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By Andrea di Robilant

Within the waning days of Venice’s glory within the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo was once scion to 1 the city’s oldest patrician households. on the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the attractive, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mom and British father. as a result of their dramatically assorted positions in society, they can now not marry. And Giustiniana’s mom, afraid that an affair could wreck her daughter’s possibilities to shape a better union, forbade them to determine one another. Her prohibition basically fueled their wish and so begun their torrid, mystery seven-year-affair, enlisting the help of a number of intimates and servants (willing to chance their very own positions) to go back and forth love letters backward and forward and to assist facilitate their clandestine conferences. ultimately, Giustiniana chanced on herself pregnant and she or he grew to become for aid to the notorious Casanova—himself infatuated with her.
Two and part centuries later, the unimaginable tale of this star-crossed couple is instructed in a panoramic narrative, re-created partly from the passionate, clandestine letters Andrea and Giustiniana wrote to one another.

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It was the center of the small English community (and it somehow never lost its touch of English quaintness). But more important, it was a place where artists, intellectuals, and Venetian patricians could congregate in an atmosphere of enlightened conviviality. Carlo Goldoni dedicated one of his plays—Il filosofo inglese— to Smith. In his flattering introduction, he wrote: “All those who enter your house find the most perfect union of all the sciences and all the arts. You are not a lover who merely gazes with admiration but a true connoisseur who is keen to share the meaning and beauty of the art around him.

Anna had one pressing task, which was to find a suitable husband for her eldest daughter. This meant she had to keep Giustiniana at a safe distance from hot-blooded young Venetian patricians—who might try to seduce her for the sake of intrigue and entertainment but would never marry her—while she looked out for a sensible if less glamorous match. She could not allow Giustiniana to wreck her plans with a relationship that in her eyes had no future and would only bring dishonor upon the family. So in the winter of 1754 she told Andrea never to call on Giustiniana at their house again and forbade the two lovers from seeing each other.

They kept each other at a safe distance: lovemaking was mostly limited to what their eyes could see and what their eyes could say. It is easy to imagine how, in a city where both men and women wore masks during a good portion of the year, the language of the eyes would become all-important. And what was true in general was especially true for Andrea and Giustiniana on account of the rigid restrictions that had been imposed on them. Andrea was being very literal when he asked anxiously, “Today my lips will not be able to tell you how much I love you.

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