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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Castel Gandolfo

   
Author Topic: Castel Gandolfo
MattLeo
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Benedict XVI retired today to Castel Gandolfo -- the papal equivalent of the US President's Camp David.

This place is worth a look at, because it might tickle some ideas out of your imagination. It has a fantastic, almost science fiction look to it, possibly because of the presence of the Vatican Observatory observation domes on the roof.

Google Images: https://www.google.com/search?q=castel+gandolfo&hl=en&gl=us&source=lnms&tbm=isch

Spiegel photo tour:http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/photo-gallery-the-storied-papal-summer-residence-fotostrecke-93812.html

One of the remarkable things about this palatial residence is its exquisite taste. The papal villa at Castel Gandolfo is roughly contemporary with the French Palace of Versailles, but Versailles while unquestionably impressive and I suppose beautiful in its way, is somehow oppressive in its cyclopian scale and endless rococo ornamentation. It sprawls across a great flat landscape -- it *is* its own landscape.

The papal villa is also impressively large, but its scale can only be seen from afar; it rises from a natural ridge above Lake Albano and there is no place to stand were you'd feel loomed over by the architecture. As the Spiegel photos show, the grounds and palace have an intimate feel. Even the grand formal gardens are enclosed by ranks of Mediterranean cypresses.

The villa is the brainchild of Urban VIII who was a military expansionist, talented scholar, notorious spendthrift and patron of the arts. It's the kind of country retreat I'd make for myself, if I happened to be a great temporal prince and supreme religious leader. I'd definitely put a bunch of 16" to 24" telescopes on the roof, too.

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LDWriter2
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Hmm, not bad.

But to me it isn't so Science Fictioney.

Could be a good location for UF though.

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Robert Nowall
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Castel Gandolfo is also the town that surrounds the papal residence...the residence itself is a Renaissance palace built on the ruins of a medieval fortress.

For the sake of those who are interested, here's a link to the Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_Gandolfo

A certain fantasy element is suggested...I mean, Castel Gandolfo, "Gandalf's Castle?"

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MattLeo
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Well, I don't know about *Urban Fantasy*, unless it had a kind of Dan Browne thing going with exotic locations. Maybe RF (Renaissance Fantasy) -- an untapped vein of inspiration surely.

I think Castel Gandolfo could go either way -- sci fi or fantasy. The one thing about fashion in anything is that stuff that's modern very quickly looks antique. Brutalist architecture (yes that was the movement's name) was very avante garde fifty years ago, but people aren't commissioning buildings like this anymore. Maybe in fifty or a thousand years the style will come around again.

For me its the way that the observatory domes echo the church dome. One of the hallmarks of an old building is that technology obsoletes some functions and demands new ones. In London fancy townhouses had to have stables at the rear (called "mews") with considerable space for horses, fodder, carriages and tack. After the advent of the automobile the mews and the alley they open onto have become desirable real estate on quiet streets.

What if flying cars and trucks replaced surface vehices? How would the street in front of your house end up being used? What if people got places by teleportation. What would happen to the entries to our houses and office buildings? To the parking lots? Maybe buildings would have their security perimeters set up around an interior room.

I don't know if it matters from a storytelling standpoint, but it strikes me that most stories don't really depict how radically the little details of life would be altered by technological change. That' why old "futurist" visions always look so funny. When radio was invented the idea of having radios in your house wasn't obvious. People thought of it as a way to cut down on the capital cost of installing telegraph wires.

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MartinV
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Play Assassin's Creed games. They enable you to literally walk around the cities such as Florence, Rome, Istanbul etc. In appropriate time frames, of course.

[ March 01, 2013, 07:43 PM: Message edited by: MartinV ]

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Robert Nowall
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quote:
What if flying cars and trucks replaced surface vehices?
I remember a small bit in H. Beam Piper's Space Viking where they invaded a planet and were puzzled over a bunch of roads laid out together that hooked up to nothing and went nowhere...airports, of course, and unnecessary in a culture with flying cars. ("Back to the Future II" barely touched on the "change" issue...it's best left for us SF types to think of these things.)

*****

I gather, from the above-linked Wikipedia article, that the telescopes at Castel Gandolfo were moved there from Rome in the 1930s, used till the 1980s, and astronomical activity takes place at a location near Tucson, Arizona. Light pollution moved them both times. (I can sympathize with that...the telescope at my college in the early 1980s was rendered largely useless by light pollution.)

Here's a link to a Wikipedia article on the Vatican Observatory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_Observatory

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MattLeo
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Actually, I guy I knew in college works in the Vatican Observatory. Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ is a planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory. He's often called upon to make statements on scientific issues for the church(his take on creationism: it's a neo-pagan philosophy). He's also the author of TURN LEFT AT ORION, a superb amateur astronomy handbook. Most such books are aimed at people who've dropped several thousand dollars on

I've lost touch with guy after he left MIT, and had no idea he'd joined the Jesuits until I ran across his book one day. I hadn't even known he was Catholic.

Anyhow, the observatory wasn't relocated because of light pollution; it was moved because their office space in Castel Gandolfo was needed for other purposes. The observatory's offices were moved about a mile way to more spacious accommodations. I doubt they've moved the instruments on the villa roof, which are too small in any case (24 inches) for serious deep space work.

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