The San Paolo district has been the site of Venice’s main market since 1097
Venice, Paris, and London are made up of historic and evocative neighborhoods that linger in the imagination, whether or not you have ever set foot in them. Each of these capitals of great empires exerted immense influence on world taste, culture, the arts, and economics. In return, they gathered within their city walls (and waterways) countless extraordinary artistic and culinary treasures, many of which are now forgotten.
Even in districts as familiar as the the Piazza San Marco, Left Bank, or Trafalgar Square, there are special places and hidden gems that are beloved to locals but often overlooked by visitors.
Fred Plotkin, a popular Smithsonian speaker on culture, history, and music, has lived in and visited Venice, Paris, and London for more than 40 years. Join him for a richly illustrated series in which he looks at these places though the eyes of a flâneur, a French term for person whose casual strolls through city streets produce delight in their chance discoveries. He shares what he’s found on his strolls: churches, theaters, specialty shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and unusual museums just a stone’s throw from world-famous landmarks.
London is a sprawling metropolis made up of hundreds of villages and neighborhoods, all with their own churches, pubs, gardens, theaters, schools, and markets. Close to Covent Garden, St. James, Piccadilly Circus, and the Royal Opera House, visitors can find unique attractions such as the eccentric and eclectic Sir John Soane’s Museum or pubs frequented by Keats, Byron, or Dickens. London is famous for its nearly 1,000 “blue plaques,” an initiative begun in 1876 that identifies places associated with illustrious people, from Christopher Wren to Arthur Conan Doyle to Freddie Mercury. Discovering these is one of the delights of strolling through the city’s streets.
If you are interested in other sessions or viewing the full course, click here.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)