Unwanted babies had perhaps the best opportunities of all. If carefully placed in a basket in the portico of the Ospedale della Pietà on the Riva degli Schiavoni, they would be taken in, fed, clothed and educated ‘at enormous expense both public and private’. ‘Their prioress is appointed by the Doge himself,’ wrote the Venetian historiographer Francesco Sansovino in 1581. More than this, they would also learn singing or a musical instrument..."Venice's Ospedale della Pietà was one of the 18th century's greatest centers of musical instruction and development, and the foundling girls who lived there were counted among the finest musicians of the age. Antonio Vivaldi taught and conducted at the Pietà for 36 years, and the vast majority of his work was written expressly for performance there. The documentary Vivaldi's Women follows a modern attempt to understand and recreate the original context of that music—with women playing every instrument and singing every part, from soprano to bass. [more inside]
Lake Nokoué is a rather large lake (20 km/~12.5 mi wide, 11 km/~6.8 mi long) in the southern part of the West African nation of Benin. In the northern portion of the lake, there is what looks like a large flooded town (Google maps). This is Ganvié, which was established in the 16th or 17th century as a means to escape the Fon people, who were at that time were involved in the slave trade. Because the Dan-homey or Dahomey religion forbade the Fon warriors from entering water, the lagoon was a safe territory. Ganvié has a population of around 20,000 people, largely living in stilt houses, making it likely to be the largest lake village in Africa. For a view of the village, Kuriositas has collected a number of great photos of "the Venice of Africa."
Sea levels are rising, the land is sinking. It's going to become a big problem for some cities on the US East Coast, so in Boston people are thinking the unthinkable - copying Venice and Amsterdam, and becoming a city of canals. [more inside]
Art forgeries have long been the stuff of thrillers, with fake da Vincis or Vermeers fooling connoisseurs, roiling the art world, and moving millions of dollars. We don’t think of ancient books driving such grand forgery, intrigue, and schadenfreude. This is changing thanks in part to a clever forgery of Galileo’s landmark book Sidereus Nuncius, published in Venice in 1610. Arguably one of the most extraordinary scientific publications of all times, Sidereus Nuncius turned Galileo into the brightest new star of Western science. Four centuries later, a faked copy of this book has disarmed a generation of Galileo experts, and raised a host of intriguing questions about the social nature of scholarly authentication, the precariousness of truth, and the revelatory power of fakes.
The Vanished Grandeur Of Accounting, in which Jacob Soll argues that it was the Dutch, and certainly not the Venetians or Florentines who are responsible for the spread of that moral and mathematical revolution: double-entry accounting. [more inside]
"But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's layers. In formal treatises, he compared the psyche to an ancient city, with many layers of architecture built one on top of another, each replacing the last, but with the old structures still present underneath. In private writings he phrased this more personally, that he was terrified of ever visiting Rome because he was terrified of the idea of all the layers and layers and layers of destroyed structures hidden under the surface, at the same time present and absent, visible and invisible. He was, in a very deep way, absolutely right." [more inside]
R/C cameraman Robert Mcintosh takes you soaring high above Santa Monica, Venice, and San Francisco. Float through the air as you glide along the beach and up through the spokes of the Ferris wheel over the Santa Monica Pier. Then head a mile or two south and get a bird's eye view of Venice's Muscle Beach. When your head has stopped spinning you can take in San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge or get away from it all (including the ground) out at at Vasquez Rocks. [more inside]
Venice resident, Erla Zwingle documents the city's recent (near record breaking) "Acqua Alta". The high tide left about 2/3 of the city under water. Venice's new flood protection system is due to come online in 2014.
One day in Venice Best watched in full screen/HD.
Most people know that Venice has long been threatened by chronic flooding, but in recent years the Queen of the Adriatic has faced a rising tide of a different sort: advertising. From the Doge's Palace to St. Mark's Square to the bittersweet Bridge of Sighs -- named for the grief its splendid views once inspired in crossing death row prisoners -- immense billboards lit late into the night now mar the city's most treasured places. Allegedly built to cover the cost of restoration work in the face of government cutbacks, the ads have brought in around $600,000 per year since 2008 -- a fraction of the shortfall -- and show no sign of going away any time soon. Their presence prompted a consortium of the world's leading cultural experts led by the Venice in Peril Fund to air an open letter demanding the city government put a stop to the placards that "hit you in the eye and ruin your experience of one of the most beautiful creations of humankind." Mayor Giorgio Orsoni, for one, was not moved, saying last year "If people want to see the building they should go home and look at a picture of it in a book."
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
How does Venice work? Short Vimeo documentary on the practicalities of Venice's architecture and civil engineering. More at Venice Backstage.
