THE WHITE GHOSTS OF APULIA BECOME ART

The ancient olive trees, with their towering heads of silver-grey leaves, their gnarled trunks and twisted branches, were the pride of Apulia and much admired and photographed by tourists to the region. That was until some years ago when they were attacked by an implacable enemy – a bacteria called Xylella fastidiosa which dried up their vascular system, cutting off water and nourishment and turning them into twisted spectres. The disease spread like wildfire, killing off gigantic trees that were centuries old and a seemingly eternal feature of the landscape. An estimated 20 million trees were affected.

Fortunately, scientists eventually found a remedy by grafting on cultivars such as “Favoloso” and “Leccino” which have proved resistant to the disease. Trees which couldn't be saved are being replaced, with the help of EU funding, by new immune varieties.

Many however could not be saved. A local non-profit association called EXIBART, headed by photographer Ulderico Tramacere, decided to give them a second life as Land Art objects. In 2020 Tramacere created the Field of Giants, a 2 ½ acre area near Nardò (Lecce) of spectral olive groves, whitewashed in lime disinfectant. These old warriors make natural sculptures and are destined to become a new tourist attraction.

Photo by EXIBART

Info: www.exibart.com

Posted on 29 Sep 2022 by Editor

 

 

PORDENONE: INNOVATION, CULTURE and TRADITION

Norwegian pianist and orchestra conductor, Lief Ove Andsnes, leads the centenary inaugural concert at Pordenone's Teatro Verdi on the 26th September 2022. The ultra modern theatre and concert hall has a long and chequered history. First opened in 1922 as the Teatro Licinio, it has been rebuilt several times over the past century as a theatre and then a cinema, always, however, conserving a special place in the heart of the citizens. The city's special attention towards the arts is also blazoned on the external wall of the theatre decorated with white panels carved with poems by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Sylvia Plath.

Pordenone (Friuli Venezia-Giulia) is also known for its long tradition of decorated walls dating back to the 16th century, traces of which remain on the historic buildings that line the old Corso in the historic centre. The tradition continues to be kept alive today with murals created by contemporary artists in the more modern part of the city, such as the gigantic 200sqm representation by Marta Lorenzon of an actress touching up her makeup “Behind the Scenes” that covers the walls of the old Fish Market (Piazza Pescheria) at the back of the Teatro Verdi.

The month of September also focussed on the printed press with the 16th edition of the event “Ascoltare, Leggere, Crescere” (Listen, Read, Grow), which also marked the centenary of “Il Popolo,” the weekly newspaper published by the diocese of Pordenone.

M Stenhouse

Info: www.teatroverdipordenone.it www.ilpopolopordenone.it

Posted on 26 Sep 2022 by Editor

GETTY RETURNS ORPHEUS and the SIRENS

Another triumph for Italy's Ministry of Culture – the recent return of the 5th century BC Greek sculpture group of “Orpheus and the Sirens,” purchased illegally by the Getty Museum from a Swiss dealer in 1976.

The group, an Ancient Greek masterpiece dated to the 4th century BC, was discovered during an illicit dig in the area of Taranto (Puglia) and smuggled into Switzerland where it was offered to the Getty Museum for sale. The group is almost life size and features a seated male figure originally holding a lyre and two somewhat hefty mermaids with birds' bodies in their traditional form as spirits of the World of the Dead.

The Getty Museum, through its legal office, has recognized that the sculptures had been exported illegally out of Italy. The group was returned to Rome on the 17th September 2022 and is temporarily on view in the new Museo dell'Arte Salvata (Museum of Rescued Art) inside the Baths of Diocletian complex until the 15th October 2022, when it will be returned to its original home in Taranto.

