Dario Franceschini, Italy's Minister of Culture (MIBAC) has turned the spotlight on the long neglected libraries spread around the various regions, underlining the vital contribution they have made to the spread of knowledge and general culture.

This month is concentrated on the versatile but little known Marucelliana Biblioteca of Florence, founded by the Abbot Francesco Marucelli and opened to the public in1752. Over the years, the library has continued to add to the original collection of over 6000 volumes, including 53,000 prints and 3,200 drawings donated by the Abbot's nephew Alessandro and the last descendent of the family, Francesco Di Roberto. These include anatomical studies by Raphael and a 17th century sketch book by Roman artist Ottavio Leoni with portraits of the leading artists, sculptors, men of letters and scientists of the day, including Caravaggio.

The library, however, has always continued to pay attention to the trends of the times, with a copious collection of books of industrial design and cultural magazines of more modern times. A special attraction is the tribute paid to Disney's Mickey Mouse, who debuted in an Italian weekly magazine under the name “Topolino” in 1932, illustrated over the years by teams of leading Italian graphic artists and is still eagerly followed by Italian children (and older!) today.

  1. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.055.2722 200/255 maru@beniculturali.it

Posted on 10 Jan 2022 by Editor

We may be into the Third Millenium, but some traditions remain. In Frascati, the celebrated wine town in the Alban Hills near Rome, four generations of the Ceralli family have been baking bread for over a century in their unique old-style wood-fired bread oven.

The present generation is committed to continuing the tradition of producing bread, pizza and ciambelle biscuits in the time honoured fashion under the vigilant eye of 95 year old “Nonna Rosanna” who continues to take an active interest in the bakehouse and the family's shop opposite.

The Ceralli bakery is the only remaining traditional forno a legno (wood-fired oven) left in Frascati. The family held out defiantly in the 1950s against the introduction of a law that imposed the transformation of all the wood-fired ovens into electric ovens and eventually won their case. The furnace has a 16 sqm chamber, with a cast iron door. There is no mechanical thermometer. The family know by experience when the oven has reached the right temperature.

The bakehouse is situated in the old part of the town, just round the corner from the Bishop's Palace, La Rocca, and is easily recognizable by the bundles of twigs, gathered from the nearby woods and used exclusively to fire the oven, stacked beside the door.

The main attraction, however, is the indefatigable Nonna Rosanna, who continues to rise every morning at dawn to go to the bakehouse and supervise proceedings. Always ready for a chat, she likes to show off her speciality “Pupazza Frascatana” biscuits, Frascati's most original souvenir, which she claims to have invented.

Tel. +39.06.9420439 forno@ceralli.it

Posted on 06 Jan 2022 by Editor

To all our readers

OUR VERY BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY AND PEACEFUL HOLIDAY

AND AN END TO THE PANDEMIC IN 2022

From all of us at ITALYUPDATE

PS. We'll be back with the NEW YEAR

 

 

Posted on 22 Dec 2021 by Editor

Italy's ever active Culture Minister Dario Franceschini has decided to do something about the vast collection of antiquities and art that languishes in store rooms, due to lack of space in some of the country's major museums.

The operation, entitled “100 works return home”, involves transferring a first batch of these long-neglected treasures to smaller, less known museums, preferably in smaller towns outside the main mass tourism circuit. The present selection was obtained through lengthy consultation of the data base of the Direzione Generale Musei (Central Museums Office) which lists 3,652 objects languishing in the deposits of 90 state museums, with the objective of “sending them back to the places where they originally belonged”.

The project created special interest in the small bijou town of Nemi, some 30 kms from Rome, where a bronze lion's head originally attached to a beam end of an ancient ceremonial ship – one of two built by the Roman emperor Caligula and recovered from the bed of Lake Nemi in the 1930s – was delivered to the Roman Ship Museum on the lakeside, welcomed home by the local authorities.

The enclosed photo shows Nemi mayor Alberto Bertucci and Museum Curator Daniela De Angelis at the opening of the crate containing the bronze head.

  1. STENHOUSE

Info: https://comunedinemi.rm.gov.it drm-laz@beniculturali.it

Posted on 19 Dec 2021 by Editor

 

The golden beaches of Jesolo (Venice's celebrated seaside resort) take on new splendour over the Christmas season with the traditional Presepio di Sabbia (Sand Nativity), which draws thousands of visitors every year to admire the spectacular sand sculptures created by teams of international artists.

This year's version – the 19th edition - is even more impressive, with the gigantic 10-meter wide Holy Family group, the work of three artists: Marielle Heessels and Susanne Margherite Ruseler from Holland with Canadian David Ducharme, dominating the 2021 Sand Nativity show, inaugurated on the traditional Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th December 2021.

