Coming up: ‘If Venice Dies’

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Screenshot from video of Venice by Rene Caovilla. (National Geographic)

My colleague from my days as a dictationist (1978-81) at the Washington bureau of the Associated Press, Michael Wise, who was a D.C. metro reporter there, is now a publisher, the co-founder, with Ross Ufberg, of New Vessel Press. Wise is author of many articles and a book, Capital Dilemma, from Princeton Architectural Press, on rebuilding Berlin after the fall of the wall. He has sent me a book by Salvatore Settis, If Venice Dies, to review. He sent it just as I was revving into the high gear of writing my book Lost Providence, which is now complete and sitting at History Press, its publisher, in Charleston, S.C.

Right now If Venice Dies is buried under the avalanche of books, plans, papers, articles and other research material beneath which the bed of our guest bedroom groans. I expect soon to find it and review it, but in the meantime here is an interview with Settis by Simon Worrell for National Geographic. Included with the interview are 3 1/2 minutes of pure bliss – a video of Venice by Rene Caovilla. Settis eloquently describes the threats facing Venice, from cruise ships to rising seas to tourism overkill – on all of which I will express my opinion in my eventual review, after I find my own copy of the buried book. The video demonstrates why Venice should not die.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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3 Responses to Coming up: ‘If Venice Dies’

  1. Pingback: Poundbury a tourist mecca? | Architecture Here and There

  2. malcolmmillais says:

    Dear David

    As far as I know, the problems of Venice with tourists, and other places could be mentioned such as Rome, Barcelona etc, have never been linked to Le Corbusier and his fellow-travelers aka architects in general. The link exists because they have produced such shit, the modern crudscape as Jim Kunstler so accurately labels it, that people flock to Venice etc for visual and spiritual solace.

    Apparently tourism is even becoming a problem at Poundbury, ‘One unexpected problem is tourism. There is no hotel or bed and breakfast in the village, and residents hesitate to run private tours for fear of upsetting their neighbours. The Duchy blanched when I suggested mentioning a phone number. They said readers should write in for information on the regular official tours.’ see (

    best wishes



    • Malcolm, that is extraordinarily prescient. Andres Duany gets very close to this same thought when he notes that a historic district is nothing more than a place built before WWII, and that if new contemporary neighborhoods were built with equal beauty the upward pressure on the price of housing in historic districts (and places like Venice, Paris, etc.) would diminish if not disappear outright.


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