“You desire to embrace it, to caress it, to possess it; and finally a soft sense of possession grows up and your visit becomes a perpetual love affair.” Henry James
I met the gorgeous Felicity Menadue by chance. Her name came out of the hat for a portrait competition I held in Paris and I had the chance to meet a wonderful women living her dream in one of the world’s most romantic cities, Venice. Even I who had lived 5 years in Florence was hanging on her every word.
Felicity is a generous soul and is sharing her inspiring life and her move from Melbourne Australia to Venice.
What inspired you to move to Venice?
I have always loved Italy and have travelled back and forth since I was quite young. I could never really get enough of the place and whenever I returned to Australia it was always with a sense of melancholy. When I was in my late thirties I suddenly thought that maybe it was time to settle, to put some roots down in Australia. I really put my heart into creating a life there and was beginning to think that I had gotten Italy out of my system. I was so wrong. My heart sang when a dear friend invited me to be maid of honour at her wedding…in Venice…at Locanda Cipriani on the beautiful island of Torcello. The fire I had tried to extinguish was reignited in an instant. Venice was it.
Describe where you live in Venice and what you love about your area?
I live on Giudecca, which is a long narrow island that faces onto the Madonna della Salute Church and St Marks Square. I love it here because, while it is very much a part of Venice, and is home to many Venetian families, it is more peaceful and spacious with many less tourists. I really feel like I’m living in a little village here, which I love.
What do you have more of living in Venice than in Melbourne?
I am surrounded by so much beauty here in Venice – ancient, crumbling beauty that really nourishes the soul. It’s another world here and I often feel like I am living in an enchanted dream. Apart from the aesthetics, there are the stories – the colourful history that seeps from every corner of the place. I find it fascinating learning about this ancient civilization and how it has both flourished and survived over the centuries.
How has your move changed your lifestyle?
I slip very easily into the Italian lifestyle. I love the fact that meal times are important, life is celebrated and pretty much everything is flexible. Nothing is black and white and rules are not always adhered to. Whilst there is no doubt this can be a little frustrating at times, in general I feel more relaxed in this kind of environment.
Tell us 3 cool things about Venice that we don’t know?
1. Venice consists of 118 small islands and is secured by millions of wooden piles that are deeply submerged into the muddy seabed.
2. On the whole, Venetians are big drinkers, and they get started early in the day. It is quite common to see people drinking Spritz (the local aperitif) well before midday.
3. The word ciao is derived from the Venetian phrase s-ciào vostro or s-ciào su literally meaning “I am your slave”. It was a greeting among friends which implied a willingness to help if ever they were in need.
How do you feel waking up in Venice every day? (Sounds amazing when you live in a big city)
It’s amazing living in a city with no cars. Waking up to the sound of boats or children walking to school is a very pleasant way to begin the day. As I leave my apartment each morning I know the view will be uplifitng, regardless of the weather.
What would you say to your friends thinking of taking the leap and moving countries? Should they do it?
I would encourage everyone to follow their heart and believe in the power of their dreams. We owe it to ourselves to explore the things and the places we love. Packing up and moving countries certainly takes some courage and you will invariably have to face many challenges, but if you stay true to yourself and quietly persevere, miraculous things can happen.
How was your Italian before you arrived?
I spoke a little Italian when I first arrived here and it has slowly improved with time but, I must say, I still have a long way to go. I still make so many mistakes! Thankfully, Italians are very forgiving and easy going
One ‘get me out of here’ moment?
When I moved to Venice I had to learn once again the art of flat sharing, as rent and living costs are high. Thankfully I have been blessed with some wonderful flatmates, but on one occasion I did find myself in a less than ideal living arrangement. It was actually my good friend, an Italian angel named Mara, who said to me, “We’ve got to get you out of here!” She organised the boat (that’s how one moves in Venice) and I was out of there in no time.
One ‘thank-god I live in Italy’ moment?
I have these moments all the time! I just feel so blessed to be here and remind myself everyday as I cross the Accademia Bridge and take in the breathtaking view before me.
What influences your style and has Venice had an effect of it?
I have always loved simple elegance, with just a hint of glamour.
Venice knows all about glamour, and sex appeal and sensuality are highly valued at any age in Italy (just ask Sofia Loren). I think living here has allowed me to really enjoy being a woman and dressing up.
Yasmina Rossi, a beautiful, creative and inspirational soul.
Has Venice been good for your creativity?
Absolutely! I am constantly inspired here and my soul is really alive in the presence of such beauty. I love all aspects of creativity. I love to write, paint and take photographs and I am fueled with an endless supply of stimulus here in Venice.
Is there something you miss about your former life?
I do miss our family get-togethers and catching up with my friends back home. I’ve missed a couple of special celebrations in Australia lately and this pulls at the heartstrings. I feel a little sad at times that I am far away from some of the most loved, precious and supportive people in my life, but I still feel very strongly connected to them and perhaps appreciate them even more. I carry them around with me in my heart and I hope they feel that.
What’s on the menu today?
A simple meal at home: steak with crispy rosemary potatoes and salad, with a glass of Greco di Tufo white wine.
What has your reward been for your courage to switch lives so dramatically?
I feel so much richer and stronger for having this experience. I now truly believe in the power of dreams, I have faith in the universe and I live more in the moment. I never plan too far ahead. I now truly believe that life is a gift and that we are responsible for creating our own joy.
All Photos Copyright Felicity Menadue
The Local’s Hotlist
Café: Caffè Florian, Piazza San Marco
Eat: Osteria Santa Marina
Swim: Lido Beach
Aperitivo: il Refolo, via Garibaldi 1580, Castello
Stay: Hotel Flora
Sunset drink: Rooftop bar at the Hilton Hotel, Giudecca
Indulge in: a massage at the Bauer Palladio Hotel, Giudecca
Don’t leave without visiting: The Doges Palace
Merci, grazie and a big thank-you to the divine Felicity Menadue…
“The mere use of one’s eyes in Venice is happiness enough, and generous observers find it hard to keep an account of their profits in this line”. Henry James
Please feel free to share if you know of someone dreams of living overseas.