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Tag: Venice

Banksy in Venice

Friday, 24 May, 2019

“If you don’t own a train company then you go and paint on one instead,” said Banksy in the book Banksy: You Are an Acceptable Level of Threat. The street artist was referring to the British government’s decision to privatize rail networks “to make millions for a cabal of financiers, largely at the taxpayers expense.” Is Banksy a genius? Some have criticized the “obviousness” of his work and accused it of being “anarchy-lite” geared towards a middle-class hipster audience, while the satirist Charlie Brooker wrote in the Guardian that “…his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots.”

Still, if you don’t own a cruise ship, you go and paint one in Venice instead. Hilarious.


Venice threatened by rising tide

Sunday, 12 May, 2019

The rising tide of tourism, that is. The current inflow is 25 million tourists a year and this number is projected to reach 38 million by 2025. Still Venice is remarkably resilient. The city has lasted a millennium and what makes it all the more extraordinary is that a lagoon is a temporary natural phenomenon, but the reason Venice’s lagoon hasn’t silted is centuries of careful management, technical innovation and commercial regulation.

The same solutions can be applied to tourism. Take accommodation. Since 2015, Airbnb rentals in Venice have tripled from 2,441 to 8,320, according to Airdna. Eighty percent of those are entire home rentals, many of which are owned by agencies or international investors. With the launch of Fairbnb, a not-for-profit home-sharing site that only accepts resident hosts and stipulates one home per host, an alternative is available.

Nicolò Scibilia says, “Venice is not just a stage set. It is also a city with a resident population, which has productive activities, transportation and services. But how does the ‘Venice system’ work? How do the tides in the lagoon behave? How are the canals formed? And the embankments? What’s under the buildings?” The canals, sewers, buildings and bridges have been designed to cope with an environment that’s constantly challenged by salt water, but Venice survives. It can survive tourism, too.


Venice goes there. Is Barcelona next?

Wednesday, 27 February, 2019

We’re talking about an entry fee for day tourists entering the lagoon city. Initial plans aim at charging them €3 ($4.75) for a single-day trip from May. In the coming year the fee would double and can be raised to as much as €10 ($15.83) on heavy tourism days.

In 2016, heritage group Italia Nostra estimated that 30 million people visit Venice every year, with a daily influx of more than 82,000. Under the entry fee scheme, visitors staying in hostels will be exempt from the payment, while hotel guests already have to pay a local tax for their stay.

Will Barcelona follow? The city has been groaning under the weight of “over-tourism” for years now and the pressure is on the municipal authorities to reduce the flow or turn into a revenue source that be deployed to deal with the problem. Talking of Barcelona, Márton Mogyorósy takes an overhead view of the city and his photos only confirm why the world wants to go there. Says Mogyorósy, somewhat cryptically:

“A series of aerial photographs from the capital of Catalonia, which captures the city’s abstract and architectural wonders from a bird’s eye view. As the former fishermen’s quarter which is characterized by its narrow and lively streets. As well as one of Barcelona’s lesser-known masterpiece, Ricardo Bofill’s utopian vision for social living that found form in the cubist heights and halls of Walden 7.”

Barca

Barcelona


And life slips by like a field mouse

Tuesday, 19 February, 2019

Ezra Pound Ezra Pound was one of the founding members of the imagist movement in the early 20th century. Imagism relied on the impact of concrete images presented in exact, everyday language rather than traditional poetic metre. This is imagism:

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

Ezra Pound (1885 — 1972)

Note: Ezra Pound was born in Idaho in 1885 and moved to Italy in 1924. He admired Mussolini and when World War II broke out he stayed in Rapallo from where he broadcast a series of radio talks attacking President Roosevelt and the “Jewish bankers” he deemed responsible for the war. The US regarded the broadcasts as treasonous and Pound was arrested at war’s end and imprisoned in an outdoor compound near Pisa.

