In the morning I am heading to Venice, Italy for a week. I am so excited! I have wanted to see Venice in person for nearly 20 years. My fascination with it began when I was studying Renaissance Art during my senior year of college, but intensified in 1999 after I first accidentally stumbled upon a showing of “Dangerous Beauty.” The movie is a fictionalized/idealized narrative about a woman named Veronica Franco, and she is one of my personal heroes.
Like many gay men, I adore strong women. They’re just so… FIERCE! And Veronica is famous, not only for her beauty and intellect, but also for being clever enough to outwit the Inquisition after she was accused of being a witch. She was one of the most famous cortigiane of her time (N.B. The title of this site, and the use of the word courtesan, is a reference/homage to her), and she even entertained the Henri III, King of France (as well as many other highly influential people). You can read a good article about her here, or you can find a nice, short overview on Wikipedia. I have a copy of her collected letters along with many of her poems. It was sent to me by a friend from Scotland, and she gave it to me for Christmas recently. I will have it on the plane with me.
I don’t think Veronica’s house is available for viewing (I’m not sure anyone even knows where/if her house stands), but I am going to be absorbing her spirit and seeing many of the places she herself would have seen. Her spirit is what inspires everything about the way I practice, and my sense of her pervades every bit of advice I have given on this blog. When you read me, know that I am trying to channel her. I love her, and I hope this pilgrimage will help me connect even deeper to the fascinating life she must have lived. I understand she declined when her primary benefactor died, but I like to think that her entire life was (on some level) as sumptuous, nuanced, and impressive as the fables say…
To Venice! A piu tarde tutti gli miei amici!