Despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, Palazzo Chigi of Ariccia is staging two landmark exhibitions: “The Light of the Baroque” and “Angels and Demons” by Armenian artist Arshak Sarkissian.

Although so different in style and theme, the two exhibitions are actually closely connected. The Sarkissian event is part of a bilateral cultural exchange between Italy and the east European Armenian republic, initiated last year when Palazzo Chigi curator Francesco Petrucci exhibited part of the Ariccia collection in the National Gallery of Armenia at the capital city of Yerevan, where it was enthusiastically received. This is the first exhibition of Sarkassian's work to be staged in Italy.

The Light of the Baroque” is a major exhibition featuring works from the palace's own collection (considered to be Italy's most important collection of Roman Baroque art) as well as masterpieces from private collections, some of which have never been available to the public before. “Stars” of the show are two works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini: the “San Sebastiano” painted in 1648-49 for the Barberini family and the “Angel” from the collection owned by the artist's descendants. Other leading artists of the Roman Baroque whose works can be admired in the exhibition, include Dughet, Carlo Maratta, Voet, Luti, Borgianni and others.

Both exhibition run until 10 January 2021.

Palazzo Chigi of Ariccia, the former summer residence of Pope Alexander VII and his family, is one of the major tourist attractions in the Castelli Romani hills near Rome, renowned also as the setting for some scenes in Visconti's epic film “Il Gattopardo”.

Info: Tel. +39.9330053 www.palazzochigiariccia.com info@palazzochigiariccia.it

MARGARET STENHOUSE

Posted on 18 Oct 2020 by Editor

With foreign travel limited this summer, Italians have been holidaying in the home country, generally not far afield.

The Lazio region around Rome offers endless possibilities to discover little known beauty spots, like the little Lake of St. Benedict, in the narrow valley underneath the famous monasteries of St. Benedict and his sister, Santa Scolastica at Subiaco (Lazio). Virtually unknown except to the locals until recently, the pool and waterfall have now become so popular that there is now a (modest) fee to access the steep and pebbly path that leads down to the banks of the Aniene River, which rushes crystal clear through the gorge to join the Tiber near Rome some kilometres distant.

Subiaco is one of the stops on the 300 km St. Benedict Trail that starts from Norcia in Umbria (the saint's birthplace) and ends at Montecassino.

Autumn is the perfect season to join this hike, with all the trees dressed in glowing autumn colours.

Info: www.camminodibenedetto.it

Posted on 14 Oct 2020 by Editor

The annual major Slow Food event Terra Madre Salone del Gusto (Mother Earth Taste Fair) opened on the 8th October 2020, with all due precautions taken to protect participants from contact with the Covid 19 virus.

The major conferences involving top international experts are available via Zoom with both English and Italian subtitles. Topics discussed include climate change, geopolitics, immigration, the degradation of natural resources and a more sustainable food system.

Debates continue throughout October 17-19 (20 Years in the Name of Biodiversity), 23-24 (Terra Madre Bergamo – one of the worst hit Italian cities of the pandemic), 12-18 November (Terramare Napoli) highlighting regional food.

Other countries around the world participating in the event are the UK, Germany, Philippines, Switzerland, Brazil and Azerbaijan.

Terra Madre is the most important event dedicated to good, clean and fair food and small-scale agriculature in the world. It is organized by the Slow Food movement, the city of Turin and the Piedmont Region, in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea Protection.

Info: Tel. Slow Food headquarters: +39.0172419611 www.terramadresalonedelgusto.com

Posted on 10 Oct 2020 by Editor

 

A photographic exhibition documenting the Italian lockdown is on show until the 1st November 2020 at the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Capitoline Museums, Rome. “Lockdown Italia – as seen by the Foreign Press” features a collection of photographs portraying crucial and significant aspects of the pandemic that hit Italy early this year – the first western country to bear the brunt of the Covid 19.

