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Novel set in Venice (Milonga, Ombra and Cicchetti)

20th May 2015

One Summer in Venice by Nicky Pellegrino, novel set in Venice.



A thoughtful book that utterly transported me to Venice.

Addolorata – Dolly to her friends – is married to Eden in London, and has a teenage daughter, Katia. She runs the family restaurant Little Italy. A crushing review from Food Critic for the Sunday Herald, Guy Rochester (think A A Gill and then some) blows a massive hole in her life and prompts her to rethink her priorities. As the customers in her restaurant dwindle, and her husband withdraws even more from the relationship, she determines to take time out, and heads for Venice. It is intended as a short break, orchestrated largely by her sister Pieta, who, by contrast, seems to have it all.

But as she finds her feet in the Lagoon City and starts to live the real life of a local – rather than being amongst the forresti (tourists by any other name) – she settles into a comfortable routine that isn’t governed by her hectic and regimented life in London. She takes a tour of the city with Valentina as her guide, who introduces her to the backwaters where the locals hang out. She discovers pretty soon that she has to ditch the Pinot Grigio in favour of the local wines, Verduzzo or Raboso. A pit stop at a bacaro (bar) to enjoy an ombra (a small glass of wine), with some cicchetti (nibbles) makes a perfect end to the day. Ambling through the calle, canale and campi she is soon befriended by Coco, a strikingly colourful and eccentric older woman, a woman it transpires, with secrets. As the spell of Venice works its magic, Dolly decides to extend her stay over the Summer period and embraces her new life – at the milonga (outside dancing) where she learns to tango, her daily walks with Boris (her canine companion borrowed from the Contessa), the fresh produce markets, the sampling of crostini con baccalà mantecato (the ‘signature dish of Venetian cuisine‘), or just watching the world go by on the canals over a good cup of coffee.

But the eternal question is: “How much ‘me’ time can you lay claim to?”, and although Dolly compiles a simple list of things that will make her happy, which include enjoying the music and mood of the tango, neighbourhoods, afternoon naps and more, she comes to realise what family means to her.

This is very much a book that made me want to return to Venice and it would have been a good choice to take on a trip there – just imbibing the feel of the Lagoon city from the pages of the book and then being able to capture the sense of the city in situ (over an ombra and some cicchetti, obviously) would have made for a wonderful surround-around experience.

And if you fancy choosing more books to evoke Venice, just click here for our full database.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

You can connect with Nicky via Twitter and her website.

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  1. User: Shriya

    Posted on: 21/05/2015 at 8:15 pm

    I agree this is such a great read it’s been on my to read list for months.

    Food and travel goes so well!


  2. User: aditi3991

    Posted on: 21/05/2015 at 11:18 am

    Great book 🙂