REBIRTH OF EMBLEMATIC EARTHQUAKE TOWN

The 15th century Cathedral of Saints Giacomo e Filippo, Finale Emilia (Modena, Emilia Romagna) after a difficult twelve-year restoration, finally re-opened for regular services this week. The town was at the epicentre of the devastating earthquake of 2012 that devastated a large part of central Italy.The small town of Finale Emilia became a symbol of the disaster, thanks to images broadcast worldwide of the historic Clock Tower, which remained standing, sliced perpendicularly in half, with its mutilated clock face.

The duomo lost its facade in the wave of 5.9º magnitude earth tremors that took the lives of 28 citizens, injured 300 more and left 45 families homeless. Restoration of the church, which has included anti-earthquake re-enforcement, and structural re-qualification, began in 2019, funded by the local Emilia Romagna Regional government, and subsidized also by the Italian government natural disaster programme for damage to art and cultural heritage.

However, the citizens of Finale Emilia will not be content until they have their iconic Clock Tower returned. The 14th century, 31.94m-high Tower (known as the Tower of the Modernness) dominated the town and the lives of the locals for 799 years. The estimated cost of rebuilding the monument runs to over 1 million euro and will be largely funded privately. The six-generation family-owned Molinari Caffe of the neighbouring city of Modena has started the ball rolling with an initial donation of 200,000 euro. Plans have already been approved for the reconstruction of a similar new tower of the same volume but built of lighter materials, that citizens hope to see rising once more above their rooftops.

In the meantime, a temporary clock tower on a metal frame was raised a couple of years ago on the spot.

Info: Tel. +39.05035.53811 https//:www.unioneareanord.mo.it

 

Posted on 31 May 2024 by Editor

NEAPOLITAN PIZZA AT LONDON EMBANKMENT

Over 300 pizzaioli (Pizza Masters) will set up their ovens and stands on the banks of the River Thames in London between the 19th – 22nd September 2024 as part of a grand promotional event starting in Naples (14th-23rd June), Milan (19th -22nd September) and finally the UK.

The grand Pizza Village, sponsored by the Coca Cola company and backed by Italy's Ministry of Tourism and the Italian Government Tourist Board ENIT will be aligned along a tract of the Thames Embankment and is expected to attract crowds during the three-day bonanza.

The Master Pizza makers will take turns at the traditional wood-fired pizza ovens especially installed for the occasion to familiarize customers with the unique taste of the genuine Neapolitan pizza.

The competition will be keen. The Neapolitan pizzaioli are up against a “British” pizzeria, winner in 2023 of “the World's Top Pizza” nomination - the renowned “Naples on the Road” establishment at Chiswick, London, owned by pizza chef Michele Pascarella from Casertana (Naples) who started out with a street food operation in his Ape Piaggio and now runs one of London's top eating establishments.

Info: www.pizzavillage.it www.napoliontheroad.co.uk

 

Posted on 27 May 2024 by Editor

ECOLOGICAL MISSION FOR EX PEOPLE-SMUGGLER'S BOAT

The motor vessel MareNostrum Dike, previously possessed by organizations of people smugglers on the route from Tunis to Italy, is now navigating the coast of southern Italy, as part of its new mission to explore the sea bed and monitor pollution levels.

The boat, previously known as Oceanis 473, had an original capacity for 12 passengers, but was carrying over a hundred illegal immigrants when it was intercepted and captured off the Sicilian coast by Italian coastal police.

Subsequently, it was assigned to the Archeoclub d'Italia, Italy's most important archaeology institution, which repaired it and gave it the new symbolic name of MareNostrum Dike after the Mare Nostrum humanitarian operation launched by the Italian government in 2013 and the Greek goddess of Justice.

Its present voyage, which follows the ancient Mediterranean sea routes of legend as recounted by Homer, takes it back to Palermo on the 23rd May 2024 to mark the date of the anniversary of the death of judge Giovanni Falcone who was killed in a car bomb attack orchestrated by the Mafia on the 23rd May 1992.

The MareNostrum Dike has expanded its operations for underwater archeological explorations to encompass educational cruises for young people and school children, including those with disabilities as well as teenage offenders detained in re-educational centres.

