2021 marks the seventh centenary of the death of Italy's greatest poet, Dante Alighieri, and by a strange coincidence two of the best loved poets in the English language also have special commemorations in 2021 and 2022. Both John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley died in Italy within a year of one another two hundred years ago, and their remains are enshrined in the Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome, near the Cestia Pyramid at Porta San Paolo.

John Keats died on the 23rd February 1821 in what was once a cheap guest house on the Spanish Steps in Rome – now converted into the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, which has welcomed many illustrious visitors like Richard Gear, J.K. Rowling, Prince Charles, and most recently, Bob Geldof. Curator Giuseppe Albano affirms:“It never ceases to amaze me just how much love (Keats) inspires in visitors to the Keats Shelley House...in 200 years after his death Keats' poetry has never been more alive or more loved.”

His fellow poet Shelley died the following year in a boating accident off the coast of Lerici. His friends cremated him on the beach, but his ashes were brought to Rome and repose in the same cemetery.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid epidemic, both the Memorial House and the Non-Catholic Cemetery have planned a full programme of commemorative events in cooperation with the Poetry Society and the Keats House in Hampstead, London. Special initiatives include a virtual guided tour of the Memorial House and the video “The Death of Keats”, narrated by Bob Geldof. Premiere on the 23rd February on YouTube. For information on other events contact:

Info: KS House Tel.+39.06.6784235 www. ksh.roma.it

Cemetery Tel.+39.06.5741900 www.cemeteryrome.it

Posted on 23 Feb 2021 by Editor

 

With pandemic figures reduced, Sardinia has reopened many archaeological sites and museums, including the Civic Museum G. Marangiu on the Sinis peninsula in west Sardinia (near Oristano), containing its celebrated and disquieting “Giants of Cabras”. Experts calculate that the group of unique 2 metre-tall stone warriors, dates back to around the 8th century BC and it is considered to be one of the most important archaeological finds of the Iron Age in Italy.

The statues were discovered by chance in 1974 in an ancient necropolis on Mont'e Prama, near the site of the Nuragic settlement of Tharros. In all, an estimated 45 sculptures, broken into some 5000 fragments, were recovered. Archaeologists have so far been able to identify some 28 figures, which include 16 boxers with shields and protected right hands, 6 archers with bows and breastplates and 6 warriors with helmets crowned with horns.

The “Giants” are only beginning to be known to a wider public now and are beginning to attract visitors to this hitherto remote area. After a lively debate with the local town council of the small town of Cabras, the Italian Ministry of Culture and Heritage has agreed to allow the other fragments to be restored in situ, instead of transferring them to the specialized laboratories in Cagliari. In addition, the Ministry has promised the town a grant of 3 million euro to build a new museum to house the “Giants”, and the important cache of artefacts found in the area.

Info: Tel. +39.0783.290636 info@museocabras.it

Posted on 20 Feb 2021 by Editor

Naples is well -known for its architecture and works of ancient and baroque art. It is less known that the city is full of contemporary art works decorating the poorest and less attractive districts, as an international army of mural painters take over bleak wall spaces and transform them into open air art galleries. The phenomenon has become so widespread that “Street Art” tours for more informed tourists are now offered.

The most famous work is Banksy's “Madonna with a Pistol” in Piazza Girolomini (near the Church of San Lorenzo) that shows the Mother of Christ with a gun instead of a halo floating above her head, symbolizing the connection between religion and organized crime, it being well known that traditional Mafia members attend mass and have their children baptized.

The Parco Merola (better known as the Murals Park) in the Ponticello suburb is a show place of graffiti art, displaying the works of the artists like Dutch-Italian Jorit, Neapolitans Zed 1, Mattia CDO and the Sicilian artists Rosk & Loste. Jorit's Romany child gazing out of the wall with her school books around her and the message in Neapolitan dialect that “All Children are Equal” is the most celebrated.

Jorit's gigantic murals dominate several walls in Naples. In the Y-shaped quarter of Forcello he painted a huge 15 metre-high San Gennaro, Naples' patron saint, with the face of his labourer friend, and on the wall of a high-rise block of flats at the coastal district of San Giovanni a Teduccio he has immortalized the football hero Maradona, lionized in Naples where he played for the Napoli football team. The artist's signature is apparently in one of Maradona's eyes and can allegedly only be seen at sunrise and sunset.

By contrast, the Spanish Quarter is covered with the 223 surreal graffiti of lively little figurines by Neapolitan street artists Cyop & Kaf. Most murals contain political messages, not without a touch of satirical humour, as in“Mission Possible” by Neapolitan street artist Roxy in the Box, with San Gennaro and Caravaggio standing side by side and both reading modern newspapers, while a sad 38 metre-long tribute is paid to journalist Giancarlo Siani, a victim of the criminal organization, the Camorra, painted by Milan artists Wally & Alita on the wall of the house where Siani lived.

