Category Archives: Travel

Oh, Vicenza (pt. 1)

We spent last (extended) weekend in and around Vicenza in Northern Italy. Although I don’t live far away from that particular provincial town, it’s one I’ve never visited or had the opportunity to explore. It lies just west Venice and many will travel through or past it when travelling from the Lagoon City to visit the more famous ‘sister’ town Verona. But like many small Italian towns it’s well worth the visit, not just because it lies off the beaten tourist track but because it’s full of hidden treasures which otherwise you may not get to see and savour. Vicenza is the city of Andrea Palladio, the Renaissance architect who basically brought classical architecture into the present, re.inventing its symmetrical lines, sense of perspective and harmony for what we now know as the Renaissance. he Quattro Libri dell’architettura are the fundamental writings for all of modern architecture.

Just outside the town is one of his most famous buildings, the Villa La Rotonda, built on a hilltop overlooking the town on one side and the rolling hills on the other.

DSC_0847

Nearby is the Villa Valmarana ai Nani, another fine country ‘palace’ with a nice tidy garden and foresteria or ‘guest house’ to one side.

DSC_0778

Back in town there’s plenty to see of course (you may need two or even three days if you like your sightseeing to be leisurely), first and formost the Teatro Olimpico, again a Palladio design, although like most of his more magnificent work it was never completed in his own lifetime and it was up to others to work out what he had intented. The theatre itself is relatively small but inside it contains a real stone facade as a “backdrop” which must be the most incredible thing that’s ever been built inside any theatre in the world.

DSC_0882

Breathtaking hardly describes it well enough.

DSC_0913DSC_0893DSC_0911

 

Advertisements

The cruellest month?

Chaucer and his Tales (photos.com/ThinkStock)

Thus T. S. Eliot in the opening to his seminal poem The Waste Land. I’ve just realised that sadly I didn’t manage to get an entry to this blog in during April, the object of T. S. Eliot’s totally modernist foray into Chaucerian tradition, possibly because I’ve been so busy with other things, not least in gaining my laurea magistrale from university in Rome, which I am very pleased about and for which I shall proceed to blow my own trumpet!

It’s been the result of over two years of study in various subjects pertaining to English and German language (translation and literature), linguistics and language theory as well as the workings and history of international organisations such as the UN, the EU and so on. It hasn’t been easy ride, given my no longer tender age and other life commitments such as work, family and even moving house! To be honest the studying has been on the whole enjoyable, although I have found the exam situation to be rather stressful and extremely taxing on the nerves. Education is wasted on the young, they say and to some extent that may be true, but while memory cells are still very much alive in the young, in older folk (read over-40s) they are not. But no matter, I got through it all with generally satisfactory results, and my final dissertation in contemporary utopian/dystopian literature gave me a good sprint finish and I came out with a more than pleasing result.

At least for this year, after my own personal pilgrimage in education, appropriately ending up in Rome, I prefer Chaucer’s view of the month of April, and its lusty, fertile rebirth. In 2015 the month also appropriately began with Easter, or rather the pagan festival of fertility and abundancy, and of all things which will eventually bear fruit! Here’s hoping…

What that April with his showres soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed ever viene in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendered is the flowr;
What Zephyrus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
the tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath the Ram his halve cour yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye
That sleepen al the night with open ye-
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgramages…

Geoffrey Chaucer, General prologue to The Canterbury Tales