NATIONAL PARK'S LATE LAMENTED BEAR

Animal lovers are in mourning for the death of Juan Carrito, the most famous wild bear in the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, hit by a car while he was ambling along the verge of a road that cut through the park. Juan Carrito was a three-year old brown Marsical bear, who lived, free to roam over the wild mountainous territory of the Central Apennines. But unfortunately, Juan Carrito seemed to prefer human company to solitude. He had become a common sight wandering at night through the streets of the mountain villages and even climbing up on balconies to take a look around. He became so bold that he broke into shops and henhouses to steal food and climbed up trees in family orchards to eat the fruit.

A couple of years ago, for his own safety, park rangers transferred him by helicopter to a more remote area far from human habitation. However, he soon found his way back to his old haunts and habits.

Juan Carrito was one of an estimated 50 Marsican bears that have been officially recorded to inhabit the territory of what is Italy's oldest Nature Reserve, established in 1923. The Marsican bear is native to Italy - a sub-species of the European brown bear - and is in danger of extinction, so the recent loss was much lamented. He got his peculiar Spanish-sounding name because he was first identified in the hamlet of Carrito (a name of Spanish origin) in the heart of the Park.

“It's as if a member of the family has left us,” remarked Park Director Luciano Sammarone sadly.

Info: Tel. +39.0863.91131 www.parcoabruzzo.it

Posted on 29 Jan 2023 by Editor

VALCAMONICA - the MYSTERIOUS TRACES OF THE ANCIENTS

Within its territory, Brescia, twinned with Bergamo as this year's Italian Capital of Culture, has one of the world's most significant prehistoric sites. Some ninety kilometres north of the city lies the mountain valley of Valcamonica, with one of the most extensive collections of prehistoric petroglyphs in the world.

The thousand acre area was the first Italian heritage site to be listed by UNESCO in 1979. It contains thousands of figurines and symbols carved on the surface of the rocks, dating from the Mesolithic period through the Iron Age. The images depict ritualized figures, such as warriors, hunters, dancers, ploughmen, wild animals and birds.

Two of the most intriguing carvings within the territory are the so-called “Rosa Camuna”, which has been adopted as the logo of the Lombardy region, and the “Map of Bedolina”, believed to portray the layout of the surrounding countryside and settlements.

The site is divided into four protected areas. The central information office is at Capo di Ponte, Naquane.

Info: Tel. +39.036442140www.archeocamuni.it

Posted on 26 Jan 2023 by Editor

BERGAMO / BRESCIA TWINNED FOR PRIZE

For the first time two Italian cities, Bergamo and Brescia (Lombardia), have joined forces to capture the coveted denomination of “Italian City of Culture 2023.” The prize, introduced by former Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, is awarded anually to a municipality that produces the best initiatives to promote its cultural image and consequently boost tourism. The prize brings €1m to the winner of the best project. The 2022 winner was the small island of Procida off the coast of Naples which offered a programme of 44 innovative projects and 154 events distributed throughout the entire year.

Bergamo and Brescia were the cities worst hit at the onset of the Covid pandemic and the inaugural “Festival of Light” ceremony with the theme “Light is Life” is also intended as a tribute to the memory of the many victims.

The two cities have packed parallel programmes throughout the year, with art exhibitions, concerts and other major events.

For details of the full programme: www.bergamobrescia2023.it

Posted on 22 Jan 2023 by Editor

 

CHINESE ARTISTS ON SHOW IN ROME

In conjunction with the current Chinese New Year, Palazzo Merulana, one of Rome's leading cultural centres for modern and contemporary art, is holding an exhibition of the works of a group of young Chinese artists that are studying Italian art at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma. The unusual event has been organized by the Associazione Seconde Generazioni Cinesi in collaboration with the Paris-based Guanghua Cultures et Media group, publishers of the “Europe Daily News”, the leading European newspaper in the Chinese language.

The exhibition, entitled “UP” and curated by Chinese contemporary art expert Liliana Liao, demonstrates the growing interest in China for Western art and Italian art in particular. The present study course is intended as a bridge between two very different traditions, where each culture can learn from the other. According to “Up” organizers, the art market in China is very active at this moment, showing ever increasing interest in international cross-border trends.

