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tourist /ˈto͝orəst/ (noun)

a person visiting a place for pleasure

oxford dictionaries

view of isola bella from stresa, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

and, isola bella (beautiful island) was a pleasure to visit, even if it could be described as turistico.

isola bella, a private island owned by the borromeo family since the 16th century, is located northwest of milan, on the west shore of lake maggiore near the town of stresa.

map of lake maggiore

photo credit navigazione laghi

when the borromeo family started transforming isola bella into a baroque palace in 1632, the architecture and the landscaping were designed like a ship.  palazzo borromeo is the bow, the dock is the prow, and the garden terraces are the bridge.

the ship like design of palazzo borromeo

photo credit adam broomberg & oliver chanarin

palazzo borromeo

the dock is located on the ‘port’ side of isola bella near the ‘bow’

the ferry terminals are located on the ‘port’ side of isola bella near the ‘stern’

photo credit augustus mayhew

both the palazzo and the gardens overflow with heraldic symbols, which include the borromeo family motto humilitas (humility), and borromeo family icons like the unicorn, or the borromeo rings.

the borromeo family coat of arms

photo credit borromeo turismo

Coat of arms of the House of Borromeo

diagram of the borromeo family coat of arms

the motto humilitas (humility) fills the top panel

the unicorn is on the left side of the left panel

the borromeo rings are in the lower right corner of the left panel

photo credit wikimedia commons

relief moldings of the coat of arms from several branches of the borromeo family line the grand staircase in the entry hall of palazzo borromeo.

grand staircase

photo credit roberto marinoni

the family motto, humilitas (humility), appears and reappears in the gardens and in the palazzo.

the borromeo family motto humilitas (humility) on a garden terrace

photo credit werner kratz

a statue holding the borromeo family motto humilitas (humility), the borromeo family crown, and a flag

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

a medallion with the borromeo family motto humilitas (humility) on the ceiling of the salone grande (grand hall)

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

a succession of 17th-19th century architects designed the palazzo and the gardens, but the palazzo wasn’t completed until 1952, when the salone grande (grand hall) was finished according to the original plans.

  salone grande (grand hall)

photo credit adam broomberg & oliver chanarin

in addition to the galleria dei quadri (picture gallery), palazzo borromeo is famous for the salone degli arazzi (tapestry hall).  the seven borromeo tapestries, woven of wool, silk, silver, and gold in brussels around 1565, feature the unicorn, another family icon.

one of the seven borromeo tapestries

photo credit j zinn

a statue of the unicorn, ridden by love, tops the amphitheater, which is a focal point of the baroque gardens.

unicorn, ridden by love

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

the baroque gardens are composed of ten descending terraces, which form a pyramid ornamented with grottos, basins, fountains, and obelisks.  the size, quantity, and orientation of the ornaments and the statues, which personify the rivers, the seasons, or the winds, glorify the achievements of the borromeo family, and provide an impressive approach to the island from any direction.  grottos, shells, and statues fill the platforms of the amphitheater, which is located on the upper terrace.

amphitheater

photo credit michel guilly
and, free range white peacocks graze near the grottos, and through out the gardens.

white peacocks

photo credit frommers

but, during our visit, the white peacocks looked like this, instead.

white peacocks

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

grottos also fill the basement of palazzo borromeo.  the six grottos in the basement, which were designed in 1685, but finished 100 years later, are paved with lake pebbles set in baroque scroll and shell patterns.  the grottos not only provide a refuge from the summer heat, but also provide a passageway from the palazzo to the gardens.

one the six grottos in the basement of palazzo borromeo

photo credit adam broomberg & oliver chanarin

the borromeo rings, another icon that symbolizes the friendship between the visconti, sforza, and borromeo families, occur and reoccur on statuary and ironwork in the gardens.

a statue holding the borromeo rings

photo credit flickr

a gate crowned by the borromeo rings

photo credit borromeo turismo

view of the baroque gardens on isola bella from stresa, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

do you think that the isola is bella?

