One of Rome's major tourist attractions is the recently re-opened Domus Aurea, the remains of what was the fabulous Golden House of the Roman Emperor Nero on the Colle Oppio Hill overlooking the Colosseum.

Although the site was inaccessible to visitors during the Covid lockdown, restoration work never let up throughout the months of closure, resulting in additional spaces and rooms now on view and a more enhanced visitor experience.

A recent major improvement has been the construction of a new entrance linking the underground areas with the Oppio Park 6 metres above through an innovative pedestrian walkway designed by leading Milan architect Stefano Boeri. This allows a gradual descent through the various strata of the archaeological remains, which include Baths built by Trajan over the ruins of the palace.

The Domus Aurea was an enormous construction spread over 80 hectares and with more than a thousand rooms, all decorated with frescoes in the style of the famous stylized “Grotesques”, so called because the artists of the Renaissance who first ventured into the rooms believed they were in “grottos” or caves and not man-made buildings.

The current exhibition “Raphael and the Domus Aurea” that commemorates the 500th anniversary of Raphael's death, centres round the Octagonal Room, a masterpiece of Roman architecture, with five adjoining rooms animated with multimedial special effects and video-mapping, designed by the Interaction and Exhibit Design Studio Dotdotdot of Milan is guaranteed to fascinate visitors of all ages.

The exhibition runs until the 7th January 2022, while the Domus Aurea will continue to be open normally as one of Rome's major sights. At the moment, prior booking is required.

M.STENHOUSE

Info: www.parcocolosseo.it www.coopculture.it

Posted on 18 Jul 2021 by Editor

FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), the equivalent of the UK National Trust, has launched a series of guided evening excursions in some of the most magical spots in the Italian peninsula.

1) Villa Gregoriana at Tivoli, the botanical cliff-side garden created by Pope Gregorio XVI, one of Italy's most romantic gardens and a favourite subject among artists of the Grand Tour, can be explored by torchlight:

Dates: 17, 24 July and 7, 14, 21, 28 August 2021.

Info: Tel. +39.0774.332650 faigregoriana@fondoambiente.it

2) I Sassi al Tramonto sunset walk among the Matera “Sassi” (the rock caves where once the local population lived in total poverty, but now transformed into exclusive dwelling houses, restaurants and boutiques) following the paths used by the peasant farmers returning home from the fields. Sampling of local products included.

Dates: Every Friday between 9th July- 6th August at 6 pm.

Info: Tel. +39.0835.335452 fainoha@fondoambiente.it

3) BAIA DI IERANTO at Massa Lubrense. A three hour trek with a professional AIGAE guide (Italian Association Guida Ambientale Escursionistica) along the Punta Campanella promontory to admire the sun going down over Capri, Procida and the Gulf of Naples

Dates: 10,16,17,29,30,31 July – 5,7,12,13,16,19,20,21,26,27,28, August.

Info: Tel. +39.335.8410255 faiieranto@fondoambiente.it

Posted on 15 Jul 2021 by Editor

Il Sole 24Ore”, Italy's most prestigious financial newspaper, has published its 2021 review on the quality of life in the various Italian regions, according to the services available for three categories: the Elderly, Young People and Children.

In all three cases, the smaller provincial cities win out over the major cities of Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples which all lost points during the current Coronavirus epidemic.

If you are a Senior, the best place to live in is apparently Trento, followed by Ravenna, Bolzano, Aosta and Bologna.

Young people are best catered for in Ravenna, Ferrara, Forte-Cesena, Vercelli and Piacenza, while families with young children would be well to look for a house in Cagliari, Udine, Oristano, Gorizia and (again) Aosta, which all offer good childcare facilities for harassed Mums and Dads.

Factors taken into account include disposable income, job possibilities, available housing and rents, pension levels, public transport and services and the environment.

M.STENHOUSE

Info: lab24.ilsole24ore.com

Posted on 11 Jul 2021 by Editor

The Giants of Cabras, one of Sardinia's (and Italy's) little known archaeological treasures, are finally receiving the promotion they deserve. The Sardinian regional government has launched the exhibition: “Sardinia Megalithic Island – from Menhirs to Nuraghi: Stories of Stone in the Heart of the Mediterranean” in Berlin, scheduled to run till the end of September, as part of an international tour.

In view of the recently awakened interest in the unique prehistoric site of Cabras (Oristano) on the Sinis Peninsula, Italy's Culture Ministry has awarded a grant of 3 million euro to the recently constituted Foundation Mont'e Prama, which manages the Archaeological Park of Tharros and the Archaeological Museum of Cabras. The funds will be used to create visitor facilities.

The Giants, stone carved warriors over 2 metres in height, were discovered in the 1970s and languished for thirty years in the repositories of the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari till 2005 when restoration work began. Some of the statues were exhibited at special events over the next decade till a permanent home was finally found for them at their original discovery site of Cabras.

Scientists have not yet been able to definitely date the sculptures, which are believed to belong to the Sardinian Nuraghi culture somewhere between the 11th and 8th century BC. So far, 28 warriors have been reassembled from the fragments discovered: 16 represent boxers, 5 archers and the others soldiers.

