If Venice Dies

by Salvatore Settis


Non-Fiction from New Vessel Press
Translated from Italian

What is Venice worth? To whom does this urban treasure belong? This eloquent book by internationally renowned art historian Salvatore Settis urgently poses these questions, igniting a new debate about the Queen of the Adriatic and cultural patrimony at large.

SKU: 165 Category:


New Vessel Press | 180 pages

Venetians are increasingly abandoning their hometown—there’s now only one resident for every 140 visitors—and Venice’s fragile fate has become emblematic of the future of historic cities everywhere as it capitulates to tourists and those who profit from them. In If Venice Dies, a fiery blend of history and cultural analysis, Settis argues that “hit-and-run” visitors are turning landmark urban settings into shopping malls and theme parks. He warns that Western civilization’s prime achievements face impending ruin from mass tourism and global cultural homogenization. This is a passionate plea to secure the soul of Venice, written with consummate authority, wide-ranging erudition and élan.

Salvatore Settis is an archaeologist and art historian who has been the director of the Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles and the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa. He is chairman of the Louvre Museum’s Scientific Council. Settis, considered the conscience of Italy for his role in spotlighting neglect of its national cultural heritage, has been mentioned frequently for the post of minister of culture and Italian president. He is the author of several books on art history as well as a regular contributor to major Italian newspapers and magazines.

André Naffis-Sahely is a translator and poet. He was born in Venice and grew up in Abu Dhabi.


“This powerful work of cultural criticism … feels chock-full of insight. It shines a harsh light on the risks in the way we live, much as Jane Jacobs did in ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ more than 50 years ago.” — The Washington Post

“Anyone interested in learning what is really going on in Venice should read this book.” — Donna Leon, author of My Venice and Other Essays and Death at La Fenice

“The book is a bracing tonic … enlightening.” — The New York Times

“This bracing and beautifully written book outlines how threats to Venice are amplified not only because of its unique, precarious geography, but because of similar threats to urban health across the planet.” — Architectural Record

“A terrific book … serious and important.” — Common Edge

“Settis is an archeologist and an art historian, and here he writes with flash and passion about the present and future of Venice … a grim but downright thrilling short book.” — Open Letters Monthly

“Eloquent … a cautionary tale for the inhabitants of every still-breathing, still-not-like-every-other-megalopolis, city.” — Maclean’s

“At once a moving eulogy for Venice and a resounding manifesto, enriched by a dense web of historic, literary and cultural allusions.” — Publishers Weekly

“An impassioned plea that every lover of Venice, urban planner, architect, and cultural historian should read.” — Kirkus (Starred review)

“A chilling account of the slow agony of Venice as illustrative of a global consumerist epidemic. Richly documented and imbued with deep angst about this supreme urban creation.” — Philippe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Settis shows how the tragedy of Venice could happen to any city which has a past. It’s a powerful polemic.” — Richard Sennett, author of The Fall of Public Man and Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization, and Professor of Sociology, New York University and the London School of Economics

“This book valiantly shows why Venice—crossroads of civilization, art and commerce, eternal place of love—cannot be allowed to perish.” — Diane von Furstenberg, Vice Chairman, Venetian Heritage Council

“Venice is indeed unique but it stands for all cities in this eloquent, furious blast against the commodification of our planet and the relentless destruction of human communities by the mentality of markets.” — Roger Crowley, author of City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas

“An elegant indictment of the challenges Venice faces from today’s rapacious economic environment. Settis offers an ethical prescription for re-imagining and resuscitating the historical uniqueness of Venice and Venetian life.” — Eric Denker, coauthor of No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice and Senior Lecturer, National Gallery of Art

“A lament for the day-by-day destruction of great beauty … full of anger and disappointment at what the author sees as the moral bankruptcy of Italy today.” — The Art Newspaper

“The vision of Settis is particularly gloomy and pessimistic, but there is still hope.” — Corriere della Sera

“Salvatore Settis wants to curb the sellout of cities … Balancing sharp intellect and moral indignation, lucid writing and impassioned argument, his polemic makes for captivating reading.” — Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Settis’s analysis extends to all cities. Only active citizenship can save them from the greed of real estate speculators.” — Desmond O’Grady, former European editor of The Transatlantic Review and author of The Road Taken

“With his book, Settis has clarified what conservationism and the protection of our cultural heritage should mean.” — Il Manifesto

Additional information

Book Author

Book Author (Sorting)






Translated From

In what language

Trafika Europe
Events Calendar

View all upcoming European Literary Events

- or -
Add a new event