Monday, February 29, 2016

News from Rialto - Gondoliers of Venice Go Global

Emilio Ceccato - Gondolier Headquarters at the Rialto Bridge
(Venice, Italy) In this rapidly spinning world, it is difficult to maintain a presence when your business has existed for more than a 1,000 years. Really, it gets exhausting, trying to keep up with contemporary trends when your origins began more than a millennium ago! But the gondoliers of Venice are giving it a shot.

Thanks to Emilio Ceccato, a Venetian clothing brand that has been around since 1902, the gondoliers of Venice now have their own official line of clothing -- which you can buy, too. A percentage of all the proceeds is invested in supporting the ancient gondolier tradition, ensuring that one of Venice's most-beloved symbols remains alive and well.

Although Venice's gondoliers have been around for more than 1,000 years, they never before had their own official line of clothing. Now, each gondolier will receive one full uniform each year for free from Emilio Ceccato.

The logo incorporates the symbols of Venice in one unique design: the winged Lion of San Marco holds an open book, which symbolizes peace. On either side is the ferro, the metal design found on the prow of the gondola that represents the six different sestieri, or districts, of Venice. .

On Thursday, February 25, the Emilio Ceccato Group presented the Gondoliers Association, which represents Venice's 433 gondoliers, with a check for €1,500, a deposit towards the first project they are undertaking together -- they will build two new "Gondolone" to transport people across the Grand Canal. Not only will the Comune of Venice get a couple of much-needed boats, it will also provide work for the squero, the shipyard where one gondola is already under construction.

Traghetto at the Rialto Vegetable Market
The Gondolone, or barchetta da parada, is broader and flatter than a traditional gondola, so that up to 14 people can ride across the Grand Canal at the same time. The public service is extremely convenient, especially when you simply do not have the time or energy to go all the way to one of Venice's four bridges to cross the Grand Canal. Instead, you hop into the traghetto, and let the gondoliers whisk you across the canal. The boat is steered by two gondoliers, one in the front, and one in the back. Most people ride standing up, but you can perch along the edges if your sea legs are wobbly.

Even the Americans are showing their support. This is from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend:

Emilio Ceccato's photo.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on Emilio Ceccato Facebook page
"The Gondoliers are the symbol of #Venice -- heroic, able to master the winds, the tides, the tiny canals, and the masses of tourists --all with skill, talent and grace. Each Gondolier -- handsome in his striped shirt -- makes each visitor feel that they could have been part of the magnificent Venetian past which brought treasures from across the globe on fast ships, created a culture which stood up to Rome, and made science and art its mark.

Now the Gondoliers Association will continue to contribute to the city of Venice through this first of its kind bond with the Emilio Ceccato group. These special Venetians will help their magical city not only through their trade but by directing the brand royalties toward projects which safeguard their trade and those artisan trades which surround the gondola and the Venetian rowing style, traditions which keep Venice vibrant."
Gondola Greg's photo.
Gondola Greg at Emilio Ceccato on Facebook
Greg Mohr, President of the Gondola Society of America (did you know there was such a thing?) and author of The Gondola Blog, has draped his staff in official Emilio Ceccato striped shirts:

Ciao Alberto!
As President of the Gondola Society of America,
and host of the 2015 US Gondola Nationals,
I support the Associazione Gondolieri of Venezia.

During the awards ceremony of the US Gondola Nationals, I had the opportunity to tell all fifty competitors about your association.
In addition, I presented an Associazione Gondolieri patch to the owner or representative of each of the twelve gondola companies participating.

Thank you for producing high quality clothing for gondoliers – all my staff in Newport Beach and Texas wear Emilio Ceccato striped shirts.
Saluti from California,
Greg Mohr
The Emilio Ceccato shop is located at the foot of the Rialto Bridge on the San Polo side, and has been completely restored, with original brick and piles. There is even a column inside that seems to be holding up the Rialto Bridge(!) They sell official, high-quality gondolier-wear -- T-shirts, sweatshirts, the famous straw hats, wool caps, baseball caps, winter vests, sweaters, pants and more, and the royalties from each item will be invested in projects that safeguard the gondoliers, as well all the artisan trades that that support the gondola and Venetian rowing, like the people who make the oars, the ferro, and the forcola, or oarlock, as well as investing in apprenticeship programs.