travel /ˈtravəl/ (verb)

to take a journey, especially of some length, or abroad
oxford dictionaries

villa d’este | lake como | cernobbio, italy

photo credit leading hotels of the world

traveling to villa d’este on lake como in cernobbio, italy could certainly be described as a journey to a luxurious location.

lake como, located about an hour north of milan, is shaped like an inverted Y.  alto como, the upper leg of the lake, intersects with the lower legs of the lake, lecco to the east and como to the west, at the town of bellagio, located on the punto (point) at the center of the lake.

map of lake como

photo credit navigazione laghi

when visiting athens for the first time, a greek friend recommended putting everything into perspective by hiking to the top of philopappos hill, near the acropolis, first.  when visiting lake como for the first time, taking guided tour of the park at villa serbelloni in bellagio, puts everything into perspective.  the views of all three legs of the lake are spectacular.  but, the town of bellagio could only be described as turistico.

view of alto como from the park at villa serbelloni in bellagio

the town of menaggio is on the left, and the town of varenna is on the right

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

view of the lower legs of lake como from the park at villa serbelloni in bellagio

the lecco leg of the lake is on the left, and the como leg of the lake is on the right

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

villa serbelloni is now split into two properties, the rockefeller foundation bellagio center, which promotes the ‘well-being of humanity’ by supporting the work of scholars, artists, thought leaders, policymakers, and practitioners through conferences and residency programs, and the grand hotel villa serbelloni.  many of the other 17th-19th century villas located on the como leg of the lake, such as villa del balbianello in lenno, villa carlotta in tremezzo, or villa melzi in bellagio, also feature spectacular parks and botanical gardens.

villa del balbianello | lenno, italy

photo credit c majno

villa carlotta | tremezzo, italy

photo credit villa carlotta

villa melzi | bellagio, italy

photo credit scott l robertson

and, villa d’este is no exception.  villa d’este is located in cernobbio, a town at the southern end of the como leg of the lake.  a most convenient location considering that my husband, bob, and i are explorers instead of resort goers.

even so, we couldn’t resist lounging by the hotel pool, which floats on lake como, every evening before dinner at a restaurant recommended by an italian friend. (grazie mille…)

floating pool | villa d’este | lake como | cernobbio, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

villa d’este was built in 1568 as the summer residence of cardinal tolomeo gallio from como.  it was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1873 by combining the cardinal’s villa with adjoining properties.

cardinal building | villa d’este | cernobbio, italy

photo credit italianvisits.com

we arrived at villa d’este the day after the formula 1 grand prix in monza.  (strategic planning…)  so, our lake view room in the cardinal building was upgraded to a lake view suite.  (lucky us…)


view of lake como from our suite in the cardinal building at villa d’este in cernobbio

photo credit  lisa walsh | innerspace

you could also stay in the queen’s pavillion, which was built in 1856 on the site of a medieval monastery that was constructed in 1442.  the remains of the monastery are now part of a ruined labyrinth built by english king george IV’s wife, caroline of brunswick, who owned villa d’este from 1815-1820.

queen’s pavillion | villa d’este | cernobbio, italy

photo credit lisa walsh |innerspace

if you prefer, you could also stay in a private villa.

villa cima | villa d’este | cernobbio, italy

photo by glenvis loci

villa malakoff | villa d’este | cernobbio, italy

photo credit italy-hotels-trip
while, the rooms could be characterized as classico, the setting and the gardens could only be described as magnifico!   some parts of the garden were added during the 18th century.

18th century garden facing the entrance to the cardinal building at villa d’este in cernobbio

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

the perspective of the 18th century entrance garden

during our visit, gardeners had just started replacing the coral impatiens with red and white begonias (goodbye summer, hello, autumn…)

photo credit jennifer deppe parker

arco del pastore (triumphal arch) at the end of the perspective

photo credit lisa walsh |innerspace

while, other parts of the garden date to the 16th century.  renaissance period architect pellegrino pellegrini (1527-1596) designed not only the cardinal building, but also the nymphaeum in the lower gardens.

the 16th century nymphaeum in the lower gardens at villa d’este in cernobbio

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

the fountain inside the nymphaeum

the mosaics are made of colored marble splinters

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

one of the bas relief plaques inside the nymphaeum

in 1985, two contemporary plaques of ‘love’ and ‘solitude’ by sculptor francesco somaini (1926-2005) were added to the origial eight bas relief plaques

photo credit jennifer deppe parker

but, some parts of the garden combine both periods.

fontana di ercole (fountain of hercules) in the upper gardens at villa d’este in cernobbio

water from the fountain cascades over 130 renaissance period granite basins as it flows down the hillside towards the nymphaeum

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

18th century statue of ercole e lica (hercules and lica) inside the pavilion at the top of the hillside

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

18th century statue of ercole e lica (hercules and lica)

the statue of ercole e lica is from the workshop of antonio canova (1757-1822)

photo credit jennifer deppe parker

magnifico, no?

ps. click here to read more about villa d’este on AD daily.

over memorial day weekend, we saw the steins collect | matisse, picasso, and the parisian avant-garde, an art exhibit at the san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma).  followed by midnight in paris, the new woody allen film.  (a rare occurrence for my husband, bob, who prefers live entertainment.)

surprisingly, the film and the art exhibit are related.

midnight in paris

midnight in paris | written and directed by woody allen | 2011

the steins collect:  matisse, picasso, and the parisian avant-garde

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA | may 21-september 6, 2011

grand palais | paris, france | october 3, 2011-january 20, 2012

metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY | february 21-june 3, 2012

photo credits imdb and sfmoma

the steins collect reunites approximately 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and illustrated books collected by writer gertrude stein (1874-1946) and her family in paris during the early 20th century.  the steins became important patrons of avant-garde artists, particularly pablo picasso (1881-1973) and henri matisse (1869-1954).  the steins were known for their saturday evening salons, where artists, writers, musicians, intellectuals, and collectors gathered to discuss contemporary art, culture, and ideas.  the stein salons have even been described as ‘the first museum of modern art’!

midnight in paris transports you to the stein salons in paris during the 1920’s.  in one scene, gertrude stein (played by kathy bates), is seated in the salon of her residence at 27 rue des fleures in front of the picasso portrait of gertrude stein from the exhibition.

1014884

man ray | gertrude stein in her salon writing | black and white photograph | 1920

beinecke library | yale university | new haven, CT

photo by beinecke library | yale university

pablo picasso | gertrude stein | oil on canvas | 1905-1906

metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY

photo credit metmuseum.org

gertrude stein|kathy bates|the art of film

gertrude stein (played by kathy bates) | midnight in paris

photo credit sonyclassics

stein and picasso (played by argentinian actor, marical di fonzo bo) are discussing a (faux) portrait of picasso’s (fictional) mistress, adriana (played by marion cotillard).

stein picasso

picasso painting

faux picasso

gertrude stein (played by kathy bates) and pablo picasso (played by marical di fonzo bo) | midnight in paris

pablo picasso (played by marical di fonzo bo) with a (faux) portrait of his (fictional) mistress | midnight in paris

(faux) picasso portrait | midnight in paris

photo credits sonyclassics, sonyclassics and maupes

in another scene, stein and matisse (played by french actor, yves-antoine spoto) are negotiating the purchase of a painting.  for 500 francs!

henri matisse | woman with a hat | oil on canvas | 1905

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit ben blackwell

the midnight in paris cast of characters also includes gertrude stein’s brother, leo stein (1872-1947), her partner, alice b. toklas (1877-1967) (who answers the front door), and other avant-garde artists, writers, or musicians who could have frequented the stein salons in paris during the 1920’s.

cameo appearances include:

artist salvatore dali (played by adrien brody)

photographer man ray (played by tom cordier)

writer ernest hemingway (played by corey stoll)

writer f. scott fitzgerald and zelda fitzgerald (played by tom hiddleston and alison pill)

writer t.s. eliott (played by david lowe)

filmmaker luis bunuel (played by adrien de van)

and, musician cole porter (played by yves heck)

the chronology isn’t always art historically accurate.  but, midnight in paris is a woody allen film, so being in the right place, doing the right thing, at the wrong time just becomes part of the fantasy.

maybe you will enjoy this unexpected combination of art and entertainment as much as we did!

circle of animals/zodiac heads, a public outdoor sculpture exhibition by chinese artist/activist, ai weiwei, recently debuted in new york and london, following a september-december 2010 appearance at the biennale in são paolo, brazil.


ai weiwei | circle of animals/zodiac heads

2 may-15 july 2011

pulitzer fountain, grand army plaza, new york, NY

photo credit arrested motion

 ai weiwei | circle of animals/zodiac heads

12 may-30 june 2011

somerset house | london, united kingdom

photo credit somerset house

the world tour of the exhibition continues at the los angeles county museum of art (lacma) from 20 august 2011-12 february 2012, followed by appearances in pittsburgh, PA, houston, TX, and washington, DC.

it seems ironic that the exhibition debuted in london, since the sculptures were inspired by the bronze heads of the twelve animals of the chinese zodiac that once surrounded the fountain in the gardens of the old summer palace (yuanmingyuan), a qing dynasty (1644-1911) imperial retreat near beijing.  the european-style gardens were designed by jesuit missionaries giuseppe castiglione and michel benoist for the qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795), who was fascinated by western architecture, science, and engineering.  unlike western cultures, the chinese measured time in twelve two-hour periods.  so, the missionaries engineered the fountain, which functioned as a water clock, to pump water from the head of a different zodiac animal every two hours.

the twelve zodiac animal heads disappeared when british and french troops ransacked the old summer palace in 1860 during the second opium war.  since then, some of the zodiac animal heads from the fountain have reappeared on the international art market, most recently in christie’s sale of the legendary collection of yves saint laurent et pierre berge in paris on 23-25 february 2009.

bronze rat head | from the zodiac fountain at the yuanmingyuan | qianlong period (r. 1736-1795)

from the collection of yves saint laurent and pierre berge

photo credit les cahiers d’alain truong

bronze rabbit head | from the zodiac fountain at the yuanmingyuan | qianlong period (r. 1736-1795)

from the collection of yves saint laurent and pierre berge

photo credit les cahiers d’alain truong

the sale of the bronze rat and rabbit heads from the collection of yves saint laurent and pierre berge created a controversy.  first, china’s foreign ministry issued a statement that the rat and rabbit heads were national treasures that should be returned to china, and attempted to block the sale.  but, christie’s and pierre berge refused to withdraw the lots.  then, a chinese national, cai mingchao, bid 31.4 million euros (US$40 million) for the rat and rabbit heads, and withheld payment in protest.  so, the rat and rabbit heads from the zodiac fountain remain in the collection of pierre berge.

since 2000, the tiger, monkey, ox, boar, and horse heads from the fountain have been acquired by or donated to the poly art museum in beijing.  the locations of some of the other animal heads from the fountain remain unknown.

according to ai weiwei, the animal heads from the fountain were:

‘…designed by an italian, and made by a french[man]…’

‘…i don’t think that’s [a chinese] national treasure…’

this is not surprising, since ai weiwei’s work explores what is fake, real, authentic, or valuable.  he often incorporates antiquities like classical chinese furniture or chinese ceramics into his work…some of my favorite antiques to combine with modern furnishings in my projects at innerspace interior design.

