Lord Byron lived in Venice for three years, from 1816 to 1819. He has become one of the legends of the city, with his palace on the Grand Canal, his great swimming feats and his notorious love-life. More importantly, these three years were a turning point in his creative career. Venice, which was in sad decline during Byron’s stay, is the subject of a number of serious poems, such as Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and the Ode to Venice, and its history provided the theme for two major dramas. But Byron also composed one of the wittiest and most amusing works ever written on Venetian life, with his social satire, Beppo. For it was in Venice that he discovered the potentialities of the Italian form of ottava rima, which gave him a way forward for his own poetry. His greatest poem, Don Juan, was begun in Venice and can be said to be fully Venetian in inspiration and atmosphere, even if it does not mention the city.
This guidebook takes us to the various fascinating places in Venice and on the islands of the lagoon that Byron himself visited and wrote about. There are also itineraries to the mainland, visiting Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Este, Arquà Petrarca and his villa at La Mira, where he spent the summer months. The aim is to help the reader to enter imaginatively a crucial period of drama and creativity in Byron’s life.