If you can't make it to Venice, you can always shop online at Emilio Ceccato. Not only will you have your own unique piece of Venice, you will be helping to keep one of Venice's oldest traditions alive. 

Ciao from Venezia, 
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Monday, February 22, 2016

Reporting from the Front - Biennale Architecture 2016

G. Marini, Rolex; Paolo Baratta, Pres. Biennale; Alejandro Aravena - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Alejandro Aravena, the curator of Biennale's 15th International Architecture Exhibition, is on a roll. In addition to directing one of the world's most prestigious get-togethers in the world of architecture, the 48-year-old Chilean won the Pritzker Prize last month, architecture's highest award.

The image that has inspired Aravena for REPORTING FROM THE FRONT is that of an old woman standing on an aluminum ladder in the middle of the desert. Aravena related: "In his trip to South America [the English writer] Bruce Chatwin encountered an old lady walking through the desert carrying an aluminum ladder on her shoulder. It was German archaeologist Maria Reiche studying the Nazca Lines. Standing on the ground, the stones did not make any sense; they were just random gravel. But from the height of the stair, those stones became a bird, a jaguar, a tree or a flower."

Phoenix - Nazca Lines
We've all seen Discovery programs about mysterious designs and patterns that can only be recognized from the air. The Nazca Lines are large geoglyphs, or designs, in southern Peru, created by the Nazca culture between 500 BC and 500 AD. Hundreds of etchings were created by making shallow furrows in the ground, removing rust-colored pebbles and exposing the whitish ground beneath. Because the climate in the desert is relatively stable, the Nazca Lines have been naturally preserved for centuries.

Maria Reiche (1903-1998), a German mathematician and archaeologist, dedicated her life to the Nazca Lines. She would go out with a broom and sweep off the small dark pebbles to make the designs more accessible for viewing while the local population laughed at the woman who was "cleaning the desert." For 50 years, the "Lady of the Lines" fought with a passion to preserve the Nazca Lines, living in a small house near the desert so she could keep reckless visitors at bay.

Today, nobody is certain what the Nazca Lines signify, although, of course, there is an alien theory. Reiche herself believed the ancient people used the alignment of the drawings with the sun as a calendar for agricultural purposes, among other reasons. "This would explain the fact that drawing activity was done to preserve knowledge, the knowledge that humanity has garnered over hundreds and thousands of years for the practical purpose of survival."

Alejandro Averena - Photo: Giorgio Zuchiatti - courtesy Biennale
Alejandro Averena stated: "We would like the Biennale Architettura 2016 to offer a new point of view like the one Maria Reiche has on the ladder. Given the complexity and variety of challenges that architecture has to respond to, REPORTING FROM THE FRONT will be about listening to those that were able to gain some perspective, and, consequently, are in the position to share some knowledge and experiences with those of us standing on the ground.

...REPORTING FROM THE FRONT will be about sharing with a broader audience the work of people that are scrutinizing the horizon looking for new fields of action, facing issues like segregation, inequalities, peripheries, access to sanitation, natural disasters, housing shortage, migration, informality, crime, traffic, waste, pollution and participation of communities. ..."

This year's Architecture Biennale is going to be one enormous show, stretching from the Central Pavilion in Giardini over to the Arsenale, and will include 88 participants from 37 different countries, 50 of them participating for the first time, with 33 architects under the age of 40.

REPORTING FROM THE FRONT opens to the public on May 28, and runs through November 27, 2016. Go to Biennale for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Venice Carnival 2016 - The Conclusion... with Photos!

End of Venice Carnival 2016 - Photo: Cat Bauer

(Venice, Italy) The Carnival of Venice closed yesterday as an enormous Venetian flag soared its way to the top of the Campanile, a purple sky dramatic in the background.

Masked revelers in front of the Florian Caffè . Venice Carnival 2016 - Photo: Cat Bauer

This year, the carnival theme was "Creatum," with new artistic director, Marco Maccapani, at the helm. Maccapani has a wealth of experience directing events in the fashion industry -- he was once married to Angela Missoni -- and aimed to create a carnival that both residents and tourists could enjoy.