but, the way that he reinterprets these classics could be considered either inspired or irreverent.

constructive?

altar table (qiaotouan) | huanghuali wood | ming-qing dynasty | 16th-17th century

grace wu bruce | hong kong

photo credit grace wu bruce

ai weiwei | table with three legs | qing dynasty table (1644-1911) | 2008

ai weiwei four movements exhibition | phillips de pury | london, united kingdom | 3-28 march 2009

photo credit phillips de pury

ai weiwei | crossed tables | qing dynasty tables (1644-1911) | 2000

sold for 45,600 pounds | phillips de pury | london, united kingdom | 22 june 2007

photo by phillips de pury

evolutionary?

blue and white porcelain bird feeder | ming dynasty (1368-1644) | xuande mark and period (r. 1426-1435)

sold for US$50,000 | christie’s | new york, NY | 17 september 2008

photo credit christie’s

blue and white porcelain cricket jar | ming dynasty (1368-1644) | xuande mark and period (r. 1425-1435)

suzhou museum | suzhou, china

photo credit wikimedia

ai weiwei | owl house 4A | blue and white porcelain | 2010

haines gallery | san francisco, CA

photo credit artnet

destructive?

painted grey earthenware cocoon jar | western han dynasty (3rd-2nd century BC)

sold for US$2500 | christie’s | new york, NY | 24 march 2011

photo credit christie’s

ai weiwei | coca-cola vase | han dynasty vase and industrial paint | 2010

ai weiwei (copenhagen) exhibition | 18 november 2010-27 march 2011 | faurschou | copenhagen, denmark

photo credit artnet

ai weiwei | colored vases | 31 han dynasty vases and industrial paint | 2010

ai weiwei exhibition | 13 may-16 july 2011 | lisson gallery | london, united kingdom

photo credit lisson gallery

or, revolutionary?

ai weiwei’s work is considered so controversial in china that, on 11 january 2011, chinese officials ordered the demolition of his shanghai art studio because it did not comply with building regulations.  then, he was arrested on 2 april 2011 in beijing.  and then, he was charged with tax evasion.  now, everyone is wondering when he will be released.

‘release ai weiwei’ sign posted on the facade of the tate modern museum | london, united kingdom

photo credit randomwire

and, i’m also wondering why circle of animals/zodiac heads is appearing in pittsburgh and houston, but not in san francisco.

ps.  on 22 june 2011, ai weiwei was released on bail.  however, the conditions of his bail forbid the artist/activist from speaking to the media for at least a year.

everyone seems to be asking.  does the color make the room?  or, does the room make the color?

click here and here to read more.

at the 2011 san francisco decorator showcase, it seems that there are ‘two sides to every story’.  to reflect how color affects the atmosphere of a room san francisco interior decorators and stagers, green couch, designed adjoining bedrooms with identical floor plans and furnishings, but with different color schemes.

green couch even designed a mirror-like opening between the mirror-image bedrooms by extending a wall that could not be removed!

photos credits peter medelik

one bedroom feels more animated because of the bold, contrasting color scheme.

photo credit peter medelik

elitis | tp 104 08 | rayures wallpaper |  green, red, and apricot

photo credit elitis

merida meridian | valedo recycled leather flooring | angus pattern | chocolate

photo credit merida

f. schumacher & co. | 173991 | fireworks linen & cotton fabric | mandarin

photo credit schumacher

while, the adjoining bedroom feels more serene because of the neutral, tonal color palette.

photo credit peter medelik

elitis | tp 104 01 | rayures wallpaper | white, cream, and grey

photo credit elitis

merida meridian | valedo recycled leather flooring | angus pattern | bone

photo credit merida

f. schumacher & co | 173993 | fireworks linen & cotton fabric | frosted natural

photo credit schumacher

i think that jeff schlarb and lisa bakamis, the green couch design team, probably developed their design concept by letting the furnishings determine the colors.

what do you think?