Venice’s Giudecca island: exotic fabrics and great food.



The last island I visited during my recent holiday in Venice, was Giudecca, on the other side of the enormous Giudecca Canal from the main city of Venice.  On the day, in June, when I was there, it felt very far from the madding crowd. Less glamorous than Venice perhaps but very atmospheric in its rather run-down and elegant shabbiness.

Centuries ago Giudecca was the garden island where rich Venetians came to avoid the worst of the humid city summers. Some of that mood lingers behind the high walls.

Here the afternoon sun turns the old bricks a golden brown and casts mysterious shadows for our delectation.

Some of those high walls, however, define the limits of a women’s prison as that watch tower indicates.

Looking through an open gate but obeying the no entrance sign, I thought I could imagine a worse place to be locked up but then I was in a mellow mood.


Giudecca is, I’m told, one of Venice’s arty quarters where avant garde theatre and art keep a population of students and artists amused throughout the year. Well, not much was going on that day and I couldn’t make it to the Cambodian folk dancing across the narrow strip of water to the neighbouring island of San Giorgio, home to one of the most famous buildings by the great architect Andrea Palladio (1508 – 1580), the monastery of San Giorgio itself. I never made it over there much to my regret. A project for my next visit I hope but I had a good view of it from Giudecca.


I was happy enough though to wander round Giudecca with my camera.


Giudecca is home to the Fortuny fabric factory, still famous for its exotic dress materials once the toast of early Twentieth Century Europe.

Designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871 –1949) was a Spaniard who made Venice his home and managed, with his ideas of design to create the fabrics which will always be seen as the style of his era.



Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871 –1949)

Even if you haven’t heard of him, you will recognise his designs. This is how women wanted to look in the fashionable 1900s.



That encyclopaedic style enthusiastic, the French novelist Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922), not only loved Venice and visited it often but he waxes lyrical about Fortuny’s designs in the giant seven volume novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search Of lost Time) – coincidently the book that I brought with me on my kindle for my holiday reading. I had got up to volume five when I got to Venice and, strangely, I read about Proust’s fashionable Duchess de Guermantes’ Fortuny dresses just after visiting Giudecca. Now I can really picture clearly some of Proust’s most elegant characters.


Marcel Proust in Venice

I had really come to Giudecca to have dinner at one of Venice’s most rated restaurants, the unpretentious, magnificently situated but culinarily creative I Figli della Stelle Ristorante on the side of the Giudecca Canal with spectacular views of Venice itself.


What better way to spend an Italian evening in mid June than to have a great meal while watching the light change on the great city of Venice itself.

Buon appetito!



My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.
It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)
You can order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:
…or from Book Depository:
…or from Amazon:’s%20Summer%20Of%20loveCOLIN BELL’S PUBLICATIONS:

Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013

Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Poetry anthology

Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry anthology

Reaching Out
Cinnamon Press
December 2012
Poetry and short story anthology

Tic Toc
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
June 2014
Poetry anthology

The Blotter
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
November 2009
Three pages of poetry in the American South’s unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.

The Fib Review
Musepie Press
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present

Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal

Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.

In The Night Count The Stars
Bittersweet Editions
March 1, 2014
An “uncommon anthology” of images, fragments, stories and poetry.


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