The Doge was the leader of the Venetian Republic, which lasted for over a thousand years, so they must have been doing something right. Here's Wikipedia's concise description of the selection process: "Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine and the nine elected forty-five. Then the forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who actually elected the doge." Sounds crazy, but Miranda Mowbray and Dieter Gollmann wrote a paper, "Electing the Doge of Venice: Analysis of a 13th Century Protocol" (pdf) explaining its virtues in terms that should warm the cockles of MetaFilter's collective geeky heart. From the abstract: "We will show that it has some useful properties that in addition to being interesting in themselves, also suggest that its fundamental design principle is worth investigating for application to leader election protocols in computer science." Interesting sidelight: "security theater" can be a good thing.
Lucio Bubacco is a master of the stunningly beautiful art of lampworked Venetian glass. His large freestanding work covers themes such as devils and mythology, Carnival, divine history, and sexual transgression [Potentially NSFW].* [more inside]
It's always a hoot to look through old issues of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, and with Google Books you can now do just that! But what do you get if you mix an eternally medieval city with eternally hopeful futurists? You get these mags' interesting take on Venice, Italy! Through their pages, you see the 20th century slowly but surely arrive to the canal city (or not, as sometimes the case may be...) [more inside]
At the 53rd International La Biennale di Venice (wiki) Art Exhibition, titled "Making Worlds," one particular artist's work took an unexpected turn. Mike Bouchet's installation piece titled "Watershed" was intended to be a full-scale replica of an American suburban home that would float on pontoons. Except it didn't.
"Soon were the lofty peaks of Corcyra lost to view;Founded by Trojans, populated by Chaonians, a sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, colonized by the Greeks and Romans, sacked by the Goths, ruled by the Slavs, the Byzantine Empire and the Turks, taken by Manfred of Hohenstaufen, purchased by the Most Serene Republic of Venice, invaded by Ali Pasha and Suleiman the Magnificent, eventually becoming a place of refuge for the likes of Casanova and for hunters and painters, the ancient city of Butrint, a microcosm of Mediterranean history, is a World Heritage Site within a National Park which includes a Wetland of International Importance all of which is being kept alive by a partnership of local, national and international organizations . Come and explore Butrint. [more inside]
We coasted along Epirus, and coming to the Chaonian
Harbour, we drew near Buthrotum, that hill city."
- The Aenid - Book III, Virgil (trans. Cecil Day Lewis)
Kieran Long in The Architects' Journal: "The 2008 biennale is the year that the avant-garde finally disappeared into its own darkest recesses. Let's hope the recession finishes the job."
I just returned from the 2007 Venice Biennial Art Exhibition . It's considered one of the most important events in the art world, but frankly, I found it a bit boring - after all, things like this just don't do much for me - and I don't seem to be alone in that opinion. Although to be fair, the VB has a long history of criticism
We're familiar with Miss Manners work but wouldn't dream of being familiar with Miss Manners herself.
Conversing with the matchless Judith Martin I know you are all familiar with the work of the inimitable (if syndicated) Judith Martin, alias Miss Manners, but I dared to presume that you have not come across this 2005 interview with her. In it she discusses the process of becoming Miss Manners, the cyclical nature of etiquette, her historical predecessors, sumptuary laws in Renaissance-era Venice, and the respective natures of aristocratic and democratic etiquette. Fascinating read.
Arounder has an ongoing collection of high-quality full screen Quicktime VR panoramas of European cities, focusing on famous artistic and cultural landmarks (in Rome, Florence, Köln, Barcelona, Cyprus), with interactive maps and travel information. A collaboration with national tourist offices by Swiss company Vrway Communication, which also publishes Vrmag, a bi-monthly review of panorama photography, and the FullscreenQTVR directory in collaboration with the well-known panoramas.dk (previously mentioned on metafilter: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Yesterday Venice had its annual Historical Regatta, a traditional rowing competition whose origins date back to the 13th century and is held each year on the first Sunday of September. As it coincided with the Venice Film Festival, photographers were probably busier snapping pictures of George Clooney and fellow stars... so there's not much online about this year's event yet, but for your visual enjoyment here's a quick selection of images from past editions of the regata (more from this gallery of last year's event), showing both the rowers in the actual competition as well as the historical parade in traditional costumes; a few black and white images from the past (sorry, small and not good quality but still interesting): the regata in 1918, in 1956, in 1969, and in the 1970's; and, from the age before photography, famous paintings and engravings.
Still romanticizin' the beat generation? Lovely shots from the Venice West Picture Essay - a photo chronicle of the beat generation in venice west, california circa 1958….from the out-of-print "the holy barbarians" by lawrence lipton