As mentioned last week, I'm really torn about revealing the long-kept secret of the setting of my mystery novels, that artificial "island" on Florida's Gulf Coast, called Venice. And yes, the name is deliberate. Way back in the 1920s Venice was one of the first "planned" communities in the nation, its streets carefully laid out, its architecture coordinated, emphasizing the Mediterranean look with red-tiled roofs—a style that has become ubiquitous in Florida.
Below are a few photos from the little city of my heart, one of the best places to live in the whole wide world. (Which is why I've kept it a secret for so long—I really want it to stay the way it is and not get paved over and built up until it's indistinguishable from the artificiality of that Disney World for Adults, the Villages.)
Photos in the order of my explorations back to former haunts:
|North Manasota Beach, just south of Venice|
|Snook Haven on the Myakka River - 10 miles inland|
|Caspersen Beach - Venice, Gulfside|
|A tiny portion of boulevarded Venice Ave. (Main Street)|
Venice Avenue extends from Venice Beach on the Gulf of Mexico 10 miles inland to the Myakka River, which is so much of a jungle that early Tarzan movies were filmed there. (It always reminds me of the river in Apocalypse Now.) In the town center Venice Avenue features two blocks of unique boutiques. (I always try to get to Venice Stationers at least once each fall to buy their Florida-oriented Christmas cards.) And then there's Sea Pleasures & Treasures, a shop that offers many wonders from the sea, including the sharks' teeth for which Venice is famous. (Also the many findings needed to turn sea treasures into bolo ties, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc.) And then there's the children's clothing shop. All three of these businesses have been on Venice Avenue since I first saw it in 1964, and they've been joined by other unique shops and restaurants, even a Sotheby's!
|Even the alley between shops & parking is decorative.|
|The South Jetties, looking West|
The Venice Jetties are the only access between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intercoastal Waterway for ten miles in either direction. Pretty quiet this time of year but madly busy during "the Season" - December - March.
|From the South Jetty, looking north, with a storm coming in|
|Seagrape flower at the edge of the Jetty.|
I included the Crow's Nest (near the Jetties) in my list of pilgrimage sites, eating in the "pub" downstairs instead of the glass-fronted restaurant on the second story, because that small, intimate pub is where I ate when I wanted a night out during the early years of my widowhood. The pub includes a seafood market, and while there last week I teased them for alleging that their "Wellfleet" oysters were from Maine. Having lived in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when I was four - and having tromped the muddy oyster beds there during many subsequent visits - I knew better!
|The Crow's Nest also offers dockage - jammed w/50-100' yachts in winter|
|Crow's Nest, looking west toward the Jetties|
The rain came tumbling down, and as it finally cleared, it was time to go to the Venice Boat Ramp (down by the old train station where one of the Ringling Brothers' train cars is now a museum) and pick Susie up. Below, a photo of an egret and the boat launch ramp with the Rte. 41 drawbridge in the background.
|Egret, boat ramp, Shakett Creek & drawbridge|
Below, a few photos from other trips to Venice, some taken by daughter Susie, including these manatees from her latest (and last of the season) diving trip.
|Caspersen Beach, 2016|
|Erosion - Caspersen's, 2016|
|Lunch on Venice Avenue, 2016|
|An "oops" at the Jetties (occupant saved)|
|Venice Sunset 2020|
|Venice Sunset, 2020|
No wonder cars line up along the beaches every night, year round!
~ * ~
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Thanks for stopping by,Grace (Blair Bancroft)