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

 

SANTA SCOLASTICA – ITALY'S FIRST PRINTING PRESS

As part of its virtual tour round Italy's 46 historic state libraries, the Italian Ministry of Culture (MIBAC) is focussing on the Santa Scolastica convent at Subiaco (Lazio), seat of the first printing press in Italy to use the movable print typing technique invented by Johannes Gutenberg. The printing process, which was to revolutionize the entire European history of literature, was introduced in 1465 by two German monks, Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz, who had trained in the Gutenberg workshop.

The printing press was active until 1467 and produced copies of classic Latin and Christian writers, including Cicero's “De Oratore”, and works by early Christian writers such as Lactantius.

The Santa Scolastic Library, which is part of the St. Benedict monastery complex in the Aniene river valley, possesses the first copy ever printed of St. Agostine's “De Civitate Dei” by Sweynheym and Pannartz, as well as over 200 incunabula (as books printed up to the year 1500 are called), and 420 codices of great historical interest.

The monastery was the first of a string of religious houses founded by St. Benedict of Norcia in the 5th century AD, where the work of copying ancient texts became a speciality. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the early works of the monks which were destroyed in the 9th century by Saracen invaders.

The St. Benedict monastery complex became the property of the Italian state after the Unification of Italy and the library is now known as Biblioteca Statale del Monumento di Santa Scolastica.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel.+39.0774.85424 www.scolasticabeniculturali.it

Virtual tour: https://www.instagram.com/p/CaEyd19Nadz/

Posted on 24 Feb 2022 by Editor

VERDI'S FAVOURITE HANGOUT: GRAND HOTEL ET DE MILAN

With the celebrated Milan Fashion Week going ahead as planned (22-28 February 2022) and with a gradual lessening of pandemic precautions, the Grand Hotel et de Milan is repolishing its image to welcome the celebrities who will take advantage of its convenient position next to the city's fashion centre.

Milan's most prestigious hotel, numbered among the Leading Hotels of the World, has a time-honoured tradition in welcoming celebrities. The guest list during its two centuries of history have included Giuseppe Verdi, (who wrote both “Nabucco” and “Otello” while in residence there. His suite has been preserved) Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Richard Burton, Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, Tamara de Lampicka and Vittorio de Sica – to mention just a few.

First built in 1831, in the style of an elegant private aristocratic residence in the heart of the city, near La Scala theatre. It acquired special important at the end of the century as it was the only one that offered a postal and telegraph service. Restructuring work carried out in 1990 and 1993 brought to light parts of a 3rd century AD Roman defence wall. The remains have been preserved in the wine cellar at the prestigious Don Carlos restaurant.

Info. Tel: +39.02.723141 www.grandhoteletdemilan.it

Posted on 20 Feb 2022 by Editor

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