A stately woman in a brocade gown steps off a golden boat. A mirror merchant in simple white blouse takes action to preserve her republic. An elegant singer poses in a private salon. Standing at a university podium, a woman holds forth in Latin on women’s education. A cloistered nun in a walled up convent uses the only power she has her pen. Artists hold in their hands pastels or pens or glass or thread to document or protect or adorn or embellish those around them. A hostess orchestrates the conversation to keep culture alive. All these beautiful women represent Venice, Italy s city of water and light. Venice, associated with Venus, the goddess of love, was a city ruled by men. However, though men wielded the power and made the decisions, Venice was still a city of women: women who maintained culture, who attracted tourists and lovers, who entertained in both sacred and secular venues, who founded refuges for others or prayed for their well-being, who sold or delivered the goods and foods that maintained life. Women who were mothers, wanting the best, fair education for their children. Women who were daughters, dutiful or seeking or devout. Women who were wives, working alongside their husbands or forging their own talented paths. Women who prayed faithfully. Beautiful women, each in her own way. Libraries of books have been written about Venetian history and Venetian men s roles in shaping it. But little is written about the lives of its women. In this book you ll read their stories. It s time to redefine beauty.