Monday, February 20, 2006

Villaggio Italia...If You Build It They Will Buy

Last Friday I returned to Nagoya Port to check out the Villaggio Italia complex.About five minutes walk from the nearest subway exit.To the left of the Nagoya Aquarium and Harbour Port Buildings.

Its basically a glorified shopping mall with cheaply constructed facades masquerading as being "Italian".
Whatever "Italian" atmosphere and ambience exists is lost in the shadows and Japanese public address system of the multi-storey carpark built adjacent to the area.
The "village" consists of a number of buildings including a wedding chapel and bridal shop if you are in a "Roman Holiday" frame of mind.There is also a narrow canal along which gondolas paddle for maybe 400 metres or so.

The main building houses a restaurant and various Italian themed shops.Theres a kind of supermarket/deli selling produce such as pasta,tinned goods and wine.I noticed the canned tomatoes could be got more cheaply in Nagoya.
No one seemed inclined to fork out 7000 yen for an obscure brand shirt.Nor did I see a rush for the plastic pizza fridge magnets.A bargain at 2,200 yen.
I was trying to find something authentically Italian other than the cheap glassware and garish migraine inducing ceramics available for purchase.Alas it seems the place was planned on the basis of travel pamphlet.
One wonders if the designers have ever been out of the country let alone Italy.Merely calling a shop "Garibaldis Sport Shop" or hanging up tacky movie posters doesnt help matters.
As for the actual building construction if you look closely,well not that closely you can see the thin plaster and plywood under the tiles.
The structures just dont have the permanence and solidity they are so desperately trying to replicate.
None of the materials used have a natural aged patina.The effect is all a little forced,flimsy and tacky.
There are a number of small restaurants and pizza joints but they too seem to be more a Japanese version of the real thing in terms of style and ingredients.What do you make of a purportedly Italian restaurant that advertises it has a Viking order menu??

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