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If Venice Dies

Written by Salvatore Settis

Translated by André Naffis-Sahely

  • 192 Pages
  • 9781487001568
  • 8" x 5.25"
  • ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning
  • POLITICAL SCIENCE / City Planning & Urban Development
  • SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General



Publication Date September 10, 2016

What is Venice worth? To whom does this urban treasure belong? This eloquent book by the internationally renowned art historian Salvatore Settis urgently poses these questions, igniting a new debate about the Pearl of the Adriatic and cultural patrimony at large. Venetians are increasingly abandoning their hometown — there’s now only one resident for every 140 visitors — and Venice’s fragile fate has become emblematic of the future of historic cities everywhere as it capitulates to tourists and those who profit from them. In If Venice Dies, a fiery blend of history and cultural analysis, Settis argues that “hit-and-run” visitors are turning landmark urban settings into shopping malls and theme parks. He warns that Western civilization’s prime achievements face impending ruin from mass tourism and global cultural homogenization. This is a passionate plea to secure Venice’s future, written with consummate authority, wide-ranging erudition and élan.


Salvatore Settis
Salvatore Settis is an art historian and archaeologist who has served as director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. He currently heads the Louvre Museum’s scientific council and has written several books of art history.

André Naffis-Sahely
André Naffis-Sahely is a translator and poet who was born in Venice and grew up in Abu Dhabi. He lives in Hudson, N.Y. 


Star Review

"An impassioned plea that every lover of Venice, urban planner, architect, and cultural historian should read." Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"Anyone interested in learning what is really going on in Venice should read this book." author of My Venice and Other Essays and Death at La Fenice

"Venice is indeed unique but it stands for all cities in this eloquent, furious blast against the commodification of our planet and the relentless destruction of human communities by the mentality of markets." Roger Crowley, author of City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas

"Settis shows how the tragedy of Venice could happen to any city which has a past. It’s a powerful polemic." Richard Sennett, author of The Fall of Public Man and Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization

"An elegant indictment of the challenges Venice faces from today’s rapacious economic environment. Settis offers an ethical prescription for re-imagining and resuscitating the historical uniqueness of Venice and Venetian life." Eric Denker, coauthor of No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice and Senior Lecturer, National Gallery of Art

"This book valiantly shows why Venice — crossroads of civilization, art and commerce, eternal place of love — cannot be allowed to perish." Diane von Furstenberg, Vice Chairman, Venetian Heritage Council

"A lament for the day-by-day destruction of great beauty . . . full of anger and disappointment at what the author sees as the moral bankruptcy of Italy today." The Art Newspaper

"A chilling account of the slow agony of Venice as illustrative of a global consumerist epidemic. Richly documented and imbued with deep angst about this supreme urban creation." Philippe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

"The vision of Settis is particularly gloomy and pessimistic, but there is still hope." Corriere della Sera

"Salvatore Settis wants to curb the sellout of cities . . . Balancing sharp intellect and moral indignation, lucid writing, and impassioned argument, his polemic makes for captivating reading." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"Settis’s analysis extends to all cities. Only active citizenship can save them from the greed of real estate speculators." Desmond O’Grady, former European editor of The Transatlantic Review and author of The Road Taken

"With his book, Settis has clarified what conservationism and the protection of our cultural heritage should mean." Il Manifesto

"At once a moving eulogy for Venice and a resounding manifesto, enriched by a dense web of historic, literary, and cultural allusions." Publishers Weekly

"But Settis, an art historian who currently leads the Louvre Museum’s scientific council, is not primarily concerned with the Queen of the Adriatic slipping beneath the waves. No, the enemy in his eloquent polemic against the iconic city’s decline is the way the Western world, dedicated to commodifying everything, is busy turning its cultural patrimony in general and Venice in particular into theme park attractions." Maclean's