Monday, April 18, 2011



On Sunday, several of us were off to see the Biennale (the renown, bi-annual exhibition of art from around the world). Interesting but most of the art was of that new, wild, impenetrable style that most of us had trouble with. The Biennale is held in many buildings. Each one houses a particular country’s exhibit. It’s enormous.  Ninety-five percent of the artwork, I didn’t like. Saw several Eastern Block country’s exhibits:  Poland—ugh! And Czechoslovakia—also ugh. They’re still in the 1940s with their staid representationalism! However, Belgium had some neat, very lightly sketched studies of Venezia. There were some other interesting exhibits such as Japan, the U.S. and several other European countries. Ran into Mario while I was walking home, and we walked and talked for an hour, discussing all manner of subjects. He’s very special. He read my Hawaiian short story and loved it. We walked to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum—a must see for her wonderfully restored palazzo filled with the modern art she collected.

Monday morning we met for our first Venetian tour: first, a nice talk on the steps in the Piazza San Marco 

about the founding of Venezia, San Marco Cathedral 

and the casas we were about to see. ) A Doge had decreed that only his palace (the Palazzo Ducale)

could be called a palazzo, so all other residences—no matter how grand—had to be called Casas (or Ca’ as a contraction before the name). We tend to call them palazzi today due to their grandeur.) It was a nice talk, but after an hour and a half of Giuliano talking, about what we were going to see that day, I piped up and said, “You promise?,” which brought big laughs from the group. Several patted me on the back for helping to move him along.  We walked to Ca’Loredano. This casa is an old 14tCentury prototypical Venetian palazzo: Fronting on the water, it has a large central two-story corridor opening to a rear garden. It is a total of three floors high. The floors followed the Florentine convention:  ground floor was the entrance, servants and storage; first floor—piano noble—family living rooms; and secondo floor had the bedrooms. After our tour, we were to take a vaporetto to the next place. I suggested gondolas!  
Everyone was delighted, except one woman for some inexplicable reason. It was fun. After visiting the unremarkable Fondaco dei Turchi, a Turkish market, we had lunch. 

At the evening session, Cornelia’s lecture on Venezia was excellent, well prepared and informative. She was now a refreshing change. Then an interesting Milano furniture designer lectured. He showed us slides—one of a beautiful plastic ladder he designed that when folded created a beautiful pattern. I would have found out how to get one for my kitchen in D.C., but he told us that because of the high cost of plastic, it was out of production.

Afterwards, Arnette came to my hotel garden for an iced tea and to read my Hawaiian short story. She loved it, saying I must publish it! We had an intense visit.  Arnette is wonderful. She’s an ‘EST’ person and wants me to take the course. I was very interested. She was a tonic and always tried to help keep me on my diet (even though I’d been tempted by a candy shop nearby). I told her how much I enjoyed being a student again. It made me feel so young and carefree. When I told Arnette that I was almost forty-two, she nearly choked on her iced tea. She thought I was in my early thirties! I found out that she had to leave the course early and take off for London, because her daughter, Jenny, was to dance the major role in Swan Lake in the gala graduation performance of the Royal Ballet School! Jenny was only eighteen and was also being auditioned by Mikhail Baryshnikov for his American Ballet Theater troupe!  Arnette’s husband is Anthony Zerbe, the actor. 

He was going to meet her in London. ‘Saint Anthony’ sounded very special. In the movie “Turning Point”, he played the conductor, whom Shirley MacLaine had an affair with. Also, he was the lieutenant in the television series “Harry-O”, even though he doesn’t like to do television or commercials. He prefers live theater or film. He’s been in many plays. He was going to be doing “Dear Liar” by George Bernard Shaw with Michael Learned that fall in New York. Then off I went to bed without dinner!

Before touring the next morning, I stopped by the Danieli again to see that shirt. I still loved it. So, I went to the Missoni store and asked them to get it so I could try it on. They said they’d have it for me that afternoon.  We all were to meet at the group’s hotel for our daily tour. Then we found out the schedule had changed again.  Instead of seeing several sights, we were going to the Biennale! Well, I wasn’t very interested naturally, since I had just been there two days before. However, since the day’s tour was going to start at the Palazzo Doges, I went with them for that. 
Fernanda and Arnette

Edwina, 'Hat Pat', Giuliano and Carol
After about a thirty-minute talk out front, they left for the Biennale and I went inside. And was I glad I did. Wow!—ornate room after ornate room after ornate room with many famous paintings and enormous murals of battles with hundreds of men and horses. 

I can’t believe the group didn’t go inside.  It’s hard to imagine such grandeur, and the power associated with it. I also went across the Bridge of Sighs 

to the prison, which was naturally, very interesting to me as I’m a prison architect. Got a book on this prison for the office. It wasn’t as bad as I expected for a 15th Century facility. 

Most cells even had outside lights!—I’m sure it was dreadful, though.



Caliban said...

So glad you went inside to see the Doges Palazzo. I can't believe the others did not do the same. I thought it was forbidden to visit Venice with going there! (Just kidding, of course.)

I remember visiting Doges as a supreme highlight of my visit, surpassed only by San Marco's and only slightly more spectacular the l'Accademia.

I love the photo of you and the women in the gondola. What a great idea. Good thing you were along on this tour -- so everyone got to be treated to a gondola ride.

Thanks for explaining the casa and ca' thing. I didn't know that.

The Hawaiian story is about what? Is it fiction?

Don Voth said...

Robert, So glad you commented. Yes, the Doge's Palace was fantastic. Especially the rooms with all the sculpture.
"Mom's Three Wishes" is TRUE! Just click on it in the sidebar and you'll get all episodes.

Caliban said...

Forgot to say I like the photo of Anthony Zerbe. Also, the photo of Giuliano and the ladies is quite nice, too. Further, the photo of Arnette and Fernanda is adorable! They are so sweet. I can now understand why the Duchess was so enchanted when the two of them showed their sympathy for her.

Don Voth said...

The photos ARE great. I relive the story in even more detail as I see them.

Ron said...

I see the changes in your blog that you have added "Popular Posts." I've thought of adding that feature also but I have too many other features presently going on. Maybe I'll add it later.

Don Voth said...

Glad you like it. I think it's really nest. I may cut it to only 5 posts so it won't be so long!

L'EQUIPE said...

Hi, Don ! I read your articles with a great pleasure (plaisir). So, if you have'nt a new project for travel, you have Zhouzhuang, a sort of Chinese's Venizia. It's a magnifique village near 120 km to Shanghai. You can to see about Zhouzhuang) :
Nice day, Don ! Kiss Memphis for me!

Don Voth said...

L'EQUIPE, I'm glad you enjoy my articles. Your very kind. I looked at the Zhouzhang site. Very interesting! Looks like it would be a great visit. Exotic.