ITALY OPENS EUROPE'S LONGEST ROAD TUNNEL

Italy scored a coup with the longest three-lane road gallery in Europe, the Santa Lucia tunnel, on the Autostrada del Sole Highway tract between Florence and Bologna, inaugurated on the 4th April 2022. The tunnel is expected to cut motoring time by 30% and should decrease CO2 emissions by -2000 tons per year.

The 7.5 km. Santa Lucia tunnel runs under the Apennines on the Barberino-Florence section of the highway. The Florence -Bologna is one of the busiest roads in Italy, with a transit peak period average of 100 vehicles per minute.

Work on the gallery began in July 2017 and involved the use of the biggest tunnel boring machine (commonly referred to as a “mole”) ever employed in Europe and specially adapted for the project – the German Herrenknecht TMB, with an earth pressure balance shield of 15.87 meter – diameter. Tunnelling was completed in June 2020 and the subsequent work has been involved in perfecting security systems and testing.

Italy's Autostrada del Sole (Sun Highway), linking Milan with Naples, was considered revolutionary when it was launched in 1964. Since then, many more tracts have been added over the years, linking all the regions of the country, including the Reggio Calabria “toe of the boot”, the door to Sicily.

Info: www.stradeautostrade.it

Posted on 04 Apr 2022 by Editor

ITALY'S LISTED STOLEN TREASURES

The annual report Arte in Ostaggio” (Art held in hostage”) issued by the headquarters of the special branch of the Italian carabiniere for the protection of cultural heritage (TPC), is now available online. The reports contains lists of the most important works that have been stolen or illegally smuggled out of Italy.

Detailed information and photographs of the art works in question are given to help international police and antique dealers to identify paintings, antiquities and objets d'art of dubious provenance.

Among the “Wanteds” listed this year are an oil painting attributed to Luca Giordano: “Santa Maria della Luce”, (Our Lady of Light) looted in 1971 from the Church of Santa Maria della Luce in the town of Mattinata in Apulia, a 4th century AD polychrome mosaic panel of a “Musiciolus” (a competition judge) lifted in the 1980s from the Roman baths in the archaeological area of Via Severino, Rome, and a 16th century oil painting of “The Visitation” by Claudio Ridolfi, stolen from a private house in 2018.

Thanks to the regular publication of these reports, 131 works of art have so far been recovered.

The lists can be freely consulted on the following links:

http://tpcweb.carabiniere.it/SitoPubblico/bollettini

www.cultura.gov.it/carabinieritpc

Posted on 01 Apr 2022 by Editor

GUIDO RENI SURPRISES AT VILLA BORGHESE

Rome's prestigious Villa Borghese Gallery comes back to normal after Covid with a thought-provoking exhibition of the most important works of leading Baroque artist Guido Reni.

The exhibition was inspired, explained curator Francesca Cappelletti, by the recovery of the lost “Danza Campestre” (Country Dance), the only known landscape to have been painted by Reni.

The painting was part of the original collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, one of Rome's most important 17th century patron of the arts, but was sold in the 19th century. All traces of it were lost until 2008, when it re-appeared on the London antiques marketplace. The Borghese Gallery bought it in 2020 and has put it on display for the first time in the “Guido Reni- il Sacro e la Natura” (Guido Reni – Sacred and Nature) special exhibition, running currently until the 22nd May 2022.

The painting gives a detailed and intimate glimpse into country festivities of the time, with groups of young men in hunter's garb and girls in their Sunday best, gathered in the countryside around an open space for dancing. A detail that will arouse visitors' curiosity are the two flies lightly placed in the top right corner of the painting, as if they had been imprisoned in the oil.....

The theme running through the other works on display is the link between sculptures and other paintings that inspired Reni, in particular the sculpture groups by his contemporary Gianlorenzo Bernini.

MARGARET STENHOUSE

Info: Tel.+39.068413979 ga-bor@beniculturali.it (prior booking obligatory)

Posted on 28 Mar 2022 by Editor

WAS AMERICA INHABITED BY GIANTS?

MILAN UNIVERSITY REVEALS SURPRISING MEDIEVAL DOCUMENT

Researchers at the State University of Milan have uncovered a forgotten document that would seem to prove that a voyage of discovery to the New World was undertaken 150 years before the epic voyage of Christopher Columbus. The little known Latin document, entitled “Cronica universalis”, written by Dominican friar Galvano Fiamma, contains a reference to a land called Marckalada, which researchers believe conforms to the name Markland in the Norse chronicles.

The text, translated by PD student Giulia Greco, as part of a special project coordinated by Paolo Chiesa, chair professor of Medieval Latin Literature says: “the sailors who pass the seas of Denmark and Norway recount that beyond Norway, north of Iceland, and then an island called Greenland..and then further towards the west is the land called Marckalada where the inhabitants are giants. There are buildings constructed of stones so big that no man, but only giants, would be able to put them in place There are many green trees and many animals and birds live there. But no seaman has managed to get certain news about this land and its characteristics”.

The document would appear to confirm Scandinavian legends concerning landings on the American continent by Viking heroes centuries before the clamorous Columbus discovery. Galvani is believed to have obtained his information from Genoese seamen who traded steadily with the northern countries.

The State University of Milan is one of the biggest universities in Europe with some 60,000 students and 2000 permanent teaching and research staff.

Info: Tel. +39.02.50325032 www.unimi.it

Posted on 24 Mar 2022 by Editor

ITALY OFFERS TO REBUILD MARIUPOL THEATRE

Italy's Culture Minister, Dario Franceschini, has announced that Italy is prepared to rebuild the Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre at Mariupol, recently destroyed by bombing in the current Ukraine-Soviet war. “The theatres of every country belong to all mankind,” he declared. His proposal to supply the Ukraine with the materials and resources to reconstruct the theatre as soon as possible was at once approved by the Italian Parliament.

