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Hemingway Adventure

Venice (first day)

Venice, Italy 
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Hemingway and his inspirations: Adriana Ivancic was close to Hemingway on his return to Italy in the late 1940s. The lion got a little too close.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureI’m told that the son of Baron Franchetti still lives in the family palazzo in Venice, and that is where we head for now.

Anyone driving into Venice these days knows that it is a journey bereft of visual delights. It can look sensational from a plane, or from the top of the old tower on the island of Torcello, or even from the steps of the railway station, but if you’re in a car you must be prepared to be pushed around the industrial extremities and squeezed over the bridge from Mestre and into the hell of the multi-storey car park at Piazzale Roma, before you catch a glimpse of anything remotely resembling a canal, Grand or otherwise.

On this our first night we make a bee-line, as Hemingway used to, for Harry’s Bar.

Now bars can be good or bad but they are always a hundred times better if you know the barman and he knows you. When Ernest Hemingway entered Harry’s he was doubtless received by Harry himself, shown to his favourite seat (‘They were at their table in the far corner of the bar, where the Colonel had both his flanks covered’) and served a double
martini without ever having to ask. From those days come the classic Harry’s Bar stories, such as that of the elderly customer who, having waited an hour for a table, sat down, heaved a sigh of relief, and declared, ‘Now I can die.’

Harry’s Bar today is merely busy, full of people trying to be Hemingway. Drinks are pre-mixed and served with a dash of boredom. The room itself is small and, when full, is like an overcrowded cabin on a 1950s liner.

Harry’s Bar has become a global brand - a clock on the wall shows ‘Harry’s Bar time’ in Venice, Buenos Aires and New York, and there is a book for sale called Legends of Harry’s Bar. And that’s maybe the problem. Harry’s Bar was a legend. Now it’s a legend that knows it’s a legend, and that’s very different.
Venice, Italy 
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file size
Discreet entrance: Harry's Bar Venice. Before the martinis, you've got to find it.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Venice (first day)
  • Country/sea: Italy
  • Place: Venice
  • Book page no: 57

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  • Italy
  • Day 2 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 3 
  • Around the World in 80 Days