Spritz Veneziano

Spritz Veneziano

What’s up with that?

SPRITZ VENEZIANOWell, the Spritz Veneziano is the most famous drink in Venice. recognized by the IBA and with an international recipe for anybody who would like to add it to the official drink-list to respect. You see it everywhere and there isn’t a bar in the Serenissima who doesn’t serve it, with a slice of orange, an olive, with Aperol, with Campari or some of the other internationally less known bitter brands. The Venetians love it, and if you should come by some bar-table outside where a group of Gondoliers has taken refuge, then 9 out of 10 of them would be drinking just that… A Spritz.

The origin

Venice as the whole of northern Italy was held by Austria at the beginning of the 19th century. After Napoleon lost at Waterloo in 1815 and the kingdom of France collapsed the Austrians were given practically the whole Veneto and Lombardia. Officially it was a separate country, the kingdom of Lombardy – Venetia, but in reality, it was controlled by the Austrians and at least partially oppressed by them. Anyway, the Austrians, like the Italians and everybody else too for that matter, loved to drink wine. But in Italy, we have more sun than they have in Austria, and the wine is stronger (… I was going to write better, but my sense of humility prevented me.). The Austrian soldiers started diluting the wine with water. Then they discovered that carbonated water splashed – spritzt is the word in German – into the wine was even better.

And so the Spritz was born. Not much of a drink you might think, wine and water. Well, I have to agree. Still, some of my friends in f. ex. Trieste and Padova still insist that the true Spritz is white wine, still, not sparkling, and soda water. I usually tell them, Yes Ok, you may be right, but that’s a lousy Spritz.

Spritz Veneziano

spritz venezianoWell, fortunately enough the Venetians took it to new levels, They introduced Select, a Venetian bitter invented by the company Fratelli Pilla & Co at Castello, in 1920. It was a completely new ingredient to the beverage and with it, the Spritz was almost ready for the big public,

Ok, my friends in Padova would say: “Hey, We were first because we invented Aperol already in 1919. True, the famous Aperol was ready the year before, and the classical Spritz in Padova is done with Aperol while the Venetians do it with Select. Anyway, it was in those years the recipe became what it is today… Such as? What is the traditional recipe?

It’s; 1/3 Prosecco

1/3 Sparkling water

1/3 Bitter of some sort

Instead of Prosecco, you could use any other Italian white wine with bubbles. Normally it’s more expensive with Prosecco and it could be specified, A Spritz Veneziano made with Prosecco costs this, a Spritz made with some other wine costs something else.

Anyway, it’s as easy as that. Then you have all the special secrets that only the Bar-men know… Which ingredient goes first, which goes last, and which goes in the middle. If it’s shaken or stirred. Actually it shouldn’t be nor shaken, nor stirred, just mixed.

The decorations.

Often it’s served with a slice of orange, and that is perfect with a Spritz – Aperol since the Aperol is made with bitter orange as a prominent ingredient. It’s also orange in color. With Campari, the decoration is often an olive. The drink should be topped with a few ice cubes. Ice that, especially in the hot season, don’t last long sitting outside in the Venetian tropical summer heat. It can be served with a slice of lemon. That’s regarded as unorthodox but as the drink has been around for 200 years a lot of variants to the original recipe exist.

The Variants

First of all: The recipe of the Spritz Veneziano documented by the IBA (international bartenders association, for those of who didn’t know that…) is as follows:

2 oz Prosecco

1½  Aperol (..or some other bitter)

Soda water, enough to get the correct mix.

 

spritz venezianoThen there is the Hugo

2 oz sparkling wine

1 ½ oz Saint German

1 ½ oz Soda water

4 mint leaves

 

Then there is the Madame

2 oz sparkling wine

¾ oz Campari

¾ oz Cointreau

1 ½ oz Soda water with this drink a slice of orange is correct.