Under the artistic direction of US artist Richard Varano, 14 foreign artists from Belgium, Denmark, Russia, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Italy lent their talents to creating sand sculptures, this year centred on the theme of the miracles of healing recounted in the Gospels, as a tribute to the health workers who have been coping with the present pandemic.

The Jesolo Sand Nativity will be on show until the 6th February 2022. All money raised by guided tours of the art works is donated to charity.

Info: Tel. +39.0421.369111 www.jesolosandnativity.it

Posted on 16 Dec 2021 by Editor

 

Some holiday reading: “The Goddess of the Lake and the Lost Ships of Nemi”.

The legend of the Golden Bough, the triple goddess Diana and the tragic end of Caligula's ceremonial barges.

Versions in English and Italian.

For information contact the author: mstenhouse@libero.it

Posted on 12 Dec 2021 by Editor

Despite the limitations of the current pandemic, Italian wine and gastronomy tours continue to attract increasing numbers of tourists. No longer a niche market, agrotourism is an up-and-coming trend, drawing not only families keen on relaxing in the peace of the countryside, but also serious gourmets and wine experts.

Rome is particularly well placed for this type of experience, with the celebrated wine towns of the Castelli Hills a mere 30 kms or so from the city and easily accessible.

The town of Frascati, the uncontested capital of Castelli wines, makes the ideal focal point for a journey of discovery around the vineyards and farms of the Roman countryside, which offer not only wine tastings and excellent food, but also unexpected dips into the history of ancient Rome. A number of wine farms in the Frascati area, such as Pietra Porzia and the Casal Montani estates have important Roman monuments on their land or underneath their villas, showing that the ancient Romans were not so different from us in tastes and preferences for scenic spots.

The Frascati name is well-known world wide, thanks to its aristocratic villas and charming scenery. However, for centuries its wine has been virtually synonymous with “fraschette” - the traditional hostelries depicted by artists like Pinelli. In the last few years, this has been steadily changing, thanks to the dedication and efforts of local wine-growers, grouped together under a consortium: “Consorzio Tutela Denominazione Vini Frascati” (Consortium for the Protection of Frascati Wines Denomination). Many of the members produce distinctive top quality wines that are attracting the attention of experts in the international market.

ANTONIO RIGILLO

Info: https://consorziofrascati.it

Posted on 09 Dec 2021 by Editor

The historic town of Offida (Ascoli Picena, Marche) has a long tradition in the art of lacemaking and tombola, which can be admired at the Lace Museum in the 19th century De Castellotti Palace. The Christmas season highlights the municipalitity's heritage with a special exhibition “Il Merletto di Offida” (the Lace of Offida) in which some of the rarest and most precious items will be on display, including the lace dress designed by Antonio Berardi and worn by top model Naomi Campbell at a fashion show in London in 1997.

The three-day event between the 3rd - 6th December 2021 will be a showcase of local traditions and will include a busy programme of guided tours of the town's craft studios, exhibitions of lacemaking techniques, itinerant theatre, wine tastings of the region's wines and a special theatrical performance for children at the traditional Serpente Aureo (Golden Serpent) Theatre.

Info: Tel. +39.0736.888609 www.turismoffida.com

Posted on 04 Dec 2021 by Editor

The Campana Maggiore (Great Bell) of the Cathedral of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore, is now set to chime out over the city rooftops for another fifty-or-so years. Latterly, it was showing perilous signs of wear and tear on the sound bow area struck by the clapper. In a four-day highly skilled operation, specialized workmen turned it round to expose the last undamaged portion so that it can continue to honour the persistent thrice-daily battering it takes every day, punctually at 7am, 12 noon and sunset.

The Campana Maggiore, dedicated to St. Reparata, is a massive bronze bell, weighing over 5 tons and with a diameter of 2 m. It was first cast in 1475 and re-cast in 1705 when its sides began to show cracks. Since then it has been rotated by a quarter several times, the last recorded being 1956-57. Experts say that this will be the last time this operation can be carried out before the bell must be re-cast.

The bells are hung in the Giotto Bell Tower beside the Cathedral, along with the other 12 smaller bells, 7 of which, including the St. Reparata bell, are still rung every day. Since bells are believed to have “souls”, they all have names – Misericordia (Mercy), Apostolica, Annunziata (Annunciation), Mater Dei, Assumption, (the) Immaculate.

The maintenance of the great bell was commissioned by the Opera Santa Maria del Fiore and carried out by bell experts A.E.I. di Perego (Milan).

Info: https://duomo.firenze.it

Posted on 01 Dec 2021 by Editor

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

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