The 8th January sees the official end of this year's Christmas festivities, with the gradual dismantling of the street decorations and the removal of the Christmas Tree and the Presepio (Christmas Crib) from the centre of St. Peter's Square.

This year's Presepio was a special homage to St. Francis of Assisi who recreated the first Nativity re-enactment at the clifftop monastery of Greccio (Lazio) 800 years ago in order to bring the Christmas message of peace to his followers. The St. Peter's Crib is therefore a reconstruction of the Greccio grotto, complete with copies of the 1409 wall paintings that can still be seen in situ today.

In addition, the Infant Jesus is not in his mother's arms or lying in the manger, but is held instead by St. Francis of Assisi while a group of Franciscan friars take the place of the usual shepherds.

Other unusual – and sometimes whimsical – interpretations of the Nativity are on show at the Presepio exhibition under the Basilica colonnade.



Posted on 08 Jan 2024 by Editor


A great New Year disappointment for Rome this year when the fabled Mr. OK renounced his regular dive into the Tiber to herald in 2024.

Mister OK (real name Maurizio Palmulli) had been launching himself on the 18m-high dive into the river from Ponte Cavour bridge near Castel Sant'Angelo on the morning of the 1st January for the past 35 years. This time, however, backache forced 71-year old Palmulli to forego his annual feat.

The Mr. Okay dive tradition was started in 1946 by Italian-Belgian Rick De Sonny, a flamboyant character who took the plunge wearing a bathing suit and a top hat. He was used to making the OK gesture with his thumb when he emerged from the waters, thus giving him the nickname that stuck when his successor, Palmulli, took over.

Palmulli now hopes that a new, younger Mister Okay will emerge to take his place and carry on the tradition.


Posted on 05 Jan 2024 by Editor



Posted on 22 Dec 2023 by Editor



The renaissance Palace Albergati in Bologna offers a special family Christmas treat with the world premiere of the exhibition : “Fantastic Animals, the Garden of Wonders” where 23 contemporary Italian artists have transformed two floors of the villa into an imaginary zoological garden, peopled by some 90 strange and colourful creatures, creating a magical landscape of dreams, colours and fantasy.

The exhibition is the creation of the Arthemisia company that specializes in novel forms of entertainment and exhibition design. The show runs throughout the holiday season, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and the Befana holiday on the 6th January, and will continue until the 5st May 2024.

Info: Tel. +39.051.030141

Posted on 19 Dec 2023 by Editor


Il Messaggero” (“The Messenger”), Rome's most popular daily newspaper, celebrates 145 years of life with a spectacular floodlit display covering the entire facade of its monumental headquarters in the heart of Rome.

Il Messaggero” was founded in 1879 with an initial circulation of 20,000 copies, that quickly increased to 35,000 within the following two years.

The flagship building, that had originally been a luxury hotel, was acquired in 1920 by the then owners, the Perrone family of wealthy industrialists and publishers and it has been a well-known landmark on the major thoroughfare of Via del Tritone ever since.

The present anniversary is being marked by a pavement-to-roof installation projecting the front pages of all the major stories of the century and a half of the paper's history, from the death of national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi, the referendum that gave Italian women the vote for the first time, the horrors of the so-called “Years of Lead”, the wars against the Mafia and the World Cup and Olympic victories.

Despite suffering from the general drop in the reading public over the last few years, “Il Messaggero” maintains a faithful following throughout Italy in its printed version, as well as in its digital form.


Posted on 15 Dec 2023 by Editor


The gala “Primo” of the new season at La Scala Opera House, Milan, gave Italy's Culture Minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, the perfect showcase to announce the inclusion of the Italian opera music and bel canto tradition in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

This nomination brings Italy's list up to 19 in this category and includes exclusive practices like the Mediterranean diet, Cremona violin making, traditional Sicilian puppeteers, Sardinian pastoral songs, Neapolitan pizza makers, truffle hunting and traditional ceremonies like the annual Celestine Forgiveness at L'Aquila.

Italy is also the leader in the World Heritage Sites list with 53 cultural sites plus 6 special Nature sites.

Traditionally, every new La Scala season opens on the 8th December, the Feast of St. Ambrose, Milan's patron saint. It is a grand occasion in full black tie style, frequented by leading politicians, international media stars, captains of industry and leading lights in the cultural and literary field.


Posted on 11 Dec 2023 by Editor


After a long period of apparent neglect, the splendid porcelains of the historic firm of Richard Ginori are on display at two different venues in Milan.

The major exhibition “White Gold: Three Centuries of Ginori Porcelain” is on until the 19th February 2024 in the prestigious venue of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum. The exhibition covers a selection of three centuries of Ginori production created at the historic factory just outside Florence. The pieces have been chosen from the Ginori Museum collection, which is at present closed for restoration. They range from the 18th century classical sculptures that first made Ginori celebrated, to the 19th century decorated plates, bowls and tea sets commissioned by important clients, to the 20th century exclusive design pieces created by leading Italian artists like Gio Ponti.

The second seat of the Ginori exhibition is in the patrician Villa Necchi Campiglia, also in Milan, property of the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) the Italian equivalent of the National Trust. On show in the natural setting of the elegant dining room of the former aristocratic home is the stunning Trionfo da Tavola (table centre piece), created for the Italian Foreign Ministry in 1927-29 - an arte nouveau masterpiece designed by Gio Ponti and Tommaso Buzzi, modelled by Italo Griselli. The piece is on view for the first time in a House/Museum and can be seen until the 28th January 2024.