 

The Midori

Just take Midori instead of Aperol… Slice of orange

 

The Ginger

2 oz Sparkling wine

1 ½ oz white Vermouth

1 ½ oz Ginger Ale

Ginger Served with a slice of orange

And many, many others…

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The best Spritz Veneziano of them all.

spritz venezianoIf you want to drink it in Venice like the Venetians and be really traditional in every sense of the word, then maybe Select is the way to go. Aperol is for the Padovani, Campari is a more international flavor, but Select is Venetian. On the other hand, even the Venetians have an alternative, and many of them prefer the alternative to Select. It’s called Cynar. It’s a Bitter that is a little more bitter and less sweet than Select. It also has a darker, brownish color. I like it better than all the others, so please try it out. You should try them all anyway and make up your own mind.

Aperol is very marketed in the USA. It’s a major brand, as is Campari. And Campari is actually the owner of Aperol, so they don’t really compete on the same market. They collaborate. Select is produced by Montenegro though… And Cynar? Well, they’re also Campari, so it’s kind of monopolized.

When is the best time for a Spritz Veneziano?

It’s like the old publicity for the beer Tuborg: Two vagrants meet at the corner of the street. One says to the other: Hey, Perikles… Can you tell me, when does a Tuborg taste the best? The other answers: … Every time.

A Spritz is an all-day drink. You can sit down at the bar before lunch, preferably outside, order a Spritz and have some peanuts with it.

You can have it at the bar before the theater, or after the theater. It’s a bit like a coffee, it’s something to offer your friends without any presumptions or big deals. If someone helped you out, you can offer a spritz. If you go to the exclusive Enoteca it may mean something the other may have to return the kindness somehow, but a Spritz at the bar doesn’t really require anything. It’s neutral.

One word of advice though. You don’t taste the alcohol. The fragrance of bitter and the sparkling water makes it seem like a lemonade. But it’s not. So go easy.

And in Venice they don’t say Spritz like Sprits, they say Spriss without the t. Like everything else, they have their own way of doing things.

Venice Film Festival

Venice Film Festival

The Venice Film Festival is over. It started August 28 and ended September 7. 21 films competed for the Golden Lion, the two Silver lions and 5 other prizes in the main festival. 24 films were shown out of competition. 98 films participated in other festivals connected to the Venice International Film Festival, such as Horizons, Venice Classics (restored classical movies), Sconfini (Trespassing), International Critics’ Week, and Venice Days. 

The Mandatory scandal

When it became known that the direction of the 2019 festival had invited Roman Polanski to participate with his film A Gentleman and a spy – J’Accuse, a lot of criticism from inside the festival organization as well as from outside began.

venice film festival
Alberto Barbera

In 1977 Polanski was arrested for the sexual assault of 13-year-old Samantha Gailey. As a result of the plea bargain, Polanski should be guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, other 5 charges should be dropped. After Polanski had been told that the judge, Laurence J. Rittenband, planned to disregard the plea bargain and send him to jail instead of letting him serve his sentence as probation, he fled the US and have since then lived in Europe. And since he never turned up at the court sentencing, the charges are still pending.

Anyway, the director of the Venice film festival, Alberto Barbera, defended his choice of artists and films, saying: I’m convinced that we must distinguish the artist from the man. “The history of art is full of artists who have committed crimes of different nature, but we have continued to admire their works. The same goes for Polanski, which I think is one of the last masters of European cinema still in business

venice film festival
Lucrecia Martel

Then the president of the jury, Lucrecia Martel, right at the beginning of the festival stated that: “When we talk about a film we talk about the work of a human being. The worst thing we could do is to separate the man from his work. Anyone who thinks this is good, is wrong

And when the result was out about the winners, and everybody knew that the first price, The Golden Lion, didn’t go to Polanski but he had to settle for the second price, The Silver Lion, The grand jury prize. Then Martel stated: “I can not separate man from art. I think an important aspect of a man emerges in his work. The presence of Roman Polanski in the competition, after what he has done in the past, makes me so uncomfortable that I will not participate in the gala in honor of his film. It would not be fair to all the women I represent, the Argentine women, victims of rape “.

I, for one, would have given anything to be a little fly on the wall, and hear the discussion at the jury’s meetings.

All the winners of the 76th Venice Film Festival

These are the winners of the 76th Venice International Film Festival, the main competition.

