TRIUMPH OF LIGHT FOR ITALIAN DAILY

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.

Info: www.ilmessaggero.it

Posted on 15 Dec 2023 by Editor

ITALY CONTINUES TO LEAD IN UNESCO LISTINGS

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.

Info: https://ich.unesco.org

Posted on 11 Dec 2023 by Editor

ITALY'S "WHITE GOLD”

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 www.museopoldipezzoli.it FAI: Tel: +39.02.4676151

Posted on 07 Dec 2023 by Editor

NEANDERTHALS AT CIRCEO

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.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.06.326561 www.segreteria@parcocirceo.it

Posted on 03 Dec 2023 by Editor

STOLEN ROYAL CRIB FIGURE RETURNED

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 www.reggiadicaserta.cultura.gov.it

 

Posted on 28 Nov 2023 by Editor

PERUGINO MASTERPIECE REUNITED IN PERUGIA

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 Cathedral.is 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.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.075.33753 www.fondazioneagraria.it

Posted on 24 Nov 2023 by Editor

VENICE CAPITAL OF SUSTAINABILITY

United \Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDAR) has paid an official tribute to the efforts made by Venice to preserve the ecosystem of its lagoon and reduce the “Acqua Alta” phenomenon of recurrent flooding of the city centre.

Venice's construction of the revolutionary Mose Barrier across the lagoon has been hailed a success in reducing this problem. The Mose (in Italian this is pronounced the same as the name of the Old Testament prophet who parted the waters of the Red Sea to let his people escape from the pursuing Egyptians, but more prosaically it is actually an acronym for Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico.

Venice has also announced plans to protect the ecosystem of the two sandbank islands in the lagoon, known as the Lazzaretti, as for centuries they were Quarantine centres for plague sufferers with the first hospital founded in 1423. These islands are to be promoted as an important part of the Venetian historic hospital museum system, as announced during the recent Festival of the History of Health, held between the 8th -17th November 2023.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +0039.041.5294323 www.scuolagrandesanmarco.it scuolagrandesanmarco@aulss3.veneto.it

Posted on 20 Nov 2023 by Editor

FUTURISM MAKING A COMEBACK

After almost a century of neglect, the Futurism Art movement, which flourished during the early years of the nineteen hundreds, is enjoying a tardive revival.

The Futurism Movement was founded in Italy in 1909 by editor, poet and artist Filippo Tommaso Martinelli. It embraced progress and innovation, especially in the mechanical and industrial fields. Many of the Futurists were obsessed with the scientific discoveries that characterized the age. They rejected history studies and the art of the past and preferred subjects like motor cars, trains, aeroplanes and skyscraper city-scapes.

The Movement fell into disfavour because of its association with Fascism. Its use of bright primary colours and bold, dynamic forms has had, nonetheless, an enormous impact on modern design, graphic art, advertising, films and video games.

This autumn several exhibitions are dedicated to Futurist artists and trends: Matera (Basilicata) is holding an important show until the 10th January 2024 where it explores the contribution of the Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy) artists to the Movement.

Treviso (Veneto) offers two exhibitions under the title: “Futurism on Paper” with “Avant-guard Forms” running till the 25th February 2024, followed by “Imagine the Universe with the art of Publicity”, on from 1st March till 30th June 2024. The exhibition “Umberto Boccioni prima del Futurismo” at the Villa Mamiano di Traversetolo (Parma, Emilio Romagna) until the 10th December 2023) explores the art of the painter and sculptor Boccioni whose images and distorted anatomical forms were an important inspiration for the avant-guard Futurist Movement.

Meanwhile in Milan until the 2nd December visitors can make close acquaintance with “Aeropittura Futurista”, a later movement of Futurism that focussed on flight and aerial landscapes.

Info: Tel. +39.049.663499 www.studioesseci.net

Posted on 13 Nov 2023 by Editor

SLOW REBIRTH OF EARTHQUAKE TOWNS

The Church of St.Benedict of Norcia recently held its first religious service seven years after the catastrophic earthquake that devastated parts of central Italy in 2016. The faithful met under the newly restored roof in a building, however, still full of scaffolding and an estimated further two years will be needed to restore the church to something approaching its former glory.

St. Benedict, the patron saint of Europe, was born in Norcia, which is therefore an important centre of religious tourism. The town is also famous for its pork butchers and in pre-earthquake times its restaurants and food shops were packed at weekends with diners and shoppers.

The surrounding area, which is largely mountainous, was very badly damaged. 138 villages and hamlets were involved and some 14,000 families are still living in temporary housing. The first mass in Norcia was greeted as a sign on hope that things may now gradually return to normal after the interminable rebuilding delays.

The town of Amatrice, another pre-quake tourist centre, is also celebrating the return of a beloved landmark - the 27m-high medieval clock-tower that rises in the heart of the town. The clock hands had frozen at the fatal hour of 3.36 on the 24th August 2016, when the violent earth tremor struck, reducing the town centre to rubble. The tower has now been restored and reinforced and the clock has resumed its normal time-honoured task of centuries-long time-keeping.

  1. STENHOUSE.

Info: www.comune.norcia.pg.it www.comune.amatrice.rieti.it

 

 

 

SLOW REBIRTH OF EARTHQUAKE TOWNS

 

The Church of St.Benedict of Norcia recently held its first religious service seven years after the catastrophic earthquake that devastated parts of central Italy in 2016. The faithful met under the newly restored roof in a building, however, still full of scaffolding and an estimated further two years will be needed to restore the church to something approaching its former glory.

St. Benedict, the patron saint of Europe, was born in Norcia, which is therefore an important centre of religious tourism. The town is also famous for its pork butchers and in pre-earthquake times its restaurants and food shops were packed at weekends with diners and shoppers.

The surrounding area, which is largely mountainous, was very badly damaged. 138 villages and hamlets were involved and some 14,000 families are still living in temporary housing. The first mass in Norcia was greeted as a sign on hope that things may now gradually return to normal after the interminable rebuilding delays.

The town of Amatrice, another pre-quake tourist centre, is also celebrating the return of a beloved landmark - the 27m-high medieval clock-tower that rises in the heart of the town. The clock hands had frozen at the fatal hour of 3.36 on the 24th August 2016, when the violent earth tremor struck, reducing the town centre to rubble. The tower has now been restored and reinforced and the clock has resumed its normal time-honoured task of centuries-long time-keeping.

  1. STENHOUSE.

 

Info: www.comune.norcia.pg.it www.comune.amatrice.rieti.it

 

 

Posted on 08 Nov 2023 by Editor

BRESCIA READIES FOR 2024 MILLE MIGLIA

The 2024 itinerary of the mythical Mille Miglia race was presented recently in Brescia (Lombardy), where the very first edition was held in 1927. The five-day historic car race is an eagerly-awaited event exclusive to motor cars built before 1957 that have participated in at least one race between 1927 and 1957. The event was banned in 1938 for a twenty-year interval after several spectators were killed in a crash during the race.

The 42nd edition of the “Thousand Mile” itinerary between Brescia-Rome and back is divided into five-day stages and touches many cities in north and central Italy. This year's itinerary includes Genoa for the first time and follows an anti-clockwork route through seven Italian regions between the 11th - 15th June 2024. 400 cars have already signed up to compete. The Mille Miglia race was launched in Brescia and the town continues to be strongly identified with the event. Brescia also has a dedicated Museum, situated inside the converted medieval Monastery of Sant'Eufemia della Fonte at the town gate.

Info: Tel. +39.030.3365631 segreteria@museomillemiglia.it

Posted on 04 Nov 2023 by Editor

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