|Members of Save Venice attended the biannual Summertime in Venice Gala in Venice and environs from Sunday, August 26 through Wednesday, August 29.
Those attending, predominantly Americans, came from New York, Boston, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago, along with guests Venice, Milan, and Sao Paulo.
The glamorous four-day affair was led by chairman Matthew White, president Beatrice Rossi-Landi, Gala Co-Chairs included Dina De Luca Chartouni, Stephen and Anne Fitzpatrick Cucchiaro, Mary and Howard Frank, Cat Jagger Pollon, and Juan Prieto.
The biannual gala is an opportunity for Save Venice patrons to engage with one another, share experiences of the city, and learn about ongoing restorations through lectures, tours, cocktails, lunches, and dinners.
On the first day in Venice guests are participated in Save Venice’s treasure hunt (conceived by Michael LaPlaca). Three Nardi brooches donated by Venetian jeweler Alberto Nardi (who, along with his wife Marta Nardi, served as the gala’s Venice Co-Chairmen) served as the hunt prizes.
In the afternoon, guests were ferried to a concert at The Church of San Sebastiano, sponsored by Mara and Charles Robinson and the site of one of Save Venice’s most important ongoing restorations, where they sat beneath The Coronation of Esther, painted by Paolo Veronese at the age of 27.
Francesca Bortolotto Possati, longtime Save Venice International Gala Chairman, hosted an intimate dinner at the beautiful Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, a former convent, on the Island of the Giudecca.
|On the second day the group met at the Palazzo Zen in the Sestiere of San Polo — from the palazzo, tours were led by scholars Frederick Ilchman and David Rosand to the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari as well as to The Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The Scuola Grande houses a breathtaking cycle of biblical paintings by Tintoretto, several of which were restored by Save Venice in collaboration with Venetian officials.
An early evening of cocktails at the Accademia Galleries was sponsored by Elizabeth Locke and John Staelin, and saw the unveiling of Titian’s Presentation of the Virgin, an awe-inspiring painting whose restoration by Save Venice was completed only days before the gala.
As specified in the invitation, the dress was white: ladies in cocktail attire and men in light summer suits. Among the most noteworthy styles were: a dress with an ice cream sundae printed on the bodice (worn by Elizabeth Stribling) and a suit with scalloped lapels and a widow’s-peak collar worn by Thomas Schumacher.
|Cocktails were followed by dinner and dancing at the Palazzo Contarini dai Scrigni, where Save Venice’s Chairman thanked hostess Cat Jagger Pollon with a showering of white rose petals.
Ms. Pollon, accompanied by a band of gondoliers, led a rousing rendition of “New York, New York,” which inspired (almost inevitably) a group of New Yorkers including Charles Tolbert, Rick Miramontez, and Andy Snyder to blossom into a formidable kick line.
|The following morning, before lunch in the gardens of the Hotel Cipriani, Save Venice's Chairman Emeritus Bob Guthrie provided an introduction to several lectures. Scholar Theodore K. Rabb lectured on the historical implications of Venice’s superabundance of art.|
|Fellow lecturer, Mary Frank, preempted the evening’s black tie ball with a précis of the literary and artistic history of the Palazzo Barbaro, a building steeped in cultural history of Americans abroad. It was an ideal site for the gala’s black tie ball.
Passed down through generations of the Barbaro family, the Palazzo Barbaro was purchased by wealthy Bostonian expatriates Daniel and Ariana Curtis in 1885. During the American “Gilded Age,” the palazzo was a haven for Americans: John Singer Sargent (who was only technically an American, brought up and coming of age entirely in Europe), a cousin of Curtis, was a frequent visitor, James McNeil Whistler, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Claude Monet, and Elizabeth and Robert Browning.
Henry James was both a visitor and admirer of the palazzo, which he wrote about in his novel The Wings of the Dove. Dinner at the palazzo was generously sponsored by Costa Cruises, and fortunate members of the gala (author included) dined beneath famed works of art like The Glorification of the Barbaro Family by Tiepolo; The original Glorification now resides in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
|The final day of the gala was no less full of activity. After an extensive tour of the Giorgio Cini Foundation (sponsored by Mary Kathryn and Alex Navab) with special attention paid to the architecture of Palladio and Longhena, lunch was served at Compagnia della Vela (Venice’s Yacht Club) on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
In the evening, guests boarded twin Venetian galleons for a sunset cruise across the lagoon to the sylvan Island of Torcello. Once at Torcello, guests sipped Bellinis and enjoyed a final dinner at Locanda Cipriani (punctuated by a surprise engagement), with gifts provided by Seguso.
|While some of the guests returned to Venice after dinner, others — a winsome group including Christian Trimmer and Jamie DuMont — commandeered a galleon for an extensive Disco Cruise. The Lazares family, Juan Prieto, Brooke LaNier, Shana Terry, and others aboard the floating discotheque danced late into the evening, enjoying farewell glasses of Prosecco and stunning views of the lagoon. The gala, which furnished guests with the opportunity to experience Venice as a thriving organism of art and culture, left an indelible memory and ongoing appreciation of the rich Venetian heritage that Save Venice has worked tirelessly to preserve.
Reporting by Thomas Spry
Photographs by Mary Hilliard