Something I read about on Venice….
Twain first visited Venice at the age of 32, on his way to Jerusalem in 1867. His impressions became part of Innocents Abroad (1869) and his observations on the Italians were so popular with the subjects that the book was not published in Italy until 1960
“We reached Venice at eight in the evening, and entered a hearse belonging to the Grand Hotel d’Europe. At any rate, it was more like a hearse than anything else, though, to speak by the card, it was a gondola. And this was the storied gondola of Venice! — the fairy boat in which the princely cavaliers of the olden time were wont to cleave the waters of the moonlit canals and look the eloquence of loe into the soft eyes of patrician eauties, while the gay gondolier in silken doublet touched his guitar and sang as only goldoliers can sing! This was the famed gondola and this the gorgeous gondolier! — the one an inky, rusty old canoe with a sable hearse-body clapped on to the middle of it, and the other a mangy, barefooted gutter-snipe with a portion of his raiment on exhibition which should have been sacred from public scrutiny. Presently, as he turned a corner and shot his hearse into a dismal ditch between two long rows of towering, untenanted buildings, the gay gondolier began to sing, true to the traditions of his race. I stood it a little while. Then I said:
“Now here, Roderigo Gonzales Michael Angelo, I’m a pilgrim, and a I’m a stranger, but I am not going to have my feelings lacerated by any such caterwauling as that. If that goes on, one of us has got to take water.”
— Innocents Abroad