While jailed, Pound completed the “The Pisan Cantos,” a group of poems that Paul L. Montgomery of the New York Times called “among the masterpieces of this century.” Eventually judged to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, Pound was transferred to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he remained incarcerated until 1958 when Robert Frost led a successful effort to free the poet. Ezra Pound was awarded The Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1949 and he died in his beloved Venice in 1972.

Many writers have made disastrous personal and political choices but few have faced up to their failings as clearly as Pound did during his final years of catatonic depression. His acknowledgement here of his failure is honest and poignant and tragic:

I have tried to write Paradise.
Do not move.
Let the wind speak.
That is Paradise.
May the gods forgive what I have made.
May those I have loved try to forgive
what I have made.


Pine Wood at Montenero

Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

The photographer George Tatge was born in Istanbul and now lives in Florence. He studied English Literature at Beloit College in Wisconsin and moved to Italy in 1973 to work as a journalist in Rome before focusing on photography, which he does mostly with a 5x7in Deardorff view camera.

That mid-West study of English Literature was repaid when his Italia Metafisica won the Ernest Hemingway Award sponsored by Lignano Sabbiadoro, a town in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of north-eastern Italy. The story goes that when Hemingway was exploring the lagoons around Venice, he discovered Lignano Sabbiadoro and fell in love.

Presences – Italian Landscapes is the title of a photo series by George Tatge currently on display at the Catherine and André Hug Gallery in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés. This is the beautiful Pine Wood at Montenero and it was taken near a famous Catholic sanctuary perched on the Livorno Hills in central Italy.

Pine Wood at Montenero


Monteverdi at 450

Saturday, 12 August, 2017 0 Comments

L’incoronazione di Poppea (“The Coronation of Poppaea”) is an opera by Claudio Monteverdi, who was born 450 years ago this year. First performed at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice during the 1643 carnival season, it describes how Poppaea, a courtesan in the service of the emperor Nero, achieves her ambition to be crowned empress. The coronation scene concludes with the Pur ti miro duet performed here by the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and the Spanish soprano Núria Rial.


The fog of war

Monday, 15 June, 2015 0 Comments

“Hope!” is the motto of the the Ukraine pavilion at la Biennale di Venezia. And hope is needed when one reads about what’s happening on the front lines of this brutal war being waged by Russia on its neighbour. In the midst of the destruction and despair, photographer Yevgenia Belorusets portrays the miners of Krasnoarmeysk, who live and work within the war zone. They haven’t been paid since October but they carry on, hoping that the nightmare will end.

Ukraine miner

“I suppose I live in a country that has stepped on its own toes. But now it is going through a war. The neighbouring state punishes it for its essence, for its uncertainty, which is so valuable to me. Hope? Ukraine has always had more of it than you would expect. It is rationality lurking around every corner and maybe that will save us once again.” Yevgenia Belorusets


Carpe diem

Sunday, 8 June, 2014 0 Comments

Ever get the feeling that life is passing you by? If you sense that you might be living “like a field mouse / Not shaking the grass”, Ezra Pound offers five lines of timeless advice about what’s to be done.

And the days are not full enough

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

Ezra Pound (1885 — 1972)


The Doge

Sunday, 23 June, 2013 1 Comment

“And they assembled in the church of St. Mark, and he was declared to be elected Doge; and they stripped off his clothes and led him before the altar, and there he took the oath, and there was given him the gonfalon of St. Mark, and he took it. Then amid great rejoicing he went […]

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His style depends on engorged nouns, not absent adjectives

Friday, 1 June, 2012

“Hemingway is the bullshit-detector of modern literature: every verb earned by toil, every noun inhabited, every adjective deleted, they say, the better to tell you how it was.” So writes Andrew O’Hagan in his review of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Vol. I, 1907-22 for the London Review of Books. “Good reporters go hunting for […]

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Meditation upon the Feast of the Epiphany

Friday, 6 January, 2012

“How Real Is The Meaning?” That’s the question posed by Walter Russell Mead in his Yule Blog 2011-12 post, which appeared on three days ago. Taking as his starting point the Biblical account of the Three Kings who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Bethlehem, Mead takes us on a long journey into […]

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