The gent at the Delta check-in counter back in New York sighed when he saw where I was headed. "Romantic Venezia!" he said, and the comment stopped me short, because film festivals located in the most beautiful settings in the world have a way of making you forget - almost - that you're in one of the most beautiful settings in the world. The Venice Film Festival - this is the 71st edition - is held not in Venice proper, but on Lido, a summertime island where winter seems impossible, resplendent with dusty pink and ochre stucco villas. It is also the home of the formerly grand Hotel des Bains, where Thomas Mann wrote Death in Venice, and which, sadly, closed in 2010, destined to become a luxury apartment complex that has not yet materialized. I haven't yet walked by the Hotel des Bains on this trip, but I hope it's looking more cheerful than it did last year, when it sat dejected behind its majestic iron grillwork gate, a sad relic of past glory that even a Venetian Miss Havisham might find hard to love.
Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight