Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. If all the presents are open and you're looking for something to do this Christmas, why not go see Casanova?

The New York Times says, "Imagine my surprise, then, when 'Casanova' turned out to be not a bewigged and brocaded white elephant, but rather a lively, sly and altogether charming farce. Dispensing with the suffocating conventions of the historical biopic, Mr. Hallstrom and the screenwriters, Jeffrey Hatcher and Kimberly Simi (assisted, it has been reported, by an uncredited Tom Stoppard), make liberal and intelligent use of the literary styles and attitudes of the 18th century, when their story takes place. While it takes a few cues from Casanova's notoriously untrustworthy memoirs, 'Casanova' seems more directly inspired by the lighthearted, madcap comedies of near contemporaries like Pierre Marivaux and Casanova's fellow Venetian, Carlo Goldoni."

To read the commplete review, go to

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

San Marco Basilica Restoration Finally Finished

Clean-up of outside of St Mark's began almost 25 years ago (ANSA) - Venice, December 16

Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice, one of the lagoon city's most famous landmarks, is finally to emerge from a clean-up job which has lasted almost a quarter of a century.

The restored north facade of the basilica - the last to be tackled - will be inaugurated on Wednesday with a ceremony that will close a marathon project which began in November 1981.

Once grey and covered in centuries of dust, the green and pink of the columns and marble panels adorning the 1,000-square-metre north wall are now clearly visible again, along with the carvings of saints and the Madonna.

Over the last 24 years the restorers' scaffolding has gradually moved around and all over the Basilica, cleaning away grime from a total area of 5,000 square metres.

The Procuratoria of San Marco, the panel of experts and clerics which look after the building's upkeep, has been renewed three times since the monumental job began.

The money for the work has come partly from central and regional government and partly from private sponsors.

With its extravagant decoration in gold, marble, glass and mosaics, the basilica is a major draw for tourists and everyday long queues form outside to visit it.

The first church named after Venice's patron saint on the site was built in the 9th century as a shrine for St Mark's bones.

But it was destroyed by fire in 967. Byzantine architects played a large part in its reconstruction around 1070, helping give it its distinctively eastern look.

From the 12th century its splendour gradually grew thanks to alterations and elaborate adornments designed to make it reflect Venice's status as the dominant trading power in the region.

Incorporating materials taken from temples and Eastern ruins, it is shaped like a cross with a dome over the centre and one over each arm of the cross. The facade is incrusted with marble slabs and mosaics. Among the most famous features are the famous Four Horses of St Mark's, in gilded bronze, which stand on a gallery over the main entrance. They were cleaned during the 1990s.

From ANSA news. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 12, 2005

Guggenheim Expands to Ca' Dario


"Ca' Dario, a jewel of Venetian Renaissance architecture, will be the "second" home of the Guggenheim Collection whose historic original location is the nearby palazzo Ca' Venier dei Leoni, where exhibitions by the American foundation currently take place. An agreement was reached between the Guggenheim Foundation and the present owner Elisabetta Gardini Ferruzzi who has had the palazzo up for sale for some time. The Guggenheim will not actually buy the palazzo. Instead, it will have a franchise on it at very favourable terms. In return, the name of the Gardini family will be associated with any shows that are held in the new location. This acquisition completes the Guggenheim's expansion project, which became a necessity due to the continuous increase in the number of visitors."

Ca' Dario may be a haunted palazzo. According to numerous guides and guidebooks, Ca' Dario's owners frequently meet untimely deaths. It started in the 15rh century when the builder's daughter died. The deaths continued to modern times: in 1993, Raoul Gardini, owner of famous racing sailboat "Moro di Venezia," committed suicide. Then the manager of "The Who" bought the place--and soon committed suicide. Legend also says that Woody Allen wanted to buy Ca' Dario, but backed out of the deal when he learned the palazzo's history.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Casino di Venezia Sold to an Internet Gambling Company

I just read that Sportalnet, an online “betting” company has purchased Venice’s casino and its trademark, “Casinò di Venezia.” Here’s the article, which can be found on (Note that this article says “Venice is one of the most clicked words on the internet.”)

Sportalnet, a Maltese registered on-line betting company, will be the new owners of the Casinò di Venezia. Sportalnet is effectively owned by International Trust, a company whose shareholders include former Nationalist MP George Hyzler, Rodney Lee Berger and lawyer Simon Tortell.

Tortell is already a shareholder in the Vittoriosa Gamings which holds the concession to operate the Casinò di Venezia. Until now the only other shareholer in this company was the municipality of Venice. Despite the sale of shares, the concession will remain in the hands of Vittoriosa Gamings as the sale will only involve a transfer of shares from the Venetians to Sportalnet.

