Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Midnight Mass in Venice - Bring on the New Year!

Pala d'Oro - Basilica of San Marco, Venice
(Venice, Italy) The Basilica of San Marco is one of the most stunning places of worship in the world; to me, it is the most beautiful and awe-inspiring. The gold mosaics that enhance the enormous interior sparkle with celestial light. The image of Jesus Christ in the center is one of kindness, compassion and wisdom. Many stories are emblazoned across the walls and ceilings of the Basilica; you can tumble into another world just gazing at the images. Angels in the alcoves seem almost real; the air is wispy with the scent and smoke of incense.


On the high holy days, the majestic golden panel, the Pala d'Oro, is turned toward the congregation. I have had the great honor and privilege to kneel directly in front of the Pala d'Oro, and I can tell you what it feels like... it feels as if I am in front of one of the monoliths in 2001: A Space Odyssey, only more divine because it is gold and studded with precious gems... As if it was created with high intelligence and omniscience... I come away pulsing with star dust.


The Pala d'Oro feels as if it was designed according to a sacred plan. As I wrote for Gems of Venice, "According to Mons. Antonio Niero, author of La Pala d'Oro e il Tesoro di San Marco, 'the use and arrangement of the gems and precious stones suggest that the 13th century restorers followed the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelations, which speaks of 12 precious stones when describing the new Jerusalem; some of the stones used in the pala are identical to those described in that chapter.'"

Last year I wrote about the magical feeling of Christmas in Venice, which you can read here:

Christmas Magic in Venice 2013


For two thousand years Christians have been celebrating the birth of a Jew from Galilee whose profound, simple message rocked humanity, which comes down to us in the words of Mark, who wrote the first Gospel, and is the patron saint of Venice: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Best wishes to all for the New Year.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

DOUBLE ENTRY - How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance


(Venice, Italy) It was only a matter of time before someone like Jane Gleeson-White wrote a book subtitled "How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance." If you live in Venice long enough, you start to feel the echoes of ancient Venice reverberating throughout history straight up to the present day in nearly every aspect of life. Once the financial center of Europe, the center of international trade, and the capital of the publishing industry, Venice was the New York City of its day.

Double Entry is an engaging book about a seemingly boring topic: Accounting, and how the double-entry bookkeeping system rocked the world. The year was 1494, right around the time Christopher Columbus set his sights on America -- inspired, by the way, by the Venetian explorer, Marco Polo; a copy of The Travels of Marco Polo with handwritten annotations was found in Columbus' possessions.

In Venice in 1494, a man named Luca Pacioli published a mathematical encyclopedia called Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportione et proportionalità, introducing Hindu-Arabic numbers to a wide audience in Italy for the first time thanks to new technology called the printing press. In Pacioli's encyclopedia was a treatise about the Venetian double entry system of accounting. Pacioli wrote in the vernacular, not Latin, and encouraged merchants to switch over from using Roman numerals and old arithmetic to the new system.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (1494-98)
Gleeson-White describes Luca Pacioli as a "Renaissance mathematician, monk, magician and constant companion of Leonardo da Vinci." After Pacioli's Summa was published, it became a bestseller and he became famous. Leonardo da Vinci read it in Milan and asked Ludovico Sforza, the ruler of the realm, to summon Pacioli to his Court. So, off Pacioli went to Milan and met da Vinci, who was working on the Last Supper. The two men were obsessed with geometry and arithmetic. Pacioli's next book was called De divina proportione about the "divine proportion," or the golden ratio known as phi, with 60 drawings by his pal Leonardo.


In 1499, the army of Louis XII of France invaded Milan and destroyed Pacioli's mathematical models, believing they were the work of the devil. Pacioli and da Vinci escaped to Mantua where Isabella d'Este was taking refugees. Pacioli dedicated a book to Isabella called De viribus quantitatis ("On the Power of Numbers") which, to this day, has never been published and is in the Bologna University Library. Next, Luca and Leonardo went to Florence, where they shared a house.

