Italy's Borghi (small historic towns) have long been the Cinderellas of Italian heritage and culture. According to the official Italian Statistics Office (ISTAT) there are a total 7,903 little municipalities scattered all over the peninsula. Many are authentic jewels, defined as “Invisible Destinations” by the start-up tourism operation “Hearth” of Avellino (Campania) due tobe presented at the coming Borsa Mediterraneanea del Turismo Archeologico at Paestum between the 25th-28th November 2021.

According to “Hearth” founder Massimiliano Imbimbo, 62% of tourism movement in Italy is concentrated in only 55 municipalities, with the great mass of foreign visitors restricted to the celebrated Art Cities.

Italy's Culture Minister, Dario Franceschini, together with Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia have now expressed the intention of turning some of these Cinderellas into princesses with government grants to help them improve facilities, spruce up their historic buildings and promote their cultural heritage, their works of art and places of interest. At the moment funding is to be directed towards 37 potentially tourism-attracting borghi in the south of Italy.

According to Mr. Franceschini tourism expectations have changed due to the impact of the current pandemic. Tourists are now more interested in exploring small, lesser-known areas far away from big crowds.

Info: MIBACT www.beniculturali.it info@hearth.email

Posted on 27 Nov 2021 by Editor

The 24th December 2021 is dedicated to Italy at EXPO Dubai when the spotlight will be trained on the Italian Pavilion. Activities kick off at the Al Wasi Plaza, in the centre of the EXPO site with a flag raising ceremony, accompanied by the national anthems of Italy and the United Arab Emirates and an exhibition by Italy's Carabinieri armed forces.

Throughout the day, performances will be held by the historic flag-throwers of the city of Cava dé Tirreni (Salerno, Campania), along with screenings of Italian films, concerts by the band of the Carabinieri, sports and games organized by the Italian National Olympic Committee and other cultural and traditional events.

The day will draw to an end with a gala concert by the Academia Teatro della Scala, sponsored by the Bracco Foundation, a world leader in research on health, safety and prevention and a gold sponsor of the Italian Pavilion.

The Expo2020Dubai was held back for a year, due to the pandemic.

Info: www.italyexpo2020.it www.bracco.com

Posted on 23 Nov 2021 by Editor

FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano – the Italian environmental foundation) has published the winners of its 2020-2921 poll for “i Luoghi del Cuore”, or best loved sites in need of restoration and promotion. Over 2.3 million votes were gathered in favour of 40,000 suggested beauty spots, heritage sites and historic buildings and the jury had a hard task whittling the numbers down to the short list of the 20 places which will receive funding to further the projects submitted.

First place, with 75,586 votes, went to “la Ferrovia delle Meraviglie” (Railway of Marvels), linking Ventimiglia with Cuneo in a breathtakingly scenic mountain run.

Second place was won by the Castle and Park of Sammezzano at Reggello, Florence, with 62,690 votes. This is the second time that this extraordinary building has been promoted by FAI voters.

Third came the imposing Castle of Brescia with 43,449 votes.

Other special sites in the top 20 were: Guglielmo Marconi's Radiotelegraphic Station at Caltano, Pisa, the Museum of the Mysteries at Campobasso and the Gardens of the military Hospital, Taranto.

The FAI Foundation was founded in 1975 to promote and safeguard Italy's vast cultural and artistic heritage. Membership is open to everyone and gives advantages such as reductions in entrance fees to listed sites.

Info: Tel. +39.06.6879376 www,fondoambiente.it

Posted on 19 Nov 2021 by Editor

The Scuderie del Quirinale gallery in Rome, the classic venue of show-stopping exhibitions, has pulled off another crowd puller with the major “Inferno” show, programmed to run over the Christmas season until the 9th January 2022. The exhibition has already attracted great interest, with a record numbers of visitors during the first weekend of the opening.

“Inferno” contains over 200 works by celebrated artists, dating from Medieval times to the 20th century, on loan from over eighty museums and private collections in the UK, France, Switzerland, the Vatican, Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg.

The interpretation of Dante's vision of “Hell” is represented over 7 centuries in the works of celebrated artists like Fra Angelico, Brueghel, Botticelli, Von Stuck, Gustav Dore, Blake, Hieronymus Bosch, as well as in a life size cast of the gigantic 7m-high plaster model of the “Gate of Hell” by Rodin.

