The Night the Lights Went Out in Venice
Blog post by Valerie Taylor first appeared on Rockin' Book Reviews
Readers often choose books by setting—whether imagined (think Game of Thrones), or real like Boston and Venice in What’s Not Said.
They say, write what you know. Having scenes in Boston was rather easy since I had lived there, and my beta readers from there were eager to correct my mistakes, like which way the one way streets actually traverse.
Since I’d spent a week in Venice in 2016, I felt comfortable including it in my story. Nevertheless, I returned there in 2019 specifically to experience the city again, especially St. Mark’s Square, from the perspective of Kassie, my protagonist. That way, if I’d gotten anything wrong I’d be able to edit my manuscript before its final submission.
Venice had other ideas. You might recall, at the end of June and early July 2019, much of Europe was a furnace. Venice hit 100 degrees when I was there. I spent more time seeking out restaurants and venues that were air conditioned (clue: not many are) than following in Kassie’s footsteps.
During my first couple of days there, I did return to the Doge’s Palace and hopped on and off the vaporetto multiple times. But I didn’t get to relax at a café again in St. Mark’s Square and enjoy a glass of pinot grigio and listen to the dueling bands. Though I tried. The cafés weren’t serving due to the blistering heat. No one wanted to sit there.
Frustrated, but not ready to give up, on my last evening there I made one attempt at St. Mark’s Square. One failed attempt, that is. As soon as I stepped foot into the Square, almost on cue, the lights went out. All the shops, cafés, and tourist attractions around the Square’s perimeter went dark. The culprit? A band setting up for a concert. With the scaffolding and folding chairs in place, there was one last thing on their checklist. Test the sound system.
Poof. The shops went dark. The shopkeepers flipped over their “Open” signs and locked their doors. I meandered back to an air-conditioned restaurant near my hotel in a neighborhood not affected by the blackout. My glass of pinot grigio tasted just as delightful and fruity there, and I grudgingly accepted that my earlier memories of St. Mark’s Square would need to suffice.
Lesson learned? Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco. Things don’t always turn out as planned.