Pacioli claimed to have written another book called De Ludo Scacchorum, the first book about chess. It was called "Mad Queen's Chess," because it made the queen the most powerful piece on the board. In 2006, after missing for five centuries, Pacioli's surviving manuscript was discovered in Gorizia in the 22,000-volume library of Count Guglielmo Coronini, who said he had bought it in 1963 from a "Venetian poet and bibliophile". It is believed that da Vinci could have done the drawings because Isabella d'Este was a known chess player, and, as we can see, the boys were quite an item at the time.


With these mystical, magical beginnings, how did we arrive to a place in the world where corporate greed and corruption has managed to warp a formula that began as a way to keep merchants honest? Jane Gleeson-White takes us on a fascinating journey through the centuries with a compelling style that entertains even the number-challenged among us. When we grasp the concept of the Gross National Product and how it can be manipulated, today's world of Enrons and Big Banks and Wall Street clicks into place.

What was new to me is the term "Natural Capital," something that is slowly being taking into account at meetings around the globe. It means that Nature is finally going to be worth something. Right now, Nature is not worth anything in terms of profit and loss. Look at it this way: a friend of mine owns some property in the country. On her property is a small forest full of trees. Those trees are not worth anything unless she chops them down and sells the wood, or uproots them. My friend wanted more trees closer to the house and bought three new trees, which cost her €1,000. With Natural Capital, those old, majestic trees growing in her small forest would add value to the property that is not being taken into account today.


Or what about the value of waters of the Venice lagoon versus the exploitation by the cruise ships? Has the "Natural Capital" of the Venetian lagoon and all the riches it provides been tallied into the equation? On her Bookishgirl blog, Jane Gleeson-White says, "The problem with our current accounting systems – both national and corporate – is that they don’t account for natural capital, they don’t value living nature, and so it is invisible."

Gleeson-White starts her book with a speech that Bobby Kennedy made on March 18, 1964 at Kansas State University, three months before he was assassinated:

"Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion a year, but that Gross National Product... does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile."

Happy Holidays from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Monday, December 8, 2014

The United States Dazzles Venice with the POETRY OF LIGHT

The Palace; white and pink (1879/80) by James McNeil Whistler
(Venice, Italy) Andrew Robison, the effervescent curator of The Poetry of Light from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has finally achieved his dream of the past two decades: to present a great exhibition of Venetian drawings in Venice. The finest Venetian drawings that the National Gallery possesses are now on show at the Museo Correr until the Ides of March, 2015. More than 130 works are hung in elaborate frames chosen especially for each drawing in La Poesia della Luce: Disegni veneziani dalla National Gallery of Art di Washington.

Punchinello released from prison (1798-1802) by Giandomenico Tiepolo
Robison said most exhibitions about Venetian art stop around the year 1800 with Giandomenico Tiepolo, the last great artist from Venice before the collapse of the Republic after the Napoleonic invasion. However, Venice still continues today; the culture continues, and artists continue to be inspired by Venice. When Venice transformed from a state to a myth, it drew artists from all over the world who added another element to her image.

Venice has always been an international city, so included in the exhibition are not only Venetian artists, but artists from abroad who traveled to Venice and were touched by the light -- which means artists such as the German Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) and Americans James Whistler (1834-1903) and John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) are represented. In addition, the Gallery considers all unprinted works of art on paper to be drawings, including watercolors and pastels, and considers not only the city of Venice in the term "Venetian," but all drawings made in the Veneto, not only by Venetians, but also by artists born and trained elsewhere. (I agree with that broad definition. It feels right.)

