Renier Michiel, and Giustiniana Wynne, who broke boundaries for women authors and paved the way for more to come. Besides authors were composers Barbara Strozzi and Antonia Bembo. Venice has recognized some of its talented daughters, such as Rosalba Carriera, the painter, and Cencia Scarpariola, the lace maker, with plaques and streets, and of course the city has honored Elena Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman in the world to earn a university degree.
A Beautiful Woman in Venice honors more than just those mentioned here. Read the book to discover which woman hid steaming polenta in her bosom, who was friends with Lord Byron, who painted the Barovier wedding cup, who is depicted in Titian's famous Venus of Urbino, and who had 37 violin concertos written for her by Antonio Vivaldi.
Libraries of books have been written about Venetian history and Venetian men’s roles in shaping it. But little is written about the lives of its women. In this book you’ll read their stories. It’s time to redefine their beauty.

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