Happy Summer to Everyone
Happy Summer to Everyone
Venice is to be considered one of the most famous and sought-after touristic destinations. Everyone wants to visit it, breath it, live it at last once in a lifetime. Although its most popular features remain the highlights that still attracts and arouse the curiosity of the visitors through time, I’ve learned to appreciate it also for the less famous things. Sometimes I find myself preferring to take a free walk in the city and see where it takes me, let it surprising me with new spots, corners and calli.
We have to admit that the great and constant attention upon the city also brings its downside. Venice and tourism overcrowding is a long time issue, an increasing phenomenon that touches the very heart of this fragile city. During the last decades, the evolving of mass tourism and most of all of the cruise industry have brought controversial ecological, cultural and urbanistic impact. Problems of such relevance and importance to draw the attention of one of the biggest stylists and icons of our century: Vivienne Westwood. In January 2016 she used her show in Milan for Man Autumn/Winter 2016-17 collection to convey a bigger message, a campaign called Be Specific. The movement tries to raise the collective consciousness to act in defence of the greatest goods we have: “Save our Ocean – Save Venice – Save our Forest” is its motto. Venice is here considered as “a magnificent mirror on the world”, a treasure to be looked after and preserve. In her vision, outlined by the slogan “Venice for the Venetians. Venice for the world“, Vivienne embraces the cry for help of Venetian citizens about topic issues such as the giant cruise boats that are destroying the entire ecological balance of the lagoon, reaching the very heart of the city, and the lack of appropriate infrastructures to manage something like 30 million visitors per year that are literally sinking it. By joining the call of the Association We are here Venice, Vivienne wants to stress the importance of a sustainable tourism, willing to respect the host city and its frail equilibrium.
The problems emerging in the specific case of Venice are, of course, not isolated: many other cities in the world suffer from the same complications. This is why is so important to ask and act for a change in order to give a strong signal to all the other similar realities in the world. Venice is a heritage to the entire world and it’s up to everyone who visits it to guard and preserve its beauty. We all can make a difference in this, through our choices and behaviour. We can decide not to participate in intrusive cruises, to collaborate in keeping the city clean or to indulge ourselves in a less “touristic” itinerary, for example. Another smart thing to do is going to visit famous and usually overcrowded areas or specific places in strange hours. I find very effective the early morning (from 8 am to about 9.30 am) and noon; you will lose one hour of sleep or you’ll have to change your lunch time but you’ll surely find fewer people around and you’ll have the chance to enjoy much better what you are about to see.
Another astute thing to do is going to visit famous and usually overcrowded areas or specific places in strange hours. I find very effective the early morning (from 8 AM to about 9.30 AM) and Noon; you will lose one hour of sleep or you’ll have to change your lunch time but you’ll surely find fewer people around and you’ll enjoy much better what you are about to see.
Today I would like to show you a little itinerary that, yet touching some crucial points of Venice, will show you some other places that, I bet, most of you don’t know.
❃ Pics by Antonio and me ❃
Everybody has a favorite place for spring, somewhere special to relish the season and its scented, vivid, soft air. Not too noisy but yet nor desolated; simply a quiet corner. To me, the place that entirely expresses these feeling is Asolo. And I can’t wait, when spring comes, to go back to visit it, spending entire afternoons walking in its streets, inebriated by its beauty. Asolo stands on a landscape shaped by gentle hills, most of them still wooded and some cultivated in vineyards and olive trees.
I’ve often talked about “I borghi più belli d’Italia“. To me, Asolo is the most beautiful amongst them all; a real gem which, not surprisingly, has been the favorite place for artists, men of letters and writers since the Renaissance period, reaching the peak of fame especially in the 19th century.
Its reputation of being a “locus amoenus“ was certainly encouraged by the arriving of Caterina Cornaro, queen of Cyprus. The Venetian noblewoman had been given in marriage to the king of Cyprus where reigned until 1489, when the island was claimed by the Serenissima. In exchange, the Republic gave her Asolo and its domain, unconsciously giving a start to a court that soon became the epicenter of a prominent cultural circle which marked the 16th century culture. The famous Pietro Bembo – Venetian humanist and scholar of Petrarch and Boccaccio – composed, inspired by his visit at Caterina’s court in 1498, one of his most important work, “Gli Asolani“, the three books dialogue about love and beauty. The medieval castle was the queen’s royal palace but also the place where a rich group of artists and literati used to gather in homage to her, protector of the Arts. Suffice to say the famous painters Giorgione and Lorenzo Lotto were court attendants.
The victorian poet and writer Robert Browning came several times to visit Asolo and literally fell in love with the town. Trying to portray the place in a letter he failed, calling it “indescribable”. “Asolando” is the name of his very last collection of poems, published in 1889.
But Asolo was also the place to live chosen by one of the most famous Italian theatrical actresses between 19th and 20th century: Eleonora Duse. Her 16th-century house is today remembered with an inscription that can be seen at Santa Caterina gate and a specific section of the Civic Museo is dedicated to her. Eleonora was an example of a talented and independent woman of her Age. She had a brilliant theatrical career, spacing from Shakespeare to Emile Zola and Dumas, that was strictly intertwined with her personal life. After obtaining the divorce she had important love affairs with the poets Arrigo Boito and Gabriele D’Annunzio, giving the second one the inspiration to start his theatrical production, influencing the birth of a chapter of the Italian Literature.
