blog > Posts tagged "Venice"

Un-tropical islands of Venice by Misha Lyuve

Aug 21, 2011

The un-tropical islands of Venice are pure contradiction. And all my time in Venice I couldn’t help but wonder – how do we make beauty accessible to the world and at the same time protect it from ourselves?

The combination of old buildings and bridges that are kept in just the right balance of being run-down and taken-care-of, interlaced with a one-of-a-kind maze of canals with a greenish hue and a subtle aroma – all together creating an experience of something perfectly charming and intoxicatingly irresistible. Go figure.

Overlay this charm with crowds of eager tourists and, complimenting their commercial urges, stores that sell everything from high fashion to fast food, tightly cramped into narrow streets and old building. My hotel host, a very very helpful woman, told me: “I came here because I love people – that’s my problem”. Indeed, it might be only “problematic” love for people that would have someone move to this zoo where locals slowly dwindle away and the ones that stay are hardly visible.

But how could I possibly stay indifferent to the romantic beauty of twilight reflections of old walls and wooden frames into the waters of canals or finding an unexpected quiet lonely piazza that managed to escape the curiosity of the mob? And how is is possible to share treasure without the sharing becoming detrimental to the treasure itself? (In case of Mona Lisa, they stuck it into a glass box – I am sure Leonardo da Vinci had something else in mind.)

Tired of all these grieves, Venice is sinking; or maybe the seas are rising; or both – there is a mystery to causes and effects that govern the world. In a desperate attempt to save the beauty, the MOSE Project is developing a system of flood gates, that are designed to block Venetian Lagoon from rising waters. So far the project has cost $7B and there is no agreement whether it will solve the problem and even if it does for how long. Should we continue exploiting Venice’s beauty or just let her peacefully go?

Italy’s Other Art by Misha Lyuve

Jul 17, 2011

Northern Italy spoiled me with great food, though a New Yorker at heart, I thought – bring it on, surprise me. From touristy trattorias on busy corners to quiet osterias on piazzas impossible to find and everything in between. In gastronomical explorations of Northern Italy, I learned that there is a clear difference between really great food and a work of art.       

Let’s start with the obvious: what makes an Italian meal really great are the recipes perfected for generations and high quality produce. But a work of art?    

Paolino Cesare, the owner of Ristorante da Cesari, Bologna

Paolino Cesare, the owner of Ristorante da Cesari in Bologna, black truffles and hydrangeas

In Bologna, the ”grasa” (fat) capital of Italy, Paolino Cesare, whose dad started Restaurante da Cesari in 1945, spent all his life in this place.  I watched Paolino taking an order: it’s like a dance of seduction, psychotherapy and negotiation – matching customers’ wants to the choices of the restaurant’s delicacies and wines.  And that is where art starts – it is personal.      

Tortellini in Brodo

Tortellini in brodo, in best traditions of Bologna, mouth-watering, da Cesari, Bologna

The second part of the art form comes from the integrity of its intent.  There are businesses that happen to be restaurants – they could even serve a really great food, be impressive and memorable. But in the art of food, a restaurant is a restaurant that just happens to be a business.  And that is turning into an old-fashioned idea.      

So I want to scream to the whole world:  rush to Bologna, visit da Cesari, because Paolino’s children are chosing different paths from their dad’s and maybe even in a few years from now this magic will not be around.      

Or, maybe, you are the one to bring your form of art and magic into the lives of those around you?    

Sarde in Saor (Sardines in Sour Sauce), Trattoria Rialto Novo, Venice

Sarde in saor (sardines in sour sauce), shamelessly scrumptious, Trattoria Rialto Novo, Venice

Buratta at Antica Bottega del Vino, Verona
Buratta (a mozzarella-like cheese injected with heavy cream), perversely decadent, at Antica Bottega del Vino, Verona