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Sunday, 12 August 2012

Donde el sangre tiene el color de la sangria...

Hola everybody!

Here I am, after a long week filled with work, friends and family who are claiming for a little bit of attention now that I am at home and many other business.

And here we go, with the second episode of the Spanish saga.
In fact, as I told you, Barcelona was just the first step of my pretty long trip, and after a week of craziness thanks to my wonderful friends, we had to say goodbye to two of them, but Chiara and I went on taking a flight to Vizcaya.

Never heard about it?
Well, despicable you!

Joking... :)
If you have no idea what Vizcaya is don't worry, you are absolute average.
In fact, the northern-east part of Spain is not only much less famous than Catalonia (where Barcelona is) or Andalusia (with its beautiful traditions and extremely hot weather),
but it's also much better known as BASQUE COUNTRY.

I guess that now a bell is ringing inside your head... isn't it?
Well, Basque Country is a marvellous and complicated State, divided between Spain and France, which carries its own culture, traditions and language.
That's why everything here is written both in Spanish and Euskadi, which sometimes can be confusing, but not if you come from Barcelona, where they also have another language: the so-called Catalan.

How many languages do they speak in that country?!
Well...many! But differently by Catalonia, it's very difficult in Vizcaya to hear someone speaking their traditional language, which is incredibly difficult.

By the way, there were hosted in Getxo, a beautiful village close to Bilbao, on the sea, by the lovely family of my great friend German,

and because of that we could take advantage of all the positive aspects that come from visiting a place with the people that usually live there.
especially in a place which is so incredibly full of culture as Vizcaya.
A culture that everybody claims to be free and recognised by the Spanish state.

How is that?
Ok, I will try to make you understand how I felt there.
First of all, take all the stereotypes you have toward Spain.
Perfect... now, trow them away.
ALL of them! Yes, even the corrida and the dried landscapes with reddish desert send and Mediterranean vegetation...
You sure?
Great! Now, think about a place where the houses are a middle way between a castle in Bretagne and a Norway little house.
Add some extremely green mountains, at the bottom of which the sea starts directly, with no interruption.
Put it all together with grey clouds, pretty a lot of rain, and a weather which seems to be more similar to the Irish one than to the one you would find in Barcelona or Madrid.
Here you go: this is Basque Country.
And believe me when I say: it's INCREDIBLY B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.

As I said, living there with them gave us the possibility to appreciate better the place.
So that, after the "Fiesta de la paella", which we attended the very first day there, and which is a super rave party that lasts and entire day where people drink as sponges and cook paella non stop, we started to visit the place and go around.

We first visited Gexto, with its beautiful and rich houses, which is considered to be the "Hollywood of Spain".

Something architecturally and historically interesting there is the "Ponte colgante", a huge bridge which used to separate the rich part of the town from the poor one, but also which was used to bring the servants who were working in the rich houses to their job.

Then we moved to Castro, a lovely sea town, which is famous as one of the stops for the ones who do the way of Santiago.
The roman bridge there is very nice, and very tall even if some young guys used to jump from it into the sea, as our friends told us.

After that, and after a very lucky (as it came out pretty well..) Italian dinner we set in Germa's family house in Castro, we then went to Bilbao with the expert guide of Monica and Marina.
First stop, and here we go with the most important topic I wanted to share with you in this post: the Guggenheim!

I must say: as a proud Venetian, even if I've been to the one in NY as well, I've always been thinking that the best one among the Guggenheims was the one in Venice, which used to be the house of Peggy Guggenheim as well.
But now...I have doubts, as the one in the beautiful city of Bilbao is really incredible.

Seeing it from afar is a real emotion, not only because of the Puppy, the famous flower sculpture by Jeff Koons which contribute to create a sort of surreal atmosphere around it, as it was the guard of this incredible art piece which is the museum itself.

It literally SHINES, thanks to the metal used for its structure, and being on a fake sort of lake it looks like a sea monster which is coming out of the waters in its magnificence but which could also be scary because of how massive it is.

What surprised me the most about this museum and the art pieces exposed was this sense of magnitude and almost impotence that I had never ever experienced before.
The art installation where confusing me, because of how big and emotionally engaging they were, becoming something which is very different from the classic art piece, even if modern or contemporary, because you are able to look at it and actually evaluate it.

But when you are in front of something which gives you uncontrolled emotions and also physical reactions which surprise you, it means that the artist created something which goes beyond the like or dislike: something almost alive, something which talks to you, in many different ways.

By the way, what I've appreciated the most was a temporary exposition of Hockney.
This artist who became famous because of his depictions of British country sides and then thanks to his marvellous photo collages, is also the pioneer of the paintings with the iPad.

Something which I thought was still very far from coming up in museums, especially famous ones as the Guggenheim, but which is absolutely artistically considered instead.
I have to say, some of the paintings were interesting, and I particularly liked the huge (but really...huge!) one he has made of a wood.
But most of them...mph!
Maybe they are art, yes, a new and revolutionary form if it, which privileges the immediate sensation of the artist, who is able to instantly portray it thanks to the technology.
But if you would ask me: is it a step forward?
I would say: NO!
It is not, and I wonder how relevant should this new form of painting be considered, if it is not something which brings the artist more far than he already was, but limit him and the result of its art.

But this is just my opinion, which I've been thinking about during some relax in the amazing beaches of San Sebastian,

 after going around the beautiful city of Bilbao to admire the Casco viejo, the oldest part of the city, but also the entrances of the metro made by Foster, which represent the contrasts of this place: industrial in origin, then art capital and still divided between the old nationalism and the modern tendencies to open itself to the world as a part of the Spanish community.

Have you ever been in a place that you felt like communicating something to you?
If you have, you'll understand how I felt in Basque Country.
All this culture and this conflicts make the air that you breathe feel the excitement all the time.
But at the same time, the air if fresh as you were in the mountains, and it smells good as the sea.
Everything around you is beautiful, but the factories are still present in the landscape, as a heredity of the commercial past of this area.
The people have blood as fire, but at the same time they are incredibly nice and they can't help but divide with you all the aspects of their singular culture, making you sing or dance or speak Euskadi, just because they love it and they are ready to defend with their own life if necessary.
All of this, and more.
A jump in a sea of emotions and engagements which, when is the moment to leave, makes you feel as you miss something.
Something that you would find just there.

And that's why you have to come back.
I'm telling you: I will.


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