The Palazzo Merulana venue is known for a tradition of ground breaking exhibitions of contemporary and experimental art. The splendid late 19th century building was formerly an abandoned medical centre, which was purchased and restored by entrepreneurs Claudio and Elena Cerasi. The four-storey building also houses the Cerasi private collection of leading 20th century artists like Giacomo Balla, Mario Sironi, Giorgio de Chirico, Mario Schifani and others of the Roman School.

According to the 12 year Chinese lunar calendar, this year is The Year of the Rabbit which the Chinese welcome as a positive sign, representing prosperity, luck and tranquility.

The “Up” exhibition runs between the 22nd January - 5th February 2023.

M.STENHOUSE

Info: Tel.+39.3996.7800 www.palazzomerulana.it ufficiostampa.leeloo@gamil.com

Posted on 19 Jan 2023 by Editor

 

LITTLE PRINCE OF CASERTA BACK ON VIEW

The interest shown by visitors in the sculpture of the “Little Prince of Caserta,” which was on exhibit last year 2022 in the Cappella Palatina in the Royal Palace of Naples, has prompted curators to put it on permanent show. This time, the life-size image of the baby prince Carlo Tito, born in 1775 and the first male heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Naples, has been placed inside the newly restored royal bedroom in the Palace of Caserta, just outside Naples. His mother, Queen Maria Carolina of Austria, commissioned the portrait of the sleeping infant from the sculptor Giuseppe Sanmartino, author of the celebrated Cristo Velato” (the Veiled Christ) in the Sansevero Chapel Museum, one of the most admired artistic treasures of Naples.

Unfortunately Carlo Tito died at the age of four. The Little Prince sculpture lies on a cushion near the royal bed under the painting by the artist Girolamo Pompeo Batoni depicting himself and his little sister, Princess Marianne, who also died in infancy, being hoisted up to heaven by angels.

The Royal Palace of Caserta sits in an 11-acre park. Palace and gardens are open every day except Tuesday.

  1. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.0823.448084 https://reggiadicaserta.cultura.gov.it

Posted on 16 Jan 2023 by Editor

ITALY'S LIBRARY PATRIMONY...and the enigmatic VERONA RIDDLE

The Italian Ministry of Culture has embarked on a nationwide campaign to promote its 7,425 public and state libraries, many of which are of great historical interest, containing rare books, ancient documents, illuminated manuscripts and other treasures. Despite this, most are little known or frequented by the general public. To make these rich houses of learning better known, the Ministry has commissioned a promotional video called “Extraordinary Journeys” showing actors in historic costumes of various eras eagerly perusing the book shelves, produced in collaboration with the Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematogtafia  (Centre of Experimental Cinema Foundation)..

According to pre-Covid statistics, just over 58% of Italian towns possess at least one library. The largest public library is in Florence where the National Central Library has a collection of just under 9 million volumes, followed by the Rome Central National Library (over 6 million books), then the Victor Emmanuel III Library of Naples and Bologna's University Library.

Italy's oldest library still in use is the Biblioteca Capitolare attached to Verona Cathedral, which was founded at the beginning of the 6th century AD. Badly damaged during WWII, it was rebuilt in 1948. This library contains a curiosity in the form of a parchment with a riddle, written by a monk in the 8th-9th century AD. The “Veronese Riddle” is a short poem in what is arguably the first known text in late Latin Vulgate or early Romance language. The cryptic text describes a plough drawn by white oxen sowing a row of black seeds in a white field that scholars have interpreted as a metaphor for a hand writing lines of black ink on a white page.

Info: https://librari. beniculturali.it

Posted on 11 Jan 2023 by Editor

CAVE'S GIGANTIC NATIVITY GROUP

A visit to see the Monumental Nativity in the town of Cave (Lazio) makes a fitting conclusion to the long Christmas season. The towering figures of the Holy Family, along with the Three Kings that symbolize Epiphany, are set up in the pillared vaults of a former 11th century Benedictine monastery in the small Lazio town some 40 kms from Rome.