Info: Tel +39.02.794889/6334 FAI: Tel: +39.02.4676151

Posted on 07 Dec 2023 by Editor


Recent exciting finds in the Guattari Grotto on the Circeo peninsula south of Rome have revived interest in the life of our remote kindred who inhabited this area thousands of years ago. Skulls and bones of some nine individuals, including one female, dating from between 15,000-18,000 years ago, were discovered in the cave in 2021 by a team of researchers backed by the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the Italian Ministry of Culture and local scientific bodies representing the Frosinone and Latina area, in which the Circeo cave is situated.

The grotto was first entered by a group of workmen in 1939, who reported the discovery of an ancient skull, surrounded by a circle of stones. The discovery aroused great interest in the scientific community but, at the time, landslides made further exploration too risky and difficult.

Seventy-five years were to pass before further explorations began, using more modern methods and archaeologists were rewarded with scattered piles of human and animal bones that they could recover and analyse. Scientists are now able to reconstruct the appearance of these Neanderthal individuals, including the woman, who is described as approximately 1.5 m tall, robust and weighing 50 kgs.

The cave was also full of the bones of many animals who lived in the area thousands of years ago, like elephants, cave bears, wild horses, rhinoceros and aurochs – all much bigger than equivalent species today. Scientists believe that the cave was formerly a hyena's den where the animals had dragged their victims to feast on their brains.

The Circeo peninsula is in the middle of vast conservation area with a rich ecosystem. It has been the subject of legend since the times of Homer's “Odyssey”, when the mysterious island of the Enchantress Circe became identified with her.

At the moment, the cave is open to the public only on special request with prior booking obligatory. However, the local authorities hope to make it more available in the near future with regular organized guided visits.


Info: Tel. +39.06.326561

Posted on 03 Dec 2023 by Editor


Just in time for the 2023 Christmas festivities, Italy's crack heritage police force (Carabinieri del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale – Naples branch) have recovered the missing figurine of a beggar, stolen during the 1980s from the royal Presepio (Nativity Crib) at the Palace of Caserta (Naples). The perfectly modelled figure was part of the celebrated artistic Christmas Crib set up inside the palace by the Bourbon monarchs in the 18th century.

The monumental Presepio contains over a thousand terracotta figures, all modelled by hand. Leading artists of the period, such as sculptors Matteo Bottiglieri and Giuseppe Sanmartino (author of the celebrated “Veiled Christ”), contributed to the creation of the court Crib while many figurines were clothed by the royal princesses and their ladies, who sewed the garments of the leading characters with silk spun at the royal silk factory in nearby San Leuca and adorned them with coral and gem stones. The more humble characters, which represent the ordinary people of Naples of the period, such as fishermen, washerwomen, stallholders, innkeepers, shepherds, cobblers, card players and so on are set up to recreate an image of bustling 18th century daily life, grouped around the grotto of the Holy Family, set under a rugged cliff of cork.

The Presepio tradition has a long, fascinating and honoured history in Naples. The Neapolitan Nativity scene follows strict rules, with a number of essential characters with double meanings, such as the Sleeping Shepherd boy, Benino, who symbolizes re-awakening, the bridge over running water that represents the passage between life and death, Ciccio Bacco, the wine seller, is the personification of the old pagan god, Bacchus, the Gypsy woman with child is the embodiment of maternity and the Three Wise Men are also Night, Mid-day and Dawn.

Info: Tel. +39.0823.448084


Posted on 28 Nov 2023 by Editor


2023, the 500th centenary of the death of the great Renaissance painter Pietro Vannucci – better known as Perugino - gives art lovers a unique opportunity to see one of the artist's most amazing masterpieces in its original form and setting. The magnificent centrepiece of the polyptych featuring the Ascension of Christ is at present on show in the Abbey Church of San Pietro in the artist's birth town of Perugia, on loan from the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon in France.

The monumental polyptych, which originally covered the wall behind the main altar, was dismantled during restructuring work on the church at the end of the 16th century. In 1797, at the time of the Napoleonic occupation of Italy, it became part of the war plunder of Italian works of art. Divided into eleven parts, it was taken to France and ended up in the collections of the Fine Arts Museums of Rouen, Nantes and Lyon. Only five small panels from the predella (a raised shelf at the bottom of the polyptych) remained in the church's possession.Subsequent negotiations by Antonio Canova after the fall of Napoleon, achieved the transfer of some other sections to the Vatican Museum.

The Cathedral of San Pietro is one of the most richly decorated religious house in Italy, with the walls of the interior entirely covered with a stunning display of renaissance paintings and grotesques. But these are not the only impressive works of art that this exclusive (and little known) church possesses. Its carved wooden choir, designed by Raphael, is hailed as the most beautiful of its type in Italy. It possesses Italy's oldest organ, dating from 1463, famed for the quality of its acoustics. It also features one of the world's largest paintings: an “Apotheosis of the Benedictine Order” by Antonio Vassilacci, who also decorated much of the Doge's Palace in Venice. This work measures around 90 sqm and occupies the entire wall above the entrance door and features a bewildering mass of over 300 larger-than-life figures.

A registered Italian National Monument, St. Peter's abbey was founded in 965 and built on the ruins of an earlier church that in turn occupied an ancient Etruscan-Roman sacred site. The tucked in a corner of the former vast monastic complex of the Benedictines, which, with typical Italian quirky nonchalance, has now become part of the local Faculty of Agronomy.

On show until the 7th January 2024.


Info: Tel. +39.075.33753

Posted on 24 Nov 2023 by Editor

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