Peter Ackryod has written a book about Venice. Venice: Pure City. Pure, I think not in the sense of cleanliness, but pure in its essence as a city. Venice is just that, a city. It has only ever been that and will continue to only ever be that. Venice has never been the ‘capital’ of a country, and until Napoleon had never been a conquered city. It is a city. It has never had any land. It was the centre of a republic without owning an army.
It has been a long read, but an interesting one. However I think that Ackroyd has fallen victim to generalisations, and views Venice a lot like the English authors he quotes. I don’t think he loves the city, and I don’t think that he is overly objective.
If you’re looking for a read about the essence of Venice Jan Morris does it better and with much more empathy.