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Teatro La Fenice in Venezia (Venice)

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Teatro La Fenice

The Phoenix

For a place that’s been called “a city of stone built on the water,” Venice has had a lot of fires.

In fact, Venice’s premiere opera house only came into being because of its predecessor’s destruction by fire. Symbolically, the new theater would rise from the ashes of the old one. They named it “La Fenice,” The Phoenix.

Teatro La Fenice - exterior

First opening in 1792, Teatro La Fenice is now one of the top opera houses in Italy and one of the best-known in Europe.

While the name was chosen to commemorate the theater’s origin, it turned out to also be an ominous foreshadowing. Teatro La Fenice has been resurrected twice, after catastrophic fires in 1836 and 1996.

The one in 1836 started because of some kind of malfunction with a new stove from Austria. The 1996 inferno, however, was intentional.

Teatro La Fenice boxes

Two electricians doing renovation work on the theater were facing fines for being behind schedule. So they set the place on fire.

This (a) did not help get the project done on time, and (b) lead to each of them serving several years in jail. Not actually a helpful strategy for anyone.

I’m not sure if the electricians intended to burn it to the ground or just to singe it a bit to make their point. However, access to the theater was restricted due to the renovation project, and firefighters were not able to quell the flames before the building was destroyed. It would remain closed for the next 7 years.

 

Teatro La Fenice

House

La Fenice re-opened in 2003 with upgraded accoustics and an increased seating capacity of 1000, while its appearance matched the elegance of its previous incarnation.

Teatro La Fenice

There are five tiers of boxes, which had been “deliberately egalitarian in design” – until Napoleon came to power. To prepare for his visits to the theater, six individual boxes were combined into one royal box. This imperial loggia remains part of the current design of the theater, just above the auditorium entrance.
Teatro La Fenice

Opera

Despite a real history rife with operatic-level turmoil, the theater remains open today with a busy schedule that includes symphonies, ballets, and over 100 opera performances a year.

L'occasione fa il ladro - opera

This September, we are looking forward to seeing  “L’Occasione fa il ladro: ossia Il cambio della valigia” (The Opportunity Makes the Thief: The Case of the Exchanged Luggage), a single-act farce with music by Gioachino Rossini and libretto by Luigi Prividal.

The opera is a romantic comedy of errors that debuted in Venice in 1812.

It’s good to know that, after all that drama, La Fenice still has a sense of humor.

 

Teatro La Fenice behind the curtain

– More Info –

Teatro La Fenice:

You can see a complete performance of “L’occasione fa il ladro” by another opera company at Schwetzingen Festival, Germany on YouTube.




Photos by Michele Crosera, courtesy of Teatro La Fenice.

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Love Unlocked

Posted by on Jul 22, 2017 in Travel | 1 comment

Pont de l'Archevêché Love Locks by JD. CCL

Over the past several years, the phenomenon of love locks (or “love padlocks”) has spread to 5 continents.

To symbolize their love, couples place a lock – often with their names written or engraved on it – on a bridge or fence or sculpture and throw away the key.

Love Locks by Philip Robins. CCL

Locks Are Cheap

It’s an activity most popular with tourists, who often believe they’re participating in a harmless local custom. Perhaps they feel that snapping the lock shut binds them to the city, as well as their partner. Like carving initials into a tree, it’s a way people leave their mark on a place they love, unaware they’re damaging it in the process.

Part of the ritual’s appeal is its immediacy. It’s easy enough to get a lock and clasp it to a bridge, and then you have this very tangible expression of an intangible emotion, something solid and (seemingly) permanent. Something you can take a photo of before you have to catch your flight home.

There’s a communal aspect to both the act and the sharing of it, as if you’ve participated in some community art project that also happens to make a colorful photo backdrop. (See also: the gum wall at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.)

The fact that the practice spread so quickly just as social media was taking off is probably not a coincidence. Online networks have helped all kinds of ideas to spread, especially ones that come with a compelling visual.

Wedding locks

If You Like It, Then You Shouldn’t Put a Lock on It

Locals, on the other hand, tend to see the locks as vandalism, ruining the views of their city.

Whatever your opinion on the aesthetics of a padlock-covered bridge, the locks can damage structures. A single padlock would be no big deal, but some European bridges have been covered in hundreds of thousands of them, adding on several tons of weight.

Cities have reacted in a variety of ways – banning locks, removing them, creating alternate places for locks. In some cases, when the bridge is less historic and/or the locks less damaging, they decide to shrug it off.

While companies that sell love locks perpetuate the myth that the tradition is rooted in the distant past (perhaps ancient China or Serbia during World War I), the current craze began just over a decade ago.

In fact, it can be traced back to a single paragraph in an Italian novel.

