31 October 2008

silted-up ports and popping lenses

(Photo by Claudio Pedrazzi, selected for Google Earth)

Francesco Ceccarelli of the University of Bologna spoke last night on "New lands, villas, and towns of the d'Este: the idea of ducal territory in late sixteenth century Ferrara" as part of the SAH chapter lecture series. It was fascinating. Alfonso II, duke of Ferrara, was working on reclaiming the delta lands of the Po River between the city of Ferrara and the Adriatic Sea. What was especially intriguing to me was that the Venetians changed the course of the Po so that Alfonso's Porto di Goro and lovely villa of Mésola silted up and now are not so close to the sea. Not that people haven't always used every tool to best their enemies.

The hunting villa of Mésola is based on Serlio but, above ground, looks more like a medieval castle. Ceccarelli showed a comparison of the plans of Mésola and Chambord: marvelous similarities. Alfonso spent part of his youth at Chambord and generally liked doing things alla francese.

You may remember the silliness of my "loan" to the street fellow a couple weeks ago. A few days ago, I got on the F train at 14th Street. Just after I got on, a guy dropped his sunglasses just after getting on the train. One lens had popped out and he was peering at the floor. A couple people told him that the lens was just outside the door that had just closed. Miraculously, the doors opened momentarily. He picked up his lens and smiled at the folks and said something about miracles. The voice seemed familiar. Yes, it was my "friend" who did tech work for "The drowsy chaperone," still reaping the benefits of the street life where people "lend" you $20 and doors open when your lens falls out there.

Don't know why these stories of ports and lenses go together -- just you have to let the world move along. Christie and I were within relative inches of the town of Mésola as we drove between Mantova and Ravenna in fall 2001. I guess we'll have to go back to see Mésola (and Ferrara) but I'll have to learn how to be more frugal on these mean streets. I talked to Christie last night on the phone and we both decided you need to live now and not let the turkeys get you down.

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