The modern nation of Italy was formed in 1861 following decades of wars to liberate the various regional kingdoms from French, Spanish, Austrian, and Papal rule. In 2011, Ottawa's "Little Italy" celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Italian Unification by rejuvenating the historic immigrant neighbourhood on Preston Street.
One of the fresh new elements involved the placement of a public art project entitled "Postcards from the Piazzas." The work consists of 15 pedestal sculptures installed along Preston Street, each representing a unique aspect of Italian immigrants' life. The artist, cj fleury, spent two years researching and interviewing Italian immigrants in this neighbourhood. Many of the objects and quotations that appear in the art are genuine personal artifacts of local people.
To solve the puzzle and find the cache you'll take a walk down refurbished Preston Street to discover the clues hidden on the sculptures. The series begins at Preston's North end with two Gateway pedestals at Primrose Avenue, and finishes at the posted coordinates near the "Little Italy" arch at Preston's South end. The pedestal sculptures are on both sides of the street and can be visited in any order, so you can park anywhere along Preston.
The Final will take you to another historic centre of Italian immigrant life in Ottawa. We won't post any hints here, but this area also underwent a renovation for Italy's sesquicentennial. Plan to spend some time enjoying the site and reading about it afterwards. While it is possible to walk there from Preston Street, there is free parking at the Final and you may prefer to move your car.
Walk along Preston Street between N45° 24.624 W075° 42.925 and N45° 23.972 W075° 42.533 to admire these unique sculptures. Each pedestal's base is labelled in sequence from "1/15" to "15/15". Read the tri-lingual inscriptions on the columns to find the Italian words in the puzzle below. When you find one of the words, take the digital root of the number on that pedestal and substitute it into the coordinates. If you don't find the word on any pedestal, use "0".
EXAMPLE: Suppose you were looking for the word "PERSINO". You would find this word on sculpture #15, and thus replace it with a "6".
N45° 2 [M E T À] . [F I O R E] [S T E L L E] [F U O R I]
W075° 4 [F O S S E] . [F I U M E] [N I E N T E] [A V E V A]
Take your time and try to see the artist's vision. What object is depicted in each sculpture, and what does it have to do with Italian culture? Some pedestals are placed in significant locations, such as the Marco Polo tribute where Little Italy intersects with Chinatown. See if you can identify other connections!
Brochures are available at either end of the walking tour: near Pedestal #3 at the BIA office (118A Preston St. above May's Garden Restaurant, open normal business hours) or Pedestal #15 at Pub Italia (434½ Preston St., open 11am-midnight). The detailed descriptions won't help you solve the puzzle, but they will enhance your appreciation of the artwork. For instance, you would learn that Marco Polo's column is decorated with architectural elements of Venice from where he set sail, and the featured bronze item is a map of Asia. This sculpture about a water journey is set in front of the historic Plant Bath.
With a name like "Postcards from the Piazzas" - it had to be a Letterbox! Feel free to leave us a postcard. Hand-carved stamp inside but no ink pad.
Terrain is all sidewalks but involves a 3-km walk. Winter conditions may not be suitable for stroller or wheelchair.
This is a very busy urban area. DON'T park illegally; you WILL get a ticket. Plenty of parking along Preston Street using the pay parking kiosks (we suggest 60-90 minutes); free parking harder to find on side streets. The Final is in a free parking zone.
Ma uffa! Not another Fee&me overexposed urban hide! At least they're not micros, and easy to find. You'll be fine if you remember that "Stealth" means blending in and being unremarkable, not sneaky and furtive.
SUMMER TIP: Having spent four years in Italy, let us offer some advice. In nice weather, older Italians will sit outside enjoying the fresh air - for hours! Staring is not considered rude. So if you find yourself with an elderly Italian-born spectator, try not to be the most interesting thing for them to look at. And don't waste your time trying to outwait them; their curiosity will exceed your patience. On warm sunny days, you might want to bring a decoy (a partner or fancy camera) and be ready to walk away rather than burn the hide. A cold, cloudy or windy day assures privacy!
WINTER TIP: From October-April the pedestals are helpfully identified with bright yellow poles to keep snow-clearing equipment away - which means you may have to do some digging to reveal the required information.
Initial swag is Italian-Canadian, with unactivated "Vendemmia" trackable for the FTF.
If posting photos, take care to reveal no clues about the Final area or hiding spot!!