Ponte Milvio

Ponte Milvio: An Origin Story

Putting the Rome back in Romance Novel

Author Federico Moccia’s 2006 best-seller (and later film), Ho Voglia Di Te (I Want You) includes a protagonist telling his love interest that locking a chain around a lamppost on the Ponte Milvio in Rome and throwing the key into the Tiber River below means you’ll always stay together.

Sometimes I feel...

According to an interview in the New York Times, the author “just dreamed up the ritual” and “was stunned” when locks actually began appearing on the ancient Roman bridge.

The new custom quickly spiraled out of control. Within a year, so many locks and chains had accumulated around one lamppost that it partially collapsed under the weight.

Ponte Milvio

Get Your Locks Off My Lawn

If Ponte Milvio could speak, it would probably say “I’m getting too old for this shit.” It’s been around since the days of the Roman Empire. Constantine became an emperor by defeating a rival on that bridge. Nero used to hang out there and get wasted. By the time the Colosseum was built, it had already been there for 200 years.

The Roman Empire fell, but Ponte Milvio has remained. People have been crossing it for over two millennia and still walk over it every day. It does not need the extra pressure of thousands of rusty locks chained to it.

City officials worried about more permanent damage and instituted a €50 fine for locks on the bridge or its lamps, encouraging couples to instead use the posts and chains installed as an alternative.

all those locks

A recent Spanish edition of Moccia’s novel features the bridge and love locks on its cover.

Although Rome was the setting of the novel, the love lock trend didn’t stay confined to the Eternal City for long.

Lovelocks on the Pont des Arts

 

Paris: Art from the Bridge

Perhaps the most well-known love lock locale is Pont des Artes, Paris – at least it was.

After more than one instance of locks causing part of the bridge’s railing to buckle, the city began removing all the locks in 2015, replacing chain link with plexiglass panels to prevent locks and preserve the view.

Instead of simply disposing of the locks, they turned them into art and auctioned them off to raise money for organizations helping refugees (Solipam, the Salvation Army and Emmaüs Solidarité). The lots included 150 pieces made from a few locks each on a base of wood, plexiglass, or recycled paving stones. They’re actually quite elegant.    
 
via Crédit Municipal de Paris
 
15 large lock-covered sections from the bridge’s fencing that ranged in size from 1.05 to 3.23 meters (3.4–10.5 feet) wide and weighed 240 to 660kg (529–1455 lbs) were also up for auction. They were mounted on casters, so they could be moved more easily.
 
In the end, a total of 10 tons of locks were sold, raising a total of €250,000 and far exceeding fundraising goals for the auction.
 
François Grunberg / Mairie de Paris via Paris.fr

Make Love, Not Locks

There were over 700,000 locks on the Pont des Artes before they were removed. That’s 700,000 people who thought it would be a good idea to get a lock and leave it on a Paris bridge. Assuming each lock represents a couple, it would actually be more like 1.4 million people.

Pont de l'Archevêché, Paris

Of course, there are many more people who cross the bridge without leaving a lock. And other bridges over the Seine, including Pont de l’Archevêché, have been covered with locks, as well. It is a staggering analogy to the tourist traffic of certain cities, and the impact that number of people can have on a place.                 
 

 
An organization called No Love Locks has started in Paris to educate the public, stop the practice, and look for alternatives.

Stop aux Cadenas ~ Love Without Locks

Paris also launched a campaign encouraging couples to post a selfie tagged #lovewithoutlocks instead of leaving a lock. Signs were posted on bridges that said “Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. No more love locks!” Photos were being posted on lovewithoutlocks.paris.fr, but the page hasn’t been updated recently.

The Paris Convention and Visitors’ Bureau lists romantic ways to enjoy the city – unsurprisingly, it doesn’t mention love locks.

Toronto Distillery love locks by Ken Lane

Toronto: There’s a Place for Locks

The removal of the locks at Pont des Artes in Paris inspired developer Mathew Rosenblatt to create a permanent place for couples to put love locks in Toronto’s Distillery District. The metal sculpture spells out “LOVE” and is made for attaching padlocks.

Love Locks in Toronto's Distillery District

Of course, a solution like this works well for a Toronto side street but wouldn’t have the capacity for a heavily-touristed Paris thoroughfare. On a much larger scale, though, maybe a structure like this could work in those high traffic areas too.

Love locks, Venice

Venice Makes the Cut

Love locks have also covered several historic bridges in Venice – 20,000 have been counted on the Ponte dell’Accademia alone.

As on many other bridges, they are periodically removed by the city, so you’re really not locking up your love forever.

Removed locks by @dawn_hawk

During a recent visit to Venice, community organizer Dawn Hawk took matters into her own hands, buying bolt cutters and clearing the locks from 30 bridges. A gondolier blew kisses in gratitude.

