Architecture and Design

A History of Venetian Architecture by Ennio Concina, transl by Judith Landry, Cambridge University Press, 1998. Concina's comprehensive survey draws on extensive original research of the cultural history of the city to offer fresh insights and an energetic approach to the architecture.  290 halftone illustrations. 60 color plates.  

Venice: The City and Its Architecture by Richard Goy, Phaidon Press Inc., 1999.  Examines the way in which Venice's unusual topography has influenced the form and type of the city's buildings. The text looks at the city's most important monuments, discusses important building types such as churches and palaces, and also looks at the urban fabric of the middle-class and working-class districts of the city. Illustrated with photographs, maps, plans, and reproductions of artwork. 

The Architectural History of Venice: Revised and enlarged edition by Deborah Howard and Laura Moretti, Yale University Press, 2004.  When published in 1981, Cambridge professor Howard's survey of Venetian architecture was hailed as the only authoritative study of its scope in English. This new edition contains the same text with minor revisions, many of which reflect research Howard published in her Venice and the East.

Venice and the East: The Impact of the Islamic World on Venetian Architecture 1100-1500 by Deborah Howard, Yale Univ Press, 2000.  Architectural historian Deborah Howard explores the range of buildings that reflect Muslim imagery and discusses the complexities of importing such ideas to a Christian city.  Superb illustrations.   

The Grand Canal by Umberto Franzoi and photography by Mark Smith, transl. by Daniel Wheeler, Vendome Press, 1997.
A complete survey in text and photos of the exterior and some interiors of the 316 buildings of Grand Canal. Panoramic views record every building on both banks, and a fascinating text describes the architecture.   Illustrated with 220 photos.

Venetian Palaces by Alvise Zorzi and photography by Paolo Marton,  Rizzoli, 1990.  A beautiful book that comprehensively covers the history and design of the palazzi of Venice. Stunning interior shots and excellent text that places each building stylistically, historically and contextually.    

Stones of Venice by Lionello Puppi with photography by Mark Edward Smith, Vendome Press, 2002.  This is a beautiful, sensitively photographed essay on the texture, color, shape and endless uses of stone in Venice. Author Lionello Puppi is a noted professor of architectural history at the University of Venice and photographer Mark Smith is an American photographer living in Venice whose books include Grand Canal and Palaces of Venice.   Not to be confused with The Stones of Venice by 19th-century writer John Ruskin. 

History A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich, Vintage Books, 1989.  One of the most comprehensive and the most engaging histories of Venice. The reader follows Venice from the formation of the lagoon city late to its joining with, and later betrayal of, Byzantium, its many wars with Genoa and Turkey, its Renaissance diplomacy, to its last centuries of sunlight and the eventual takeover by Napoleon.  Eloquently written.  


Venice Revealed: An Intimate Portrait by Paolo Barbaro, trans. by Tami Calliope, Steerforth Press, 2001.  The author is Venetian civil engineer who spent decades working abroad before returning home. This intimate guide offers a Venice that tourists rarely see: working-class districts, industrial zones, hidden gardens and alleys.  More than just a lush portrait, this is a cri de coeur and a desperate plea to save the city that mass tourism and nature are threatening to destroy.   

Living in Venice by Frederic Vitoux, photos by Jerome Darblay, Flammarion Press, 2000. A beautifully illustrated guide to the grand style and traditions of Venice. Over 430 photographs explore the known as well as the more intimate and rarely seen sides of this majestic city. 

The World of Venice by Jan Morris,  Harvest Books, 1995 edition.  This book was first published in 1960 when its English author was a foreign correspondent living in Italy. This edition blends history, social commentary, and personal travel narrative in the Venice of 50 years ago.

Venice Observed by Mary McCarthy, Harvest Books, 1963. Another look at what Venice was 50 years ago. By the author of The Group, this book has been described by some as the best single travel book ever written on Venice.  Neither history nor a guide book, its tone is leisurely and informative, the style witty and engaging. McCarthy’s asides about her personal experiences in the city complement her grander historical and artistic musings.