Sportalnet will be paying US$ 7.8 million to buy 60 per cent of the Vittoriosa Gaming in the next two years. It will be buying the remaining 40 per cent in the next ten years. Meanwhile, the Venice local council has also reached an agreement with the Maltese group De Rohan Investments on the building of the hotel next to the casino.

Debono was formely one of the directors of the Port Cottonera, a consortium of
entrepreneurs who were responsible for the renovation of Scamps Palace back in 2001. In return for taking up this obligation, the municipality of Venice has committed itself to guarantee a supply of clients for the new hotel equivalent to $590,000US a year for the next ten years.

Sportalnet will not only be buying the historical Scamps Palace but also the
trademark “Casinò di Venezia” which will be used to lure more people into betting their money on line. The word "Venice" is one of the most clicked words on the internet. According to reports in the Italian media, the use of this trademark for on-line gambling is the main attraction for the new aquirants.

Malta's liberal laws which permit online gambling have created a budding sector which has become even more lucrative than actual physical casinos. Online gambling is only permitted in a few European countries like Malta and the UK and is still banned in countries like Italy. This has lured a number of Italian companies to operate from Malta.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Olympic Torch to Visit Venice

On January 17th, the Olympic Torch will arrive in Venice. The torch, which will travel through all of Italy’s provinces, will arrive in Turin on Feb. 7, 2006 for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The torch starts its Venetian journey at the Piazzale Roma. Torch-bearers will carry it to the Rialto Bridge where it will board a gondola and go down the Grand Canal to the Royal Gardens near St. Mark’s Square. If you are in Venice on the 17th, please take some photos and send them in!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Venice Flooded

ROME (Reuters) - Bad weather battered much of Italy on Saturday, bringing heavy snows to the north, torrential rain to the centre and widespread flooding to Venice.

Hundreds of cars and lorries were snowed in on roads across northwestern Italy, while the tram system in Italy's financial capital Milan was knocked out for most of the day thanks to the winter storm.

In Venice, water covered 70 percent of the historic centre as heavy rains combined with a high tide to inundate the lagoon city. In parts, the water was so high it covered the raised walkways set up to overcome any eventual flooding.

In the northern region of Liguria, a cargo ship sank when strong winds drove it into a breakwater outside the port of La Spezia. All 13 crew were saved but authorities fear 14,000 litres of oil will leak from the ship's tanks, causing a possible environmental disaster.

The storm also hit Rome, drenching the Italian capital and flooding one of the main roads into the city.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Microwave Your Books-Innovative Restoration Methods on Display in Venice

From news:

Restoration gets far-out in Venice
Fair showcases technology's applications for culture world (ANSA) - Venice, December 3 - The more innovative and unusual side of the art restoration world is being showcased this weekend at Venice's annual culture trade fair.

The Salone dei Beni Culturali is an opportunity to compare notes for a wide range of institutions and professionals engaged in protecting and promoting Italy's cultural heritage.

Heaps of inventive new developments have already been presented at the ninth edition of the show, which kicked off Thursday at the port's 'Terminal Passeggeri' and runs until Sunday.

Among the most eye-catching was one that involves the use of microwave ovens to conserve historic books and documents.

A group of experts from the Italian State Archive said they discovered that most of the tiny insects and microbes which attack paper cannot stand temperatures above 51 degrees centigrade.

So to kill them off, they just pop the documents in a special microwave for a few minutes and the job is done without any need for chemicals, which can be damaging. The main thing to have emerged from the event is how the world of culture is quickly tailoring new techniques and technological developments designed for other fields to meet its needs.

Progress made by engineers with lasers, for example, is being exploited by restorers to clean up metal objects, while new infrared technologies are making it possible to find out about ancient ceramics without having to interfere with them in any way.

This year the fair is also placing great stress on ways to help local authorities and museums promote cultural tourism - both to finance conservation and boost the local economies - with a series of presentations and workshops.

The event, organized by the Culture Ministry, has also provided a platform to show off a range of conservation programmes in Italy and abroad.

One of the most significant is Irpp/Saah, a Council of Europe project that aims to promote cultural cooperation for the conservation of 160 historic sites in the Balkan region. It involves seven countries - Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia - several of which were recently at war with each other. "The work started in 2003 and entails cooperation between specialists and authorities from the countries taking part and international experts," explained Council of Europe Director General Gabriella Battaini Dragoni.

"In this sense it aims to make a tangible contribution to the development of democratic societies, with citizens participating regardless of ethnic or religious distinctions."