The Grand Tour in Venice - Page 109



THE GRAND TOUR IN VENICE
108
109
THE GRAND TOUR IN VENICE
LIDO
At the edge of the water he remained, drawing figures into the sand with his toes,
his gaze fixed at the ground. Then he crossed the shallow sea that reached up to
his knees in its deepest parts and arrived at the sandbank.
Fig. 71 Luciano
Visconti filming
Death in Venice
on the Lido,
Venice, Italy.
Death in Venice, Thomas Mann
Fig. 70 Grand Hotel des Bains, Lido, Venice, Italy.
In 1911, in a moment of deep existential and
professional crisis, Thomas Mann checked
into the Grand Hotel des Bains on the Venice
Lido in search of inspiration (fig. 70). It was at
this hotel that the novel Death in Venice was
written and Luciano Visconti’s film of the
book is set (fig. 71). Tourism came relatively
late to the Lido and the only occasion that
eighteenth-century grand tourists would visit
was for the annual festival of the Wedding
of the Sea. The rest of the year the Lido
was largely deserted, though Byron rode his
horses there, Richard Wagner used to be
rowed out to the Lido, and Effie Ruskin went
there for a picnic (fig. 72). In 1857 the first
bathing establishment was opened, and by
the early twentieth century the Lido was on
the way to becoming the most fashionable
sea-side resort in Italy. Shortly after the
building of the Grand Hotel des Bains in
1905, Diaghilev and Nijinsky stayed there
and a trolley-bus was installed linking the
beach and the vaporetto stop; Helen Frick
used this mode of transport on her visit in
1912. Later fashionable visitors included
the Shah of Persia, Ingrid Bergman, Maria
Callas, and Orson Welles who recorded
meeting Winston Churchill there:

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