Liberal Arts Blog — Italy (Part Eleven) Vicenza — the “City of Palladio”
Liberal Arts Blog — Sunday is the Joy of Humor, Food, Travel, Practical Life Tips, and Miscellaneous Day
Today’s Topic: Italy (Part Eleven) Vicenza — the “City of Palladio”
Nestled at the base of the Berici hills and straddling the Baccchiglione river, Vicenza is 37 miles west of Venice and 120 miles east of Milan. Unlike many historic Italian towns, the city is thriving economically today. It is “the third largest industrial centre in Italy by the value of its exports” and “about one fifth of the gold and jewelry is made in Vicenza.” Today, a few more notes. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
“LA ROTONDA” — modeled on the Pantheon in Rome, a square with four porticos, each with statues of classical deities
1. “In order for each room to have some sun, the design was rotated 45 degrees from each cardinal point of the compass.”
2. “While the house appears to be completely symmetrical, it actually has certain deviations, designed to allow each facade to complement the surrounding landscape and topography.”
3. “Hence, there are variations in the facades, in the width of steps, retaining walls, etc. In this way, the symmetry of the architecture allows for the asymmetry of the landscape, and creates a seemingly symmetrical whole. The landscape is a panoramic vision of trees and meadows and woods, with Vicenza on the horizon.”
NB: Construction began in 1567, not completed until 1592, after the death of both Palladio and the owner. Four centuries later, the villa was prominently featured in Joseph Losey’s film version of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” — one of the greatest cinematic adaptations of opera ever. Up there with Ingmar Bergman’s “Magic Flute” (1975) and Zeffirelli’s “La Traviata” (1982). No better introduction to opera than these three films.
TEATRO OLIMPICO — one of only three Renaissance theaters still in existence, design by Palladio, trompe l’oeil stage set by Scamozzi
1. “The theatre was inaugurated on 3 March 1585 with a production of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.”
2. “However, the theatre was virtually abandoned after only a few productions. The scenes, which had been created in wood and stucco for Oedipus Rex, and which were meant to represent the streets of Thebes, were never removed: despite bombings and other vicissitudes, they have miraculously preserved into modern times.”
3. “The original lighting system of glass oil lamps, designed by Scamozzi, heightened the illusion of space, has been used only a few times because of the high cost and the risk of fire. Scamozzi’s lighting system was used when, in 1997, the theatre was again employed for a production of Oedipus Rex.”
PIAZZA DEI SIGNORI — the “Basilica Palladiana” and the “Torre Bissara,”
1. The Basilica was originally a Gothic structure. Palladio added the loggia in 1549. The lower floor columns are Doric. The upper Ionic.
2. The original function of the building was dual: shops on the bottom floor, the seat of government on the upper.
3. The tower dates back to 1172 when it was part of a private family’s palazzo. It was purchased by the city between 1211 and 1229. Destroyed during an Anglo-American bombing raid in 1945, it was restored after the war.
LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED THEMATICALLY:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Anything miscellaneous to share? Best trip you ever took in your life? Practical life tips? Random facts? Jokes? Or, what is the best cartoon you have seen lately? or in the last 10 years? or the last 50? Or what is your favorite holiday food? Main course? Dessert? Fondest food memories? Favorite foods to eat or prepare?
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind a memory that might otherwise disappear. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.