Chairman of the jury: Lucrecia Martel, members: Stacy MartinMary HarronPiers HandlingRodrigo PrietoShinya TsukamotoPaolo Virzì :

GOLDEN LION for Best Film to:
JOKER
by Todd Phillips (USA)

SILVER LION – GRAND JURY PRIZE to:
J’ACCUSE (AN OFFICER AND A SPY)

by Roman Polanski (France, Italy)

SILVER LION – AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR to:
Roy Andersson
for the film OM DET OÄNDLIGA (ABOUT ENDLESSNESS) (Sweden, Germany, Norway)

COPPA VOLPI
for Best Actress:
Ariane Ascaride
in the film GLORIA MUNDI by Robert Guédiguian (France, Italy)

COPPA VOLPI
for Best Actor:
Luca Marinelli
in the film MARTIN EDEN by Pietro Marcello (Italy, France)

AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY to:
Yonfan
for the film JI YUAN TAI QI HAO (No.7 CHERRY LANE) by Yonfan (Hong Kong SAR, China)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE to:
LA MAFIA NON È PIÙ QUELLA DI UNA VOLTA
by Franco Maresco (Italy)

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD
for Best Young Actor or Actress to:
Toby Wallace
in the film BABYTEETH by Shannon Murphy (Australia)

The three top films

Joker

Todd Philips

The winner, Joker, is a very good movie, no doubt on that one. 

But if I’m not completely wrong… And I’m not, it’s not the usual winner-type of a movie. Let’s look at the last five years of winners:

2014  A pigeon sitting on a branch reflects on existence by Roy Andersson

2015 I Look at you by Lorenzo Vigas

2016 The Woman Who Left by Lav Diaz

2017 The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro. (This one is a Hollywood reasonably mainstream movie, but still kind of out on the water so to speak…)

2018 Rome by Alfonso Cuarón

venice film festival
Joaquin Phoenix

Joker does not at all fit into this list. And it probably has something to do with the conflict between Polanski as a representative of the old, male film-industry and Lucretia Martel.

It’s a very good film though. Todd Philips enlists Joaquin Phoenix and the result is a very dark and very convincing film. The fictional character debuted in 1940 in the first issue of the comic book series “Batman”, and it’s maybe the psychopath most told on the big screen.  The Joker of 1966, Cesar Romero, in the film by Leslie H. Martinson, the late Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (2008) by Christopher Nolan and Jared Leto in “Suicide Squad” (2016) by David Ayer are just a few of them.

Superheroes often have a double identity, but not in the case of Arthur Fleck’s Joker, a failed actor who is the son of a sick woman. He is Joker even if he doesn’t know he is. In life, he wears a mask with a false smile, but it is a metaphorical mask that is not part of the man destined to become a hero in spite of himself, having accidentally killed two imprudent white-collar workers in the subway.

I’m a great fan of Joaquin Phoenix, but I must say, in this film he’s better than he ever was. He has a depth and an essence to the character, to himself, that is seldom seen. His marked face is almost too true, even though the story is told straight forward in a theatrical way. A particularly successful soundtrack closes the circle, it is “Smile” in the Jimmy Durante version, which paradoxically underlines the most tragic moments of the opera. A perfect film from all points of view

It’s a documentary about Batman and Gotham City, through the eyes of his worst enemy. 

Robert de Niro takes on the role of Murray Franklin the talk show host, and he does it with the authority of the great movie star that he is. 

J’accuse (An officer and a spy)

venice film festival
Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

At the press conference at the beginning of the festival, the whole production team was present, but without Polanski. The co-producer Luca Barbareschi tried to clear the air a little saying that, since the director wasn’t present, the rest of the crew would gladly answer any questions about the film but would leave out any comment about the direction of the film. He also said that this isn’t a court to judge in favor of this or that, but a wonderful festival of cinema. As such it should deal with the art, and no more.

Then he started thanking everybody for their contribution, as usual. Very interestingly, he then went on thanking God for his collaboration with Polanski in giving us this marvelous film. When the collaborators entered the room at the beginning, all the journalists took up spontaneous applause. 

The film is a masterpiece. It tells the story of Alfred Dreyfus (Louis Garrel) who was a Jewish captain in the French general staff, accused of selling military secrets to the Germans. He was convicted and exiled to the Devil’s Island off the South American coast, just like the film Papillon from 1973 with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. Here too the main character is innocent and we actually get to follow the figure of Colonel Picquart, played by Jean Dujardin.

