Saturday, September 29, 2007

Meanwhile..... Back In Rome

Still no internet access. I am always stealing time here and there to connect to the outside world.

Our good friend and Andy's classmate from grad school, Barbara, has come to visit us. Yesterday we hopped on a boat that took us up the Tiber and we went to see the Foro Italico and the Olympic Stadium.

The afternoon was spent shopping. We have been taking it easy and settling into a schedule since returning from the Northern Trip.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Venice Day 2

On our second day in Venice, we got an early start over to the Biennale, which is a major contemporary art exhibition which takes place every two years. Art switches off with Architecture every other year. We went with the students and took in some modern art.

From there, we hopped on a vaporetto to the island of Murano. This is where they make Venetian glass and a lot of the glass blowers and glass factries are located here. We were able to see an exhibition of a glass blower at work.

And some pictures of the island of Murano:

From there, we headed back to the city for dinner and I was able to get some great shots of the grand canal at dusk:

Venice Day1

Ahhhh, Venice! Venice is so beautiful and different. It was also overcrowded with tourists. There were so many Americans there and all I heard spoken was English, we could have been at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Ha ha ha. All joking aside, we had a great time! When we arrived, we took the number 1 vaporetto (water bus) down the Grand Canal. It is very slow with many stops but it gives you a good chance to take in Venice. This was Oliver's first time on a boat!

We got off near Piazza San Marcos (the place to be!), did a little shopping and then fed the pigeons in the piazza.

And some pictures of Piazza San Marcos:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Architecture in Vicenza

Andy is guest blogger for this post.

While Michele and Oliver were taking I easy in Vicenza, we hit the road early to visit a few architecture projects in the surrounding area. This was the best day architecturally, we had on the Northern trip. We started with a tour of the new visitor center for the Nardini grappa distilleries designed by Massimiliano Fuksas. The project is very new and we were all
ready for some contemporary architecture. The building was amazing. It consists of two giant glass ellipsoids seemingly floating over a pool, under which is the auditorium. Even though I was familiar with Fuksas from his published work, I have never actually been to one of his buildings. It was obvious the project had a healthy budget, because the formally complexity, materials, and details were among the best I have seen in recent buildings. The PR person for Nardini gave us a slow tour and even showed us a swanky video about the process of making grappa. It is actually fermented grape vines. To make the tour complete, we all indulged in free pre-noon grappa tasting. Not much to complain about there.

We then went to the nearby Bassano were Nardini started the business just across a wooden bridge by Palladio. The day was picturesque at the foot of the alps. After lunch we were back on the bus for a bit to the Brion-Vega Cemetery by Scarpa. Scarpa is a late modernist who¹s work could be described somewhere between Louis Kahn (for his romance and love of craft
and material) and Frank Lloyd Wright (for his geometric planning and organic process). The cemetery was quite unique and again lived up to the reputation it receives in print. We also had the place to ourselves.

Back on the bus, back to Vicenza for a quick stop and Palladio¹ Teatro Olimpico. Compared to the rest of the day it was a bit of a let down, but as an architect it is kind of obligatory if you are in Vicenza. After this Palladian warm up, we were back on the bus out of town a short distance to his masterpiece, the Villa Almerico-Capra or more popularly known as Villa Rotonda. This is an ideal Renaissance villa with its total axial symmetry, domed interior with an oculus and Greek porticos. The caretaker shut the property down to the public in preparation for our private tour of the interior, making it a perfect ending to a great day of great architecture.

To make things even better, I met Oliver and Michele in town for an the best meal I have had since arriving in Italy. What a great day.