The rationalist mind has always had its doubts about Venice. The watery city receives a dry inspection, as though it were a myth for the credulous – poets and honeymooners. … Among Venice’s spells is one of peculiar potency: the power to awaken the philistine dozing in the sceptic’s breast. People of this kind – dry, prose people of superior intelligence – object to feeling what they are supposed to feel, in the presence of marvels. They wish to feel something else. The extreme of this position is to feel nothing.
– Mary McCarthy, The Stones of Venice