Posts Tagged ‘italy’

The Venice Biennale: An Art Lover's Paradise

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Jay Sharp works for Human Resources for Smithsonian Enterprises, and was bit by the travel bug later in life. He ventured to Europe for the first time in 2005. That’s all it took and he hasn’t looked back since. Favorite destinations (so far) include Scotland and Italy. Some day, he hopes to see the Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal, and the Pyramids. Click here for more on Jay.

View of the Palazzo Ducale across the Canali de San Marco, Venice.

View of the Palazzo Ducale across the Canali de San Marco, Venice.

Venice at any time of year is beautiful. But Venice during the Biennale is spectacular…modern art is juxtaposed against the ancient city, and everywhere you turn, there’s something amazing, puzzling, thought provoking, and real. Art is, after all, what you make of it. Most any artist that I’ve talked to can tell you what inspired them to create, but most have said that it’s really about the audience and what they take away that brings the piece to life and gives it meaning. At the 2007 Biennale, I wandered in and out of the international pavilions set up in the arsenale, which served as the main “gallery.”

My favorites were the Canadian and Turkish pavilions. What struck me the most was the diversity of the international artists; each voice was clearly influenced by individual cultures and life experience. The best part of the Biennale, in my opinion, is the art that you pass, stumble upon, and almost run into all around the public spaces of the city. Venice is completely walkable (no cars allowed) and the art is everywhere. Perfect exampleI passed a giant skull constructed out of what appeared to be kitchen utensils while taking a water bus down the Grand Canal. It floated quietly on its barge, grimacing with its big silver teeth. Very cool. Grand palazzo are filled with modern art…if the doors are open, don’t be afraid to take a look. At one point, I wandered into an open set of doors to find myself in a room that had been transformed by the artist into an eerie white forest.

Carol Feuerman's Survival of Serena, crafted from resin, was destroyed in December 2008 en route to be displyed in Miami. Photo: Fred Thrasher.

Carol Feuerman's Survival of Serena, crafted from resin, was destroyed in December 2008 en route to be displayed in Miami. Photo: Fred Thrasher

I was lucky enough to stay at the Excelsior on the Lido. It was mid September, and the hotel felt about half full. The work crews were busy striking the beach cabanas for the winter, and the air was just cool enough at night. Perfect. When I explored the hotel upon arrival, I was delighted to find that several artists’ works were set up in and around the hotel. My favorite piece was just outside the exit to the beachFlorida artist Carol Feuerman’s Survival of Serena. Larger than life… Peaceful…Serene…Real. It was the perfect representation (for me) of a European tourist on holiday floating on the calm Adriatic. You could even see the drops of water glistening in the sun. Tragically, the sculpture was damaged beyond repair last year while being transported back to the United States. (more…)

Video: Il Palio de Siena

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Since the 17th century the ancient city of Siena, Italy has celebrated its patron saints with unique verve. The Palio de Sienais a one-of-a-kind bareback horse race held twice each summer in Siena’s main Plaza del Campo. Ten riders, each representing a city ward, take part in the race.

As famous as the race itself is the Corteo Storico, the fantastic pageant that precedes the race. The Sienese come out in their best medieval costumes, banners flying, drums playing, and cannons at the ready. Watch below for a taste of the Palio.

Can’t wait to see the Palio for yourself? Click here to learn more about our Tuscany Family Journey, where you’ll spend a day at the Palio, experiencing a 350-year-old tradition up close.

Click here to see all of our travel to Italy.

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Glorious Tuscany: Wine, Biking, and Philosophy

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Andy Levine is a true bon vivant with a real passion for adventure travel.  As president and founder of DuVine Adventures, Andy has led and created deluxe bike trips all over the world for over 14 years. Andy’s work comes highly recommended by top travel expert and best-selling author Peter Greenberg, travel editor for NBC’s Today Show. Click here for Andy’s bio.

Tuscany biking tour

Travelers experience the picturesque Tuscan countryside during a biking tour

I had never really thought about the philosophy of wine. Then I met Vittorio Innocenti. Not only is he a vintner-extraordinaire; he’s also very much a thinker, and not the barstool-type. I first met this remarkable man as I planned our cycling vacation through Tuscany, and recently had the chance to visit him again when I joined our guests on that same trip.

In the hill town of Montefollonico, our group strolled the narrow cobbled streets to Vittorio’s cantina to sample his Vino Nobile, one of the world’s rarest wines because it can only be made in Tuscany’s Montepulciano region, which we had been exploring by bicycle that day. (more…)

Venice Biennale – City of Art

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Mariana Carpinisan has lived in Washington, D.C. since 1995, where she serves as an art critic, independent curator, and lecturer for the Smithsonian Institution. She has led more than 60 Smithsonian Journeys. Click here to learn more about traveling with Mariana Carpinisan and to read her biography.

Venice could be defined as an unusual patch of land hung by a divine force between sky and water. No cars can be heard because everything from everyday chores to a funeral procession is done by boat. Tourists and Venetians alike cope and wonder but never fail to acknowledge its magical beauty.

It is here, surrounded by Titian’s paintings and in the presence of splendid Renaissance architecture where the 53rd Venice Biennale will take place. The mission of this event has remained the same since 1895: “to promote the most noble activities of the modern spirit without distinction of country.”

Subodh Gupta's Very Hungry God,a 1000 kilo sculpture made wholey of stainless steel cooking utensils, was installed at the 2007 Biennale outside of the Palazzo Grassi. Photo: Fred Thrasher

Subodh Gupta's Very Hungry God, a 1,000 kilo sculpture made wholly of stainless steel cooking utensils, was installed at the 2007 Biennale. Photo: Fred Thrasher

Why do I feel so compelled to attend this event every time it happens, and why do I find myself drawn back to Venice every chance I get? The answer is simplebecause it is the most miraculous and surreal place on earth. Every two years, in the month of June, imagine a blockbuster art exhibition, represented by more than thirty countries and turned by curators, artists, and Italian officials into a unique artistic extravaganza. (more…)