The Amalfi “leg” included a group of young detainees from the juvenile prisons in the Naples area, who have obtained divers certificates through training courses run by the Italian Naval Institute. The operation, promoted by the Municipality of Amalfi, involved working with divers from the Marine Academy to clean up the sea bed..

The Mare Nostrum humanitarian operation was launched by the Italian government in 2013 to rescue illegal migrants in difficulty while attempting the 145 kms crossing over the Strait of Sicily.

A year later, it merged with the larger scale Frontex, the European Border and Coastguard Agency, with the same mission: that of saving lives in the Mediterranean.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.06.44202250/3426636606 www.archeoclubitalia.org

Posted on 23 May 2024 by Editor

(courtesy Quotidiano Nazionale)

POMPEII EXPANDS TO THE SEA

The recently approved extension of the “Buffer Zone” encompassing the cluster of the archaeological sites of Pompeii, Herculanum and Oplontis aims to guarantee future excavations as well as protection from ulterior building speculation in the area.

After ten years of negotiations, the Great Park of Pompeii has been extended from the previous 0.24 sq k to 17.28 sq k with the addition of the towns of Torre del Greco, Boscoreale. Terzigno Trecase, Castellammare de Stabia and others, thus linking the Pompeii site with the coast. The area is densely populated and involves 11 municipalities, which have all agreed to the project that has now obtained UNESCO approval.

The project will guarantee not only future excavation campaigns in the area but also conservation and protection of the environment.

About one third (some 54 acres) of Pompeii itself has not yet been excavated and archaeologists continue to turn up surprises. Scoops like the discovery of the banqueting hall of a luxurious villa frescoed with lively episodes from the Trojan War was reported worldwide. However, there is another side to the buried city which visitors can discover in the exhibition: L'Altro Pompei: Vite comuni all'ombra di Vesuvio” (the Other Pompeii: daily life in the shadow of Vesuvius”) set up in the Palestro Grande inside the Pompeii site. This gives a fascinating insight into how the ordinary people lived, the food they ate, the clothes they wore, the condition of children and slaves, entertainment and pastimes and so on.

The exhibition is open daily until the 15th December 2024

Info: Tel. +39.081.18658177 www.pompeionline.net

Posted on 20 May 2024 by Editor

PUCCINI'S UNIQUE COMMEMORATION​ IN ART

Visse d'Arte”, (“I Lived for Art”), the celebrated aria from Giacomo Puccini's opera “Tosca”, has been chosen as the title for the solo exhibition by polymath artist, musician and writer, Corrado Veneziano, at present on show at the National Museum of Musical Instruments, Rome.

As part of the Puccini centenary celebrations (the composer died in 1924), the exhibition features 12 oil paintings, each dedicated to one of the operatic works in the composer's repertoire, as well as a number of experimental studies, called by the artist “a Moment Before Composing”, plus three additional major works relating to the maestro's life and preferences:

Antilisca”, the winged female demon that introduces the exhibition, refers to a ghostly presence Puccini, in order to tease visitors, would claim lived in the woods surrounding his villa, “L'incipid”, or “the Beginning” of the Old Testament, which he read assiduously along with Dante's “Divina Commedia. Veneziano has represented the latter with the frail and tragic hands of Pia de' Tolomei emerging from the grey mists of Purgatorio.

Veneziano's works are dominated by swathes of colour covering the entire canvass, in which fragments of the musical scores float in barely perceptible horizontal lines.

Colours are used to convey the mood of the different operas: thus a proud and defiant Tosca, already half a ghost, appears faintly against the battlements of Castel Sant' Angelo illuminated by the golden glow of a sunrise that she will never see. The faces of the “Le Villi”, the death spirits of young women, float in a mist of purples, blues and pinks. “La Boheme” features a wall of graduating pastels, peppered with diminishing red musical notes. The tiny, iconic butterfly of “Madame Butterfly” is placed in the centre of a sky of tender blue that contrasts with the deep indaco of the “Turandot”, which is represented by a flight of stairs where the heartless and icy princess abandons her jewels and precious ornaments, as she surrenders to the dominant power of love. In “Il Tabarro”, one of the most complex of the compositions, the white figure of the dead child emerges from a gloomy sea of browns and blacks under a canopy of heavenly light. By contrast, “Gianni Schicchi”, Puccini's only comic opera, lifts the mood with bubbles that float in a bright yellow and amber sky.

Veneziano has exhibited widely in Italy and the EU, as well as in the USA, North Africa, Russia and a number of East European countries. Ancillary commissions and achievements include his design chosen for the logo for the Prix Italia 2015, inspired by the figure of the Ancient Greek historian and geographer Herodotus, and the commemorative stamp issued by the Italian post office for the “Year of Dante 2023”.

The choice of the venue of the National Museum of Musical Instruments, where the artist's works hang alongside the exceptional collection of historic harps, mandolins, violins, wind instruments, harpsichords and so on, offers a unique and unmissable experience. The 800 musical instruments on display in the museum come mainly from the private collection of the tenor Gennaro Evangelista Gorga (1865 - 1957) who was Puccini's first Rodolfo in “La Boheme”.

The exhibition “Visse d'Arte” runs until the 23rd June 2024.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.06.7014796 https://museostrumentimusicali.beniculturali.it

Posted on 16 May 2024 by Editor

MONOPOLI TWANGS WITH UKULELES

The clifftop town of Monopoli (Puglia) stages its third Ukulele Festival between the 30th May - 2nd June 2024. The first edition, launched as an experiment in 2022, was such a success, attracting musicians from all over the world, that the town has decided to make it a regular annual event.

The three-day Festival features a full programmes of jam sessions, parades, evening concerts and informal open-mics concentrated in the historic centre. All are free and open to all.

According to the local tourist board, the introduction of the Festival produced an increase in tourism by over 50% during the first 10 months of last year.

The ukulele has an international following. It was developed in the Hawaii Islands at the end of the 19th century by Portuguese immigrants and was enthusiastically adopted by the native people who developed the exclusive “Hawaiian sound”. The origin of the instrument's name is said to mean “jumping flea”.

Info: www.monopolele.com (also on Facebook, Instagram and other social media)

Posted on 11 May 2024 by Editor

MONZA: THE QUEEN'S GOLDEN HEN

One of the most intriguing exhibits in the Museum of the Treasure of the Duomo of Monza (Lombardy) is a gilded silver hen surrounded by seven chicks, all grouped in pecking position on a circular metal tray.

The metal body of the mother is rippled to look like feathers and her eyes are made of rubies, while the eyes of the chicks are emeralds.

No-one knows the origin of this unusual artefact, which is believed to have been donated to the cathedral by the medieval Queen of the Lombards, Theolinda, who ruled as regent between 616 and 624 and was a driving force in the conversion of her subjects to Catholicism.

Theolinda is considered to be the founder of the great Duomo of Monza, which pays her tribute with a chapel decorated with a stunning cycle of mid-15th century frescoes depicting 45 episodes in her life and stretching over a wall area of 500 sqm. A huge restoration project, completed in 2015, restored the frescoes to their former glory.

The Theolinda Chapel contains the celebrated “Iron Crown” of the Lombard kings, that was also used by Napoleon Bonaparte for his coronation as King of Italy in 1805. The crown, in the form of a jewelled circlet, is believed to incorporate one of the nails used in Christ's crucifixion, brought to Italy by Helena, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine.

The Museum is open every day except Monday, while guided tours for the Theolinda Chapel are available between Tues-Sat and Sun afternoons.

Info: Tel. +39.323404 https://www.museoduomomonza.it

Posted on 06 May 2024 by Editor

ROMANTIC GARDENS OF ROYAL NAPLES

Not many visitors to Naples realise that right in the heart of the city, next to the San Carlo Opera House, they can visit a fairytale garden with a magnificent view over the Bay of Naples. The Hanging Gardens of the Royal Palace of Naples were finally restored to the public in 2018, after extensive repairs and replanting to restore them to their former botanical splendour after the damage they suffered in the last War, when a shipload of explosives blew up in the adjacent harbour. The palace itself was hit by over 100 bombs and was further damaged by the Irpinia earthquake in 1980, and has required years of meticulous repairs to return it to its original splendour as the royal residence of the Bourbon dynasty.

The Hanging Gardens are laid out on a wide terrace that runs along the side of the palace and are partially shaded by a long pergola. The slender cast iron bridge that connects directly with the royal apartments has been rebuilt according to the original 19th century plan of the king's architect, Gaetano Genovese.

Info: Tel. +39.0639967050 https://palazzorealedinapoli.org

Posted on 02 May 2024 by Editor

PAST and FUTURE WITH A GREAT RENAISSANCE THINKER

The secrets of the distant past and the not-so-remote future merge in a multi-scope exhibition at the Rome Zoological Museum, inspired by the figure of one of the most eclectic Italian geniuses of the 16th century. “Oltre lo Spazio Oltre il Tempo Il Sogno di Ulisse Aldrovandi” (Beyond Space Beyond Time The Dream of Ulisse Aldrovandi) gives a sweeping picture of the many scientific disciplines explored by a little known renaissance genius. The Rome tribute to the figure of the great Bolognese scientist, naturalist, philosopher, botanist, physicist and philosopher Ulisse Aldrovandi (who was born on the 28th May 1522) follows on the heels of the widely acclaimed exhibition organized by the Golinelli Centre of Art and Science in the Alma Mater Studiorum Science Museum of the University of Bologna earlier this year.

Like many great minds of his age, Aldrovandi was both a scientist and an artist. In 1568, he created Bologna's first botanical garden. During his lifetime he collected 18,000 natural specimens and archaeological and exotic objects. He put together the oldest collection in the world of dried plants, plus 17 volumes of water colours and 14 cabinets filled with woodcut blocks, all of which he bequeathed to his native city.

Visitors will be fascinated by his celebrated “Monstrorum Historia” – a study of monsters and supernatural creatures, which anticipates the arrival of science fiction some centuries later.

In the best traditions of Renaissance thinking, the exhibition also looks to the future, exploring themes like long distance space travel, human hibernation possibilities and what would represent memories of life on earth – all with the support of instruments and images from the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF-OAS of Bologna and INAF-IAPS of Rome) as well as the European Space Agency, evoking a unified vision of art and science.

MUSEO CIVICO DI ZOOLOGIA, Rome, until 21st July 2024.

Info: Tel. +39.06.67109270 or 060608 www.museocivicodizoologia.it

Posted on 28 Apr 2024 by Editor

ITALO/ITABUS NETWORK OPENS UP ITALIAN REGIONS

The ITALO rail company is expanding its network of public train + bus transportation, and aims to serve the entire Italian peninsula within the next few years, according to Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the dynamic CEO of Italo, Italy's first privately owned train service. The recent incorporation of the ITABUS luxury coach company in May 2023 now guarantees a schedule of 500 direct daily connections between major Italian train stations and 85 key destinations, greatly simplifying travel, not only for locals and commuters, but also for tourist travel to smaller art cities and other localities.

Montezemolo underlined the attention the company had paid, not only to passenger comfort, but also to the environment, with the acquisition of the latest generation of low pollution generating coaches from the historic Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nurnberg AG (MAN), manufacturers, a leading provider of commercial vehicles.

Italo had something of a rocky start, with opposition from the state-owned rail transport monopoly Trenitalia, which did not welcome the debut of a rival. However, the owners (a team of independent Italian businessmen) persisted and the flaming red engines emblazoned with the logo of a white coursing hare have now become a familiar sight in major railway hubs since the first passenger train left Naples station on the 28th April 2012.

At the moment, Italo trains operate a regular daily service of 116 trips. The company plans to expand its network, despite many logistic difficulties, such as the necessary substitution of outdated tracks, unsuitable for high speed trains, which still exist in many areas of southern Italy and Sicily.

The addition of the new ITABUS connections signal a revolution in the concept of inter-Italy travel, facilitating access to many destinations that previously involved complicated travel arrangements and long, roundabout trips. Good news for independent travellers keen to explore many of the lesser known wonders and “sights” of Italy.

M.STENHOUSE

Info: https://itabus.it

Posted on 24 Apr 2024 by Editor

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