Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Palazzo Labia

July 13, 2009

Back to class.Today we learned the past tense, or at least the most common one, the passato prosima. It is definitely more useful than the future, which we learned last week but which you can avoid a lot of the time. You need the past a lot.

Our conversation for the first two hours was about sports, not one of my favorite subjects. When you are learning about Italian culture, you can't avoid dicussing calcio (soccer). Trying to explain that Americans follow different sports in different seasons and the importance of college sports in my limited Italian was hard but Will had even more trouble with the national sports of Iteland--Gaelic football and hurling. For the rest of class we talked about houses, rooms and things in rooms. That was a bit easier to cope with.

In the afternoon we viited the Palazzo Labia, which was built by a rich Venetian family that bought its way into the nobility. We were lucky to be able to see it since the building is owned by RAI, the raido and tv company and sala is only open by application. In the mid-18th century Tiepolo painted the Sala Grande in fresco for the marriage of the daughter of the house, who was painted as Cleopatra with fabulous pearls. There are a lot of architectural features and trompe l'oeil in the paintings. There is certainly a nod to Veronese as well, in the style of the composition.Because the Palazzo was built in different materials, keeping the painting stable is difficult because of movement in the wall so everything is wired up to monitors.

Afterwards we walked down past the Tre Archi bridge to the part of the university where the Department of Economics is housed. The buildings used to be slaughterhouse but the university hads remodeled them into very nice space. We also saw a charitable foundation started in the 15th centurey by Zuanne Contarini and still active today.

We walked back by way of the Internet point, Rialto, and our favorite, Billa. Then I went to a pasticceria in Campo San Tomà where I was able to buy cookies made from cornmeal. So I can have some dolci after all.

Now that dinner is over and I have done a little thinking about Italian, I am going to read. But I really miss having both convenient Internet access whenever I want it and a computer so I can wriet wasily whenever I want to. I will have to take all of that into consideration the next time we travel. I have been going back and forth on the idea of getting a netbook but I guess I will have to do some research when I get back. When you take as little luggage as I do, and you have to lug around a CPAP machine, you really don't want to bring another large piece of equipment with you and even a lighter laptop might be too big, even if it is not too heavy. A netbook might fit into my CPAP machine case.

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