Sunday, 18 November 2018

Remembering Venetian Valeria Solesin, Killed in the November 2015 Paris Attacks

Graduation day in Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) One of the perks of graduating from Ca' Foscari, Venice's university, is that the ceremony takes place in Piazza San Marco, one of the most breathtaking venues on the planet. On November 16th, thousands of friends and relatives witnessed young students take that monumental step on their life's voyage.

Three years ago today, the residents of Venice gathered in Piazza San Marco for a much sadder event: the candlelight vigil for Valeria Solesin, a 28-year-old Venetian PhD candidate at Sorbonne University, killed by ISIL on Friday, Novemember 13, 2015 in the Paris terrorist attacks.

I will never forget that evening when so many citizens of Venice gathered together in solidarity for Valeria. It was an extremely emotional and poignant moment, with thousands of candles lighting up the dark. Here is an excerpt of a post I wrote at the time:

Candlelight Vigil for Valeria Solesin - Venice Victim of Paris Terrorist Attacks


Candlelight Vigil for Valeria Solesin in Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Thousands of people gathered in Piazza San Marco last evening to honor Valeria Solesin, a young, beautiful, intelligent Venetian woman, one of Venice's -- and the world's -- brightest stars, who was senselessly murdered by Daesh aka ISIL in Paris on Friday night. We gathered to remember all the Paris victims, but especially Valeria, a hometown girl. About seven thousand residents of Venice, young and old, made the journey to the center of the city to hold aloft twinkling points of light, illuminating the darkness that has descended on the planet. Many Venetians arrived with their children.

Valeria Solesin
Valeria Solesin represented everything good, empowering and compassionate about Europe. She was a brilliant young woman, who deeply believed in peace, not war. Valeria grew up in Venice, graduating in 2006, then got her degree at Trento University. For the last four years she lived in Paris as a PhD candidate at the prestigious Sorbonne University, studying sociology, with an emphasis on family and children. For years, she was a volunteer for Emergency, an Italian NGO that provides assistance to the civilian victims of war -- the extreme opposite of everything ISIL represents. She was killed at the Bataclan concert hall at age 28.

Click to read the entire post.

Graduation Day 2018 in Piazza San Marco - Photo: Cat Bauer
An award in Valeria's name is now in its second edition. The Premio Valeria Solesin is a competition for students at Italian universities inspired by the young Venetian researcher. Prizes go to the best Master's research theses on "Female talent as a determining factor for the development of the economy, ethics and meritocracy in our country," a topic to which Valeria had dedicated her work. It is open to students of 34 top Italian universities, public and private, and is supported by 14 companies, with Allianz Worldwide Partners promoting the 1st prize. Winners of the second edition will be announced on November 27, 2018.

Valeria Solesin was doing important work on the role of women in society. It is an extreme tragedy that her life was stolen from her at such a young age. Let us hope that the memory of the young Venetian woman inspires others to follow her path, and that positive female energy helps to balance the planet.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Juliet texts emojis but Romeo forgets his smartphone: Shakespeare in Venice at Hotel Danieli

Shakespeare in Venice at Hotel Danieli - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) William Shakespeare, the world's most famous English playwright, set one third of his plays in Italy. This rich exotic backdrop allowed him the freedom to tackle difficult subjects that might have been taboo on his native soil.

On Friday evening, November 9, I was a guest at the magnificent 14th century hall of Palazzo Dandolo, home of Hotel Danieli, and the stage for Shakespeare in Venice, a Journey through Shakespeare's Works, a condensed, contemporary version of five of the Bard's plays set in the Veneto.

The Merchant of Venice at Hotel Danieli - Photo: Cat Bauer
The quirky production, directed by Lorenzo Maragoni, whizzed through Romeo & Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello and The Merchant of Venice in about an hour with two young actors, Giulia Briata and Josh Lonsdale playing all the parts. They were accompanied by Giorgio Gobbo on guitar, who tossed the audience into a farcical key by singing the Beatles' Here Comes the Sun in falsetto when morning dawns and Romeo must flee Juliet's room after their wedding night.

Josh Lonsdale is not only an actor; the 26-year-old Brit also wrote the text. One of the best bits was when Juliet, about to drink the poison, sends Romeo a text message complete with emojis (smiley face, kiss, kiss) warning him that she is not dead, and not to overreact. Unfortunately, Romeo has forgotten his phone, and does not get the message...

Cocktail dinner at Hotel Danieli - Photo: Cat Bauer
After the performance, guests were treated to a cocktail dinner created by Chef Alberto Fol featuring food inspired by Shakespeare in Venice with tasty morsels like Insalata di latti di seppia con sedano e olive, Gallina Padovana con saor di cipolla, Zuppetta di pesci dell'Adriatico and Anatra arrostita alle spezi Orientali con salsa Peverada on the menu.

Dessert table at Hotel Danieli - Photo: Cat Bauer
Shakespeare in Venice is part of a collaboration between the Hotel Danieli, the Teatro Stabile del Veneto and the Chamber of Commerce of Venice and Rovigo, a cultural project whose aim is to promote Venice's uniqueness and cultural and artistic heritage through Shakespearean theatre and Post WWII nonconformist literature. Next up on December 11 is Art/Beat - from Beat Generation to Contemporary Art, a commemoration, in English, inspired by the term "beat" coined by Jack Kerouac 70 years ago, and performed by two actors and two musicians.

For reservations contact:
Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Alone in the Doge's Palace - Venice, Italy

Palazzo Ducale at night - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Tonight I was alone inside the Doge's Palace with only the phantoms of the past. I had come from a book presentation in the Doge's Private Chapel. It was not the first time I have been alone inside Palazzo Ducale.

When I first arrived in Venice twenty years ago, I was fortunate enough to have an access-all-areas pass to the Doge's Palace to do some research, and could wander freely through the rooms rich with the Renaissance. I met a lot of ghosts.

Golden Staircase - Photo: Cat Bauer
There are so many tourists trashing the halls these days that I forgot what it looked like. Tonight, as I descended the Golden Staircase, I saw -- really saw -- a section of the floor for the first time, an optical illusion 5D Mary-Poppins-jump-through-the-pavement floor that threw me off. The floor did not seem solid at all; for few moments I was thrown back a couple hundred years.

5D pavement inside Doge's Palace - Photo: Cat Bauer
I jiggled my legs back to present reality, touched marble, and continued down Sansovino's Scala d'Oro. I met a female attendant leaning against the loggia. I was still dizzy: "What they built... what they built... so many years ago."

She was pragmatic. "Well, they didn't build it all at once. They built that section in 14th century; and that section in the 15th century, and that section in the 16th..."

"Yes, but, what have we actually built these days, in the year 2018?"

She thought, then said: "The Calatrava Bridge and MOSE."

I haven't had such a good laugh in a long time.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog