Wednesday, October 11th, 2000 Vicenza
Up early, washed my hair while Jim walked his morning stroll. We met a couple at breakfast from Washington, DC. Told them the easy way to find a hotel...park, and then walk!
Walked to the Information and then stopped to buy postcards at a Tobacco Shop. He offered to sell me postage stamp so I said fine. I’d like enough for twenty cards. Well, this confused him as I’d only purchased six cards. Finally seemed to understand me but he picked up a strange single stamp out of a box next to his register. I paid the bill but wondered about the extra stamp? Later, we went back to the Information girl and she asked us to wait a moment. She went over to his shop and came back and told us to go back and he’d give us back the money as that was a stamp for mailing a card within Italy only. He hadn’t cheated me but sold me something I couldn’t use. He was very nice when I went back.
Found the Teatu Olimpico. One of the last projects of Palladio; he actually died in 1580; before it was completed on March 5, 1585. The outside was never completely finished. It is the last of the old and the first of the new theaters in Europe. Interesting items:
1) It is acoustically perfect. He chose this site because it was an old castle ruin sitting at the crux of two rivers. Thus, he knew that there would always be humidity. This is the basis for ensuring great acoustics. This stage is still used without benefit of microphones for amplification.
2) It is made of all wood because of the cost and also because of weight. The land is very soft in this area…that’s how Palladio got his start. He was a stone cutter and was hired to shore up a building that was sinking into the ground. They were so impressed with his work that he was hired to do other building and eventually built them all over Europe. The building appears to be of stone and marble because a special marble dust is used in the final coat of paint to give it the look and texture of marble.
3) It was closed for two centuries due to potential fire danger. Because it was entirely of wood and the original lighting was by torches; until electrical lights were installed it was not used.
4) No young actors are permitted to perform due to the proximity of the stage to the public seating areas.
5) The ceiling was closed in, all old theaters were open to the sky. This one is painted with blue sky and white clouds to give the appearance of being open. Also the statutes along the top of the back of the seating are similar as those that would be atop a building. Looks very much like the artificial sky at Ceasars Palace in the Forum (shop) area in Las Vegas.
6) Stage Sets. Original Palladio intended for a new set to be build for each production. After his death they hired someone to build a set for the first production which was about “Oedipus Rex”, a Greek Play by Sophocles. The sets were built along the Greek/Roman style and the people liked them so much they insisted that they be permanent. There are seven streets off the main stage. No one seat can see down all seven. They are built so that they appear to go on forever!
7) There has never been a heating system installed. Now they do musical concerts and once a year in the fall there is a play put on.
This was one of the most impressive theaters that we’ve seen in Europe.
As we left the theater it was raining lightly. Continued to rain the rest of the day. We walked towards where Jim thought he’d seen the Internet this morning while he was trying to keep pace with soldiers who were training in full pack down the city streets. He got lost doing this but also that’s how he found the Internet. Finally about noon we found it again but since they close at 12:30 until 4 pm we decided to come back at 4 as it’s very close to our hotel. We also saw some wood ducks. Checked the price and decided they wanted too much even if it was hand carved and hand painted. The one we liked was over $170.00 and we felt that was a bit extravagant for this budget trip!
Walked about town seeing Palladio’s different buildings and finally went into the Ristorante Al Pardiso for a nice sit down lunch and early dinner. Pizza, salads, breads dipped in oil and vinegar and beer! Then on to the ice cream store for dessert! Is that on the diet?
Back to the hotel for a well deserved nap and time for Jim’s heel to recover. We think he has a bone spur, as he’s too old for his growth center to hurt! He thinks he hurt it several weeks before we left the States…something to do with trying pads in his shoes or something. But I can tell it really is very painful at times. He also thinks his occasional knee problem is left over from last year when he was jumping on and off the boat in France! We’re both getting aches and pains and most of the time can’t remember how they started!
Walked to the Internet Shop and signed on....deleted about one hundred messages in each of our boxes. Typed about five joint e-mails to friends, family and co-workers. Some clients too. Took us over an hour. Keyboard was not too hard as most keys were the same except for the @, and other punctuation marks. Never did find the delete key so just backspaced a lot. Took me a while to find the apostrophe so I just didn’t use contractions until about the third letter.
Then we went to the parking garage to get the car out and put it in front of the hotel tonight for leaving tomorrow morning. This was a real challenge as they are constantly moving the cars. We found our car on top of a rack and they had to move about four other cars to get our car out. They leave them in neutral so that can rolls them without opening the doors whenever possible. Scary but fun to watch! Drove the pedestrian streets to the hotel with our special parking permit that the hotel had given to us for the night; we found one in front of the hotel. Then off to McDonalds for a Big Mac and a Bacon Burger, We brought the food back to the hotel room for dinner. Really raining hard outside since we left the Internet shop. On to Florence tomorrow and postcards to write tonight!