atoz letter vVenice.  It’s inspired many people, in many walks of life and the arts. Vienna, too. Both have a dangerous history behind them, full of intrigue, if not downright cruelty.  Many cities can say the same. But since today is letter V in the A to Z Challenge, and my theme is inspiration for my writing, I’m sticking with Venice and Vienna.  I’ve been to both, although I’ve been to Vienna for both work and play, I haven’t got any decent photos to show.


It was an ancient republic, built on marshes, then flooded again so it is now sinking at a measurable rate.  The main thoroughfares are canals. You use vaporetti as you would a subway system.  It was (and is) a trading port; it was rich, stinking rich.  A visit to the Doge’s palace gives you insight into the power and wealth involved, and the absolute shoddiness of the treatment they gave anyone else.  From sumptuous rooms that held an audience of thousands, to damp cells beneath the sewer level across the Bridge of Sighs.  If you want to write intrigue, where better to model your world.  It’s not a bad place to model drowned cities for clifi stories (climate change fiction), either.


At the centre of the Hapsburg / Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna was first city for centuries.  The buildings and grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace are vast. That’s a little way from the city itself. The city is a delightful medieval mess of streets, nooks, crannies and potential evil-doing inside the more modern ‘Ring’, which houses massive buildings designed to impose and impress. And the Hofburg Palace, in which you also find the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, is monumental with grandiose rooms in which the rich and powerful socialised and plotted.  While listening to Mozart and dancing to Strauss waltzes, of course.  Like Venice, Vienna is at the edge of two worlds, the ‘civilised’ western Europe, and the ‘dangerous’ east.


My inspiration

I haven’t really used any of these cities directly, it’s more of the subconscious inclusion of elements of their darker sides.  The world I used for the Fritz Lieber tribute for L could well link directly to a Venice-like world.  I find it interesting that the photos I have for both include several for timepieces; clockwork and time are themes that I could develop in my writing, I think. Maybe I could get into steampunk when I tire of these other worlds I’ve invented.

What about you?  Any cities you find inspirational?

all photos © J M Pett 2018




V is for Venice, Vienna and inspirational cities #AtoZChallenge2018
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11 thoughts on “V is for Venice, Vienna and inspirational cities #AtoZChallenge2018

    • 26 April, 2018 at 11:06 am

      It was fantastic to go there for a weekend a couple of years ago. I walked out of the station onto the Grand Canal, and it was just like the pictures! A fascinating place.

      • 26 April, 2018 at 9:39 pm

        Just a note: in the picture above labelled ‘The Grand Canal’, the railway station is the blocky building on the right side opposite the green domed building!

  • 25 April, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    We still need to visit Venice – hopefully one of these years. I’ve been to Venice – I didn’t find it a warm city except for the music, of course. I thought it overbearing…

    • 26 April, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Don’t miss Venice. Vienna I’ve been to many times, for work and play. My friend was in musical theatre there, so that was always special. The main sights are overbearing – the Austro-Hungarian Empire left its mark.

  • 25 April, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    It’s been a long time since I visited a city for the sake of visiting the city (as opposed to passing through). Venice fascinated me when I was there as a 22-year-old; Vienna rather less so (I was mostly there for the horses). I’m more inspired by small towns 🙂

    • 26 April, 2018 at 11:12 am

      One of the best places to find in Vienna is the Hundertwasserhaus. Hundertwasser was an architect with a difference. In some ways he had similar ideas to Gaudi, but emphasised form where Gaudi used colour. He used things like ‘naturally undulating’ floors because it was more natural terrain than flat surfaces. His museum was the first one where I didn’t suffer from backache walking slowly round the exhibits. That’s proof enough for me. He was also an early proponent of passivhaus design, where the design of the house (including earth covered ones) makes them self-heating in winter and self-cooling in summer.

  • 25 April, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    I haven’t been to either of these – very remiss.

  • 28 April, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Hi Jemima, another great post,
    I think I’m more of a small town, village person. I’m not sure I’ve been to that many big cities and when I do I like to find a smaller portion I can get to know.
    Locations in my own novels tend to be places I’ve lived so I have a personal understanding of the culture and feel of a place. I did use Paris in one novel and I’ve only visited it once and now I come to think of it I have used a town near Venice in another and I still need to go there to help my edits.
    Cities inspire me as much as anywhere but I don’t think I could single any one out yet.

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