This is a smart move and we get to follow Picquart’s work to find the truth about the supposed Spy-affair, more than Dreyfus life on the island. Picquart has just been promoted to lead the office of military intelligence and discovers how disorganized and corrupt the whole office really is. To this, there’s a strong antisemite blanket covering the whole french military as well as the society. Picquart doesn’t oppose this but carries out his duties more of a conviction that it’s the right thing to do. 

There’s an obvious similarity between Polanksi’s situation and that of Dreyfus in the film. And I don’t think it’s just a coincident that he choose this story for his newest film.  

Om det oändliga  (About endlessness)

Best Director venice film festival 2019
Roy Andersson

Roy Andersson

Not everybody likes the films of Roy Andersson, but he’s still a phenomenon without equals in the modern film industry. He won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival in 2014  with A pigeon sitting on a branch reflects on existence. And now he’s won again, not the Golden Lion but the prize for best director’s prize.  And I think this is extremely important for a man who’s brought something completely new into the business. 

Roy Andersson started out as a conventional filmmaker, but after having flopped and exceded the budget on his second film, he got “blacklisted” by the Swedish film society. Nobody wanted to work with him anymore and he had to live on commercials for 25 years. Doing these extremely short publicity films he developed a special technique, and his failure in film turned into a success in the commercial business … And he made some money. 

When he started making film again in 2000 the style was something no one had ever seen before. Andersson says he saw a painting of the Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel, and he was amazed how the image grew into the distance rather than from left to right or from top to bottom. 

In his films, all scenes are static, filmed with one fixed camera. The action then takes place in a prolonged depth-axel. Things happen upfront but also behind, in the background and even at the horizon. 

My family all hates his films. Andersson is not for everybody. But I think in a world of conformity, it’s very refreshing with someone who dares to stand out. And it brings hope to the film industry when you see that the medium still can evolve.   

The new entry follows the same tradition. It’s a series of paintings of man in the present and the past. Ironical and sharp in the telling, pale and beige in the style. The criticism of society and Andersson’s own reflections become obvious as if it was written out on the screen. It’s a very slow, very foggy and dusty, but extremely complex entry.   

Way to go Roy. 

Sunset lido di venezia

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Venice Aliens

venice aliens

The lagoon, Eternity and the Venice Aliens 

The other day I read an article by Nicolò Porcelluzzi. The name of the article was The Aliens of the Venice Lagoon and if you’re familiar with the Italian language you can find it here.

In the article, Porcelluzzi is talking about the Lagoon and about the radical changes there has been in recent years. The modern civilization as always put the natural balance out of order. One might think that for eons nature was always the same, the trees, the grass, the birds, the fish, and the mud… It has always been there until man started destroying everything by using concrete, building factories and starting industrialism.

venice aliensBut in the case of the Venice lagoon, it’s not so. In fact, the lagoon as we see it today is a product of human activity. The huge city of Venice, as it was in the middle ages and even before that, needed water, waterways, wood, and food. So the Venetians changed nature to fit the demands of their population. Because Venice was one of the very few Metropolis in the middle ages, and it was situated in a spot where nothing was for free, it had to be created. 

Rivers were diverted, islands were created and canals were built. Just look at the big landmass at Punta Sabbioni. 150 years ago that didn’t exist. The border between the lagoon and the sea was Sant’Erasmo, an island that is now well inside the lagoon. 

So, the environment around Venice is constantly evolving and it has always been that way. But Porcelluzzi’s article is uncovering the acceleration of the changes. Accelerations to a point where we maybe cannot defend its uniqueness anymore. And the responsibility is in fact, as I mentioned before, in the hands of man, and human activity… Concrete and factories… And ships. But while man in the middle ages had moderate resources to alter his surroundings (…still the Venetians did a good job of changing land, sea and the in-betweens…), we now are more able in that sense. 

