A Misunderstanding, It Would Seem

The image caption is: Robert Herman, 2008, Doge’s Palace

This excerpt from the Introduction of Dream of Venice in Black and White was written by Tiziano Scarpa.

The last time I moved was several years ago. I came to live in this apartment on the third floor overlooking a canal. Even today, when I look out the window, I remember the day I first set foot here. It was a gray February morning; the sky was the same color as the flagstones. The moving men had arrived on a big heavy boat that was practically a barge. They had unloaded the furniture on the canalside and then winched it up to the apartment with a lift, attaching a telescopic ramp—a sort of verticaltrack that you use in these situations when there’s no elevator or stairs wide enough to accommodate the items. The bookshelves, the bedframe and the rest of my furniture progressed along that slow wobbly platform that entered the apartment through the windows. In a few hours, the movers had finished lifting my belongings, placing them in the rooms and reassembling them. When they left, my wife and I looked at the walls around us and went from one room to another in delight: Right then something new was beginning. “From tonight, this is where we’ll eat, where we’ll sleep and where we’ll wake up.” I went downstairs to buy a bottle of prosecco to celebrate. When I opened the door onto the street and went outside, I saw a man and a woman who, like me, were closing a little door next to ours. “My neighbors!” I thought enthusiastically. I was starting a new phase of my life, so I approached them with a euphoric smile. I introduced myself and said: “I hope the movers didn’t bother you.”

The man and the woman looked at me curiously.

“Today is my first day here!” I explained.

They looked at each other. “Sorry?” they said in English.

It was only then that I realized they were tourists staying next door for a few days, obviously guests at a B&B.

A misunderstanding, it would seem. And yet it wasn’t: I was right to introduce myself to those two like the new kid on the block. Without even realizing it, I came to know the true lay of the land. They were real inhabitants of the neighborhood, even if they were only staying in Venice for one weekend in the whole of their lives.

I live next to tourists. I live alongside them. What I mean is: I don’t just meet strangers on the street; tourists are my neighbors. I live here, and I am always the same. They change. My continuity borders on their impermanence. My destiny in life is to live next to people in continuous rotation. I live in perpetual change. Between Being and Becoming, I am a tenant of Becoming.


Cover Dream of Venice Black and White

The featured image on this post, Doge’s Palace, was taken by Robert Herman in 2008; the image on the cover above is by Lisa Katsiaris. You can order Dream of Venice in Black and White through numerous outlets in the sidebar depending upon your location.


About Tiziano Scarpa

Tiziano Scarpa was born in Venice, Italy in 1963. He is a novelist, poet, and playwright.

Scarpa’s third novel, Stabat Mater(Serpent’s Tail, 2011) was awarded the Strega Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary honor. His acclaimed Venice is a Fish: a Sensual Guide(Gotham Books, 2008) is known throughout the world as an idiosyncratic celebration of Venice.  Corpo(Einaudi, 2005) is a collection of aphorisms and short stories about fifty parts of the human body. His books have been translated into many languages including Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Scarpa has collaborated with musicians (jazz, rock, classical, pop) including Enrico Rava, Marlene Kuntz, Michele Tadini, and Debora Petrina. His essays about modern and contemporary art have featured Anish Kapoor, Tino Seghal, Mimmo Rotella, and Giorgio De Chirico. Scarpa has twice received the international Prix Italia for radio drama (1997 and 2008). He currently lives in Venice.


Tiziano Scarpa è nato a Venezia nel 1963. È un romanziere, poeta e drammaturgo.

Il suo romanzo Stabat Mater (Einaudi, 2008) ha ricevuto il Premio Strega, il più prestigioso riconoscimento letterario italiano. Venezia è un pesce(Feltrinelli, 2000) è conosciuto e apprezzato in tutto il mondo come guida particolarmente originale alla città di Venezia. Fra i suoi numerosi libri ricordiamo anche Corpo(Einaudi, 2005), una raccolta di aforismi e racconti brevi su cinquanta parti del corpo umano. Le sue opere sono state tradotte in varie lingue, fra cui il giapponese, il cinese, il russo, l’ebraico e l’arabo.

Scarpa ha collaborato con molti musicisti (jazz, rock, classici, pop): tra gli altri, Enrico Rava, Marlene Kuntz, Michele Tadini e Debora Petrina. Nei suoi saggi sull’arte moderna e contemporanea ha scritto su Anish Kapoor, Tino Seghal, Mimmo Rotella, Giorgio De Chirico e molti altri artisti. Scarpa ha ricevuto due volte il premio internazionale Prix Italia per la drammaturgia radiofonica (1997 e 2008). Attualmente vive a Venezia.