Venice offers many fascinating historical tales and has equally inspired many fiction stories. So if you’re keen to be further enthused, here’s a recommended reading and viewing list from those who were moved to tell the tales of this floating city to the Venice-hungry readers and film buffs. 


The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

Set in 16th century Venice, this historical fiction novel provides insight into the world of gondola workshops, as well as life and society of the time. Superficially, it’s a story about family bonding and tradition among the gondoliers, but it becomes much more. 

The Passion by Jeannette Winterson

It’s a quick and highly imaginative read about the obsessive love between (oddly enough) Napoleon Bonaparte’s personal chicken chef and the web-footed daughter of a gondolier.  It’s a bit darker, peculiar and entertaining and if you’re a fan of Winterson, likely one of her best. 

The Venice Experiment: A Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad by Barry Frangipane

A humorous non-fiction tale of what happens when a husband convinces his wife to move to Venice for one year on a complete whim, just to see what happens. Following their ups and downs as they acclimatise to their life abroad, it’s a delightful adventure. 

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

It’s likely one of the more popular stories set in Venice; a classic Shakespeare story of love, friendship, revenge and debt collecting that brings Renaissance Venice to life. An adaptation of the tale was also made into a film starring Al Pacino in 2004. 

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

It’s a classic novel that can be demanding to read, but worth it. Two lovers and a naïve heiress are entangled in deceit and betrayal as the lovers conspire to steal her fortune. It’s verbose, but once you get into it, a fascinating read.


Dangerous Beauty

A biographical film based on Margaret Rosenthal’s non-fiction book, The Honest Courtesan; a sixteenth-century Venetian courtesan becomes admired by her city before being accused of witchcraft by the church. The film features Oliver Platt, Naomi Watts and Jacqueline Bisset. 

The Tourist

Released in 2010 and starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, this Golden Globe nominated film is heavily set in Venice and is a romantic thriller about  an American tourist who gets tangled in a trap with a woman, Scotland Yard and the Russian Mafia. 


A classic from the 1950s starring Katherine Hepburn, Summertime is a romantic tale of an American secretary who comes to Venice on holiday desperate to escape her life and have one last chance at finding love before becoming caught up in a  tragic love affair. 

Don’t Look Now

Another older film, Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are grieving the drowning death of their child in Venice. They encounter a psychic who seems to be in contact with her ghost and the couple begin to see mysterious apparitions in this suspenseful film. 

Francesco’s Venice

This 4 part-BBC documentary is a fascinating history of the city without the boring bits. Covering everything from its violent beginnings to the art history and beauty of the city to its seedy underbelly and modern day problems; it’s well worth the watch.