With a lack of sentimentality unusual for the genre, Venice Observed explores the history, art, architecture, religion, and cultural peculiarities of the City of Canals. Mordantly witty and legendarily wry, Mary McCarthy catalogs the impressions of such visitors to the city as Montaigne, Stendhal, Spencer, and Henry James, but paints her own wholly original depictions of the city. Her adoration of the immortal city enlivens her interest in everything from the Venetian preference for cats over dogs to Tintoretto's paintings in the Scuola di San Rocco. Concerning Venice's ubiquitous tourists, McCarthy notes, "The complaint against foreigners, voiced by a foreigner, chimes querulously through the ages, in unison with the medieval monk who found St Mark's Square filled with 'Turks, Libyans, Parthians, and other monsters of the sea.' Today it is the Germans we complain of, and no doubt they complain of the Americans, in the same words." Conversational yet deeply informed, Venice Observed is a classic travel narrative for the ages.