The threats to the Venice Lagoon

Porto Marghera, the huge harbor to the west of Venice, on the landside, has always been a love-hate affair to the Venetians. It offered richness and jobs, but the petrochemical industry polluted the water. After the crisis and political changes of modern times, this particular industrial activity is more or less closed down. There’s still a lot of business, but not as pollutive as in the 50s, 60s and the 70s. Good! Instead, we have the other industries, the trade and the tourism that for every year increase the impact on the lagoon. 

venice aliens

Every year around 3500 ships moor in Venice. That’s 10 ships every day. The cruise ships go through Canale della Giudecca in the center of Venice, while the others travel the Malamocco-Marghera canal. The ships’ propellers whip the water together with the sludge and the microorganisms. And they ad their own microfauna to the mix… Fish, invertebrates, and plants from other parts of the Mediterranean or other parts of the world, far away from Venice, Aliens. 

This is all normal. Every lifeform tries to survive and expand, that’s the whole idea of nature.  So, as the lagoon changes over the centuries, even the animals and plants that populate it change, adapting. In recent decades, however, unforeseen evolutions of this equilibrium are occurring, and the cause is, of course, the human introduction of vertebrates and invertebrates who lived for millennia or millions of years in other parts of the world.

Venice Aliens – Catching mussels 

Between 1995 and 2000, a few kilometers from Piazza San Marco, 40.000 tons of clams were collected every year. Venice from one year to the other became the European capital of shellfish thanks to an animal that has nothing to do with the history of Venice: the Manila clam.

This animal was imported from the Philippines. Thanks to its fertility it soon competed strongly for the territory and pushed back the domestic clam Chamelea gallina. An alien introduction that has created wealth, a lot of it and in a short time. But in the end, it was a total disaster. Apart from the ecological and environmental problems it caused, in 2012 the production had gone down to 2.000 tons a year. A few glorious years of commerce that in the end cost many times more than it earned.

Not only the Manila clam has arrived from the Far East; alongside it, there are the prawns of Louisiana and the zebra mussels of Eastern Europe, exterminating biodiversity. And somewhere in the mud hides the Japanese oyster. In the humid areas, the Asian tiger mosquitoes, the hornet, and the woodworm proliferate, transported in the last twenty years by tires, porcelains, and bonsai.

Venice Aliens – Fishing 

a Fishermans dream
Wels Catfish. Photo courtesy of Carlos Recalde.

But there’s more… The Balkan frog, pelophylax kurtmuelleri is growing its population and the catfishes are slowly taking over the whole sweetwater river- and lake system. The huge Wels Catfish, silurus glanis is now completely dominant in the northern Italian rivers. While in northern Europe this is a protected species, in Italy it has found a perfect environment though and is becoming more or less the only species in the river Po, much to the joy of the many specimen fishers. Catches of over 100 kilograms happen regularly. The rivers inside the lagoon have similar problems. Soon the catfish will be the only fish there too.

“Watercourses are very vulnerable to the invasion of foreign organisms, te Venice Aliens, also because water facilitates the mobility of species, and aquatic species tend to expand very rapidly.” This is said by Piero Genovesi, known as Papik, the highest Italian authority on the subject, and head of the wildlife coordination department of the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Ispra).

“The presence of allochthonous appears to be constantly increasing”, and has now reached and exceeded 50 percent of the entire regional fish fauna. Half of all the fishes come from other parts of the world… The picture becomes even scarier if you look at the entire biomass, including microorganisms and plants. Then the figure is 80% aliens… four-fifth of the living things in the water around Venice shouldn’t even be there! 

A global problem

The situation is similar in all coastal regions in the Mediterranean but nowhere is it as serious as in Venice. But still what is an alien? When do you become local? How many years, decades, centuries do you have to live in a place before you’ve become a part of it?

Venice Aliens

Many of the species that we may think are ours, in reality, were introduced in our biosphere from outside. The Italian landscape is full of Prickly pears, Opuntia. It’s so full of it that we think we kind of invented it, together with the Cypress, standing in rows as in attention in Tuscany. They’re both non-Italian. As are the mouflons, the porcupines, the poppies and thousands of other species. But we still regard them as ours.

It made me think about something a friend of mine told me. She’s a politician from northern Europe and was once part of a big congress in Africa. Sitting at the dinner she had a politician from Tanzania at the table and they talked about this and that. At a point where the conversation was going a bit slowly, she suddenly said: “You know, one of our smallest birds go all the way to Tanzania for the winter residence…”  The African colleague looked at her and said: “What makes you think it’s yours?”