[UPDATE: Dawn wanted me to let you know it was actually her husband Mark that bought the bolt cutters and removed the locks – 400 of them! She interacted with onlookers, checked in with locals, and researched metal recycling options.]

Baci in Venice by @dawn_hawk

The site In-Venice specifically lists love locks in their top 10 list of things not to do in the city.

 

Padlocks

 

Hohenzollern Bridge

I Fought the Locks and the Locks Won

Cologne Tourism, on the other hand, encourages you to see the love locks on the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine River.

As of October 2013, there were over 155,000 love locks on the bridge, weighing an estimated 15 to 20 tons. German Rail engineers studied the bridge and determined the weight was not causing a problem. It will continue to be monitored and policies may change if the strain becomes too great.

Lovelocks

Tony Kerzmann of Robert Morris University noted that today’s bridges are “highly over-designed” as a precautionary measure. “They have what is called a factor of safety as high as seven in some cases, meaning an engineer determined the maximum weight that the bridge would possibly see and then designed the bridge to hold seven times that weight. Even if the bridge were covered with locks, the extra few thousand pounds should have no effect on the structural integrity of the bridge.”

Love Locks Penang Hill Top George Town

Pulau Penang Promenade

Penang Hill in Malaysia created a place specifically for love locks. The resort town on the island of Penang encourages couples to decorate and add locks to their “lovers’ promenade,” which they call “Malaysia’s contribution to the world’s legacy of love.” Located on the Bukit Bendera observation deck, Love Lock Penang Hill opened on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Huangshan, China (YELLOW MOUNTAIN/LANDSCAPE)

China

Red (Ribbon) Wedding

I had a lot of trouble finding information on love locks in China. I was particularly interested in verifying the lore about the tradition originating somewhere in the country long before it appeared in a romance novel.

The closest I got was one account of a wedding tradition in Yangmei Zhan, which is in the south near Nanning. A bride and groom tie red ribbons and a padlock to an old tree, tossing the key into a river or other body of water. How long this has been going on and whether it’s likely to be the root of the current love lock phenomenon is unclear.

Lovelocks

The Great Locks of China

There are plenty of photos of love locks on the Great Wall and on guard fencing in the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan). However, I couldn’t find any real information on when people started attaching them there or what reactions have been. The locks don’t look any older than the ones in Paris or Rome. And perhaps they are spread out enough that the weight isn’t a problem and isolated enough that locals don’t complain.

do not throw your key away

In cities, however, it’s a different story. When a handful of locks appeared on bridges in Shanghai and Lanzhou, they were quickly removed by authorities.

 

Moscow locks on bridge

Moscow: Locks and Kisses

A wedding tradition in Russia is that the newlyweds should kiss on a bridge.

Wedding Lock Tree 1

To keep these kissing couples out of traffic, Moscow constructed a pedestrian bridge. On this Bridge of Kisses are several iron tree sculptures that couples can attach locks to instead of the bridge’s railings.

A post shared by keripeacock (@keripeacock) on

United States

L.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

You can find love locks from coast to coast, from New York City (on the Brooklyn Bridge) to Los Angeles (at Runyon Canyon and Sunnynook River Park).

Sunset

A year after its installation, locks had already started appearing on the Bridge of Sighs in Natchez, Mississippi. City officials decided to take a proactive stance, cutting the locks off the bridge before there was time for many to accumulate.

There's One in Every Crowd

There are several bridges in the Pittsburgh area with love locks, including the Schenley Bridge and Three Sisters bridges. Officials there, however, periodically monitor the stress on the structures and have determined the added weight is not a problem. They remove locks to perform maintenance, but otherwise leave them be.

Locking Their Love

At Tlaquepaque in Sedona, Arizona, there are love locks for sale and a metal trellis where you can attach them.

 

Lock Your Love in Lovelock, Lovers Lock Plaza, Lovelock, Nevada

There’s actually a town called Lovelock outside of Reno, Nevada. While the name comes from Welsh-born settler George Lovelock, the town has embraced the tradition with a plaza devoted to love locks and an “endless chain” where you can lock a symbol of your love.