The chosen themes are taken from the first canticle of the “Divine Comedy”, featuring personages immortalized by Dante Alighieri, such as the tragic lovers, Paola and Francesca da Rimini, Pope Celestine V (who renounced the papacy) and the monstrous Count Ugolino della Gheradesca, depicted gnawing the head of his enemy Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini. Satan, or Lucifer, also features prominently.

The second section of the exhibition, on the upper floor of the Gallery, is even more sobering. It displays the more contemporary concept of the hell of our times, with scenes of war, pollution, drought and famine, but ends on Dante's final uplifting phrase: “and thence we came forth to see again the stars”, symbolized by the painting “Falling Stars” by Anself Riefer.

The exhibition is curated by eminent French art historian and scholar Jean Clair, together with his wife, Laura Bossi.

Prior booking essential plus vaccination certificate or negative Covid test.

M. Stenhouse

Info: Tel. +39.02.92897722 www.scuderiequirinale.it

 

 

 

 

Posted on 15 Nov 2021 by Editor

This year's edition of the “World Champion Cheese” competition, held in Oviedo in Spain, gave the top place of “World Champion Cheese” to a Spanish soft goat's cheese Olavidia, produced by Quesos y Besos (Cheeses and Kisses).

Italy, however, did not lag much behind, with Parmigiano Reggiano scooping a record 126 medals, including a historic record of 7 Super Golds. The consortium Nazionale di Parmigiano Reggiano, composed of 96 cheesemakers, scored 111 medals: 6 super golds, 28 golds , 50 silvers and 41 bronzes.

Among the outsiders who came in the top league was the Carpenedo Cheese company, a family-run business founded in 1900 and credited with being Italy's first experimental laboratory of cheese refinement. The Treviso-based Carpenedo company competed with six cheeses, all of which gained awards. The prestigious Super Gold award was won by Basajo, made with raw sheep's milk refined with white passito wine and raisins.

Info: https://gff.co.uk www.parmigianoreggiano.com www.lacasearia.com

Posted on 12 Nov 2021 by Editor

During the 20th century, Neapolitan songs reverberated round the world. From Japan to the USA, the melodies written by Naples songwriters and composers were adopted and adapted, like the Elvis Presley hit “It's Now or Never”, set to the music of the celebrated hymn to the sun “O Sole Mio.”

Although the genre has lost some of its popularity with the younger pop and disco generation, in its homeland the traditional Neapolitan songs are still much loved, by the Neapolitans themselves, as well as tourists to the city.

So appassionati of this unique musical tradition will be delighted to learn that Naples now has a theatre dedicated exclusively to the classic songs of Naples. The Trianon Viviani theatre, inaugurated in 1911 as “the theatre of the Neapolitan song” has now re-opened its doors, under the artistic direction of popular Neapolitan actress, singer and TV personality, Marisa Laurito, offering a state-of-the-art sparkling show of virtual reality backdrops and live performers, recreating the lively atmosphere of the Parthenopean city in its most celebrated period during the first half of last century and the post-War period,

The Trianon Viviani Theatre was traditionally the “Theatre of the People”. It ran into financial difficulties some years back and risked being bought over and converted into a supermarket or a bingo hall. Public protest persuaded the local authorities to purchase it and restore it, introducing the concept of the virtual reality “Stanza delle Meraviglie” (Room of Marvels) extravaganza that accompanies the show.

The Room of Marvels was inaugurated together with the launch of the first performance dedicated exclusively to Neapolitan popular music and culture. The Room is open free of charge every day of the week with prior booking. Visitors must wear surgical masks and be in possession of a Vaccination Pass.

Info: Theatre: +39.081.2258285 boxoffice@teatrotrianon.org

Stanza delle Meraviglie: Tel. +39.081.2258285 (int. 1)

Posted on 08 Nov 2021 by Editor

For over 27 years, the FMR periodical publication, hailed by subscribers such as Jacqueline Kennedy as “the most beautiful magazine in the world” was eagerly sought after by collectors for the high quality of its art reproductions and in depth articles by celebrated literary and art critics. In its heyday, the magazine was published in five editions in as many different languages.

