Notes on the Geography of Italy: Venice: the Lido
The Lido is Venice's recreational beach. Shelley saw it before the tourists came, and he described it this way in Julian and Maddalo:
"a bare strand
A century later, the Lido had become a serious real-estate proposition. The first beach resort opened in 1857, but things picked up dramatically after a town plan in 1891 called for roads on the island. By 1906 Baedeker called the Lido "now the most fashionable bathing-resort in Italy." By 1912, when Thomas Mann published "Death in Venice," he set the novella in this bourgeois paradise."
Certainly it's a shock for anyone arriving after some time in Venice. What's this? Cars? Delivery trucks? Buses? Scooters? Good Lord, I had forgotten about those things.
The Hotel Des Bains, designed by Francesco Marsich and opened in 1900. It's the setting for Mann's Death in Venice, and it's still fairly stifling.
The more flirtatious Hungaria Palace Hotel, opened in 1905 and tiled in 1914.
The grandest of them all, the eclectic Albergo Excelsior, designed by Giovanni Sardi, the Venetian architect who also did Venice's instant palazzo, the Bauer-Grunwald Hotel. The Excelsior opened in 1908 and continues in business as the Westin Excelsior.
It's big. It's also the place where the Venice Film Festival began, in 1932.
Appropriately theatrical touches.
The Orientalist beach-side facade.
The beach itself. Wonder about those huts?
Here's another view, with the Hotel Des Bains in the background. Mann wrote, "a long row of capanne ran down the beach, with platforms, where people sat as on verandas, and there was social life, with bustle and indolent repose...." Things haven't changed much.
Ah, Nature! A hut facing the beach rents for 80 Euros a day--one on this side costs 60. What a bargain! Venetians rent them for the summer, presumably at a discount.
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