Gio Ponti and me, once upon a time…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked in a Gio Ponti building.  I loved being in that great building (Denver Art Museum).

So when I came across this cool pic of Ponti in Milano, I thought, it’s about time I said something about him.

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Celebrating the Milano Design Week with a picture of Gio Ponti at the top of the Grattacielo Pirelli (Milan-1959).
(c)Archivio Gio Ponti

An Italian kiss

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When Perugia-born clothing designer Luisa Spagnoli first invented the hazelnut-centred chocolate in 1922, she called it a cazzotto because it resembled a fist. The name didn’t ring right to Giovanni Buitoni, managing director of the Perugina chocolate factory and Spagnoli’s younger lover—Buitoni was 14 years her junior.

The idea of asking a shop assistant for a “punch” just didn’t resonate with the entrepreneur, who was also on the board of directors of the famous pasta brand. Buitoni commissioned futurist artist Federico Seneca to design the packaging and concept, hence the silver wrapping and the tiny slip of paper printed with a quotation about love we still unfurl today.

The box depicting two lovers locked in an embrace was inspired by Venetian Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss (1859), on display in Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera. All these factors proved a winning recipe; a 1927 advertisement claimed, “In only five years, Perugina has sold 100 million Baci”.

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Francesco Hayez’s “The Kiss” (1859)
For Spagnoli and Buitoni, business was never solely about making money (he was also the mayor of Perugia between 1930 and 1934). The pair looked after their employees in a time when corporate social responsibility was practically inexistent: terraced housing and a swimming pool were built near the workplace; dances, football matches and social occasions were regular occurrences; and a nursery was opened at the Fontiveggi factory during the First World War, so that female employees could bring their children to work while the men were away at war.

In 1939, the chocolates set sail to the States, opening a shop to rave reviews in New York’s Fifth Avenue. Luisa Spagnoli did not live to see the overseas success of her chocolates. In 1935, at age 58, the businesswoman passed away in Paris with throat cancer, Buitoni steadfastly by her side.
The enterprise continues to go from strength to strength. In 2018, Baci Perugina were rebranded. Gone are the entwined lovers, replaced with a scattering of gold and white stars topped with a contemporary logo. Limited Edition, Extra Dark 70% and Milk are minor variations on the original dark chocolate recipe. Looking down from the firmament, Luisa Spagnoli and Giovanni Buitoni, who went on marry the opera singer Letizia Cairone two years after Luisa’s death, surely would be proud to see the product of their love sweetly primed for the future.

This article is from: http://www.theflorentine.net/lifestyle/2019/02/the-backstory-on-baci-chocolates/?mc_cid=1f26260e4d&mc_eid=2a398b6f2f

 

Carnevale in Pietrasanta!

Think of Carnevale in Italy and you are sure to think first of Venice.  I know I do!

But the season is alive throughout the peninsula and the small ones have a charm that Venice, for all its glory, lacks.

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Yesterday I had my first taste of a smaller, home-grown version of the Carnevale parade in the lovely little artsy town of Pietrasanta.  This small town is part of Versilia on the coast of northern Tuscany, about 20 miles north of Pisa and 15 miles south of Carrara. Only 2 miles from the coast, you can quickly reach the beach of Marina di Pietrasanta and the fashionable Forte dei Marmi.  But those two places are best reserved for a warmer time of year.

The Carnevale in Pietrasanta is composed of locals, young and old, and devoid of pretension.

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That’s what I liked most about it!

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Of course it didn’t hurt that it was a beautiful, almost spring-like day with cerulean skies and puffy white clouds.

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Now, here’s the thing: I don’t know what I was expecting, but the Pietrasanta parade was made up of about 6 major floats with companies of participants associated with each float.  The floats ranged in subject matter from the Moulin Rouge, to Dr. Spock, to Michael Jackson’s Killer.

 

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To me, it felt more like a Halloween parade than a celebration of a religious matter.

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But, it was unabashed, and I loved it for that.  It reminded me of my home town, way across the pond in the prairie states of the US.

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A fun time was had by all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Venice Carnival, opening February 16, 2019

These are my pictures of the carnivale from 2017.  I can hardly believe that I never got around to posting them.  It was a wild, exuberant experience I will never forget.

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s event: https://veniceevents.com/news-blogs/venice-carnival-2019-dates-and-events

And now, finally, 2 years late, my photos:

 

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I was in Venice in 2017 for the water parade. Amazing floats skimmed along the Rio di Cannaregio waterways. It was quite a spectacle.  I managed to get a bird’s eye view in the 2nd floor home of a perfect stranger, a delightful Venetian man and his wife!  All of these images were shot from their window.

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As I left, I got a couple of shots of the delightful Venetian man who shared his window with me and a woman from Russia who went with me to Venice.

 

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The Russian woman (we were classmates in Italian language school in Florence) wanted to buy an elaborate mask and she did!

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The wigs available in Venice at this time of year are astounding.

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And the costumes, oh my Lord!

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Santa Maria della Salute, possibly the world’s most beautiful church and location.

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