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

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).


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.


Posted on 27 Nov 2021 by Editor

The 24th December 2021 is dedicated to Italy at EXPO Dubai when the spotlight will be trained on the Italian Pavilion. Activities kick off at the Al Wasi Plaza, in the centre of the EXPO site with a flag raising ceremony, accompanied by the national anthems of Italy and the United Arab Emirates and an exhibition by Italy's Carabinieri armed forces.

Throughout the day, performances will be held by the historic flag-throwers of the city of Cava dé Tirreni (Salerno, Campania), along with screenings of Italian films, concerts by the band of the Carabinieri, sports and games organized by the Italian National Olympic Committee and other cultural and traditional events.

The day will draw to an end with a gala concert by the Academia Teatro della Scala, sponsored by the Bracco Foundation, a world leader in research on health, safety and prevention and a gold sponsor of the Italian Pavilion.

The Expo2020Dubai was held back for a year, due to the pandemic.


Posted on 23 Nov 2021 by Editor

FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano – the Italian environmental foundation) has published the winners of its 2020-2921 poll for “i Luoghi del Cuore”, or best loved sites in need of restoration and promotion. Over 2.3 million votes were gathered in favour of 40,000 suggested beauty spots, heritage sites and historic buildings and the jury had a hard task whittling the numbers down to the short list of the 20 places which will receive funding to further the projects submitted.

First place, with 75,586 votes, went to “la Ferrovia delle Meraviglie” (Railway of Marvels), linking Ventimiglia with Cuneo in a breathtakingly scenic mountain run.

Second place was won by the Castle and Park of Sammezzano at Reggello, Florence, with 62,690 votes. This is the second time that this extraordinary building has been promoted by FAI voters.

Third came the imposing Castle of Brescia with 43,449 votes.

Other special sites in the top 20 were: Guglielmo Marconi's Radiotelegraphic Station at Caltano, Pisa, the Museum of the Mysteries at Campobasso and the Gardens of the military Hospital, Taranto.

The FAI Foundation was founded in 1975 to promote and safeguard Italy's vast cultural and artistic heritage. Membership is open to everyone and gives advantages such as reductions in entrance fees to listed sites.

Info: Tel. +39.06.6879376 www,

Posted on 19 Nov 2021 by Editor

The Scuderie del Quirinale gallery in Rome, the classic venue of show-stopping exhibitions, has pulled off another crowd puller with the major “Inferno” show, programmed to run over the Christmas season until the 9th January 2022. The exhibition has already attracted great interest, with a record numbers of visitors during the first weekend of the opening.

“Inferno” contains over 200 works by celebrated artists, dating from Medieval times to the 20th century, on loan from over eighty museums and private collections in the UK, France, Switzerland, the Vatican, Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg.

The interpretation of Dante's vision of “Hell” is represented over 7 centuries in the works of celebrated artists like Fra Angelico, Brueghel, Botticelli, Von Stuck, Gustav Dore, Blake, Hieronymus Bosch, as well as in a life size cast of the gigantic 7m-high plaster model of the “Gate of Hell” by Rodin.

The chosen themes are taken from the first canticle of the “Divine Comedy”, featuring personages immortalized by Dante Alighieri, such as the tragic lovers, Paola and Francesca da Rimini, Pope Celestine V (who renounced the papacy) and the monstrous Count Ugolino della Gheradesca, depicted gnawing the head of his enemy Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini. Satan, or Lucifer, also features prominently.

The second section of the exhibition, on the upper floor of the Gallery, is even more sobering. It displays the more contemporary concept of the hell of our times, with scenes of war, pollution, drought and famine, but ends on Dante's final uplifting phrase: “and thence we came forth to see again the stars”, symbolized by the painting “Falling Stars” by Anself Riefer.

The exhibition is curated by eminent French art historian and scholar Jean Clair, together with his wife, Laura Bossi.

Prior booking essential plus vaccination certificate or negative Covid test.

M. Stenhouse

Info: Tel. +39.02.92897722





Posted on 15 Nov 2021 by Editor

This year's edition of the “World Champion Cheese” competition, held in Oviedo in Spain, gave the top place of “World Champion Cheese” to a Spanish soft goat's cheese Olavidia, produced by Quesos y Besos (Cheeses and Kisses).

Italy, however, did not lag much behind, with Parmigiano Reggiano scooping a record 126 medals, including a historic record of 7 Super Golds. The consortium Nazionale di Parmigiano Reggiano, composed of 96 cheesemakers, scored 111 medals: 6 super golds, 28 golds , 50 silvers and 41 bronzes.

Among the outsiders who came in the top league was the Carpenedo Cheese company, a family-run business founded in 1900 and credited with being Italy's first experimental laboratory of cheese refinement. The Treviso-based Carpenedo company competed with six cheeses, all of which gained awards. The prestigious Super Gold award was won by Basajo, made with raw sheep's milk refined with white passito wine and raisins.


Posted on 12 Nov 2021 by Editor

During the 20th century, Neapolitan songs reverberated round the world. From Japan to the USA, the melodies written by Naples songwriters and composers were adopted and adapted, like the Elvis Presley hit “It's Now or Never”, set to the music of the celebrated hymn to the sun “O Sole Mio.”

Although the genre has lost some of its popularity with the younger pop and disco generation, in its homeland the traditional Neapolitan songs are still much loved, by the Neapolitans themselves, as well as tourists to the city.

So appassionati of this unique musical tradition will be delighted to learn that Naples now has a theatre dedicated exclusively to the classic songs of Naples. The Trianon Viviani theatre, inaugurated in 1911 as “the theatre of the Neapolitan song” has now re-opened its doors, under the artistic direction of popular Neapolitan actress, singer and TV personality, Marisa Laurito, offering a state-of-the-art sparkling show of virtual reality backdrops and live performers, recreating the lively atmosphere of the Parthenopean city in its most celebrated period during the first half of last century and the post-War period,

The Trianon Viviani Theatre was traditionally the “Theatre of the People”. It ran into financial difficulties some years back and risked being bought over and converted into a supermarket or a bingo hall. Public protest persuaded the local authorities to purchase it and restore it, introducing the concept of the virtual reality “Stanza delle Meraviglie” (Room of Marvels) extravaganza that accompanies the show.

The Room of Marvels was inaugurated together with the launch of the first performance dedicated exclusively to Neapolitan popular music and culture. The Room is open free of charge every day of the week with prior booking. Visitors must wear surgical masks and be in possession of a Vaccination Pass.

Info: Theatre: +39.081.2258285

Stanza delle Meraviglie: Tel. +39.081.2258285 (int. 1)

Posted on 08 Nov 2021 by Editor

For over 27 years, the FMR periodical publication, hailed by subscribers such as Jacqueline Kennedy as “the most beautiful magazine in the world” was eagerly sought after by collectors for the high quality of its art reproductions and in depth articles by celebrated literary and art critics. In its heyday, the magazine was published in five editions in as many different languages.

Founded in 1982 by Parma-born publisher, Franco Maria Ricci, the magazine ceased publication after Ricci sold it to dedicate the last years of his life to the creation of “the world's biggest bamboo maze” on his estate at Fontanellato near Parma, which houses his art collection and a museum in its heart.

The much lamented FMR magazine is now about to be relaunched, under the guide of his widow, Laura Casalis, supported by an team of internationally famous writers, art directors and experts in various cultural fields. Publishing date chosen for the launch of the new edition is the winter solstice, December 2021, and the first number will be issued free of charge to all subscribers for the year 2022. Added perks on offer are: membership of the Franco Maria Ricci Club, free entrance to the Masone Labyrinth at Fontanellato and discounts for subsequent editions and other surprises. The new magazine will be printed once more by the same historic Milanese printers Milani Grafiche, to guarantee the continuing high quality.

Info: Tel. +39.348.5904846

Posted on 04 Nov 2021 by Editor

The French Academy in Rome has re-introduced its spectacular annual event: “White Night at Villa Medici”, after two years' suspension due to the Covid pandemic.

On the evening of the 4th November 2021 visitors can enter the illuminated gardens of the renaissance villa overlooking the Spanish Steps and meet the 16 fellows who are living there at present and will be exhibiting their work. The artists cover many disciplines, including visual art, music composition, architecture, design, video creation, as well as writers and art historians.

This year's edition is called “Presto, la Notte” (“Quickly, the night”) and is curated by the well-known expert in contemporary art exhibitions and events, Saverio Verini.

Info: Tel. +39.0667611

Posted on 30 Oct 2021 by Editor

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