Brothers: Unify the World!

Often we think of nature, as we think about everything else, in a very local, shortsighted way. We travel, animals travel, and things, ideas, and concepts travel. But when 80% of the biomass is alien, then there’s a genuine risk of conformity. The whole world is getting exactly the same. And what a boring world it would be. 

And this is where Life ASAP Alien Species Awareness Program is inserted, a project co-financed by the European Union that tries to contain the consequences of alien invasions through information and awareness campaigns and support. Thanks to Life ASAP, schools, horticulturists and veterinarians are kept informed. But, as always, information, debate and a good will can do only so much. As bad as the situation is right now, it will become worse in the future. The climate change will make the Mediterranean warmer, more tropical, and the living conditions for “our” species will get tougher, more suitable for African- and Asian ones.

The problem of invasive alien species is three-dimensional: It is an environmental-, perceptive- and political problem.

  1. Environment: By burning fossil fuels we are on a road that we do not know where it will lead us. We know, though, that if we do not stop burning petrol, coal, and gas, these issues will become harder and harder to resolve. And it will cost more money for every step we take in the wrong way.
  2. Perception. This involves the education of citizens, in homes and schools, young and old. People will have to understand the consequences of every action they take, they need to know what the cost is for their choices, not only in money but also in health, well being’ and future. And when they do, the third part is inevitable…
  3. Political awareness. And the politicians can no longer waver: Urgent measures must be taken to contain at least the economic and health consequences of the problem.

allochthonous Life form 80% of the living things in the lagoon and the rivers and canals around it are aliens. That’s bad, that’s very bad. But I still think that it could even be 100%, a complete flora, and fauna that doesn’t belong here… A complete take over by the allochthonous. It could very well come to a future where we have to accept conformity, boredom just to survive. We could have the same trees, flowers, insects, and fishes all over the planet. Goodbye biodiversity!

And if it would come to that, if all life in the Venetian lagoon would be the same as everywhere else… Then, at least, let’s save it, let’s make it live on and not perish. A dead environment is still worse than a boring one… And maybe in a thousand years, we can again call it our own very special Laguna di Venezia… And the Venice aliens won’t be nor aliens nor Venetians. 

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Venice Art Biennale

Venice Art Biennale without paying a cent

Venice Art Biennale at Giardini and Arsenale costs 25 euro. Not much in Venice is free. Actually not much even has a reasonable price tag, especially if you move between the big tourist attractions like Saint Mark’s Belltower, the Basilica, and the Doges Palace. Then if you sit down on the square and have your 19:50 euro-coffee, then the wallet really starts emptying in a worrying way.

So what if I told you that you can visit 33 national exhibitions, all part of the 58th edition of the Venice Art Biennale. Artists from every corner of the world come to Venice to display and express their thoughts about the world in which we live… And you can visit them for free. No cost what so ever. Nor before you go in, neither after you’re done. Just respect the opening hours and you can move from one end of the city to the other experiencing new, innovative, artistically fabulous art and installations, videos and performing artists… And it costs nothing… Nada, Rien.  

Venetian Addresses.

I’ve made a map of all the 33 national participations spread around the city. I haven’t put any address on the dots but the position should be reasonably close. In Venice, the Address isn’t of much help anyway. Even the postmen don’t know where the numbers of the streets are. It’s all close to this, behind that, cross the bridge on your right… So if you don’t find the door, ask. There will be someone who can indicate the entrance, don’t worry. 

The history of the Biennale

Venice Art Biennale is an old lady. Already back at the end of 1800, it started out around the central building in the Biennale area at Giardini. Padiglione Centrale it’s called today. It went on for a few decades all alone, attracting the finest artists from Europe. I was going to say the world but back then Europe and the world was more or less the same thing for the Europeans. Then in the thirties, during the fascism, the Art-festival got company… The theatre-festival, the contemporary music festival, and of course, the famous Venice film-festival. All these are now held every year. The Venice film festival is the second oldest in the world, after the Academy Awards.  

Venice Art BiennaleIn the 80s the Architecture-festival was added and is now held every two years, just like the Art-festival. Odd years Art, even years Architecture. Biennale actually means every two years. 1999 the festival of contemporary dance was introduced and so the calendar was complete. 

