Francesco Petrucci, curator of the Palazzo Chigi Museum in the town of Ariccia, some 27 kilometres south of Rome in the hilltop area of the Castelli Romani, has scooped an exclusive first, with the exhibition of a long lost 17th century Caravaggio “Presa di Cristo” (Christ's Capture), on view to the public for the first time

Like so many “lost” Italian works of art, the painting has had an obscure and chequered history, before it was finally purchased by the late Rome art dealer, Mario Bigetti in 2003. For years it was the subject of controversy and discussion among experts. It was known that Caravaggio authorized several copies of his most popular works to meet patrons' demands, most made in his bottega by his assistants, but Petrucci, who is a leading expert on Baroque art, suspected that this particular version was an authentic work by the Master himself, pre-dating the celebrated painting on the same theme in the Dublin National Gallery collection.

Other prominent Caravaggio experts, including the late British art historian Sir Denis Mahon, as well as the Italian art specialists Claudio Strinati and Mina Gregori had also examined the painting and unanimously agreed that it was unmistakeably a first version of the Caravaggio masterpiece, painted personally by the artist. The hunch was subsequently confirmed during the subsequent extensive restoration process which revealed details and typical repentimenti in the artist's unmistakeable hand.

The painting was commissioned by the nobleman Ciriaco Mattei in 1606, as proved by the payment document in the family archives, and was subsequently passed to various owners till it was ultimately rediscovered in the National Gallery of Odessa.

The dramatic moment of Jesus' arrest is rendered in Caravaggio's unmistakeable masterly use of chiaroscuro, with the gleaming armour of the soldiers in contrast with the dark figure of Judas and the dull red robe of Christ. The profile of a man in the top right hand corner is believed to be a self-portrait of Caravaggio himself.

The Chigi Palace of Ariccia contains one of the most important collections of Roman Baroque art, donated by eminent collectors such as Fabrizio and Fiammetta Lemme (who contribute 128 works alone), Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, Lascera, Ferrari and the late-lamented antiquarian Ferdinando Peretti, founder of the Walpole Gallery in London.

This is not an only “first” for Petrucci, who successfully identified a “lost” marble bust of Pope Paul V in Bratislava, Slovakia as the work of Gianlorenzo Bernini that had disappeared after the Borghese family had put it up for auction in 1893.

In addition to the exhibition, visitors can take the opportunity to explore the rooms of the Chigi Palace museum, which contains the original furniture, paintings and decorations of a princely house of the past.

The exhibition runs until the 7th January 2024


Posted on 24 Oct 2023 by Editor


The celebrated Provolone Valpadana DOP cheese, produced in the Lombardy and Reggio Emilio regions, northern Italy, is arriving in force in Naples on the 19th October, where is holding a “Sweet or Spicy Night out” in the historic Villa Cilento on the slopes of Posillipo in Naples for an unprecedented launch of the its cheeses in both their mild and strong variations.

The exclusive event is open to the public between 7.30 and 9.30 pm, with cheese tastings accompanied by music and dance performances.

The Consortia ProvoloneValpadana groups 700 dairy farms and cheesemakers, who produce each year over 600,000 forms for a total weight of over 7,000 tons.

The all-out effort to win the Neapolitans over to Provolone is a challenge. The Naples area has its own cheeses, such as the exclusive Provolone and the Caciocavallo Podolico produced in the Lattari Mountains above the Amalfi Coast. The Caciocavallo Podolico has an interesting history. The Podolica cow originally came from the Ukraine but it was crossed in the 19th century by a Agerola-born adventurer called General Paolo Avitabile who received a Jersey cow in a gift from the British royal family for services rendered in Afghanistan. The result was a prodigious milk output and an exclusive cheese only produced in 13 local communities.

Info: Tel. +39.0372.30598

Info: Tel. +39.081.3500159

Posted on 19 Oct 2023 by Editor


“Peter's Boat”, a fascinating new addition to the Vatican collection, has been set up in the well space of the celebrated elliptical stairway that leads up to the entrance to the Vatican Museum.

The boat, a present from Pope Francis, is a replica of one of the sunken fishermen's vessels found at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee in 1986.

