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Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) criss-crossed Europe; he visited Russia and sailed on the Nile. And over and over again, he went to Venice: St Mark's Square and the Lido, the Doge's Palace and the Grand Canal were his intimate friends. He visited the city ten times; the first was a weekend in March 1897, the last, 13 July 1920. Venise, as he called her amorously, enthralled and provoked him: 'For a long time I have been unable even to glance casually at a magazine or book without reading the word Venice; wherever I look, it appears before my eyes at the last moment.'