The Venetian Safari

Nov 4 | Publications

Four walks to discover the stone animals of Venice and the neighbourhoods they live in

Venice, a city of animals!

Look up, down, and all around to discover the incredible variety of life-like creatures sculpted in stone throughout this intriguing city. Anna, your expert guide, has created a delightfully entertaining way to bring Venice to life for kids and grown-ups alike.

Take a guided treasure hunt through neighbourhoods both famous and hidden. This curated ‘safari’ offers an introduction to Venice that’s as fun for children as it is fascinating for adults.

From author ANNA BELLANI:

This is a book for curious children who would love to discover the city of Venice from all angles: looking up, down and all around. I’ve created four ‘safari’ walks through the Venetian sestieri (neighbourhoods). The maps and walks will lead you through some very famous places and to secret hidden corners you would otherwise never see.

This beautiful book is filled with maps and detailed directions, photos of the fascinating animals you’ll search for, and a glossary with Italian and Venetian words, just for fun! There are even pages in the back reserved to draw all fascinating animals you’ll discover.

From Michelle Lovric, Veneziaphile and children’s book author:

Venetian statues frequently talk in my children’s novels, particularly in The Fate in the Box, where they transmit a message by Chinese whispers all the way down the Grand Canal in time to save three children from a grisly fate. I’m particularly fond of the sculpted Venetian creatures who’ve adapted for their watery home: mer-elephants, mer-horses and even mer-goats. So I was fascinated and delighted to see Venetian Safari from the San Marco Press.

In Italian, the book’s entitledLo Zoo Scolpito, The Sculpted Zoo. Both titles are apt, for this book’s a mixture of bestiary, history and walking tour through some parts of Venice that few tourists ever see.

Anna Bellani’s attractive little book immediately passed my secret test: it contains a great photo of my favourite hidden dragon in Venice, which truly is tucked away from all but the most persistent dragon-hunter, in the Corte del Rosario. Unlike most Venetian dragons, this one’s not suffering sword-blows from his nemesis Saint George. His tail coils and flows beautifully, and one might almost think he’s smiling (ferociously, of course).

The book’s arranged in four walks that are highly do-able in a few hours, even with gelato and cappuccino breaks. The design is lively and the commentary is well-informed and entertaining. It describes the roles of the animals both symbolically and functionally – explaining, for example, that the proud and characterful hedgehog in the Calle Magno is one of Venice’s so-called ‘speaking’ crests because the word for the animal – ‘rizzo’ – sounds the same as the family name.

If you are taking children to Venice – or even if you’re not – this little paperback is well worth a space in your luggage.

Michelle Lovric is a novelist, children’s author and Venice-lover who sets many of her tales in the city.

More praise from readers:

It’s beautiful. Sincere, cheerful, well done, well documented.  I even loved reading it while following the itineraries in my mind. A beautiful gift for your friends big and small.

— Macri M

Your book arrived today, and I am about to try a tour with the help of Google maps! It’s a really first class production with lots of really nice touches and wonderful photos and commentary – spare pages for one’s own drawings is an excellent touch.  I can’t wait for my grandchildren to go to Venice and see for themselves! Brava!

— James C

We just finished the Castello district. My daughter and I both are having such fun. Brava!

—Marilena M

Today a rather curious and captivating booklet came into my hands: ‘The Venetian Safari’, four itineraries to discover the stone animals of Venice and where they live.

I read the preface: ‘A children’s book,’ so I immediately thought ‘Perfect for a teacher who wishes to lead her students to discover a Venice with their own eyes!’

‘Noses up!’, says the author of the book and, taking the children by the hand, leads them to the discovery of the stone animals scattered throughout the city. And in a playful way, without neglecting to give precise indications, small hints of history, delicate reflections on the various sculptures.

The photos are clear, and the graphics are simple but lively just like the children who search among the pages: color, movement, drawings and simple yet adequate writing. In short, a really nice book with which both children and adults can happily spend an hour discovering Venice, ‘noses up’!

—Luisa B, elementary school teacher

The Venetian Safari is as fun for kids as it is intriguing for the adults that accompany them. Grab your pencils, cameras, and get ready to explore a Venice you never knew existed!

Ready, steady… Go!

In Venice? Look for the Venetian Safari in one of these local bookshops: