ULYSSES JOURNEY UNITES MED

The UNESCO MED LAB of the University of Reggio Calabria is creating a project involving a cultural itinerary which will involve the Mediterranean countries allegedly alluded to in Homer's great epic poem, “The Odyssey”. The poem recounts the mythical journey of the hero Ulysses from Troy to his home land on the Greek island of Ithaca.

The project is being promoted by the regional office of MIBACT (Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism), the Italian branch of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) as well as a number of universities and local authorities in Calabria and Sicily.

The legend of Ulysses' journey is still very much alive in Italy, Greece and several other Mediterranean counties. Many of the places mentioned by Homer have been identified with episodes in the poem, despite the fact that the Odyssey is believed by experts to be a work of fiction.

However, myths have a habit of lingering on over centuries. Thus the Greek island of Ithaca is thought to be the hero's real kingdom, the home of the nymph Calypso is identified with the island of Gozo near Malta, and the Lotus Eaters supposedly inhabited Djerba off the Tunisian coast.

Italy, in particular, is rich in Odyssey lore. The dreaded passage between the monsters Charybdis and Scylla is believed to be the Straits of Messina with the Garofalo whirlpool (in actual fact a very minor movement of opposing water currents) supposed to be Charybdis. Polyphemus the man-eating Cyclop had his cave on the Sicilian coast near Etna and the Sirens hung out on the

I Galli islands near Capri. The enchantress Circe, who turned Ulysses' men into pigs, resided on the Circeo peninsula south of Rome, that actually looks like an island from certain view points. The legend was reinforced by the discovery in 1928 of a cult statue of Circe, dating from the 5th century BC, as well as the remains of a temple and an acropolis.

The idea behind the project “Il Viaggio di Ulisse” (Ulysses' Journey)is to create a cultural link between these places and promote tourism.

M.STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.0965.332201 www.icomos.org urp@unirc.it

Posted on 01 Feb 2022 by Editor

HERCULANEUM BEATS LOCKDOWN BLOCK WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

A number of curators of Italy's major museums and archaeological sites have met the challenge of the pandemic lockdowns and visitor restrictions with imaginative and positive initiatives, using tools like the social network to keep their public in contact.

One of the most successful has been the site of the Roman city of Herculaneum, one of Italy's most popular tourist attractions before the clamp down. Director Francesco Sirani launched a highly successful video series “I Lapilli del Parco di Ercolano” in 2020, followed by I Lapilli sotto la cenere” (The Lapilli under the Ash) that included overviews of the site filmed by drones, a virtual tour of the ruined city by Sirani and a focus on the recently discovered skeleton of a man believed to be a Roman official who was part of the attempted rescue squad sent to the doomed city. The Archaeological Park has just launched a third series “From Lapilli to Magma”, which will follow the work of archaeologists and restorers working on new areas of the site.

The initiative has attracted record visitor figures during the brief periods of opening last year, that included the special event centred on leisure and pleasure in ancient Herculaneum: Gli Ozi di Ercole” (roughly translated as “Hercules' Indolence”).

The videos (in Italian) are available on the Herculaneum Park's media links: Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. Meanwhile, the site has now opened again to visitors with restricted numbers. Full vaccination certificate (Green Pass) required as well as face mask.

Info: Tel. 0039.081 7324321 https://ercolano.beniculturali.it

Posted on 29 Jan 2022 by Editor

WINE BECOMES “GOOD, CLEAN & JUST” with SLOW FOOD

The Slow Food movement's impact on agricultural methods and consumer awareness has now extended to wine, the age-old “nectar of the gods”.

The Sana Slow Wine Fair has programmed its debut at Bologna from the 27th -29th March 2022, with already record participation numbers from winegrowers worldwide. The Fair focusses on the typical Slow Food organization principles of environment sustainability, protection of the countryside and the cultural and social role of the cellars in the societies where they work.

Participants are selected for their choice to use green energy sources, for the fair treatment of their workers and for their care of the environment. The Slow Wine Coalition expects some 5000 producers to subscribe to the Slow Food manifesto for “Good, Clean and Just wine”.

All to the benefit of the consumer!

