Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Prehistoric Venice" Uncovered Near Pompeii

This comes from ANSA.it news:

2006-11-28 18:05
Mythical canal city emerges
'Prehistoric Venice' comes to light near Pompeii
NAPLES (ANSA) An ancient canal city is emerging outside Pompeii, Italian archaeologists say.

Recent digs have unearthed traces of the mythical Sarrasti people, previously known only from Etruscan descriptions.

A large dock has been found, anchored by huge poles and linked to a series of canals dating back to the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 BC).

Huts and other wooden structures have been uncovered, perfectly preserved in the age-old mud - making the site unique in Italy.

"We like to call this settlement Italy's 'prehistoric Venice'," said Pompeii archeological superintendent Pietro Giovanni Guzzo.

Archeologists have also found some of the artefacts that made the site at Longola near Pompeii famous in the ancient world, Guzzo said.

"We have oak canoes. We have countless objects carved out of animal horn and bone, as well as bronze and ceramic pieces," Guzzo said, predicting that Longola would "soon have a tourist site all of its own".

The latest object taken out of the soil was a long, strong, tapered pickaxe-like tool.

"This looks like it did a lot of the donkey work at this hard-working, prosperous city," Guzzo said.

"It symbolizes the strength of the Sarrasti," he said, showing the pick to reporters.

The Sarrasti are believed to have dominated the area around the Sarno river until the arrival of the Greeks and Etruscans.

Historians say the city at Longola survived until the foundation of Pompeii in the Sixth Century BC.

The photo comes from the article on ANSA.it

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Holiday Presents

Since here in the US, the holiday shopping season has officially started, I thought I'd offer a few suggestions.

The first is a great present for anyone headed to Italy, especially those going for the first time. Italy: Instructions for Use: The Personal, On-site Assistant for the Enthusiastic but Inexperienced Traveler by Nan McElroy. Nan, according to the book jacket, "has been traveling, eating and living in Italy as often as possible since 1995." (Nan now lives in Venice.)

I have Instructions for Use in front of me as I type this. It's 110 pages of useful information from how do you pronounce things in Italian to shopping and eating. It also has ten tips for the American traveler. My favorite? "Sometimes there's nothing to be done." You can buy the book at Amazon.com or Barnes&Noble.com.

Nan, an American living in Venice, also has a great blog (her latest post describes a pasta-making session).

Can't get enough Venice? Do you really miss it when you're gone? If so, take a look at the photography of Andrea Zanatta (thanks to Nan for turning me onto his work). I agree with the blurb in his book that says he is "one of the most interesting photographers of the young generation in Italy." Put Andrea's book on your Christmas list, or it to your favorite Venice fan. You can buy Andrea's book at Amazon.com.

Who says you can't get good food in Venice? That's a common (misguided) complaint I hear about Venice. Chow Venice: Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima, (Second Edition) makes a great gift for people hunting for good meals in Venice. Co-authors Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum only print reviews of restaurants/bars they've eaten in--and enjoyed. The second edition is due on December 15th--plenty of time to wrap. Order from Amazon.com or Barnes&Noble.com .

Finally, this isn't Venetian, but it's a great taste of Italy. Olio Nuovo, or just crushed olive oil. I can safely post this because my order is already in! If you have never tasted just-crushed olive oil, you're in for a treat. It's like nothing you get in a supermarket! If you'd like to treat yourself or give a really nice gift, check out Casa de Case's website and get your order in fast. [Dec. 13 NOTE: Too late--the olive oil is sold out. And too bad if you missed out because it's wonderful. I've been enjoying mine and I'm not sharing!]

Note: I'm not getting paid by any of these people. I know them (but they don't know I'm posting this) and have enjoyed these things (before I knew them!). I'd be happy to get any of them as a gift and think the Italy/Venice fans in your life would enjoy them too.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Government Says No to Tourist Tax

From WantedInRome.com:

Government scraps proposed tourist tax.
The government has scrapped plans for a tourist tax, which would have allowed Italian towns and cities to add €5 per day to foreign visitors' hotel bills.