Founded in 1982 by Parma-born publisher, Franco Maria Ricci, the magazine ceased publication after Ricci sold it to dedicate the last years of his life to the creation of “the world's biggest bamboo maze” on his estate at Fontanellato near Parma, which houses his art collection and a museum in its heart.

The much lamented FMR magazine is now about to be relaunched, under the guide of his widow, Laura Casalis, supported by an team of internationally famous writers, art directors and experts in various cultural fields. Publishing date chosen for the launch of the new edition is the winter solstice, December 2021, and the first number will be issued free of charge to all subscribers for the year 2022. Added perks on offer are: membership of the Franco Maria Ricci Club, free entrance to the Masone Labyrinth at Fontanellato and discounts for subsequent editions and other surprises. The new magazine will be printed once more by the same historic Milanese printers Milani Grafiche, to guarantee the continuing high quality.

Info: Tel. +39.348.5904846          www.francomariaricci.com

Posted on 04 Nov 2021 by Editor

The French Academy in Rome has re-introduced its spectacular annual event: “White Night at Villa Medici”, after two years' suspension due to the Covid pandemic.

On the evening of the 4th November 2021 visitors can enter the illuminated gardens of the renaissance villa overlooking the Spanish Steps and meet the 16 fellows who are living there at present and will be exhibiting their work. The artists cover many disciplines, including visual art, music composition, architecture, design, video creation, as well as writers and art historians.

This year's edition is called “Presto, la Notte” (“Quickly, the night”) and is curated by the well-known expert in contemporary art exhibitions and events, Saverio Verini.

Info: Tel. +39.0667611 www.villamedici.it

Posted on 30 Oct 2021 by Editor

The Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, which encompasses a vast green area of 40 hectares (just under 100 acres) in the heart of Rome, is embarking on its first olive harvest. The Park, which includes the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, has 189 olive trees - some venerable “Patriarchs” over a hundred years old, concentrated mainly on the southern slopes of the Palatine Hill, where Rome's emperors had their residences.

The appointment to help with the olive harvest is on the morning of the 28th October 2021, when an olive press will be set up in the in area around the historic Arch of Titus. Organizers expect to produce 120 litres of extra virgin olive oil, which will be marketed under the name “Palatinium” with a label inspired by a fresco design in the Casa dei Grifi on the Palatine.

The initiative is organized by Coldiretti (Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti - Italy's major organization representing agricultural entrepreneurs) and the Op Latium organization of olive producers in Lazio.

The Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, however, also produces honey. Some 14 kilos of “Ambrosia del Palatino” were successfully produced this year from the hives positioned near the House of Romulus in a quiet corner of the Palatine Hill rich in variegated plant life.

Next step, according to Park Director Alfonsina Russo, will be wine making from vines planted amidst the remains of the glory of Ancient Rome.

MARGARET STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.06.69984443 www.parcocolosseo.it www.coldiretti.it

Posted on 26 Oct 2021 by Editor

 

After a lengthy and complicated restoration, begin in 2019, Michelangelo's last “Pietà”, known as the “Bandini Pietà” after its first owner, Archbishop Francesco Bandini, is now on show again in the Museum of the Opera of the Duomo in Florence.

According to Vasari, writer of the famous “Lives” of the Renaissance artists, Michelangelo was so dissatisfied with the quality of the marble he was using that he tried to destroy the sculpture. Fortunately, Bandini rescued it and commissioned an artist to tidy it up. It is now considered one of the jewels of the Opera del Duomo collection.

The lengthy and delicate restoration, financed by the Friends of Florence Foundation, revealed that it was not carved in Michelangelo's preferred material, which was the high quality marble of Carrara, but that the enormous 3-ton block had come from the Medici quarries at Seravezza near Lucca. Michelangelo, in fact, had objected that the marble was too hard and gave off sparks when he applied his chisel. Restorers found, in fact, that the stone contained pyrite.

The Pietà, which the artist originally intended to grace his own tomb, is an unusual triangular composition, with a hooded Nicodemus leaning protectively over the body of the dead Christ, which is supported by the Virgin Mary and – unusually – by Mary Magdalene. Michelangelo was into his seventies when he was working on the sculpture and the suffering face of Nicodemus is believed to be his self-portrait.

 

Info: Tel. +39.055223064 www.friendsofflorence.org https://duomo.firenze.it

Posted on 23 Oct 2021 by Editor

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