 

090998

 

– More info –


 

Photo credits:

1. JD*
2. Philip Robins*
3. Elaine Ashton*

Ponte Milvio (Rome) –
4. kiki99*
5. Stefano Corso*
6. Giorgio Rodano*
7. Kyle Van Horn*

Paris –
8. Martin Pilát*
9. Heather Stimmler (@secretsofparis)**
10. Crédit Municipal de Paris
11. François Grunberg / Mairie de Paris via Paris.fr

12. Sacha Quester-Séméon (@sachaqs)**
13. twiga269 ॐ FEMEN*

Toronto –
14. Ken Lane*
15. Michael Lawrence*

Venice –
16. Chris Beckett*
17. + 18. Dawn Hawk

Hohenzollern Bridge (Cologne) –
19. Dave Collier*
20. Jörg Weingrill*

Pulau Penang –
21. Harry and Rowena Kennedy*

China –
22. Chi King*
23. Mike*
24. James Creegan*

Moscow –
25. Olga Pavlovsky*
26. Em and Ernie*

United States –
27. Keri Peacock (@keripeacock)**
28. Debs*
29. Cam Miller*
30. Kevin Spencer*
31. Ken Lund*

More –
32. Ghita Katz Olsen*

 

*Via Flickr. CCL.
**Via Instagram.

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The Cracks in the Liberty Bell

Posted by on Jul 4, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

The Liberty Bell is cracked.

Whether it’s broken, I suppose, depends on your point of view.

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia

No one knows when the fissure first started to form.

We know there was an attempt to fix it by making the crack wider in 1846. But this ultimately caused another crack, making the Bell unringable and irreparable.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

It remains on display at the Liberty Bell Center across from Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

While silent, it continues to reverberate as a symbol of a more free and just society.

Whether it’s broken depends on your point of view.




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Vacancy

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 6 comments

Historic hotel in Peoria AZPhillip read an article an old hotel that had been sitting abandoned for years with plans to tear it down when the city decided instead to preserve it.

Historic hotel in Peoria AZ

He wanted to go find the Edwards Hotel on his day off, so we drove to the Peoria address in the article. It wasn’t hard to find.

Edwards hotel

Even from outside the chain link fence, it was interesting to guess what had been there originally and what had been added later.

IMG_9564

Then we took a stroll around Old Town Peoria, where there’s currently not much going on, but they have a revitalization program in the works.

 

Peoria

image

Peoria

State bird quilt

In the meantime, they have ornate, agriculturally-themed bus stops, a handful of historic buildings (including a church that was turning 100 the week we were there),  and a nice little community center with paintings and quilts on display. It was all a cozy contrast to the hollowed-out hotel.

image

Peoria

Peoria

 

Peoria Quilt




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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The Opening Of The Fire Pit

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

After our morning hike at Tumamoc Hill, we returned to the Mission Garden that evening for demonstrations on agave rope making and roasting, tequila tastings, a display of products made from agave fibers, plant sale, and The Opening of the Fire Pit.

Agave products

Tequila

The day before, probably about the time Phillip and I were driving from Phoenix to Tucson, a group had gathered at the Mission Garden. Jesús García, an Education Specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, was demonstrating how to build a fire in a traditional roasting pit and fill it with agaves. They would be covered with metal from the side of an old washing machine and then layers of dirt to keep the heat inside the earth oven.

Jesus Garcia

Other than the repurposed washing machine, the pit would be similar to the ones we had seen evidence of on our hike that morning, the charcoal gray rocks contrasting with the reddish desert clay only hinting at what was under our feet.

Agave plants

We don’t know exactly how the ancient roasting pits worked. Current tribes in the area have not continued this tradition. However, Jesús García pointed out that just a few miles south of the border, “the tradition is still alive.” He talked to his family in Mexico about the process, taking notes and drawing extensive diagrams about every step. Adapting those techniques to the Tucson area has taken some trial and error. Apparently. Last year’s cooking time wasn’t quite enough.

So this year, they would give the agave a full 24 hours to cook underground before literally digging in and opening up the fire pit.

Agave

That must be the magic number. It was soft and slightly sweet. Each variety had a different flavor. One tasted like sweet potatoes.
Roasted agave

So what if you don’t happen to have access to a 5-foot by 6-foot roasting pit?

Carolyn Niethammer shared how she roasts quartered agave heads in her home oven – just roast at 350 for 17 hours (!)

Carolyn cooking demo

Once they’ve been roasted, you can add them into other dishes. With an electric skillet, she demonstrated how to saute up some agave along with nopales (prickly pear pads), peppers, and tepary beans, a drought-tolerant heritage bean that has recently come back into use. It was delicious!

Agave and tepary beans

She followed up by passing around some “Aztec delights,” bite-sized treats she made from amaranth, chia, agave syrup, and chocolate.

Dessert at Mission Garden

It was a sweet finish to our Mission Garden visit.

 

 


Next Agave Heritage Festival events in Downtown Tucson:

  • May 6 + 7, 10am + 1pm: Fibers, Tequila and Fun at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Agave Garden Tours at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Rare + Collectible Agave Sale at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6, 6pm: Agave Fest tequila party at Hotel Congress. $35
  • May 7, 11am: Agave Heritage Brunch at Carriage House. Proceeds from this brunch help benefit Mission Garden. $55



We were guests of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market + Kitchen.

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