Info: www.beniculturale.it

Posted on 20 Mar 2022 by Editor

POMPEII FORESTS

A vast tree replanting project has been launched at the ruined city of Pompeii, near Naples. Over 4000 trees and shrubs typical of the Roman period are to be added to the existing sacred wood just outside the Amphitheatre Gate, inspired by the garden scenes frescoed on the walls of many of the houses, with oaks, ilex, elms, plane trees and tamarisk, interspersed with shrubs representing immortality like myrtle, mastic tree, rose bushes and arbutus.

This is only a part of a wide-scale tree planting project to create a green belt around the old city walls, already begun in some months ago in the area between the Gate of the Amphitheatre and the Nola Gate, with cypress trees, arbutus and Pompeii pines.

The new woodlands will provide recreational and environmentally friendly areas for visitors to the archaeological site.

The new Pompeii urban wood will be the 18th green belt created by Arbolia, a joint venture enterprise involving the Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Snam s.p.a., the leading Italian energy infrastructure company. Arbolia aims to plan three million trees in Italy by 2030, that will be able to absorb 200,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Info: http://pompeiisites.org www.arbolio.it

Posted on 16 Mar 2022 by Editor

MUSIC FROM THE VOLCANO'S HEART

After his successful experiment recording the secret sounds of the earth in the Selva di Lamone, a protected forest area north of Rome, geophysicist Antonio Menghini is now to move his investigations to the long extinct Alban volcano in the Castelli Romani 30 kms south of Rome.

The sounds were captured using the TEM method (Transmission electron microscopy) normally used for water and mineral research underground, and were converted by mathematical formula into corresponding musical notes by musician Stefano Pontani. The same method will be used to “dialogue” with Monte Cavo, the cone-shaped remnant of the Alban volcano. The resulting E music derives from the notes emitted by the various lapilli strata deposited during the phases of volcanic activity. Every note is associated with a different musical frequency, corresponding to a note in the musical scale.

I Suoni della Selva di Lamone” (The Sounds of Lamone), the composition of sounds emitted by the Lamone Forest Park can be followed on youtube:

Info: https://www.youtube.com I Suoni della Selva di Lamone EmusicTeam

 

Posted on 13 Mar 2022 by Editor

RUBENS PROTESTS AGAINST WAR

Eike Schmidt, the dynamic curator of the Uffizi Galleries, Florence, focuses the spotlight on the huge 3X2 canvas in oils by Flemish artist Pieter Paul Rubens “The Consequences of War”, also known as “The Horrors of War”, part of the Pitti Palace collection of the Uffizi, calling it one of the most potent anti-war masterpieces.

The painting, executed between 1638-1639, for Ferdinand II de Medici, is a devastating commentary on the ravages of the Thirty Years War that devastated 17th century Europe. The canvas is full of symbolism, including Mars the God of War in red, with a book and a sketch under his feet, meaning that the arts are put aside in the chaos caused by war. The Fury Alekta, the incarnation of rage, dominates the scene with an upheld torch. The monsters Pestilence and Famine hover in the background, while a woman dressed in black represents the suffering of Europe.

Schmidt expresses his dissent at the interruption of cultural exchanges between countries in conflict and an eventual embargo regarding Russian art, such as the proposed closure of the Russian Icon Museum at Palazzo Pitti, recently inaugurated at the beginning of this year.

Info: www.uffizi.it.pitti.palace www.uffizi.it>pitti-palace>museum-of-russian-icons

Posted on 09 Mar 2022 by Editor

PALESTRINA REGAINS AN OLD ETRUSCAN TREASURE

The National Archaeological Museum of Palestrina (Lazio) has a new spectacular exhibit to add to its collection. As part of the “!00 Art Objects Return Home” scheme, launched by the Italian Cultural Minister, Dario Franceschini, the Cista Borgiana, a finely worked bronze Etruscan casket, has returned to home base.

The Cista – a typical Etruscan jewellery or cosmetics container – was found near Palestrina in the 18th century and was eagerly grabbed by Cardinal Stefano Borgia (hence the name) for his collection of antiquities. Later it passed to his nephew, who sent it to the Royal Bourbon Museum in Naples, now the National Archaeological Museum, where it has languished in storage ever since.

The casket, with its intricately wrought handle in the form of two dancing figurines, has now taken its rightful place in the Necropolis Room in Palazzo Colonna Barberini, seat of the Palestrina Museum.

Other important exhibits in the Palestrina museum include the unique Nile Mosaic, featuring animals, hunters and pleasure trips in Ancient Egypt. The Colonna Barberini Palace is built over the ruins of the RomanTemple of Fortune, the seat of a celebrated oracle in ancient times.

Info: Tel. +39.06.9538100 http://musei.beniculturali.it

Posted on 05 Mar 2022 by Editor

MILAN WASTE-FREE WORLD LEADER

The city of Milan was one of the five finalists in the first edition of the prestigious Earthshot environmental protection prize. Milan scored tops in the “Build a waste-free world” category with its policy of Waste Free hubs, introduced in 2019 and which aims to halve food wastage by 2030.

The city “hubs” collect unsold food from supermarkets and work canteens, distributing it to charities, food kitchens and citizens in need. The initiative has been so successful that 350 kgs of food are now being collected each day, providing an estimated equivalent of 25,000 meals, making Milan the first major city to implement a comprehensive policy of reducing food waste.

The Earthshot Prize is supported by the Royal Foundation, a philanthropic organization run by UK crown prince William and his wife, Kate, committed to building a better world through conservation and environmental and social initiatives.

Info: www.acmilan.com https://earthshotprize.org

Posted on 28 Feb 2022 by Editor

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