The Getty is actively collaborating with the Italian government regarding the identification and restitution of antiquities of doubtful provenance in its collection. The Museum, however, is reluctant to part with the magnificent “Victorious Youth”, one of the stars of its collection, which was fished out of the Adriatic sea by fishermen in 1964. Italy has been demanding its return for many years. The Getty Museum, however, claims that the sculpture, attributed to Lysippos, was found in international waters and therefore does not legally belong to Italy.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: www.museonazionaleromano.beniculturali.it

Posted on 23 Sep 2022 by Editor

GUBBIO'S GRAND MEDIEVAL FEST

The annual Festival del Medioevo (Medieval Festival) is off an running in Gubbio (Umbria) between the 21st - 25th September 2022.

The popular event – a “must” for history fans as well as tourists visiting this beautifully preserved medieval city in Umbria – was launched eight years ago and has grown from strength to strength ever since, thanks to its imaginative programmes and scope that ranges from talks by celebrated international experts to fun family shows and happenings.

Each year, the Festival adopts a particular theme which is explored by panels of eminent speakers in a series of lectures, accompanied by exhibitions of traditional crafts, a “Medieval Market”, dance spectacles and other performances, as well as an exclusive fair of Medieval-themed books.

The title of the 2022 Festival is “Dinastie, Famiglie e Potere” (Dynasties, Families and Power) and the theme will be explored in 90 lectures by international experts on the Middle Ages. Juicy themes range from Lucrezia Borgia, the Icelandic Sagas, Kievan Rus (the Slavic state encompassing eastern and northern Europe in the 9th century), papal nepotism, the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan, the Medici, as well as Medieval art.

Events with catchy titles are sure to attract, like “Shakespeare Juke Box” featuring philosopher actor Cesare Catà, “The World of Game of Thrones” and the session on Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings°.

The leading figure chosen this year to represent the spirit of the age is the powerful war lord Federico da Montefeltro, who was born in Gubbio and whose 600th centenary falls this year. Federico is well known to all of us through his celebrated profile portrait by Piero della Francesco. Not only a war leader, but also a humanist, patron of the arts and founder of the most celebrated library of the period, so much so that he was referred to as “the Light of Italy.”

This year's version of the Festival is dedicated to the celebrated historian Chiara Frugoni, who died this spring. She will be commemorated in the inaugural day by her lifelong friend and writer Virtus Zallot.

M.Stenhouse

Info: www.festivaldelmedioevo.it as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Posted on 20 Sep 2022 by Editor

LANA LAUNCHES CHESTNUT GIN

The humble chestnut is the King of the Month at the town of Lana in Alto Adige where it has its annual celebration between the 16th-30th October 2022. The Feast is known as Kerschtnriggl after the traditional woven wicker baskets which are shaken vigorously to separate the shells from the roasted nuts, and involves the neighbouring communities of Foiana, Tesimo and Prissiano.

For centuries, the chestnut was a vital basic food, providing flour for the local bread, pasta and innumerable local food specialities. During the Festival, there are shows, guided forest walks, traditional music and numerous special recipes are created specially for the event.

The Festival will also provide the frame for the launch of a new gastronomic treat: Chestnut Gin, produced in Lana and the surroundings, for the joy of those who like to discover gastronomic novelties.

Info: Tel. +39 0473 561770 www.lanaregione.it

Posted on 18 Sep 2022 by Editor

VENICE GLASS WEEKS

The 2022 edition of the Venice Glass Week International Festival combines with the UN International Year of Glass, giving a special lustre to the event, first launched in 2017 to promote the artistry and expertise of the traditional lagoon glassblowers.

The Festival is divided into two separate weeks. The first, in Milan, is running from the 10th - 18th September and is dedicated to industrial glass production.

The second week, in Venice between the 17th - 25th September, will instead be a glorious explosion of fantastic shapes and colours as the local Venetian glass artists pull out the stops to offer visitors a dazzling vision of their craft.

