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Posts Tagged ‘Italy’


Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit the old section of the town of Vittorio Veneto, in the region of Veneto, in Northeastern Italy. Present-day Vittorio Veneto is the result of the fusion of the municipalities of Ceneda and Serravalle after WWI. 
The photos below are of the old Jewish ghetto of Ceneda, and the centro ( center or downtown) with its villas, park and piazzetta ( small piazza). 


The Church pictured just below was a surprising find: it is the oldest churchsite I have ever visited, and dates from the IV century (!!!).  The Church you see was rebuilt in 1400, a millennium after the first structure was erected. The timing boggles the mind: in 313 CE Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire with the Edict of Milan, and on this site a church was built shortly thereafter. 



Serravalle, like Treviso, the regional center of the prosperous region of Veneto, features frescoes on the façades of buildings. This is something fascinating that I learned during this trip (from my mom, who is from Treviso) Frescoes in Serravalle- a town of Roman origin-were not just relegated to the interior of churches, but graced the buildings’ street elevations and were painted by notable local artists. Most of the palazzi date from the 1400’s. What was depicted on them? Hard to say from what remains in Serravalle. I could discern some courtly scenes  and patterns/coat of arms. Both here and in Treviso, the frescoes were plastered over during one of the bouts of the Plague, in a misguided effort to ‘disinfect’ homes. 

One of the photos depicts the winged lion of Venezia (Venice) on top of a tall pole. This whole area was indeed part of the inland empire of La Serenissima (the most serene) Republic of Venezia.

The best part for me, as a flâneuse was walking through the many porticoes of Serravalle. Enjoy my flâneuring..

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Lift now the lid of the jar of heaven,

Pour, cupbearer, the wine of the invisible,

The name and sign of what has no sign.

Pour it abundantly.

It is you who enrich the soul–

Make the soul drunk and give it wings.

Come again always, rich one,

and teach all our cupbearers their sacred art.

Be a spring jetting from a heart of stone;

Break the pitcher of soul and body–

Make joyful all lovers of wine.

Ferment a restlessness in the heart

of the one who thinks only of bread–

Bread is a mason of the body’s prison;

Wine, a rain for the garden of the soul.

I’ve tied the ends of the earth together.

Lift now the lid of the jar of heaven

Close those eyes that see only faults

Contemplate those that only see the invisible

so no mosques or temples or idols remain

So this or that is drowned in his fire.

Rumi

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Christmas Day finds me in Amsterdam this year, on my way to Milano. Internet access may be intermittent the next few weeks, and while I plan to do art and sketch (well, as much sketching as subzero temperatures will allow), I won’t have my scanner so the quality of the drawings, collages and whatever else I may do will not be pristine, so bear with me. After all, this is the beauty of traveling: not having your usual environs, trappings and equipment leads to creative problem solving and a bit of experimenting (even though, judging from my luggage, it sure does look like I am carrying all my trappings :P). I plan to use a very nifty feature I discovered in WordPress: post by SMS (text). I am not sure my Italian sim card will allow me to use my Android phone as modem or that I will have internet on it, but I sure will be able to text so I am looking forward to post some impressions of Milano in winter, maybe even some life ephipanies (ha!).
For now I want to leave with some quotes I took down from the movie Eat, Pray , Love (don’t judge, it was playing on the plane and I happen to dig the author, as I mentioned before):
 
 
Italy:

Americans know entertainment, but they don’t know pleasure.

In Italy we have the expression ‘dolce far niente’ ; the sweetness of doing nothing.

Maybe you are a woman in search of a word.

Ruin is a gift. Ruin leads to transformation and evolution.

Bali:

Learn to see with your heart, not with your eyes, or with your head.

Meditate while smiling. Smile not just with your face, smile with your head. Smile even with your liver.

India:
You don’t have to be married or have children to have a family.

You have to learn to select your thoughts everyday, just as you select the clothes you are going to wear everyday.

God dwells within me. As me.

To live is to trust.

What if you had the capacity one day to love the whole world?

…..
A Merry, Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let’s hope is a good one
Without any fear.
(And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?)

 

Here is to new beginnings without old nonsenses.