My own suggestions

the Pavilion of Azerbaijan

It makes you think. Especially those, like me, who are active inside the internet world, with headlines, keywords, followers, likes, visitors and google algorithms. What is it all about? Why are there more words, pages, and images on the internet than the whole worlds population can read and see even if every word is watched only by one person? How can you get through the tsunami of information that we are flooded with every day? Is it even possible to determine what’s true, almost true or false? And does it matter? … Is there even such a thing as truth?Venice Art Biennale

The Lithuanian Pavilion 

A musical performance. A beach inside a military warehouse. You watch the performing artists from above as they lie on the sand. As they put sun oil on their pink bodies and chitchat about the little things. As they drink some water from the bottle, eat icecream and let their lazy characters enjoy the holiday while sleeping under the hot sun. Peace. 

Then they sing because it’s a musical performance.  The music is theatrical, word-based… An opera. As we move on the different characters reveal more personal worries and concerns, but it doesn’t really change anything. Our little thoughts about gossip and unimportant facts make us stop and sit down instead of getting up and do something. It’s slow and discouraging because, outside this little box of tranquillity, the world is going to pieces. It’s dying… While we wait. 

The Lithuanian Pavilion won the Golden Lion this year and the motivation was this: 

Venice Biennale
Courtesy of Angelo Greco

For the Pavilion’s experimental approach and its unexpected way in facing national representation. The jury was impressed by the original use of the display space, which stages a Brecht-inspired work, and by the active efforts of the Pavilion as regards Venice and its inhabitants. Sun & Sea (Marina) is a critique of leisure and of contemporaneity, sung by the voices of a group of performers and volunteers who interpret everyday people.

Performances every Wednesday and Saturday, though the exhibition is open every day except Monday.

If you’d like to see all the rest at Giardini and Arsenale, then 25 euro isn’t very much. For 35 euro you can go in three days, and you might need that to be able to let it all in. And then you’ll have an opportunity to see Arsenale. That is normally not open to the public, but with a ticket, you get in, at least to a part of it. Should you need a hotel close to the Biennale area, there’s a good one right here: Hotel Indigo Venice.

Any way you choose it’s a great possibility to see some of the worlds finest contemporary art by invited artists as well as national participators. 

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Venice weather

Venice weather

Here we are, sitting in the shadow of a big elm tree. Not really doing anything just suffering and trying to move as little as possible. The temperature is 32° Celcius, 90 Fahrenheit and it makes your thoughts evolve slooowly. Just reflecting and thinking about the Venice weather and the Venice climate makes you sweat. It’s that hard. And here’s why…

If you want the weather forecasts, go here. This is the best and most accurate site.

Venice weatherThe Venice weather, the climate is not nice. It is cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Nothing strange about that but it is colder and warmer than in many other places in Italy. And the blame falls heavily on the humidity.

Venice weather in the summer

Ok, we know Venice is damp. There is water under the city and water in the canals around the houses. The water also falls from above and it flows in from the sea at high tide. So Venice is a damp city, nothing new under the sun.

But Venice is also located in the northeastern corner of the mighty Po Valley, the largest plain in the whole of the European Mediterranean. The Po Valley, Pianura Padana, was created after the last ice age of sediment from melting water. It has a large river in the middle, namely Po and lots of smaller rivers flowing in from the north and the south. Between the rivers, there are canals for distributing water to agriculture. For the Po Valley is amazingly fertile. Everything grows here and it grows fast under the hot sun in the rich and moist soil.

And that’s fine … We have something to eat.

It’s just that the very high humidity of the whole Po area as well as the wetness of the floating city, makes life unbearable at times. The moisture makes the cold feel colder and the heat feel hotter.

If the temperature is 30 ° Celsius, 86 ° Fahrenheit and the humidity increases, then the subjective perception of the heat increases too. Let’s imagine that we are sitting by the sea and there’s a nice breeze and the relative humidity is 50%, then it feels just like 30 °, 86 °. But if we leave the Venice weatherbeach and walk back to Venice, sneak in between the houses, the sun’s still there but there’s no wind anymore and the humidity rises to 90% … Then the subjective temperature is suddenly 41 ° Celsius, 106 ° Fahrenheit. 

