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Index: Letter from Venice

Spritz at the villa.

Robin Saikia: ‘Friuli was, in the old days, one of the furthest-flung mainland dominions of the Venetian empire — and therefore its cities, towns, villas and churches bear unmistakeable traces of Venice. Yet since Friuli is in the north-east and close to what are now the borders of Austria and Slovenia, the Venetian leitmotiv in everything from architecture to cuisine is fused with other, non-Italian, influences.’

The Feast of the Redentore.

Robin Saikia: ‘We followed lunch with a walk back to Santa Croce and a quick drink at Rivetta, another spit-and-sawdust establishment that serves drinkable country wine for 90 cents a glass. I mention all this because it is easy to forget that real people on modest incomes live in and are the backbone of this city. Go where they go, eat where they eat, drink where they drink — and soon the myth of Venice as a hell of overpriced food and booze will be dispelled.’