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No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice Paperback – March 17, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (March 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330601
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,010,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a good-natured guide for die-hard "Venetophiles," author and etiquette guru Martin focuses not on the stunning Byzantine architecture of this Italian city but on the unique personality of Venetians themselves. While this fun-to-read paean to the sybaritic delights of la Serenissima offers a compelling window into the city's social history, it should come as no surprise that the author of Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior is most interested in schooling her readers on how to comport themselves in a city still long on Old World charm and cultural mores. Martin is quick to point out that even the most illustrious tourists (including former Venice visitors Tennyson, Tchaikovsky and Twain) need a bit of good-natured advice on how to present themselves ("Hat etiquette is strict") and interact with others ("Making poetic observations ... should be resisted at any cost"). Martin also dips an enthusiastic toe into the rich history of Venetian food and drink ("Veneto's prosecco is not just cheaper than champagne but better"), painting, poetry and party-going, making the book perfect for a swift, semi-intellectual overview of Venice that goes several steps deeper than the average tourist guide.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Add No Vulgar Hotel to the list of books you must read before you come to Venice." Donna Leon "Do yourself a courtesy and read this revelation about the Jewel of the Adriatic." P.J. O'Rourke"

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Customer Reviews

Imho it's too bad Miss Manners didn't write this book.
James R. Hazelton
If you are a fan or Venice - or are even just thinking of visiting one day - this book is a must read.
RAASusanne
Ms. Martin and her companions take us through this intriguing city and share with us their passion.
Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By James R. Hazelton on July 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the other posters that Judith Martin's tone is self-adulatory to the point of self indulgence. That, of course, isn't my favorite part of this book. However there is new stuff here that I didn't know and I've been returning "home" to Venice regularly for many years.
I actually bought this book hoping, among other things, to learn about hat etiquette (as excerpted on this Amazon page), since I sometimes wear a hat in Venice and would hate to be doing it the wrong way. I didn't find it, and that's a shame. Advising on such matters is--or ought to be--the author's forte. Imho it's too bad Miss Manners didn't write this book.
(By the way, another poster mentioned something called the "Venice Card," which is a discount gimmick for the tourists. This is quite different from the city-issued photo I.D. which allows a resident to purchase the monthly vaporetto pass for 30 euro, and this is what Martin was writing about. I didn't find it too awfully difficult to obtain, but maybe that has changed. My own abbonamento expired years ago but the brusque lady behind the counter still honors it every time, bless her heart.)
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Drake on April 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Engaging, but somewhat precious and self-conscious, this commentary on the Venetophilic addiction is a "potato chip" of a read. There are many snips of history and anecdote but it skips and samples and skims the surface without offering any real insight. I honestly found it a bit of a slog.

I guess my overall impression is similar to my impression of USA Today...lots of sound bites, but no substance. The author clearly loves Venice and knows it well but her self-adulatory tone wears thin pretty quickly. There are many nice observations about tourists and Venetophiles but I wasn't sure about the point of it all. Check it out from the library but don't bother to buy it.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Agatha Comberton on August 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cute title. After that this book sinks into the canal. I agree with another poster I do not think Ms Martin wrote much of this book. If she did she should be ashamed.

If you want to read a good book about Venice read CITY OF THE FALLING ANGELS. Or read any Donna Leon book all set in Venice and all excellent mysteries that are filled with the life of the people of Venice.

This book is just boring!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Katz on July 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a book without a purpose, beyond the self-adulation of the author. It has nothing new which is relevant to Venice nor is it insightful about its history, culture, or physical presence. There is not even anything relevatory about her experience in the city. These are simply Ms. Martin's musings about a city that she likes a lot. Unfortunately, it's hard to care.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Natalia Olivera on July 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a regular traveler to Venice, I am pretty familiar with all of the literature and guidebooks on La Serenissima. Alas, the Martin tome is among the most disappointing of the lot, as it is written as a set of disconnected anecdotes with the lone purpose of allowing the author to boast about her elite connections. Rather offputting. To truly gain insight into residing in Venice, Vitoux's "Living in Venice" is hard to beat. Equally useful and charming is McGregor's "Venice (From the Ground Up)."
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37 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Marisyl on June 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed renting a charming flat in Dorsoduro, shopping with a wheeled cart like real Venetians, using the Venice Card to hop on and off the vaporetti but also using the traghetto to cross the Grand Canal, I was hoping for some additional insight into the enjoyable sport of being a holiday Venetian. Instead, I found Miss Manners grandly informing us of her connections among the literati and glitterati of Venice, who she entertains in her rented palazzo.
Ms. Martin also gives us smatterings of history and literary anecdotes, nothing new here. What was new, and horrifying, was a description of ritual animal torture which used to happen in more benighted times, even in Venice.
I agree that renting an apartment is the best way to feel a part of the culture when going abroad, but found this book unedifying on the subject.
Pick up any Venice guidebook and see the same stories of asking for directions and being told "Sempre dritto", and being warned not to touch the produce, and how the boca de leoni were used to inform on people...
If you want a beautifully written, truly informative book on Venice, its history, art and culture, read Mary McCarthy's still splendid "Venice Observed".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A reader from California on August 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm not quite through with the book but I am thoroughly enjoying it. It's interesting and amusing, and Martin writes with her tongue firmly in her cheek. I have always been fascinated with Venice, although I have only visited one time, and I can definitely relate to the love Martin feels for her adopted home. In contrast to other posters, I don't find this book any more self-indulgent than the tons of other books about re-doing houses in Tuscany, Provence, Greece, etc. etc. or authors bringing their families to far-flung locations and encountering gruff but soft-hearted locals.
I do admit that some of the historical names tend to get muddled up in my mind, but who cares? I knew what the book was about when I bought it, and its delivered its promise and more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Stoner on January 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Judith Martin has been more fortunate than I, since I cannot foresee a time when I might be able to return. I was in Venice for less than 24 hours. It was raining. I fell in love. However, hope never dies, and so I only have to do a little rewriting of her last sentence: "And in the water taxi (vaporetto) on the way to the airport (railroad station), we (I) think of the Venetians of old, leaving Venice on their merchant ships, and making the promise, "I'll be back when I have more money."

That being said, I don't quite understand the snippy reviews I read before posting this. I'm not certain what they were expecting. I was expecting a love letter, and I got one.
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