That’s what often happens in the evening. In the middle of the day, the temperature is 32 ° / 90 °. It’s hot but still bearable. In the evening when you lie down in the warm and uncomfortable bed, the humidity rises to 95%. Although the temperature is a bit lower… let’s say 29 ° / 84 °, the subjective heat is 39 °, and now it is getting painful. You get up, open the fridge and grab an ice-cold Peroni. Then you sit down by the window, open the bottle cap but realize that just the effort to lift the beer bottle to your mouth makes you sweat even more.

So what do you do about this?

Because there are a few ways to cope with the summer temperatures. 

  1. Stay in the right place. Airconditioning is the keyword. Choose a hotel with airconditioning and you will at least sleep well. Although in Italy it’s considered unhealthy to shoot too much cold air around. Maybe rightfully so, but I always prefer sleeping to avoiding getting a cold. If for some reason you don’t have airconditioning, then staying at the bottom floor is always cooler, staying at the beach at Lido or Cavallino is cooler and having air flowing through the room is cooler even if the air is hot. Open the windows. Just make sure they have mosquito nets, otherwise, you won’t sleep because of the mosquitos. 
  2. Move as little as possible. The humid air penalizes moving. If you’re absolutely still then you’ will suffer less. Now that’s difficult cause you’ve come to Venice for the attractions, but still, take a lot of brakes, drink a lot and walk slowly on the shadow side. 
  3. Get someone to invite you to an Altana, the famous Venetian rooftop terrace. Up there it’s definitely better. And the view is nice. 
  4. Don’t come in the summer. This is the best advice of them all. Instead of summer, come in spring or autumn, or even in winter. Summer isn’t a good time to visit Venice. It’s not a good time to visit any city in the warm part of the world but Venice is a particularly poor choice in the hot season. 
Venice weather
Courtesy of Lucciano Bellesso

Venice weather in the winter

Ok, it’s not only for the summer weather the humidity is an important factor. Even in winter, there are a few things to be aware of. The relative humidity actually doesn’t have very much of an impact on the subjective temperature when the air is cold. Hot air, yes, but when it’s cold, the atmosphere around us can’t hold very much humidity anyway, so it isn’t significant. But… If you yourself get wet, then that’s a totally different story. And in Venice in winter there’s the rain, the fog, and the high waters.

The biggest threat, I would say, is the rain. Not that is rains on you but when the water comes down it stays on the top of the ground. The pavements of Venice are all floor tiles made of trachyte. And the stone blocks aren’t flat. So when it rains you have a myriad of puddles on the ground, irregular, deep and very difficult to avoid. If you wet your feet, then you’re in trouble. So what do you do about it?

Obviously, you wear waterproof shoes or rubber boots… Together with the warm jacket, gloves, and a warm cap you’ll be OK. 

The wind is a cooling factor though. When it’s freezing outside, every tiny increase in wind force increases the feeling of cold. So wear not only a warm jacket but a warm and windproof jacket. 

The Mediterranean climate

Another big issue is the Adriatic sea. If you look at the map you see that the eastern sea is a rather closed basin. In the south, there is a little opening between Italy and Albania but it isn’t much. It’s less deep too. Much shallower than the rest of the Mediterranean and these two facts make the Adriatic less temperature storing. In winter the water is cold. On occasions, the lagoon freezes.

On the border with France on the other side of the Peninsula, you can sometimes go swimming even in December. If you do that in Venice, you better have good health insurance.

Enough complaining!

An hour and a half with a car going north you find Dolomiti Superski. That’s 1200 kilometers, 750 miles of slopes, 450 ski lifts and  3000 square kilometers, 1150 square miles of ski area. About half of it is directly connected but the whole system features one single ski pass. 97% of it is covered with artificial snow capacity. 

On the coast towards the northeast, an hour by car, there are a few of the biggest seaside resorts in Europe, Jesolo, Cavallino-Treporti, Caorle, Bibione, etc. The touristic capacity is enormous and around 25 million people go there every year, more or less the same numbers as Venice. 

This is another effect of the big differences in temperature summer and winter.

So, maybe the Venice weather isn’t all that bad, after all?