Exhibitions Worth the Trip: Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale pavillion
Image: Giorgio Zucchiatti Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia.

Venice is well known for its wealth of art and architecture that inhabit the floating city, but did you know that contemporary artists live there, as well? At least, temporarily. From June 1 through November 24, 2013, Venice will hold the 55th Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, or better known as the Venice Biennale to the English-speaking world. The exhibition of art began in 1895 and is held every other year (on odd years.) Today, it showcases artists selected from around the globe to represent their country and is regarded as a premier showcase of contemporary art.

Artsmart Roundtable: Piranesi's Views of Rome

grand tour preudhomme
Grand Tourists painted by Jean Preudhomme in 1774.

Round the World travelers may act like they've stumbled on an original idea, but (and I hate to break it to them) what they're doing is sooo 18th century. Back in the day, British aristocrats set out on a tour of the sights of Europe and became part of the time honored tradition, the Grand Tour. What did tourists want to take home with them? Souvenirs and pictures of their travels, obviously. In Rome, these pictures were called vedute and the godfather of the vedute was Piranesi.

Artsmart Roundtable: San Pietro in Spoleto

spoleto basilica san pietro

Just outside the Umbrian town, Spoleto, I discovered a church that confused me. Perched all alone and covered in animals (both on the facade and surrounding the church, itself) it wasn't a sight that I had seen before. The litter of kittens wandering the grounds was quickly explained by the woman who drove up to feed them, tossing cat food from her car window. But the animals on the facade, they required more observation and contemplation. As I stood in front of the building, I racked my architectural historian database for points of comparison and came up blank.

Serendipitous Spoleto

spoleto street
Lately, I've found myself daydreaming about my trip to Italy last year, snacking on just pressed olive oil, finding odd hotel restaurants and wandering the streets of Spoleto. This post was originally published in December 2009.

Spoleto, a tiny hill town, nestled in the heart of Italy, was made famous by the arts and theater festival, Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto (or the Festival of Two Worlds), that takes place there every summer. Being that it was fall, we knew there were loads of food-centered festivals going on and we found one focused on olive oil to plan our trip around. We went to Spoleto with a quest. A quest for a great olive oil. While we didn't discover it where we intended, we did, however, discover Spoleto.

Travel Stories: A Hotel Restaurant That Did Not Suck

Freshly made strengozzi, an Umbrian pasta specialty.

I expected to be underwhelmed. Myself and my two Italian companions arrived tired and weary from our drive to Spoleto and we didn't feel like venturing into the city nor spend any more time in the car to find dinner. It happens. We knew that our options for a great meal would be limited in the tiny town we were staying in just outside the city. Our hotel actually had a restaurant, but it was only open in the high season. "Thankfully," I thought to myself, "we don't have to succumb to that fate." So, we padded downstairs to ask our genial hotel manager for somewhere to eat nearby. His advice, head to the hotel down the street instead; their restaurant was open. "Bummer," I thought, "we're going to overpay and be underwhelmed." We hesitantly headed that way and wondered whether or not we should muster the energy to get back in the car.