Category Archives: travel

Pic of the Day: Villa Badoer at Fratta Polesine

A view from above

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And what is this about?  Italy mag has a few words on it

Just outside Rovigo is one of Palladio’s sublime villas, the Villa Badoer at Fratta Polesine, built 1557-62. In fact, the landscape in this area is dotted with Palladian villas: he lived and worked in nearby Vicenza

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Check out the link for more about Rovigo!


The heart stirs on the western bank of Lake Como

Of course, the weather is perfect. And the story? Here is a nice beginning

Long before George Clooney wooed Amal here, Lake Como’s bona fides as a romantic destination, immortalized both in literature and in the chronicles of great love affairs, went unquestioned. The lover-protagonists, Lucia and  Renzo, of the most widely read work in Italian literatureI Promessi Sposi, were from a fictional town near Lecco on the lake. The area’s extraordinary scenery caused many hearts to swoon, including those of such literary lights as poets Shelley and Wordsworth, who helped bring fame to the area in the early 19th century. (Wordsworth wrote of the region: “a treasure which the earth keeps to itself.”) In real life the famed composer, Franz Liszt, who had mega-celebrity status in his day, retreated with his mistress to Como, and Elizabeth Taylor went undercover here when she began her affair with the great love of her life, Richard Burton.

It is time to settle in. To get used to the place

… a good way to introduce yourself to the area (or savor it for the umpteenth time) is to take a walk along the Lungolago/Passegiata Villa Olmo, one of the lake’s most romantic pathways, and one dotted with neoclassical villas (for which the area is famous), built in the late 18th century by a who’s who of notable Italian families. The walk, affording some legendary views, runs about 1.5 kilometers from the Piazza Cavour to the Villa Olmo. (You can add another kilometer by strolling the “Chilometro della Conoscenza”—the “Kilometer of Knowledge”—which begins at the Villa Olmo.)

Here is where you can learn more and enjoy some fantastic views of the villas on the pathway.


Reinventing the Hotel – Public in the Lower East Side

It may be time for the hotel industry to wake up and smell the coffee. Travelers these days do not necessarily want the same things that travelers did 100 years ago. AirBnB has provided that the market is shifting. Ian Schrager wants to one up AirBnB with his new “Public” hotel in NYC:

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And yes, it has a rooftop bar

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BI has the story.

Most interesting – Schrager wants to provide the kinds of things that Airbnb can provide (easy communication and lower prices) and things that Airbnb cannot provide (access to the best the city has to offer) .

Let the games begin!


Inspiration from the Artisans of Lombardy

Artisans are folks who are skilled in making high value products by hand. In the last century, this was decidedly a niche idea. Hand made products are more expensive than machine made. And machine made things can achieve high quality standards with precision tools.

But that was the last century when the west, especially the US, went mad for efficiency and gave us McDonald’s, etc. Times are changing. McDonald’s will not disappear. But we will also begin to see more stories about artisanship.

We already do. Artisans in the kitchen have become celebrity chefs. And many people aspire to be artisan chefs at home and for their friends. Bartenders? Now they are mixologists.

This is just the beginning. As we go forward, the word luxury will become — once again — more closely attached to the word artisan. And this leads me to a thought. Can one become friends with great artisans? If I have a passion for a given draft or artistic item, can I join in their circle of afficionados?

Hemingway obsessed about that in “The Sun Also Rises”. Artisanship (in bull fighting and more) was Jake Barnes tonic to soothe the ache of his horrendous war wound.  He loved people who did things well – with grace. Sadly, most of his friends were not up to that standard, and the incredible scenes that played out when they mix offers the guts of this wild tale.

Perhaps we will see many more stories about the intersection of the artisan world (a world of grace) and the world where most of us live. Not just that, but tours based on the concept that meeting artisans and learning from them and buying from them is worth the price of travel.

So what about traveling to Lombardy to meet violin makers of Cremona, silk purveyors of Como and more?

Go for it!

Catullus Loved Sirmione

Catullus was an important literary figure form the late  Roman republic period.

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Why?  It is mainly because of his influence in matters of style

(His) poems describe the lifestyle of Catullus and his friends, who, despite Catullus’s temporary political post in Bithynia, appear to have lived withdrawn from politics. They were interested mainly in poetry and love. Above all other qualities, Catullus seems to have sought venustas (attractiveness, beauty) and lepidus (charm). The ancient Roman concept of virtus (i.e. of virtue that had to be proved by a political or military career), which Cicero suggested as the solution to the societal problems of the late Republic, are interrogated in Catullus.

In other words, he attempted to revive a sense of delight in being, and even Julius Caesar valued his wit, despite the fact  that Catullus mocked him.

… Catullus (does not reject traditional notions), merely their monopolized application to the active life of politics and war. Indeed, he tries to reinvent these notions from a personal point of view and to introduce them into human relationships. For example, he applies the word fides, which traditionally meant faithfulness towards one’s political allies, to his relationship with Lesbia and reinterprets it as unconditional faithfulness in love. So, despite the seeming frivolity of his lifestyle, Catullus measured himself and his friends by quite ambitious standards.

But Catullus is mainly focused on himself as meriting love. – physical love.

He loved his home town of Sirmione, on Lake Garda.

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And one can find near there ruins of a most impressive Roman villa called the Grottoes of Catullus. Catullus did have a house there. But  the villa was built long after Catullus had died.

The villa, which covers an area of ​​about two hectares on a rocky spur, featured long porticoes and terraces overlooking the lake. The central part was occupied by an extensive garden, and today houses the Grande Oliveto (Great Olive Grove); throughout the archaeological area, there are currently around 1500 olive groves, some centuries-old, belonging to three different varieties of olives from the Lake Garda area. In recent years, the harvest of olives to produce the historic Grotte di Catullo extra virgin olive oil has been revived.

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Strolling there, you might feel once again the inner delight that Catullus expressed at the privileges of love.