 

The images cover a wide range of themes, from the desperate fight to save lives in hospital intensive care departments, the eery atmosphere of deserted streets and piazzas, the sobering lines of coffins inside churches, the disinfecting of public transport and open spaces, theatre and cinema audiences conforming to the rules of social distancing and the many extraordinary gestures of generosity and support among the Italian populace.

The images captured are the work of 30 full or affiliated members of the Foreign Press Association in Italy (Associazione della Stampa Estera in Italia), many of whom took considerable personal risks by entering contaminated areas and hospital wards where the virus raged.

The exhibition preview was visited by the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, who remarked on the ability shown by the Italian people to unite in times of trouble, the unstinting generosity of both medical staff and volunteers and the many “silent heroes” who gave time and resources to help those in difficulty.

In the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, Trisha Thomas, President of the Foreign Press Association, praised the Italian government's handling of the pandemic: “Many of us come from countries that handled the virus differently, when bickering, lack of unity or arrogance got in the way of national good. Italy, instead, has emerged as a shining example and we, as the Stampa Estera, were here to show it to the world.....it was our job to go to the intensive care units, interview doctors and nurses, visit nursing homes and follow funerals.....we showed the world how Italy, its government and its people, were coping...”

Exhibition info: Tel.060608 www.museicapitolini.org/mostra-evento/lockdown

Posted on 08 Oct 2020 by Editor

The floodgates of “Moses” have finally gone into action, saving the city of Venice from the habitual situation of flooding during storms and high seas. The recent test successfully held off the dreaded “acqua alta” (high water), when Venetians and tourists alike have to don rubber boots to cross Piazza San Marco.

The mammoth project, involving 4 moveable barriers with a total 78 metal panels, stretching for 1.5 km across the mouth of the lagoon, was approved in 2003, after a long gestation period stretching back to 1966, when one of the most disastrous floods in living memory devastated the city. Even worse floods hit Venice last winter, giving fresh urgency to the project.

The construction was initially opposed by environmentalists who feared that the ecosystem of the lagoon would be compromised if the natural ebb and flow of tides were interrupted. The present project allows the barriers to be raised and lowered according to necessity. The gates are filled with water and lie on the seabed until high tides exceed 110 meters, threatening Venice and its treasures. At that point the water is forced out by compressed air, allowing the barriers to rise and block the tidal invasion.

The Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (Experimental Electromechanical Module) as the “Moses” is officially called, has still to undergo extensive maintenance and will not be finally completed until 2021.

Info: www.mosevenezia.eu

Posted on 04 Oct 2020 by Editor

For the first time in recorded history, loggerhead sea turtles have chosen to lay their eggs on the beaches near Rome. An endangered species, the turtles have always avoided the stretch of coastline from the port of Civitavecchia to the popular seaside resorts of Cerveteri and Ladispoli, which are inevitably full of people.

The clutch of eggs laid on the beach between the two resorts was immediately put under the protection of the Tartalazio Association, created specially to protect and assist the turtles. Coast guards patrolled the areas to keep the curious away while volunteers moved eggs that were in danger of being swept away by storms and stood guard over them day and night.

The precautions paid off. The eggs laid at the beginning of August hatched at dawn a few days ago and between 30 and 40 tiny turtles made it safely into the sea. This is the third clutch of loggerhead turtles to hatch out in the Lazio region, after those further south of Rome, at the Island of Ventotene and the town of Fondi.

Info: Tartalazio on Facebook

Posted on 01 Oct 2020 by Editor

Lake Nemi in the Alban hills near Rome claims to have the first underwater wine cellar in Italy. Following a successful experiment last year, when 300 bottles of local Caligula DOC wine, produced in the volcanic crater of Nemi, were laid to mature on the bottom of the lake, the “submerged wine cellar” is to be amplified and improved ready to receive the 2020 “annata.

