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Art, Cinema, Gastronomy, History & Politics

Delectable Venice

Desiring and Encountering La Serenissima Through Cuisine and Cinema

March 7, 2019
6:30 pm

This event is organized and presented by Save Venice.

A lecture by
Pellegrino D’Acierno
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Italian Studies, Hofstra University


And Polo said: “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.” – Italo Calvino

The talk, dedicated to learning from Venice, will treat Venice as a cultural text in which food and cinema are central to how we encounter and desire it. Addressed to food and wine lovers, to cinephiles, and, above all, to travelers who wish to question their touristic identity and to stage profound encounters with La Serenissima, the talk will take the form of a “celluloid feast” in which scenes of Italians and Venetians at table will be screened and closely analyzed with attention to the “food operas” through which Italians stage their family life and use food as a language with which to create community and to perform their cultural identity. Particular attention will be paid to films set in Venice that represent the food experiences and interpersonal encounters of Venetians and/or tourists – gourmets in search of “aristopiatti,” foodies fetishized by the variations on radicchio on the menu at Taverna La Fenice, gluttons magnetized by polenta, and romantic travelers who use food as seduction. We shall screen clips from canonic tourist films such as Summertime and The Tourist, including food movies that depict Italian visitors in Venice such as the third episode of Dove vai in vacanza? and Pane e Tulipani. As a counterpoint to the tourist film which, as a rule, deploys Venice as Background (or ready-made set) and only at times as Character, we shall focus on the “anti-tourist film” – art films that deploy the city as Subject and stage plenary encounters with Venice and its psychogeography: for example, Visconti’s Death in Venice, Fellini’s Casanova, Enrico Maria Salerno’s Anonimo veneziano, and a number of neglected films such as Susan Sontag’s Letter from Venice. The screening of these clips will lead to a treatment of how a critical understanding of foodways and their cinematic representation enable us to learn from Venice in a more emic and penetrating way.


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