The Piazza San Marco is the most famous townscape in the West. This book is the first to consider it as a coherent whole, as a theatre in which the whole of Venetian history took place, to which it can serve as a highly evocative introduction.
Iain Fenlon has a chair in the history of music at Cambridge
Fenlon's book not only brilliantly recalls the square's past history as a grand stage for "carefully choreographed symbolic state rituals" such as the elaborate coronation of a doge, but also brings to life the more mundane activities - from baking bread to selling sex - that the Piazza witnessed. Fenlon has much that is insightful to say about individual buildings, from the Basilica and the Doge's Palace to Jacopo Sansovino's Library and the Campanile, which is perhaps the most recognisable symbol of Venice worldwide, but the strength of his book lies in its emphasis on the importance of this iconic space as a whole to the city's history. -- Nick Rennison * Sunday Times *