Nan McElroy is an A.I.S. certified sommelier offering tastings through the Venetian Vine, and a passionate practitioner of the voga alla veneta Venetian rowing style, working with the non-profit rowvenice.org to offer Venetian rowing lessons to travelers, and a freelance writer/editorial-reportage photographer.

  • Author, Italy: Instructions for Use
  • Creator, the Vap Map
  • Contributor & editor, France: Instructions for Use
  • Contributor: Fodor’s Italy – Venice, the Dolomites
  • Contributor: Fodor’s Venice
  • Photography contributor: Fodor’s Venice
  • Clips (Biennale, Paolo Brandolisio, Remèr, Inside Murano): Qatar Airlines, Aishti A-Mag

Venice specializations include

  • Venice food and drink
  • Fluent, Italian language; some fluency, Venetian language
  • Venetian traditional boating and the voga alla veneta (study and passionate practice – member, Associazione Arzanà and the Remiera Cannaregio
  • Pursuing a documentary project Grit and Grazia on the women of the voga alla veneta and its relationship to its history of the city
  • President, Associazione Culturale VIVA Voga Veneta, vivavogaveneta.org

Other skills include:

  • AIS sommelier
  • Singer, with emphasis on lyric opera (really), Venetian traditional, American standards
  • WordPress web site developer

Why Venice?

On returning from my first trip to Italy in 1995, someone asked if I enjoyed my visit. Like perhaps too many travelers, I couldn’t believe the country had been around my entire life and no one told me. I immediately set out to learn Italian — non tanto semplice for my lazy, English-is-enough brain — but I was determined to return and have a conversation about something other than the cost of postcard or the location of the duomo.

My Italian home-away-from-home for years was Bologna, where I first went to study the language during the Atlanta Olympics of 1996. The school there placed me with a woman we all called Mimma, who taught me to make fresh pasta among other things, and continued to rent a room to me during subsequent visits. (Being able to cook at home and lodge for far less than the going hotel rate does amazing things for the travel budget.)

spiero-300x211.jpgThere was always Venezia, though; upon whose masegni I took my first Italian steps, whose maze of calli continue to cocolarmi, and whose hold on me has never abated. I’ve waited patiently to stufarmi di Venezia, with the absurd prices, incessant umidità , and masses of mesmerized, map-laden tourists who load the #2 to capacity, cram tiny calli beyond their limits, and perch wherever they please to drink a bottle or eat pasta in a cup; where the only terra ferma is behind a ten-foot wall, in an overhead window box, or at least one boat ride away.

What I’ve learned, though, is that there is nothing anyone can do to affondarla, to take Venice down — not acqua alta, not the eternal interessi and subsidence of la vita Venexiàn, or all that is and is not being done for her and to her. She is like a arrogant lover, who knows full well it matters un fico secco what she does or how she treats you, she will never be abandoned, mai. We should all be so confident in ourselves.

I warn you though, Gentle Visitor: a sojourn here could change your life…it certainly has mine.

Se sentimo…


photo credit: Shawn Keener