Inspiring Lives – Felicity Menadue + Venice

“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. 

Style Icon?

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

Shop: Chiarstella Cattana  for beautiful hand-made Italian linens and stylish YALI Murano glass tableware 

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

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Please feel free to share if you know of someone dreams of living overseas.

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22 Responses to Inspiring Lives – Felicity Menadue + Venice

  1. Sami says:

    Happy birthday to one very loved and very sassy pussy cat x

  2. Sami says:

    Wow Felicity! A woman of clear elegance and determination. I loved reading this. Thank you as always Carla. S x

  3. Beautiful and inspirational, my kind of read. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. MT says:

    Inspiring story about following one’s heart.
    What does she do for a living? Was it easy to find a job?

  5. Aaawww, thank you! What a wonderfully inspiring post to start my day!

  6. Very inspiring! Carla, your timing is always spot on, as we are considering a major change in direction ourselves. My hubby prefers the relaxed Italian lifestyle over the French…which I completely understand. As long I can still visit la belle France, I’ll be fine wherever we land. Thanks for sharing Felicity’s beautiful story. x Katie

  7. Lovely interview with a lovely woman …
    thanks, Carla ! jjjj

  8. Virginia says:

    What a wonderful story and such fabulous photographs. Loved this post C.
    V

  9. La Contessa says:

    Felicity!
    Even your name says something about happiness!WOW,am a bit green with envy!That GREEN house with the flowers!I hope to visit Venice in October as a dear “LITTLE CONTESSA IN TRAINING”is there at University.Her name is FRANCESCA .I really do need to see her and visit again one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

  10. love the interview, thanks carla + felicity. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  11. Liz Thomas says:

    That was a very inspiring story! Thank you for sharing it!

  12. Felicity Menadue says:

    What a lovely birthday treat!!! Thank you for the lovely comments everyone and thank you to you Carla! It’s such a joy to know you. Grazie dal mio cuore xxx

  13. Josephine says:

    Loved this post. Venice was always one of my favourite places. Visiting her was like entering a dream. xx

  14. Carolyn Menadue says:

    A beautiful interview, Carla, about a beautiful person – though I may be just a little biased!!
    C x

  15. Cassandra Gaisford says:

    Love, love, love everything seen, read and heard…. Thank you!

  16. Hello, just wanted to mention, I liked this post. It was funny. Keep on posting!

  17. Karina says:

    What a lovely read, from the pleasure of being asked to be Maid of Honour at a best friends wedding to living in such a beautiful city where time moves at a different pace. I loved the photos especially the red washing with the fog in the background. X

  18. Catherine says:

    Lovely heartfelt words. I’ve just spent a few days in Venice and while very crowded in places, it’s always possible to wander away and inhale the great city’s past.

    I didn’t know that was the origin of the word ‘ciao’! Interesting!

    Good luck Felicity! Xcat

  19. The delightful Venice. I feel lucky to have spent three weeks there, i can only imagine living there. Wonderful to read of another Aussie following her heart. Australian shores will always be there for us kids on the move.

  20. Wonderful post. Poetic images. Like MT I would like to know what Felicity does for a living, was it easy to find a job etc?

  21. Clare says:

    Ah, this post reminds me that anything is possible! I simply adore Venice & have never met anyone who moved there so this was such an interesting post!! Thank you Felicity for sharing.

    Clare x

  22. Janys says:

    Felicity
    You may well remember me (seeing as I live just around the corner from you and have done for 40 years now) – my only comment on your lovely interview is the unfair sweeping statement about the Venetians and how much they drink! You have obviously not mixed with all the right kinds of Venetians! Most of those I know hardly drink at all!
    But aside from that – nice interview indeed!
    Janys

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