Info: www.theveniceglassweek.com

Posted on 15 Sep 2022 by Editor

McDONALD'S ARCHAEOLOGY

The McDonald restaurant on the Via Appia some 20 kms south of Rome has finally opened the archaeological treasure under its foundations on a daily basis. The 45 m tract of well-preserved 1st-2nd BC century Roma road, flanked by raised pavements and complete with three skeletons, was first excavated in 2017 but for much of the intervening years restaurant patrons were only able to admire it through a long glass panel in the floor.

Entrance by an outside staircase is now available on a daily basis without the need to enter the fast food temple.

The restoration project of the site was funded by McDonald's but effected under the stern eye of the Rome Superintendency for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape, with praiseworthy results.

At the moment the fast food giant has 630 outlets in Italy and expansion plans are forging ahead, with the announced goal of opening a further 200 new restaurants by 2025. A request to build a restaurant next to the important archaeological site of the Baths of Caracalla at the beginning of the Old Appian Way was, however, turned down as “inappropriate” by Rome authorities in December 2021 and Florence is facing a lawsuit for withdrawing permission to open up in the Piazza del Duomo.

Text & Photos M, Stenhouse

Info: www.mcdonalds.it

Posted on 11 Sep 2022 by Editor

CARLO MARATTI, ARTIST REDISCOVERED

Italyupdate is focussing here on Carlo Maratti, an artist of the late baroque period who was considered to be the leading artist of his day. Somewhere along the centuries, however, he fell into relative obscurity. Inexplicably, he is no longer a household name like his contemporaries, such as Guido Reni, Bernini and Guercino, but belongs mainly to the preserve of art historians and experts.

He is soon, however, to enjoy a major revival, thanks to the efforts of his home town, Camerano (Marche) which is organizing a major exhibition to celebrate his 4th centenary in 2025. To whet the appetite, a preliminary exhibition of 28 works are no display in the local Church of San Francesco, along with tours to visit other works in the local churches of Santa Faustina and the Immaculate Conception.

Carlo Maratti was born in the Marche region in 1625 and worked mainly in Rome where he obtained many important commissions, including the realisation of a portrait of Pope Clement IX. Interestingly, he was also one of the first major artists to develop modern marketing strategies, by issuing copies of his works, on canvas and in print form, to arouse the interest of potential clients.

The exhibition “Carlo Maratti Strategie Comunicative e Promozione della Propria Opera” runs until the 20th November 2022.

Info: www.comune.camerano.an.it info@turismocamerano.it

Posted on 07 Sep 2022 by Editor

SANTA ROSA RETURNS “IN GLORIA”

Back after our August break and what better way to launch the new autumnal season than the Feast of Santa Rosa in Viterbo (Lazio) – one of the most sensational shoulder-bourne religious processions in Italy, in which a hundred devout bearers carry the 5 ton “macchina” between churches in the town centre.

Suspended for the past two years due to the Covid epidemic, the spectacular event is programmed for today 3rd September 2022. This year's macchina tower is called “Gloria” and has been designed by local architect Raffaele Ascenzi. It is a colossal 30 metre high construction in metal and fibreglass, covered in elaborate carvings and illuminated by hundreds of candles and lights.

The procession begins this evening and follows a route from the Sanctuary of Santa Rosa, the town's patron saint, touching on seven churches in the town's historic centre. The feat of negotiating this weighty and cumbersome structure through narrow streets lined with thousand of spectators is considered so difficult and potentially dangerous that the facchini (bearers) are given a special blessing by the bishop before they start off on the marathon journey.

Several films of previous events are available on YouTube.

Info: www.comune.viterbo.it

Text & photos by M. Stenhouse

Posted on 03 Sep 2022 by Editor

ITALYUPDATE CLOSES DOWN NOW FOR THE SUMMER BREAK........We'll be with you again in September

 (Sunset at Diamante, Calabria - Photo: MS)

Meanwhile: 

ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS......PREFERABLY IN BEAUTIFUL ITALY!

Posted on 02 Aug 2022 by Editor

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