The 4m-high sculptures are the work of local artist Lorenzo Ferri, who died in 1975, and whose life and work are celebrated in a monographic museum in the historic centre, reached by a bridge spanning the ravine that separates the historic old town and from the new part.

The Nativity figures were commissioned by the Pallottine Order for the Church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome in 1947. Ferri made the nine gesso models in the projected size within the following year. The “Indian King” kneeling before the Holy Family group, has his own facial portrait, while his son Sirio posed for St. Joseph and boxing champion Erminio Spalle was the model for the “Assyrian King”. However, the statues were never cast in bronze as originally commissioned, due to financial problems.

The sculptor's family donated the Nativity, along with a large number of his works of art, including sculptures, paintings and studies to the town, which are on display in separate premises in the “new town”. The Museo Lorenzo Ferri celebrates its tenth anniversary in December 2023.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel.+39.06.9507310 www.Facebook.com/MuseoLorenzoFerro

Posted on 06 Jan 2023 by Editor

RUBENS SEIZED IN GENOA EXHIBITION

Italy's cultural guardians, the Carabiniere Commando Tutela Culturale Patrimonio (Protection of Cultural Heritage) have closed the year with another triumph – the identification and seizure by the TCP Genoese branch of “Christ Resurrected Appears to his Mother” attributed to the Flemish master Rubens and his school. The painting, which was in private hands, appeared in an exhibition on “Rubens in Genoa” at Palazzo Ducale, complete with false documents that would have allowed its sale and exportation. Rubens worked for some time in Genoa at the service of the ruling Gonzago aristocratic family. This particular work was on display for the first time in Italy, but the TPC's extensive online catalogue of Italian owned works of art and antiquities allowed officers to pinpoint the work immediately.

Some months earlier, the culture corps tracked down an important Titian: “Portrait of a Gentleman with a Black Cap” that had been missing since 2004 when it was smuggled to Switzerland.

In July 2022, the new Museum of Recovered Art and Antiquities was inaugurated in Rome's central Piazza della Repubblica with changing displays of exhibits of treasures that have been saved from tomb robbers and crooked dealers.

Info: Tel, 010.5955488 tpcgenu@carabinieri.it

Posted on 02 Jan 2023 by Editor

 

to All Our Readers With Every Good Wish from the Italyupdate team

2022-2023

Posted on 23 Dec 2022 by Editor

GRECCIO CELEBRATES FIRST CHRISTMAS CRIB

A special Christmas this year for the tiny town of Greccio. Eight hundred years ago, Francis of Assisi (not yet a saint but already a celebrated holy man, came to the remote peasant community of Greccio (nowadays on the border between Lazio region and Umbria). He had been advised that the quarrelsome local people were constantly at war with each other and he had been asked by the local landowner to pacify them. Francis was just back from a similar mission on a larger scale in the Holy Land, where he had tried to put an end to the Crusade that was waging at the time.

Francis, a man of infinite resources, thought up an idea that has subsequently been taken up all over the Christian world. In a grotto in the cliffside he set up the first Nativity scene, which so impressed the locals that they were apparently instantly converted to peaceful relationships.

Today, Greccio, numbered among the “most beautiful villages in Italy”, has only 40 fixed residents. But during the Christmas season, numbers of presences swell to 40-60 thousand as coachloads of visitors roll in to climb the 100 stone steps to the Nativity Grotto and wander through the maze of narrow corridors and tiny rooms that were the original living quarters of the Franciscan community. The local community pulls out all the stops to give these hordes of visitors a hearty welcome. The central piazza becomes a blaze of lights surrounding a Christmas market that is full of stalls selling handmade Christmas souvenirs, mostly made by the locals themselves.

These numbers are bound to swell for the coming special anniversary that will mark the first Christmas Crib St. Francis set up in the night of Christmas 1223.

Info: Tel. +39.0748.750127 www.santuarivallesanto.com

Posted on 19 Dec 2022 by Editor

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