ITALY TO PLANT 6.6 m TREES

According to a recent census carried out by the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (Italian State Forestry Commission), the Italian peninsula is host to approximately 12 billion trees, which equals the equivalent of 200 trees for every human inhabitant. This, however, is not considered sufficient to make an impact on global warming and present tree planting schemes by conservation organizations like Legambiente (Environmental League) aim to have added 6.6 million new trees before the end of 2024, with special attention paid, where possible, to metropolitan areas.

The Italian forests also contain many ancient trees, known affectionately as “Patriarchs”. The greatest number of these are oaks (2.407 listed), plus plane trees, pines and cypresses, while the tallest tree in the entire country is allegedly a 62.4m Douglas Fir, known as “the Italian Tree King” which grows in the heart of the Forest of Vallombrosa, Tuscany.

Sardinia came out as the surprise winner as the Italian region with the greatest forest extension, with the 173.000-acre Parco di Sulcis that covers the mountainous area of the south west of the island.

The Italian city with most trees – another surprise! - is Milan, which already has 465,521 urban trees, but aims to plant a further 3 million trees by 2030 to offset the negative consequences of air pollution and soaring summer temperatures.

M.STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.06.862681 www.legambiente.it legambiente@legambiente.it

Posted on 27 Nov 2022 by Editor

POPE'S XMAS TREE MUDDLE

After some initial hiccups, the Vatican can breathe a sigh of relief since the annual Christmas Tree for St. Peter's Square has finally arrived in good time for the 2022 festive season.

Every year, a different Italian region donates the Vatican tree, which dominates the centre of the great piazza in front of St. Peter's. This year it was the turn of Abruzzo and the regional authorities had picked out a majestic 30m-tall silver fir in the Monte Castel Barone nature reserve that spreads over the central mountainous area of the peninsula, near the charming village of Rosello, (total 182 inhabitants) classed among the most beautiful borghi (small historic towns) of Italy. However, after investigation, the chosen tree actually turned out to be over the Abruzzo border and in the territory of Agnone (celebrated for its bell casting industry) in the adjoining Molise Region.

To add fuel to the fire, environmentalists protested that a tree of this age (an estimated 200 years) and dimension (30m tall) should not be cut down at all. The dispute threatened to drag on for at least a month while the regional authorities sorted things out by which time, of course, the festive season would be well over. Luckily, the Christmas spirit of goodwill prevailed and the dispute has been amicably resolved, with a graceful withdrawal on the part of Molise, leaving the way free for Rosello, which chose an alternative tree from the Palena Tree Nursery in Abruzzo.

The new tree, a mere stripling of 62 years of age, has now been delivered, with the unveiling and lighting ceremony scheduled for the 3rd December. The tree will remain in situ until after Epiphany.

Info: www.comune.rosello.ch.it

Posted on 23 Nov 2022 by Editor

ITALY'S CITY VINEYARDS

The “Michelangelo Vineyard” is the latest entry into the network of vineyards in the heart of Italian cities. The vines are aligned along the slope under the Michelangelo Belvedere in Florence (hence the name) with views over the spread of terracotta rooftops, the dome of Santa Maria dei Fiori and the River Arno. Planted by the wine estate Donna Fittipaldi di Bolghera, run by Maria Fittipaldi Menarini and her four daughters, the first harvest is expected in 2025, with the resulting thousand bottles bearing the lily of Florence brand on their labels.

Other major Italian cities already have urban vineyards - some very old, like the vineyard in the cloister of the monastery of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice. It dates back to 1253, whereas the Island of Mazzorbo on the lagoon is home to the Tenuta Venissa, recently revived by the Bisol Family who can boast 21 generations of wine cultivators. Gianluca Bisol has planted the vineyard with Dorona, a native vine that had almost become extinct.

The Vigna del Gallo in Palermo is situated within the Botanical Gardens, founded in1789. The traditional vineyard was restored in 2019 with 195 vines planted, thanks to a project launched by the University of Palermo and the Consortium of DOC Sicilian Wines in which rare native vine stocks are studied and cultivated, while industrial capital Turin has its historic urban vineyard in the grounds of the former residence of the Queen of Sardinia and consequently named the Vigna Della Regina.

Perhaps the most fascinating old vineyard to visit is the “Vigna Leonardo” in the centre of Milan. This vineyard was gifted to Leonardo da Vinci in 1498 by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro. It can be visited in the grounds of the splendid renaissance Villa Atellani, restored in the 1920s by architect Piero Portaluppi, whose family replanted the vineyard for EXPO 2015 and enjoyed their first grape harvest in 2018.

The Urban Vineyards Association is a network of vineyards planted in city environments in Italy and France.

Info: Tel. +39.01194.34044 www.urbanvineyards.org

Posted on 19 Nov 2022 by Editor

SAN CASCIANO DEI BAGNI PREDICTS A BOOM

The amazing discovery of a cache of Etruscan /Roman bronze votive statues buried in the mud on the bottom of the hot mineral water baths at San Casciano dei Bagni (Tuscany) has galvanized this small historic town hitherto off the normal tourist track.