And these are only a sample few.....

Info: www.visitnaples.eu

Posted on 16 Feb 2021 by Editor

 

Milan's Royal Palace Museum is hosting a revolutionary exhibition of the works of many of the Italian women artists who made their mark during the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of these women were famous and much respected in their day, but have inexplicably been forgotten, with only one – Artemisia Gentileschi – who stands out as a household name today.

The exhibition “Le Signore dell'Arte” sets out to redress this wrong by presenting over 150 works by 34 women artists of the Renaissance. They include women who were members of the exclusive Academia di San Luca, where only the most talented artists were admitted, as well as some who were court painters and who ran their own studios and consorted with the most eminent figures of their day. They include Sofonisba Anguissola, whose talent was recognized by Michelangelo and who was employed for over ten years at the court of Philip II of Spain, Giovanna Garzoni, employed by the Medicis and who is credited with introducing or promoting the still life form, Lavinia Fontana, who, despite having eleven children, outclassed her painter husband and made him her agent, Elisabetta Sirani, who ran a highly successful art school for men and women and was buried in the same tomb as Guido Reni, as well as Artemisia Gentileschi, and many others.

The exhibition is programmed to run until the 6th June 2021.

Info: Tel: +39.02.88465230 www.palazzorealemilano.it

Posted on 12 Feb 2021 by Editor

The historic city of Parma (Emilia) was elected as Italian City of Culture for 2020 but unfortunately the outbreak of coronavirus put a halt on all the carefully prepared programmes that were to accompany the event. The nomination has consequently been prolonged for 2021 and the city is finally beginning to unfold some of its suspended programmes.

Meanwhile, the VisitEmilia organization is promoting visits to the historic churches of Parma, and its neighbouring cities of Piacenza and Reggio Emilia, with their wealth of art works. In particular, visitors are being encouraged to raise their eyes and do some cupola-gazing to admire the amazing frescos by great local masters like Correggio, Guercino, Parmigianino and others. The long list of churches which contain masterpieces of dome decoration include Parma Cathedral, where Correggio painted the Assumption of the Virgin with a revolutionary swirling composition of bodies spiralling heavenwards towards the figure of Christ.

Guercino is the star of Piacenza Cathedral, where he filled the cupola with the Prophets, suspended among the clouds, and Reggio Emilia's Sanctuary of the Holy Virgin of the Ghiara, built to commemorate a miracle in 1596, is a virtual kaleidoscope of prophets and with a rare cycle of female figures, heroines of the Old Testament, by Lionello Spada, a pupil of Carraci, and other Emilia artists, arching high above an altar piece of the “Crucifixion” by Guercino.

All these works of art are now available to the public.

Info: Tel. +39.0521.218889  www.visitemilia.com  info@visitemilia.com

Posted on 08 Feb 2021 by Editor

 

Italy has over 6,000 borghi (small historic villages), most with less than 5000 inhabitants. For decades these have been subjected to an inexorable population decline, leaving empty dwellings, shops and workshops, and with churches, monuments, little piazzas and former noble houses sinking into a state of progressive neglect.

Until recently, it seemed that their fate as sealed and that many of them were doomed to total abandonment, despite the valiant efforts of local administrations and cultural associations to revive them with various initiatives.

However, things now seem to be changing, thanks to the current pandemic and the consequent boom in online working, which is opening up new possibilities for Italy's villages. A programme of incentives launched by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity, a special department of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, aimed at revitalizing the borghi, seems to be producing positive effects.

The Borghi in Festival programme offering to finance projects of urban regeneration has attracted over 643 proposals from all over the country.

Many old borghi are offering housing at symbolic prices and financial aid to families willing to come and settle with them. Recently launched incentives to transfer to Appeninne villages attracted 2,310 requests in a few days. The village of Graglio in the Val Veddasca (Lombardy) has chalked up a first success, with the first baby born in twenty-eight years, thanks to a family who transferred from Genoa, and a crowd funded initiative to attract new residents, launched by the 500 inhabitants of the Calabrian village of Vaccarizzo di Montalto Uffugo, once celebrated for silk production, has been incorporated in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Societal Transformation Lab, a worldwide experimental programme studying population re-distribution.

Info: iliveinvaccarizzo.com dg-cc@beniculturali.it

Posted on 05 Feb 2021 by Editor

All being well on the pandemic front, the Giorgio Cini Foundation is to open an unusual collection of glass animals on the 22nd March to mark the reopening to visitors of the Island of San Giorgio in Venice.