An Oriental Ruler Seated on His Throne (1495) by Albrecht Dürer
In 1937, Andrew Mellon donated his private art collection plus $10 million for construction to create the National Gallery of Art, which is free of charge, for the people of the United States. He believed that the United States should have a national art gallery equal to those of other great nations. Mellon insisted that the museum not bear his name to encourage other collectors to donate their treasures. His foresight worked. Before the Gallery opened, other major donors were already giving their collections. To read more about the National Gallery of Art, click HERE

If I tallied correctly, there are works by 74 artists on show: Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio are there. Lorenzo Lotto and Titian. Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese and Palma il Giovane. No less than twelve works by Giambattista Tiepolo. The number and quality of artists inspired by Venice is astonishing. The National Gallery has been building its collection of Venetian drawings since before it opened its doors to the public on March 17, 1941, starting with the "ravishing" Rosalba Carriera pastel given by Samuel H. Kress in 1939.

Giovedi Grasso Festival Before the Ducal Palace (1765/77) by Canaletto
"…the striking effects of light in Venice, the absence of any total darkness, soft light diffused by humidity in the atmosphere, brilliant light from penetrating sunshine, dancing light and shadow reflected from constantly moving waterways, and scintillating light shimmering off the water make the varieties and movement of light a special feature of the city, which deeply affected her artists and let to their feeling for the poetry of light."
---Andrew Robison
Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings,
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Portrait of a boy in profile, 1440s by Giovanni Badile
The Poetry of Light is in chronological order beginning with Giovanni Badile's Portrait of a boy in profile, 1440s, one of the earliest examples of an actual portrait of a specific individual -- not a ruler -- and ending with three of John Singer Sargent's brilliant watercolors from the early 1900s. Perhaps the most fascinating room is dedicated to the wild imagination of Giambattista Piranesi, who is represented by ten pieces of work. Piranesi said, "I need great ideas and I think that if someone were to commission me with the project for a new universe, I'd be mad enough to accept."

A Magnificent Palatial Interior (1748/52) by Giambattista Piranesi
Robison praised Gabriella Belli, the Director of Venice's Civic Museums for a "magnificent collaboration," and said that her energy and enthusiasm allowed the exhibition to become reality. During the viewing, I had the opportunity to speak with Gabriella Belli, and told her what a great difference there was in the Musei Civici under her leadership. Venice is collaborating with some of the most prestigious museums in the world. Nations that are at odds politically are still able to communicate through culture. Belli said that she "believes in culture, and the effect it has on humanity," and that she wanted to do something "for the people."

I also spoke with Andrew Robison, whose passion for culture is contagious. I told him how thrilled I was that the United States had brought such an exhibition to Venice, and what a pleasure it was to meet like-minded Americans. Robison said that it was important to show that the US does not only lead when it comes to the military, but that we can also be leaders in culture.

Gondola Moorings on the Grand Canal (1904s/1907s) by John Singer Sargent
To make the exhibition the finest it could possibly be, Robison said that the Gallery gave everything; they didn't hold back anything. "It's not everything we own, but it is the best. We have given the best, our all." He said that after the show was over in March, it wasn't going to Paris, Berlin or London, the works were going back to the States. "Not for Paris, Berlin or London would we do this, but for Venice, yes."

THE POETRY OF LIGHT
Venetian drawings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington
December 6, 2014 to March 15, 2015
Organized by The National Gallery of Art, Washington
In collaboration with Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
CLICK for more information

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Get Ready for VENICE CARNIVAL 2015! Masquerade Balls at Palazzo Pesaro Papafava


Intrigue. Romance. Splendor. Seduction. The Carnival of Venice tempts travelers from all over the globe to don a mask, slip into a costume, and step through the door to a different time. The mysterious grandeur of the Gothic Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava is the sumptuous setting for some of the most charming galas of the season.


The Grand Balls take place in the piano nobile of Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava, a genuine 14th Century palace with an exclusive water entrance and Gothic windows overlooking the magical Misericordia canal. Gondoliers serenade guests upon arrival, along with a welcome cocktail. During the gala dinners, flickering candlelight and classical music illuminate the ancient rooms, whisking guests back to a time of enchantment. Traditional Venetian food is served, and wine is included. For dessert, a chocolate fountain oozes decadent delights, accompanied by traditional Carnival sweets. Live entertainment starts at 11:00PM, featuring something for every taste: arias from operas, burlesque and cabaret, minuets and gavottes -- and, of course, love songs on St. Valentine's Day. At midnight, it's time to hit the dance floor and rock the night away.


