Archive for March, 2007

smoke - and rice - on the water

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

spent nearly the whole day in rice fields today. not far from venice… i’ll tell you more about this later on. it rained and rained in past days, the brown clods were soaked in the very moring., when the sunshine began warming the earth up, the water slowly evaporated, and you could see transparent clouds a few centimeters above the earth, all over. but the most impressive thing was the total silence, as no one works in the fields in this season.

had risi e tastasale  for lunch. well, this is not for vegans…

special thanks

Friday, March 30th, 2007

i’ll never forget how two young boys helped a couple with the husband’s wheelchair this morning. quite heavy rain, the slippy ground and a bridge to pass. A wheelchair with a heavy man on it, unable to move by himself. The man kept on “apologizing” while the guys around him had become 4 people, who were heading to school and work, and did not understand much of his English. But no words were necessary. “We had not noticed the bridge in our map”, the Dutch couple  said; they had rented a small apt in Santa Croce, and were trying the shortest way to the IUAV, our Architecture University, so they had expected the path to be smooth. But the short way may not the best one in Venice.

Accessibility is still a fancy word in Venice. modern laws and restrictions apply to brand new activities only (one of the reason why we are still waiting for permission to open our new office in venice, is that whilst the Italian law obliges us to provide entrance accessibility and one accessible bathroom, at the same time the Safeguard may forbid it for the sake of the integrity and beauty of the palazzo. Everyone understands this is a contradiction, and the solution is (i guess) spending a long time in meditation. meditate, people, let’s meditate. Ommmmm…..

the last of the problems

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

“It is my intention” Mayor Massimo Cacciari said, “to entirely rebuild the Accademia Bridge which, in my opinion, is a wooden piece of junk. The municipality is tired of spending millions of euros on its maintenance every few years.” To journalists’ questions about the cost of the project, the mayor replied that “money is the last of the problems because the world is full of architects who would design the new bridge for nothing and of sponsors who would back the project financially.”


hope it works better than the fund raising for the carnival. btw, did also architect calatrava work for free at the new 4th bridge?

cellos please

Monday, March 12th, 2007

the talk of the town. as many others, last week we were informed that a group of music students in an educational tour from different parts of the USA was arriving in Venice in a couple of days and planning to do some performing at Piazza San Marco and maybe join a small group of young local musicians. The problem is that they needed 3 cellos (didn’t take the ones from there, because it was too expensive and maybe they feared some damages in the trasportations, and maybe some troubles with customs). Their parents in the States started to search the cellos for rent in venice, via phone and mail. Anyone from Conservatorio to the Tourism bureau was alerted. We were too, at . The concert was planned for Saturday night, March 10th. A cry for help

What happened? Everyone started calling friends, shops, institutions, with the result that the same people were called several times in the day. So when you called someone, he or she regularly answered “I already know. and the answer is no”. No? why?


i’m reporting, so please do not shoot the pianist.

first of all, Venice is neither NY nor LA. it’s a small town with 50,000 residents (less than pigeons, 60-70,000). so you cannot expect to have the same services you would find in the States.

No cellos for rent in venice, simply. and there seemed to be a very low budget for the rent (this was the passed-on word: not hard to believe, as they were students): otherwise, mountains would have been moved to bring in cellos from anywhere, Milan or Rome.


to venetians, the inquire was considered not so far from a lending request. But: cellos are expensive, personal, delicate instruments. the less expensive cellos cost about 600 euros (made in China: who would use them in a concert? an expert told me), the “regular” ones cost thousands of euro (would you lend yours to an unknown student?). More: the 10th of March is Saturday, and even admitting that some artist could lend a cello, Saturday evening is usually already booked for concerts.


we did not hear from them again. no idea what happened. given circumstances and time, i guess they were only able to rent some guitars. too bad, if so. many people were really willing to help (me included), but there was nowhere else to ask to.


end of the story (and lessons to learn, for anyone): lesson one, collect as much information as possible in advance, for any plan and travel. lesson two, do not expect red carpets. and bring your own musical instrument if possible!

just in case it does not work

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

When high tide (”acqua alta”) comes to Venice, so do the catwalks - raised platforms that let pedestrians walk above the water level. The catwalks have some drawbacks, however. They float when the water level is higher than 120 cm., and they tend to be slippery. To overcome these problems, a new catwalk prototype is being tested. It’s made of wood and WPC, a thermoplastic polymer, it doesn’t float, and it provides surer footing. The prototype was presented to the mayor last week, and a dozen are being installed near the city hall to test their effectiveness.


the mayor’s sense of humor is legendary. he is so sure that the MOSE won’t work against acqua alta….  anyway, well done.