The exhibition, which will be set up in the “Glass Rooms” of the Foundation, comes from the private collection of Pietro Rosenberg, Honorary President-Director of the Paris Louvre. Rosenberg's quirky collection of the 750 animals on display, gathered over a period of thirty years, are part of the vast collection of 17th – early 20th century art works which Rosenberg will donate to the new Museé du Grand Siécle in the converted barracks of Saint-Cloud, Paris, programmed to open in 2025.

The Glass Menagerie show will run until the 1st August 2021, along with the °Venice and the Glass Studio Americano° exhibition, with creations from the 1960s by American and Venetian glass artists.

Info: www.lestanzedelvetro.org info@lestanzedelvetro.org

Posted on 02 Feb 2021 by Editor

2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri, considered “the Father of the Italian language”. Celebrations are planned all over the country, and in particular in the places most strongly connected with him, such as his birthplace, Florence, and Ravenna, where he died in exile in 1321.

One of the most original initiatives has been launched by the Accademia della Crusca, a leading institution worldwide for the study and preservation of the Italian language, which is honouring the poet's memory with the project “La Parola di Dante fresca di giornata° (A Fresh Dante word every day). This involves publishing a word chosen from the rich Dante vocabulary for every day of this year on its website. For example: the word for the 27th January was “lurco” (describing gluttonous eaters). The 25th January launched “pappa ' and “l'dindi” (meaning “food” and “money”).

The important Festival del Medioevo in Gubbio (Umbria), one Italy's best preserved medieval towns, scheduled between the 22nd - 26th September 2021, (Covid-19 permitting), will focus exclusively on Dante and his epoch. Each year, the festival attempts to shed light on different aspects of an era that is erroneously referred to as the ”Dark Ages”, but which was, in fact, a time of discovery and progress.

This year's edition “The Times of Dante”, will enjoy the patronage of the Società Dantesca, a prestigious institution founded in Florence in 1888 to preserve the memory of °the Divine Poet°.

Info: www.accademiadellacrusca.it www.festivaldelmedioevo.it

Posted on 28 Jan 2021 by Editor

Recent research has identified the paper used by many of the great renaissance artists, such as Raphael and Michelangelo. Studies of the watermarks have revealed that the supplier was the celebrated paper manufacturer of Fabriano (Marche), operating since the Middle Ages and still producing paper products today.

The results of a pioneering study carried out by the Fedrigoni Fabriano Foundation to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael identified typical watermarks on the paper used by the artists during their terms of service at the papal court, such as an eagle, an anchor and an anchor crested by a star, among others.

The Historic Paper Warehouse, set up by the Fedrigoni Fabriano Foundation, contains a vast collection of historic tools as well as 15 moulds used in the manufacturing of handmade paper stamped with the image of Raphael and some of his most celebrated works.

The Foundation was set up in 2011 by the Fedrigoni company in order to promote the study of the history of paper and watermarks and to preserve medieval papermaking techniques. It encompasses the Archive of the Miliani Fabriano Paperworks, founded in 1782, which contains a collection of 1,500 watermarks, 1,200 historic photographs and a library of 3,000 volumes dedicated to the history of paper, as well as 2,213 ancient papers dating from 1276 to 1798, gathered by watermark scholar Augusto Zonghi.

Info: Tel. +39.0732 702502 www.fondazionefedrigoni.it

Posted on 25 Jan 2021 by Editor

The small Neapolitan island of Procida was the surprise winner of the contest for Italy's Capital of Culture 2022, beating 10 other highly qualified finalists out of a total 28 competitors. The prestigious prize comes with a government grant of a million euros towards financing the package of proposed improvements and upgrades submitted by the candidates.

Procida is the first small community to win the title and the perks that come with it. The project, entitled La Cultura Non Isola” (Culture doesn't isolate) a clever pun on the Italian word “isola” which can mean either “island” or “isolate”, involved 240 artists and 44 cultural projects to create a year-long programme of events. Procida's proposal centred round encouraging a type of sustainable “Slow Tourism” aimed at attracting visitors in all the four seasons of the year by offering more than a simple beach holiday.

Italy's Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini, commented that the choice of Cultural Capital does not depend on the importance of the chosen location or its existing cultural heritage but on the originality and far-sightedness of the project presented. The Procida proposal, he said, could provide a model for other lesser-known areas, as well as a signal of optimism for the return of tourism in 2022.

Although the island with its rainbow houses is well-known to cinema (Films like “Il Postino”, “the Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Arturo's Island” were all shot here), it has always been overshadowed by its celebrated neighbours Capri and Ischia and until 1980 it was best known as the prison island for mafia bosses and high profile criminals.

The new proposals include upgrading the old D'Avalos fortress, which originally contained the prison, as a tourist attraction.

Info: www.beniculturali.it

Posted on 22 Jan 2021 by Editor

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