The withdrawal of the levy from the 2007 budget was met with relief by both the national and international tourism associations and operators, particularly smaller local companies, who feared that this would have dissuaded foreigners from visiting Italy. Culture and tourism Minister Francesco Rutelli has expressed his support for the U-turn, commenting on the government's “wise decision”.

Italy's most popular tourist destinations, Rome, Florence and Venice, had previously shown support for the proposed tourist tax as a means for improving and maintaining monuments, tourist facilities and services and keeping the cities clean and orderly.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Clock Tower Opens to Visitors!

(from AGI) - Venice, Oct. 31 - The Clock Tower reopens to the public and offers - on reservation and with a specialised guide - an extraordinary visit of one hour including a close observation of the complex mechanisms of the clock a splendid view from the balcony on St. Mark square and on the whole city. Upon reservation, the entrance is free of charge for Venetians from 4 to 12 November 2006 at all working hours; from 13 November 2006 to 31 March 2007, upon request, from 4.00 pm. There can be a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 12 visitors. Visits are possible every day (besides 25 December and 1 January) with a fixed schedule. The visit is available only on reservation and with a specialised guide and it covers the five floors of the tower. After the first stairs made of stone the visitor approaches a small room that illustrates the history of the tower. From here it is interesting to observe the interplay of pulleys, weights and counterweights that rise and fall silently at regular intervals. After a winding metal staircase, the visitor approaches the complex Clock Machine. It can be closely observed and an explanation of its principal functions is provided. Another staircase leads to an upper floor where there are wooden statues of the Magi and the Angel, as well as two precious doors from which, on the occasion of Epiphany and Ascension Day, the statues join the procession. From here it is also possible to see the internal mechanism of 'Ta'mbure' of the nineteenth century with the digital indication of hours and minutes. One floor up and the visitor arrives in a room full of ancient objects belonging to the machine, which was made in the 15th century. From here the visitor accedes to two lateral balconies and through yet another winding staircase, to the terrace of the Mori where one can admire huge statues, as well as a splendid vista of Venice and the lagoon."

I'll be in Venice next week for a few days--I hope I'm successful in getting a tour!

The photo is from FlickR.

40th Anniversary of Great Flood Coming Up

November 4th will be the 40th anniversary of the flood that made people pay attention.

"The trouble began on November 4, 1966, when an extremely high tide swept into Venice and refused to leave. For 15 hours, Venice was inundated by the sea. In historic Saint Mark's Square the water was four feet deep. Luckily, no one was killed. But the place was a disaster zone.

"In a single day, the city and the world were forced to face a harsh reality: Venice was sinking into the sea.

"Today flooding has become a fact of life. Instead of floating above the water, the 15th and 16th century buildings are often filled with it, and the ancient bricks are gradually dissolving away." (From Nova, "The Sinking City of Venice)

I took this photo in November 2002. When I took it, the water in San Marco was knee deep. I couldn't imagine what it looked like under 4 feet of water!

The Nova website, Sinking City of Venice, has lots of information on the flooding problem. You can also read the transcript to their show, "The Sinking City of Venice."

The VENETO INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE, LETTERS AND ART in Campo Santo Stefano is going to hold a conference called, "Is There a Future for Venice? Reflections 40 years after the 1966 flood." It will be on Nov. 2 at 10 AM. Contributors include Ignazio Musu, Gherardo Ortalli, Andrea Rinaldo and Wolfgang Wolters.

Sorry for the late notice, but I just found out about it. If anyone attends, please give us a report.

Information, Veneto Institute of Science, Letters and Art, tel. Web site: www.istitutoveneto.it.

Florence will be remembering a different, deadly flood on November 3. "At 5am on November 3, 1966 the skies over Tuscany opened and poured non-stop for 18 hours, causing an unprecedented artistic, economic and human disaster. The River Arno burst its banks, flooded the city and claimed 29 lives.

Mud and water swamped the museums, churches and libraries of the birthplace of the Renaissance, ruining many great works.

The damage caused was incalculable. But it was a fraction of the devastation the city would have suffered without the efforts of thousands of young volunteers who came from all over Italy and from abroad to save the art treasures and help Florence off its knees." (From ANSA.it)

More than 2,000 of those volunteers are scheduled to return to Florence for 100 different events focusing on the flood.

Let's hope these two great cities never face such disasters again!