Here is to lots of art and growth (and lots of good things to share)

 
 

 

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Students in Roma protest using 'literary shields' and have given rise to the so-called Book Block.

Students revolts have spread in Italy and England in the past few weeks. The images that I see coming from my country remind me of interactive urban installations organized by Coop Himmelblau in the 1960’s and 1970’s .

These are called ‘soft explosions’, such as the covering of a street in Vienna with foam,or the appearance in the streets of Paris of habitable ‘bubbles’.

Soft Space. Coop Himmelblau. Vienna, 1970.

Bubbles.Coop Himmelblau. Paris, 1968.

Coop Himmelblau’s approach,according to the pleasantly subversive Spatial Agency, is similar to that of Haus-Rucker-Co, based on the Austrian heritage of Freud’s psychoanalytic approach– this led them to explore the relationships between the architectural environment and our individual perceptions of it. Their early work leading up to the late 1970s consisted of performative installations and actions involving the spectators as participants. [read more at
Post-traumatic Urbanism ]

Italian students today put the art in revolt.

During the Book Block protest in Rome (so called by the collective writers Wu Ming— see Black Block for reference ), which took place November 24, 2010 in Rome, University students fashioned ‘literary shields’ to defend themselves against the riot police (members of the Italian police have been charged with murder in several cases involving student demonstrators, sports fans rioting outside of stadiums and G-8 protesters in recent years). The shields become what the students are fighing for: the right for education against drastic government cuts. What better symbol of the predicament Italian Universities are in, than to take to the streets books relevant to today’s Italian young adults. A plank of wood sandwiched between two sheets of cardboard become the book covers. Here are some of the texts, and the titles are sometimes surprising:

 

Tropic of Cancer
by Artur Miller
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Italian Constitution
Decameron by Boccaccio
Naked Sun by Aasimov
A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Deleuze
Gomorrah by Saviano
Don Quixote by Cervantes
Moby Dick
by Melville
The Prince by Macchiavelli
and…my favorite book of all time: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez

From Studenti.it

As the students recount, it was a spontaneous process started one November afternoon at the University. Each student proposed titles of books;they wanted to represent that ‘ culture is the only defence against a government who wants to demolish it’.

Gian Mario Anselmi, professor of Italian Literature at the University of Bologna says: : “These kids used culture as shield, our true and only identity. We defend ourselves with classical texts. The titles they chose are incredibly diverse, fruit of who knows what advice and suggestion, but it does not matter. It is the smbol that matters. And on these shields told of utopia, history, courage and love.”
The Book Block protest plans to make an appearance again on December 14 in Rome.

The writer Roberto Saviano, in his open letter to the newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ –written to condemn the violence emerged in some recent student revolts –praises ‘intellectual’ and creative demonstrations such as the ‘Book Bloc’. He writes:
‘C’era allegria nei ragazzi che avevano avuto l’idea dei Book Block, i libri come difesa, che vogliono dire crescita, presa di coscienza. Vogliono dire che le parole sono lì a difenderci, che tutto parte dai libri, dalla scuola, dall’istruzione… La testa serve per pensare, non per fare l’ariete. I book block mi sembrano una risposta meravigliosa a chi in tuta nera si dice anarchico senza sapere cos’è l’anarchismo neanche lontanamente.’
The kids who had the idea of th ‘Book Block’ did so in good spirit, books as defense, books that signify growth, self-awareness. Books are there to say words come to our defense, that everything starts with books, school, learning…Your head is there for you to think , not to use it as a battering ram. I think the Book Blocs are a wonderful answer to those who call themselves anarchic, wearing black overalls, without even knowing what anarchy even means.’

As I was preparing this post, I collected these quotes and thoughts on revolution and books:

Promise yourself to live your life as a revolution and not just a process of evolution.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.
— Gustave Flaubert

“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it”
— Gustave Flaubert

“The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity, but until the people themselves apprehend it, nothing can happen … Perhaps it can’t be done without the poet, but it certainly can’t be done without the people. The poet and the people get on generally very badly, and yet they need each other. The poet knows it sooner than the people do. The people usually know it after the poet is dead; but that’s all right. The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.”
— James Baldwin

“The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeoisie.”
— Gustave Flaubert

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Gustave Flaubert

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