Venetophilia: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. Just finished Judith Martin's wonderful No Vulgar Hotel, which I have been dipping into for several months now. I wish it went on forever. I want her to write another one, describing every little arch over the canali and how the raindrops fall on the umbrellas crossing the Accademia Bridge and the taste of pistacchio gelato on a sunny day, the height of aqua alta last February.

It's wonderful, although not quite enough (never quite enough) that she surmises "Perhaps in homage to Venetian bell towers, there isn't a strictly vertical candle in all of Venice," and accepts as completely understandable that "Street signs to San Marco or the Rialto or the railway station ... feature twin arrows pointing in opposite directions ..."

I appreciate that she puts me in company with people like Lord Byron, Robert Browning and Henry James. That she gives a spirited précis of Venetian history. I read John Julius Norwich's A History of Venice, which was extremely readable for a subject dense with doges, but if I want a quickie reminder, I'll turn to Martin. And I can't help but feel that she would completely understand my reaction after less than 24 hours there.

She has been more fortunate than I, since I cannot foresee a time when I might be able to return. However, hope never dies, and so I only have to do a little rewriting of her last sentence: "And in the water taxi (vaporetto) on the way to the airport (railroad station), we (I) think of the Venetians of old, leaving Venice on their merchant ships, and making the promise, "I'll be back when I have more money."