Mask Making - Venice Carnival 2016 - Photo: Cat Bauer

Instead of an imposing stage that separated visitors from performers, smaller sets were scattered throughout Piazza San Marco, highlighting the traditions that Venice does best: glass blowing, mask making, costumes, fabrics -- even a gondola was in the square.

Gondola in Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer

Venice is a strange enough place to live under ordinary conditions. During Carnival, it becomes surreal, trying to do everyday activities with all sorts of colorful creatures moving through the streets.

Venice Carnival 2016 - Photo Cat Bauer

The liberation that grown adults get by dressing up in costumes and striking poses never seems to lose its appeal.

Plague doctor - Venice Carnival - Photo: Cat Bauer

A favorite costume is that of the Plague Doctor, which was an outfit that doctors actually wore to treat victims of the plague. The beak-like mask was stuffed with scented materials like myrrh, mint, cloves and camphor to protect them against a poisonous vapor or "miasma" believed to spread disease through the air. Straw was used as a filter.

Live Commedia dell'arte in Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer

Stivalaccio Teatro performed L'Arlecchino Furioso in the square, riveting the audience with their wild antics, and giving them a taste of some good old-fashioned Commedia dell'arte.

BrassOperà - Photo: Cat Bauer

La Fenice Opera Theatre presented BrassOperà, serenading the square with La Traviata and more.

Cocktails from Harry's Bar - Photo: Cat Bauer

Harry's Bar served cocktails to the crowd.

Venice Carnival 2016 - Photo: Cat Bauer

Throughout the carnival, the mood was light and festive, well-organized and secure. It was nice to know in these days when the international community seems permeated with fear, that folks can still come out and play in the most beautiful drawing room in the world.

Through the window of the Florian - Reflection or Reality? Photo: Cat Bauer

During Venice Carnival, the curtain dividing the past from the present, the real from the imagined becomes more transparent. And anyone can use their imagination to become whatever they dream they can be.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Venice Carnival - Through the Window of the Florian...

Caffè Florian during Carnival - Photo: Cat Bauer Venetian Cat Venice InsiderBlog
Through the window of the Florian - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Caffè Florian in Piazza San Marco is the oldest coffeehouse in all of Italy. Depending on how you define "coffeehouse," it can also claim to be the oldest one in all the world. Established in 1720, for nearly 300 years the Florian has always attracted an international crowd.

Caffè Florian during Carnival - Photo: Cat Bauer Venetian Cat Venice Blog
Through the window of the Florian - Photo: Cat Bauer
Notable Venetians like Carlo Goldoni and Casanova were early patrons -- it was the only cafe that served women. As time went on, artsy notables like Lord Byron, Goethe, Marcel Proust and Charles Dickens dropped by, as well as Richard Wagner and D'Annunzio.

Caffè Florian during Carnival - Photo: Cat Bauer Venetian Cat Venice Blog
Through the window of the Florian - Photo: Cat Bauer
Caffè Florian's original name was "Venezia Trionfante," or "Triumphant Venice," and was a place where history was written. Inside its rooms, plots were hatched to overthrow French and Austrian rule.

Caffè Florian during Carnival - Photo: Cat Bauer Venetian Cat Venice Blog
Through the Window of the Florian - Photo: Cat Bauer
It was at the Florian that plans to create the first Venice Art Biennale were dreamed up. In 1893, Riccardo Selvatico, the mayor of Venice, together with a group of artists and intellectuals, decided to hold an illustrious art exhibition in honor of the silver anniversary of King Umberto and Margherita of Savoy.

Beneath the paintings of The Age of Enlightenment and Civilization Educating the Nations in the Senate Room, the idea for the first international art festival in the world was born.

Caffè Florian during Carnival - Photo: Cat Bauer Venetian Cat Venice Blog
Through the Window of the Florian - Photo: Cat Bauer
These days, during Carnival, all sorts of colorful creatures dress the part and sit down at the tables of the Florian to take their place with the phantoms of history.

With portraits of giants like Titian, Palladio and Marco Polo on the wall, Caffè Florian brings the glories of Venice's past into Venetian life today. And during Carnival, the veil that separates space and time seems to fade away...

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog