Thriller in Venice

For tourists with enquiring minds and who love literature or cinema, a novel way to tour Venice is to wander through its alleyways and squares in search of the places described in books and seen in films.

Venice is a city that, since time immemorial, has inspired novels and has often been chosen as the setting for famous films. Who isn’t familiar with Shakespeare’s Othello or the Merchant of Venice and their Venetian scenery? The beautiful palace overlooking the mouth of the Grand Canal is even known as the “House of Desdemona”.

Over the years, other well-known stories have followed these, often inspiring films in which this lagoon city provides the backdrop for stories set in a past that is often more imaginary than real, or else in eras closer to our own.

Some you may remember Roger Moore’s daring escape in his role as 007 on a “gondola on wheels” that rolls through Saint Mark’s Square in the film Moonraker, as well as the more recent Casino Royale, and Indiana Jones in the film The Last Crusade, when he is chased into the church of San Barnaba.

Other films past and present include The Tourist and Death in Venice, from the novel of the same name by Thomas Mann, set in the Lido and filmed in part in the Hotel des Bains. And last but not least, there is of course a long list of films inspired by one of Venice’s most well-known citizens: Giacomo Casanova.

Venice is also the location where another famous character from the thriller genre lives and works: Commissioner Brunetti, the brainchild of American writer Donna Leon, who investigates multiple murder cases in the city. Although the writer never wanted her books to be translated into Italian, the stories of this Venetian police officer have proven particularly popular outside Italy, most notably in Germany where there was a TV series which was filmed in various parts of Venice.

An honorary Venetian, the Welsh writer Philip Gwynne Jones, has set several of his novels in the city, including Vengeance in Venice and The Venetian Game, which see the main character, English Honorary Consul Nathan Sutherland, solving various cases. And what better street for the consul to live in than “Rio Tera dei Assassini”?

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