John Ruskin and Venice

A plaque to John Ruskin on the Pensione Calcina, Zattere, Venice
The Zattere, which is one of my favourite walks, is home to the Pensione Calcina, where the great Victorian art critic John Ruskin stayed in 1877. 

When, twenty-three years later, a plaque was erected on the wall of the pensione to mark the great man's stay, every educated traveller to Venice would have been armed with at least two books: Baedeker's guide to the city and (an abridged version of) Ruskin's The Stones of Venice. The latter is a three-volume treatise on Venetian art and architecture, which was published between 1851 and 1853, when the writer was still in his early thirties.

A century later and I wonder how many people have heard of The Stones of Venice, which even John Julius Norwich describes as 'interminably long, impossibly detailed and impenetrably organized.' He does, however, add 'but for those of us who are not embarrassed by purple patches...it remains the most majestic (book) ever to have been written on the city.'


Ruskin stayed in other hotels in Venice (including the Hotel Danieli), but only the Pensione Calcina has seen fit to mark his stay with a plaque. It has also gone one step further (excuse the pun) to proclaim on its doormat:
John Ruskin, Pensione Calcina, Zattere, Venice

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