The absence of oxygen and the constant temperature of the water guarantees ideal conditions for the wine to mature, according to the diving team operators, directed by diving instructor José Amici, in collaboration with Nemi Town Council and Coldiretti, the Italian National Farmers Association.

Info: www.underwaterteamitaly.com www.comunedinemi.rm.gov.it

Posted on 28 Sep 2020 by Editor

Despite all the limitations imposed by the present pandemic, Italy's cultural scene flourishes. This weekend is dedicated to the Giornate europee per il Patrimonio (European Heritage Days), an annual event involving the Italian Ministry of Culture (MIBACT) and Rome city council, with the support of the European Council. The programme demonstrates that Rome's ancient archaeological sites and centuries-old art collections and museums are by no means static entities.

Rome's state museums will be open Saturday night with a special reduced entrance ticket of 1 euro. Several iconic sites, such as the Colosseum and the Palatine, are also staging outdoor concerts and wellness programmes. Special guided tours are available on Saturday and Sunday in the Appia Antica Park that include the exhibition “Lessons by Raphael”.

Puppet performances enliven the Baths of Caracalla, as well as a saxophone concert at the Palazzo Altemps Gallery. The archaeological site of the Drugstore Museum (a converted supermarket) in the Ostiense necropolis will open specially for a theatrical performance., as well as the historic State Archives with rare documents and letters on display. The Villa Borghese Museums opens its “Secret Gardens” as well as hosting an open air recital in the Park by the Under 25 virtuosi of the Santa Cecilia conservatory with a programme that spans from Mozart to Philip Glass.

To mention just a few of the many unusual attractions on offer.

Info: www.comune.roma.it

Posted on 25 Sep 2020 by Editor

Traces of Italy's oldest domestic dog were recently discovered in one of Italy's most important paleolithic sites on the Gargano peninsula (Puglia).

The exclusive find, by a team of Italian and French researchers coordinated by the University of Siena, and published in “Scientific Reports”, dates the fragments of dog teeth to between 14,000 and 20,000 years ago, several eras prior to dog bones and teeth found in Central and Western Europe, and before the establishment of settled agricultural communities.

Scientists believe that wild dogs, or wolves, originally attached themselves to humans to scavenge food and gradually became hunting partners and watchdogs.

This is not the first sensational find yielded by the Grotta Paglicci cave at Rignano Garganico (near Foggia, Puglia) which is decorated with prehistoric wall paintings of horses and handprints. Artefacts found in the cave include various animals and hunting scenes carved on bone, as well as a stone pestle and traces of wild wheat dating back 32,000 years, proving that pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer societies already practised food preparation.

Info: www.nature.com www.gargano.it/grotta-paglicci/

Posted on 22 Sep 2020 by Editor

A series of guided excursions to discover one of Italy's little known natural treasures are now available at Grottaglie (Taranto, Puglia).

The Gravine di Grottaglie is a natural area of rocky cliffs, deep canyons, cascading waterfalls and hidden lakes, more or less unknown in the outside world. The Grott'Art Association is now organizing walking tours with qualified guides through the labyrinthine grottos and corridors that reveal surprises like primitive rock churches hollowed out of the soft limestone, ancient cave dwellings and store rooms, clumps of olive groves and crypts.

The three principal tours take in the Lama di Pensieri, with Byzantine-inspired paintings in the Church of San Biagio, the Gravina del Fullonese, named after a small Jewish community that took refuge from persecution here in the 10th century, and the pine wooded Gravina di Fantiano, where the people of Grottaglie lived during the Middle Ages, complete with hollowed-out stairways and terraces linking the dwellings, and an outdoor theatre.

Grottaglie is arguably the most important ceramic city in the world with its unique craftsmen quarter where fifty different pottery craftworks are grouped.

The three-hour tours take place every Saturday and Sunday morning. Maximum 20 people per group. Tastings of local products are included.

Info: Tel. +39.0995623866 infopoint@comune.grottaglie.ta.it

Posted on 18 Sep 2020 by Editor

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