The town has under 1,600 residents, most of whom live in the outskirts. A mere 80 live in the historic centre, which has the common disadvantages of all Italian medieval towns, such as difficult car access, narrow streets, flights of stairs, few shops and services - all factors that discourage young families from settling there.

During the past few years, a successful yearly Festival called “La Terrazza” has been held in San Casciano over the summer months to attract visitors, in addition to the normal spa clientele. However, this has had nothing of the impact expected to be produced by the recent sensational discovery, which hit the headlines all over the world.

The two-year long excavation campaign in the old hot spring baths involving teams of archaeologists and archeology students from various countries, coordinated by the University for Foreigners in Siena, brought the old town to life, says lady mayor Agnese Carletti, who predicts a future boom of visitors.

The find, in fact, has been described by Massimo Osanna, Director General of Museums of the Ministry of Culture, as “the most sensational archaeological find since that of the celebrated Riace Bronzes”, discovered fifty years ago by fishermen off the Calabrian coast.

The Minister has promised that the treasure trove of 24 bronze statues of gods and goddesses, along with numerous inscriptions in both Etruscan and Latin, a host of votive objects and some 6000 coins in gold, silver and bronze, will remain in San Casciano, in a brand new museum to be set up in a 16th century palace in the town's historic centre.

In the meantime they have been transferred to the Italian Centre of Restoration in Grosseto Tuscany) for the necessary care and preparation for their conservation.

Info: Tel. +39.0578.58141 www.sancassianoliving.it

Posted on 15 Nov 2022 by Editor

WHAT ARE SINOPIE? PISANELLO SECRETS REVEALED

The Ducal Palace of Mantova is running a special exhibition to mark the revolutionary discovery in the 1960s of the cycle of frescoes by Antonio Pisano, better known as Pisanello, that had been concealed under coats of plaster for 5 centuries.

The works covered some 100 sqm in two adjoining rooms formerly known as the Room of the Princes and the Room of the Popes on the piano nobile of the palace. The paintings depicted the cycle of the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, with the emphasis on battle scenes and jousts.

The frescoes had been detached from the wall and much of the original colour lost. However, the sinopie, or preparatory drawings, in red ochre pigment or black, that the artist had traced as guidelines on the wall were clearly revealed and this rare find caused great excitement at the time among art experts and restorers.

The frescoes had been smothered under layers of plaster and fragmented by alternations carried out over the centuries, such as the opening of new doorways, the lowering of the pavement and the installation of a fireplace.

The detached frescos have been mounted on steel frames and a raised footboard installed so that visitors can admire the scenes at the level they were originally intended to be seen at.

The exhibition also contains 30 works, including Pisanello's “The Madonna and Child with Saints Anthony and George” on loan from the National Gallery of London and the first time in Italy since 1862, some drawings from the Louvre in Paris and the enigmatic “Madonna della Quaglia” (Madonna of the Quail) from the Museum of Castelvecchia in Verona.

Pisanello Il Tumulto del Mondo” (the World in Tumult) until the 8th January 2023.

Info: Tel. +39.041.2411897 www.mantovaducale.beniculturale.it pal-mn@cultura.gov.it

Posted on 11 Nov 2022 by Editor

ROME AIRPORT IN THE LEAD

Rome's Airport Leonardo da Vinci has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan to cope with the predicted boom in air travel arrivals for Jubilee Year 2025 and EXPO 2030.

The new departure Terminal, which was opened in May 2022, is designed to handle 6 million passengers, in a 20,000 sqm area complete with shopping malls and restaurants and with 23 departure gates, 13 of which equipped with loading bridges for quick and easy boarding.

Particular attention has been paid to energy saving and the use of environmentally friendly materials.

The new Terminal has been constructed according to the internationally certified standards of Leed (Leadership Energy and Environmental Design). The high arched ceiling and huge window panels flood the area with natural light. High tech heating and air conditioning systems are programmed to function automatically according to the number of people in the Terminal, while energy is transmitted through solar panels mounted on large sections of the roof.

Italy's unique heritage has also been showcased with a number of ancient Roman statues of deities from the archaeological site of Ostia Antica on display.

Leonardo da Vinci has been rated “Best European Airport” four times in the past five years by the Airports Council International (ACI) in the category for hubs handling over 40 million passengers, the first time that an airport has won this award for four consecutive years.

Info: www.rome-airport.info

Posted on 07 Nov 2022 by Editor

UNESCO STATUS for the QUEEN OF ROADS

Not before time, the world famous Appia Antica road that connected Ancient Rome with Brindisi, the gateway to Greece on the Adriatic coast, has applied to be included in the list of UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES.

Known as the “Queen of Roads”, the first tract from Rome to Capua, near Naples, was built in 382 BC by the Roman magistrate Appius Claudius after whom it was named. A century later, it was prolonged to join up with Benevento and Brindisi. Considered a superb example of Roman construction, the entire length stretches 583 kms (364 miles) and long tracts of the original paving are still visible. It was also unique as being the first free “public road” where no tolls were charged.