For those colorful couples who prefer to arrive after dinner, Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava also offers entrance to the live entertainment at 11:00PM, together with a bottle of Prosecco, the sparkling wine of the Veneto, and a bottle of Bellini, the Venetian cocktail made with Prosecco and peach nectar. Indulge at the dessert buffet, and dance to live music after the show.

Have a look below to find the ball that tempts you…

THE SERENISSIMA GRAND BALL


Saturday, February 7, 2015
THE SERENISSIMA GRAND BALL
"The Barber of Seville" and Homage to Gioachino Rossini
Gala dinner & live entertainment

Figaro! Arias from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," one of the most beloved operas of all time, is the entertainment for the first Saturday night of Carnival. A captive maiden, a salacious guardian, a handsome noble suitor, and Figaro, the barber, are the feisty ingredients for comic chaos.  

21:15: Welcome cocktail with gondoliers and traditional Venetian music
21:45: Seated candlelight gala dinner with Venetian cuisine, wine included
Chocolate fountain and traditional Carnival sweets
23:00: Arias from Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville"
Midnight: Live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening gown with mask
Cost: €365 per person

After Dinner Arrivals
Bottles of Prosecco & Bellini, "Barber of Seville," dessert bar, live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €125 per person 

THE THREE TENORS GRAND BALL


Sunday, February 8, 2015
THE THREE TENORS GRAND BALL
An homage to Placid Domingo, José Carreras & Luciano Pavarotti
Gala dinner & live entertainment

Years ago, The Three Tenors, Plàcido Domingo, José Carreras & Luciano Pavarotti, created a world-wide phenomenon as they toured the globe. As an homage, the Three Tenors at Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava perform favorite arias, Broadway hits and traditional Neapolitan songs.

21:15: Welcome cocktail with gondoliers and traditional Venetian music
21:45: Seated candlelight gala dinner with Venetian cuisine, wine included
Chocolate fountain and traditional Carnival sweets
23:00: Arias, Broadway hits and Neapolitan songs with the Three Tenors 
Midnight: Live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €320 per person

After Dinner Arrivals
Bottles of Prosecco & Bellini, the Three Tenors, dessert bar, live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €125 per person

LA DOLCE VITA GRAND BALL



Thursday, February 12, 2015
LA DOLCE VITA GRAND BALL
Burlesque & Caffè-Concerto
Gala dinner and live entertainment

For the fourth year, La Dolce Vita Grand Ball dazzles with a naughty new burlesque extravaganza. Frolic at the caffé-concerto and enjoy the gaiety of the Belle Époque! 

21:15: Welcome cocktail with gondoliers and traditional Venetian music
21:45: Seated candlelight gala dinner with Venetian cuisine, wine included
Chocolate fountain and traditional Carnival sweets
23:00: Burlesque show and caffé-concerto 
Midnight: Live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €325 per person

After Dinner Arrivals
Bottles of Prosecco & Bellini, burlesque show, dessert bar, live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €125 per person

THE DOGARESSA VALENTINE'S DAY GRAND BALL



Saturday, February 14, 2015
THE DOGARESSA GRAND BALL
Arias of love on St. Valentine's Day
Gala dinner and live entertainment

On Saint Valentine's Day, The Dogaressa Grand Ball features arias of love from the Bel Canto repertoire sung by the Three Sopranos, promising an evening full of romance, elegance and passion. There's poetry in the air!

