Back at it again: Italy p.1

I’m back in the Northern Hemisphere for now, most recently in Italy. Speaking of Italy, let me lay some newly learned facts on you:

1. Italians actually do say ‘Ciao bella!’ and ‘Mamma mia!’
2. Homemade pasta and fresh ingredients will change your life

I landed in Venice, which is both the best and worst place to start a trip to Italy. Venice, to me, is as exactly as it seems in pictures and movies; there are brilliant white palaces right on the ocean, and the main roads and back alleys really are canals, in which men (and one woman!) sit in their gondolas awaiting passengers.

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The locals are pure elegance – everyone looks like they came into this world swaddled in designer clothes, and the sunkissed taxi drivers (captains?) cruise around in speed boats, steering with one hand, and holding their cell phone with the other, looking like they leapt out of an Armani ad.

It’s a dream, and because it’s a dream, approximately 6 zillion tourists are there, clogging the streets and slurping gelatos (my fave flavor is chocolate). In summer the crowds are horrendous, the heat is oppressive, and it’s a small, tight city with little to no shade. Yes, Venice is the #1 stunna – but do yourself a favor and come in the fall.

The Venice Biennale is also there, and if you’re ever in the area, you should make it a point to visit. This famous contemporary art bonanza happens every two years, and during 2016 and every even year, the Venice Architecture Biennale is on.

My knowledge of contemporary architecture could fill a thimble, but I went anyway and guess what? It was dope. This year, architects from around the world shared projects in which sustainability and cultural heritage coexist. There were video presentations, dioramas, conceptual artworks, and photo series.

My favorites were the opening exhibit, which was thousands of steel beams dangling from the ceiling, repurposed from structures of the last Architecture Biennale, and the Turkish entry, which was a giant boat flipped inside out, made from items found in a shipyard (it represents the past and present of Istanbul and Venice’s once powerful ship arsenals).

After spending some time in Venice, I went to Florence – stay tuned for that post next week.

Reading list

My Brilliant FriendThe Story of a New NameThose Who Leave and Those Who StayThe Story of the Lost Child

all by Neapolitan author Elena Ferrante. Don’t let the 80s style dramatic covers fool you – these books are good.

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