Info: Tel. +39.0783290636 www.museocabras.it

Posted on 08 Jul 2021 by Editor

Not many people know that the humble little brown dried lentil has its moment of glory during the summer months when it comes into flower, mingling with thousands of wild flowers and transforming the three valleys of Pian Grande, Pian Piccolo and Pian Perduto (this last within the territory of Marche) in the Sibillini Mountains into a vast carpet of brilliant colours. The phenomenon has become an ever expanding tourist attraction with motorists arriving from all over the region to admire the spectacle. So much so that the mountain roads leading to Castelluccia di Norcia (Umbria), the centre of the lentil cultivation, risk endless bottlenecks during the weekends.

The valley lies between the regions of Umbria and Marche. When the Umbria regional government at Perugia decided to close access during the peak weekends of 3-4 July and 10-11 July in order to avoid nose-to-tail traffic jams trying to reach the village of Castelluccia, Marche protested, along with the mayors of the five other scattered villages, who all rely on day tourists for much needed municipal income.

Meanwhile, the Municipality of Norcia, whose territory encompasses Castelluccio has decreed that on the two critical weekends, prior booking for access will be required in one of five designated parking lots, some of which provide a shuttle bus service.

In latter years, 80,000 visitors have visited the tiny borgo of Castelluccio during the flowering season between mid-May to mid-July. During the last weekend of June an estimated 26,000 cars invaded Pian Grande to see the spectacle of the flowering valley floors.

Info: www.castellucciodinorcia.it info@comune.norcia.pg.it

Posted on 04 Jul 2021 by Editor

The life-size replica of Michelangelo's DAVID, reproduced in state-of-the-art 3D technology, promises to be one of the major attractions of the coming edition of EXPO, due to open at Dubai on the 1st October 2021.

The colossal marble statue of the biblical hero, a towering 5 metres, including its base, is considered to be one of the marvels of the Italian Renaissance. Symbolizing the Medici power in Florence, it originally stood at the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio until it was moved inside the Gallery of the Academy to preserve it from vandals and modern air pollution. It was replaced at the time by the identical marble copy that visitors can admire in Piazza della Signoria.

The Dubai replica, however, is a triumph of modern technology, requiring 40 hours of three dimensional scanning in 146 thousands-millimetres resolution, as well as hours of manual perfectionism to remove defects and create a marble look-like surface in resin and marble dust. The result is one of the largest 3D printed replicas of an art work in the world.

The David copy will grace the centre of the Italian Pavilion at the Dubai EXPO, scheduled to run until 31st March 2022.

Info: www.italyexpo2020.it

Posted on 30 Jun 2021 by Editor

You have to climb 2000 m up the Dolomites to visit the art and monuments of RespirArt, one of the highest open air galleries situated, as it were, at the top of the world.

The RespirArt Park is spread over the peaks and pastures of the Pampeago mountain pass in the UNESCO NATURAL HERITAGE site at Mt. Latemar, a well-known ski centre in Trentino (South Tyrol). Many international artists have contributed works, including the celebrated Japanese Hidetoshi Nagasawa, with installations and art works that blend into and enhance the surrounding panorama and new works are added every summer.

Info: www.respirart.com www.trentino.com

Posted on 26 Jun 2021 by Editor

You have to climb 2000 m up the Dolomites to visit the art and monuments of RespirArt, one of the highest open air galleries situated, as it were, at the top of the world.

The RespirArt Park is spread over the peaks and pastures of the Pampeago mountain pass in the UNESCO NATURAL HERITAGE site at Mt. Latemar, a well-known ski centre in Trentino (South Tyrol). Many international artists have contributed works, including the celebrated Japanese Hidetoshi Nagasawa, with installations and art works that blend into and enhance the surrounding panorama and new works are added every summer.

Info: www.respirart.com www.trentino.com

Posted on 26 Jun 2021 by Editor

 

Special for Cinephiles! The National Museum Salce Collection in Treviso (Veneto) is putting on a special show of historic cinema posters as a tribute to the award-winning master of this art, Renato Casaro.

Casaro is considered to be the last great maestro in this field. His eye-catching works span several generations and document the evolving world of cinema and the tastes of the public over the years. Some of his most memorable works include the celebrated posters for”Amadeus”, “Tea in the Desert”, “The Last Emperor” and the Sean Connery 007 series.

A selection of some 300 works are on show in three venues: the new National Museum Salce Collection in the Church of Santa Margherita, the San Gaetano Complex and the Civic Museum of Santa Caterina. They cover Italian and international films that illustrated landmark masterpieces by the top directors of the 20th century.

The exhibition: “Renato Casaro The Last Cinema Poster Creator – Treviso-Rome-Hollywood” runs until the end of December 2021.

Info: Tel, +39.0422591936 www.collezionesalce.beniculturali.it

www.museicivicitreviso.it

Posted on 23 Jun 2021 by Editor

As part of the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death of Italy's greatest poet, Dante Alighiere, Ferrovie dello Stato (State Railways) is launching a series of vintage steam train trips through the Apennines along the historic Faetina line between Florence and Ravenna, where Dante has his tomb.

The trains run every weekend from July 3rd- October 10th 2021(except the 7-8 August when the line will be closed for maintenance), leaving from Santa Maria Novella station in Florence at 9 am and arriving at Ravenna late morning. There will be four stops on route at the small country stations of Borgo San Lorenzo, Marradi, Brisighella and Faenza, to allow passengers who wish to get off and explore. The return journey from Ravenna to Florence is programmed for late afternoon.

Passenger numbers will be restricted to half capacity due to COVID restrictions.

Info: www.ferrovie.info

Posted on 20 Jun 2021 by Editor

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