Asolo is also the place where the famous explorer, cartographer and writer Freya Stark spent most of her childhood. After an entire life of touring and after her very last travel, at the age of 88, in Nepal, she retired in Asolo where she died 100 years old. Villa Stark and its archaeological park are still open for visit.
Last but not least Asolo was the place chosen by the musician Gianfrancesco Malipiero to live from circa 1920 to his death, in 1973, when he was buried in the garden of his house in via Foresto Vecchio. Asolo inspired one of his piano works, “Poemi asolani“, composed in 1916.
As you can see, many are the figures connected to this ravishing little town. Its natural beauty and the sweetness of the environment surrounding it make Asolo the proper place where retire and linger in search of the Roman otium, to achieve art, music and poetry. All these characteristics also explain its natural vocation to slow tourism and cycle tourism. Personally, Asolo is my favorite destination when I go for a ride with my bike during the summertime.
The best way to visit Asolo is a walking tour. The historic centre is small and only this way you’ll be able to wholly appreciate the richness of the landscape and the romantic atmosphere of the place. The Italian poet Carducci once called Asolo “the city with one hundred horizons”, because of the variety of views that can be experienced from each and every spot of the town.
So, let’s take a walk together.
● Vintage sixties pink dress from Officine Li Volsi ● vintage sixties bag from flea market ● Calzedonia lace ivory collant ● ivory ballerinas from H&M ● vintage sixties glass earrings from C’era una volta vintage shop ● vintage glass necklace from a charity market in Venice ● bee ring from Accessorize ● NAU! pink sunglasses ● Neve Makeup and fruit sushi lipstick ●
Last but not least here you can find a map of Asolo and all its main features 😉
❃ Pics by Antonio and me ❃
I do never insist enough about the fact that Italy is full of every kind of treasures. And that is not just referred to the major cities that regularly attract tourists from all around the world, but also to the smaller ones and the little villages, sometimes less famous but that do not lack in beauty. Everyone who lives here in Veneto goes to visit, sometimes even more than one time in a year, Cison di Valmarino. The little village is part of the club called “I borghi più belli d’Italia“, an association which gathers together all the small historical centers considered to be the most beautiful in Italy. Cison is placed very near to Follina (about whom we spoke in this previous post of mine) and has just been admitted to this very club last December.
Cison di Valmarino is a very small village that lies in the pre-alpine area between Vittorio Veneto and the famous wine country of Valdobbiade. As it happens with most of these charming places, it is an example of exquisite rural architecture in a place where agriculture and viticulture are still vital after centuries. Not by chance, the settlement is crossed by the bed of the Rujo torrent, unfortunately dry at this time of the year, that begins in the northern side of the village where a complex system of mills was active. This area can be visited and has been included in a path called “Via dei Mulini” (The path of the mills), that from the village leads North to the woods. Furthermore, in this northern area, away from the settlement, there is the Forest of Penne Mozze, a large portion of the woods dedicated to the memory of the war dead.
Unluckily no comprehensive archaeological and historical study about the settlement has been done yet. Scholars believe that the area has been inhabited since Prehistoric times and surely it benefited from the proximity to the Claudia Augusta Altinate during Roman times, when the first castrum was built. The appearance of a stable settlement is generally connected to the so called “barbarian invasions”, when the whole area was under the influence of the Lombard Ducato of Ceneda. In the VIth Century Teodolinda, queen of the Lombards, conceded these lands to the bishops of Ceneda and they remained under their control through the centuries, during both Frankish kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire. In the XIth Century, the area passed to some nobles families, specifically to the Da Camino family, that took posses of the castle. As we have seen elsewhere, during the XVth Century also Cison came under Venice’s influence to be assigned, in 1439, to the Brandolino family that served in battle the Republic of Venice. Their architectural mark and identity still are palpable and give the castle that unmistakable appearance that still fascinates the visitors. I am planning to do a specific post about Castel Brando in the future, as it deserves attentions on its own.
So the combination of this double personality, rural and noble, characterizing this little town, has always fascinated me. It also makes me think a lot about the concepts of beauty and usefulness and how they could find, once, a synthesis; a physical conciliation in a tangible architecture. Places like this have very much to teach to the contemporary world, where what in useful and productive has to be hideous, sometimes monstrous; and what is beautiful and delightful cannot be connected to laboriousness. Architecture has a key role in this and I strongly believe ugly places generate ugliness while beautiful places do the opposite.
Walking along the beautiful streets of Cison, amongst the traditional pebble houses, stone bridges and delightful sights of the Alpine foothills, you can easily reach the main square, Piazza Roma, that gathers the most elegant buildings of the village. In fact it is characterized by some noble palaces dating back to XVIIth Century as well as the main church, dedicated to Saint Maria Assunta and Saint Giovanni Battista. A document dates the ancient parish back to 1170, while the church, in its present form, was built in the XVIIth Century and completed in 1740. Behind the church, on the horizon, the view goes up, towards the castle nestled on the top of the hill, overlooking the village just like it was guarding over it.
Such a place – rich in history and beauty, quiet and relaxing – you won’t believe, turns into one of the most visited places in Veneto during summertime. A quite famous event, called “Artigianato Vivo” that takes place every year in august, attracts here an incredible amount of people since early 90s. The whole village opens its houses, courtyards and palaces to selected master artisans, and the entire town becomes, if possible, an even more magic place.
Benetton wool coat; black wool sweater from a flea market; 3 euro skirt from the market – no brand; silver necklace – gift from a friend; early 20th Century pendant earrings – gift from my mother; fav boots; old bag; NAU red sunglasses – last winter collection
*Pics by Antonio and me *