21:15: Welcome cocktail with gondoliers and traditional Venetian music
21:45: Seated candlelight gala dinner with Venetian cuisine, wine included
Chocolate fountain and traditional Carnival sweets
23:00: Arias of love sung by the Three Sopranos 
Midnight: Live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €365 per person

After Dinner Arrivals
Bottles of Prosecco & Bellini, arias of love, dessert bar, live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €125 per person

SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY CONTINUES WITH AFTERNOON CHOCOLATE


Sunday, February 15, 2015
AFTERNOON CHOCOLATE
St. Valentine's Day Continues
Chocolate fountain and live entertainment

Saint Valentine's Day continues with the Pomeriggio Cioccolata or Afternoon Chocolate, in the Sansovino salon of Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava. The Pomeriggio Cioccolata is an ancient custom of the Venetian nobility, dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A chocolate fountain surrounded by a buffet of deliciously decadent Carnival sweets is the centerpiece, accompanied by hot chocolate and the Venetian bubbly Prosecco while a soprano sings arias of love. Dance masters and ballerinas introduce guests to dances of the Baroque period, offering instructions on how to dance the Minuet, Gavotte and Jigs in the ballroom of the ancient palace.

16:00: Elegant cocktail with traditional hot chocolate and typical Venetian buffet of pastries
Arias of love performed by the Soprano
Masters of dance offer Baroque period dance instructions
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Gown with Mask 
Cost: €95 per person

GRAND BALL IN HOMAGE TO GIOVAN BATTISTA PERGOLESI


Sunday, February 15, 2015
GRAND BALL IN HOMAGE TO GIOVAN BATTISTA PERGOLESI
"La Serva Padrona"
Gala dinner & live entertainment

The homage to Pergolesi highlights his comic operetta "La Serva Padrona," or "The Servant Turned Mistress" featuring the wily maid Serpina who plots to marry her aging master.

21:15: Welcome cocktail with gondoliers and traditional Venetian music
21:45: Seated candlelight gala dinner with Venetian cuisine, wine included
Chocolate fountain and traditional Carnival sweets
23:00: Arias from "La Serva Padrona" by Giovan Battista Pergolesi
Midnight: Live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €320 per person

After Dinner Arrivals
Bottles of Prosecco & Bellini, "La Serva Padrona," dessert bar, live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €125 per person

THE MINUET GRAND BALL


Tuesday, February 17, 2015
THE MINUET GRAND BALL
Martedi Grasso or Fat Tuesday - The Last Dance
Gala dinner & live entertainment

The Minuet Grand Ball on Mardi Gras, the last night of Carnival, takes place in the piano nobile of Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava. The elegant Minuet was the favorite dance of European aristocrats. The masters of dance introduce guests to the Minuet, Gavotte and Jigs, and offer instruction in the ballrooms of the ancient palace. Join hands and dance the open-chain farandole throughout the palazzo -- a perfect way to end Carnival.

21:15: Welcome cocktail with gondoliers and traditional Venetian music
21:45: Seated candlelight gala dinner with Venetian cuisine, wine included
Chocolate fountain and traditional Carnival sweets
23:00: Minuet, Gavotte and Jig lessons by dance masters
Midnight: Live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €295 per person

After Dinner Arrivals
Bottles of Prosecco & Bellini, dance masters, dessert bar, live music and dancing; cash bar
Dress code: Costume and Mask, or Tuxedo and Evening Gown with Mask
Cost: €125 per person


Palazzo Ca' Pesaro Papafava
Calle Racchetta 3764
Cannaregio, Venice

The Palace is a 5-minute walk from the Ca D'Oro vaporetto stop, or can be reached by its water door entrance which faces the Church of the Misericordia, allowing guests to arrive by gondola or taxi boat.

For further information and to buy your tickets, please visit Venezia Segreta:
www.veneziasegreta.com
Tel. +39 041.520.18.55
Tel. +39 348.359.18.18
Fax +39 17.82.26.38.42
Email: ecgroup@tin.it
Venice Carnival 2015 at Palazzo Pesaro Papafava is from the event planners at Incentive Harmony

*This is a sponsored post.
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