Much of the fascination of the Appia Antica road is thanks to the monumental ancient Roman tombs alongside it. Most have been badly damaged over the centuries and stripped of all their rich marble facings and decorations, however, they still provide the same romantic picture that entranced illustrious 19th century visitors like Goethe and Shelley.

The best preserved of these monuments are in the First Mile leading out of the old city gates. The most famous is the impressive Tomb of Cecilia Metella, an obscure Roman matron, whose tomb has been exceptionally well preserved because during the Middle Ages it was converted into a fortress and incorporated into the city's defensive walls.

Elaborate tombs were, of course, the reserve of the wealthy, but the sepulchres of lesser mortals are equally stunning – like the Columbarium of Augustus' Liberti with rows of niches that contained the funeral urns of the Emperor's freed slaves in a domed construction resembling a dovecot (hence the name). Incredibly, this construction housed a restaurant until fairly recently. Even after two thousand years, the Appia Antica still comes up with surprises. In the area of the First Mile, archaeologists are at present uncovering the remains of what is believed to be the Sanctuary of Mars Gradivo (the Avenger) which marked the entrance to the city boundaries. According to legend, this was the spot where the twins Romulus and Remus were conceived thanks to the union of the god Mars with the Vestal Virgin Rea Silvia.

  1. STENHOUSE

Info: cultura.gov.it/appiaunesco#

Posted on 03 Nov 2022 by Editor

 

HALLOWE'EN AT TREVISO PUMPKIN VILLAGE

Pumpkin bonanza at Nonno Andrea Villaggio delle Zucchi (Grandpa Andrew's Pumpkin Village) at Villorba, near Treviso (Veneto) where visitors have been flocking every weekend since the beginning of October. Over 200,000 pumpkins of different varieties, spread over an area of 70,000 sqm, are on show at the Villorba Farm, which specializes in biodiversity cultivation according to the directives established by the 1992 UN Convention on Biodiversity.

The pumpkins are surrounded by ingenious vegetable sculptures, autumnal theme exhibits, Hallowe'en lanterns and so on. Food and drink are available as well as this years' novelty – a mais maze (no pun intended).

Nonno Andrea's Pumpkin Village has registered sold out every weekend and will reach its peak this Hallowe'en weekend.

The Village is the brainchild of Luca Manzan, former President of the Consortium of Treviso and Castelfranca Radicchio – a highly prized gourmet speciality of the chicory family, native to the area.

Info: Tel. +39.0422.444670 www.nonnoandrea.it info@nonnoandrea.it

Pumpkin Lantern by MJ RIGILLO

Posted on 30 Oct 2022 by Editor

STONE ART AT THE BORGHESE ROME

The art of painting on stone, rather than on canvas or wood, is the theme of the exhibition currently running at the Villa Borghese Gallery, Rome. “Meraviglia Senza Tempo. Pittura su Pietra a Roma nel Seicento” (Timeless Marvels. Painting on Stone in Rome in the '600) highlights a branch of art that has been largely underestimated and ignored.

Inaugurated on the 25th October and running till the 29th January 2023, visitors have the rare opportunity to view 60 exquisite art-on-stone works from both Italian and foreign museums as well as private collections, by artists of the calibre of Antonio Tempesta, Antonio Carracci, Carlo Saracena, Orazio Gentileschi, Cavalier d'Arpino, Leonardo Grazia and others.

Many of the pieces were part of the 17th century collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, grand patron of the arts and protector of Bernini and Caravaggio.

The idea of painting on a hard base, less subject to damage or destruction, is believed to have been launched by Sebastiano del Piombo after a great many of his paintings were ruined during the havoc of the Sack of Rome by the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1527.

The fashion soon caught on when artists realised the additional benefits of the special effects they could obtain by using bases of slate, coloured marble, hard polished surfaces, precious blue lapis lazuli and other gem stones to create particular backgrounds and atmospheres.

Info: Tel. +39.06.67233753 www.galleriaborghese:beniculturali.it

ga-bor-info@cultura.gov.it

 

Posted on 26 Oct 2022 by Editor

 

 

HUNTING FOR FANTASTIC BEASTS

A novel way to approach works of art in Italian museums – especially with children – has been suggested by the history of art magazine “Finestre sull'Arte” (Windows on Art) produced in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Editors have compiled a review of paintings and frescoes in museums and galleries all over the Italian peninsula that feature strange creatures born of ancient mythology traditions.

In Rome, some examples include the painting of Orpheus by 16th century artist Marcello Provenzale in the Borghese Gallery, where the legendary musician sits playing, surrounded by all kinds of animals, including a winged dragon, then the mysterious 5th century BC Etruscan Wolf Man plate in the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia and the incredible ceiling of the Altovidi Room by Vasari in the Palazzo Venezia Museum, covered in grotesques of satrys and other strange creatures. This latter fresco has almost miraculously survived, first from fire that broke out in the palace in 1569 and later from Tiber flooding. In fact, it was detached from the ceiling when the original Altovidi Palace was dismantled during the construction of the Tiber embankments.

Info: finestresullarte.info/viaggi/animali-e-luoghi- fantastici-musei-italiani-lazio

 

Posted on 22 Oct 2022 by Editor

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