  1. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. Bologna Fair +39.051.700361 http://slowinefair.slowfood.it

Posted on 25 Jan 2022 by Editor

ROME'S “ALHAMBRA” RE-OPENS

After a 14-year long restoration, the Serra Moresca (the Moorish Conservatory), one of the jewels of the Villa Torlonia, Rome, is now available for visits.

The whimsical pavilion, set in the grounds of the Savoy royal abode and ex-residence of Mussolini, is a graceful building of peperino stone and wrought iron work, full of large windows of brilliantly coloured glass, one of a number of unusual buildings constructed in the grounds of the family villa by Prince Alessandro Torlonia in the 19th century.

Its unusual design, created by Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli in 1839, and decorated by Giacomo Capena, recalls the imagined vision of an Islamic building inspired by the “Arabian Nights” fairy tales, leading to its nickname of the “Roman Alhambra”.

Once a garden retreat full of exotic plants, it had been allowed to fall into disrepair for decades and its restoration proved particularly delicate and difficult.

The Serra will now be used as an exhibition and cultural activity space. The Villa Torlonia sits in a vast park. In addition to the splendid rooms of the villa itself, visitors can also visit the Casina della Civetta (Little Owl House) with a permanent exhibition of stained glass, the Prince's private Theatre, the Casino dei Principi (Princes' Lodge), the Limonaia (Lemon Grove), now a restaurant, and the war-time bunker for Mussolini and his family.

Info: Tel. 060608 www.museivillatorlonia.it

Posted on 21 Jan 2022 by Editor

BERGAMO ART TREASURES WOW SHANGHAI

The exhibition MAESTRI. DAL RINASCIMENTO all' OTTOCENTO” (The MASTERS. From RENAISSANCE to '800) on loan from the Foundation of the Academy of Carrara and the City of Bergamo, drew the crowds during the recent 5-month exhibition at Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China.

Despite Covid restrictions, 60,000 visitors flocked to see the 54 works of masters such as Raphael, Mantegna, Bellini, Titian, Lotto, Hayez and others on show at the Bund One Art Museum in the exclusive waterfront Bund district. The venue, at Bund No.27 was originally the seat of a colonial British trading company. It was opened to the public in March 2010, after it had been restored for the EXPO 2010 fair. The Victorian style buildings of the Bund have frequently been featured as settings for films.

The Bergamo exhibition will be followed by a series of exhibitions of Italian art from the collections of the Uffizi in Florence, to be held in the same venue over the next five years.

Info: Tel. +39.035 234396 www.lacarrara.it info@lacarrara.it

Posted on 18 Jan 2022 by Editor

LIBRINO ART GATEWAYS: FROM FACELESS SUBURB TO BEAUTY

The Catania suburb of Librino (Sicily) expects to inaugurate its second terracotta wall by the end of this year 2022. The “Porta delle Farfalle” (Butterfly Gateway) is the brainchild of artist and entrepreneur Antonio Presti, who created some fifteen years ago, the companion Porta delle Bellezze” (Gateway of Beauty), decorated with over 9 thousand ceramic bas-relief panels and thus transformed Librino, a little known and unattractive suburb of south-west Catania, into a blossoming art centre.

The Porta delle Farfalle is an even more ambitious project than its predecessor. It involves decorating a kilometre-long cement wall with hand-made terracotta panels created by over 5000 art students and 10,000 school children and their families from 9 local schools, under the guide of some 50 artists and architects. The project is sustained by the Presti Foundation and the Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Charity Fund.

In order to transform a featureless flyover into the work of art of the Porta delle Bellezze, Presti involved 2,000 local children and their mothers, who succeeded brilliantly in the task of turning their unappealing suburb of dreary high-rise apartment blocks and featureless streets into an open air art gallery. The 9,000 hand-made terracotta panels, inspired by mythical themes, transform the cement wall into a glowingly warm mural that is fast becoming a tourist attraction.

The wall, however, does more than just beautify an otherwise ugly overpass. It has also transformed the outlook of the inhabitants, who view the work with pride as “something of their own”. Presti, in fact, comments with satisfaction that none of the art works have been tampered with or vandalized since the project was terminated in 2009.

The “Porta delle Farfalle” extension will create a total 1 ½ kilometres of decorated walls, making this what may be the longest bas-relief terracotta sculpture in the world to-day.

Info: Tel. +39.349.223.1802 www.ioamolibrino.it

Posted on 14 Jan 2022 by Editor

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

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