Experts agree that Simon Peter, the fisherman who became Christ's disciple and was crucified in Rome, would have had a similar craft. The original boat is now in the Museum of the Yigal Allon Centre in Israel.

The copy is handmade, using the same materials and techniques as those employed two thousand years ago, by the skilled craftsmen of the Aprea boatbuilders of Sorrento and the work was financed by the Aponte family, owners of the MSC cruise ship company.


Posted on 15 Oct 2023 by Editor


Thirty years ago, three members of the Bari (Puglie) branch of the Club Alpino Italiano, stumbled on a unique treasure concealed in the depths of the Grotto of Lamalunga, a cave near the small town of Altamura (Bari). It was the perfectly preserved skull of a Neanderthal Man, thickly encrusted in deposits of pearly calcite crystals, eerily resembling the celebrated Damien Hirst diamond-studded sculpture.

Recently, the remains have been the object of an in-depth research programme by a scientific team, who have established that the man, a Neanderthal who lived sometime between 170,000 and 130,000 years ago, must have fallen down one of the karst sinkholes common in the area and, unable to extricate himself, had starved to death. His body had been untouched by hyenas or other animals and was intact. He had practically all his teeth and investigators were able to extract his DNA from his shoulder bone, confirming the theory that present-day Europeans conserve a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA in their bodies. The skull was so thickly covered in mineral encrustations and it was decided to leave it where it was to avoid damaging it

The Homo Neanderthals of Altamura, named by the locals “Cicillo”, is considered to be one of the oldest and best preserved Palaeolithic skeletons discovered so far in Europe.

The Altamura plain, which lies among the karst formations of the Murgia, Puglia's vast rocky highlands, has revealed other important finds in the past, such as a cache of hundreds of animal bones some 50,000 years old, as well as a number of 70 million years-old dinosaur footprints.

The site is pending approval from UNESCO listing as a World Heritage Site.



Posted on 11 Oct 2023 by Editor


The unique Hortus Conclusus garden of Benevento (Campania), created in the late 20th century by leader of the Italian Transavanguardia movement Mimmo Palladino, together with architects Roberto Serino and Pasquale Palmieri, has reopened to the public after a lengthy regeneration and restoration process.

The artist took his inspiration for an “enclosed garden” open to the sky, from the walled cities of the Middle Ages and the monasteries with their cloisters dedicated to contemplation, and has created an open air museum filled with his symbolic works, such as the landmark bronze horse with the golden mask, inspired by the celebrated mask of the Ancient Greek hero Agamemnon, the fountain of the shield emerging from the earth and the upside-down umbrella. The trees and flowers also all have symbolic meanings, such as the roses (divine blood), lilies (purity) and palm trees for joy.

The garden is open every day except Monday and is also used for concerts, talks and cultural events.

Benevento stands on the Old Appian way, south of Rome, and contains many spectacular monuments, such as the Triumphal Arch of the Roman Emperor Trajan and the early medieval Church of Santa Sofia, with its elaborately carved pillared cloister, a listed UNESCO World Heritage site.

Info: Tel +39.329.3173126




Posted on 07 Oct 2023 by Editor


Still a niche product, the so-called “Orange Wines” of Italy are, however, beginning to make their mark in the international market place.

A product of the vineyards of the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia in north east Italy, already celebrated for the internationally successful Prosecco, both in its classic and in its rosé version (“pink prosecco”), “Orange wine”, also known as “amber” or “ramato” (copper coloured) wine is a skin contact wine made from white grapes. It takes on its distinctive taste and colour by being left to ferment along with the juice of the grapes. Among its many advantages, it is made from autochthonous ribolle grapes and contains all the beneficial qualities of red wine.

Orange type wines are traditionally made in Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia but the method was developed and refined in Italy by renowned wine producer Josko Gravner, and launched in1997. They have been slow to make an impact but are now becoming increasingly appreciated for their natural and organic qualities.


Posted on 03 Oct 2023 by Editor


The Arco di Diana Cultural Association was presented with the gift of an artistic Tondo featuring their logo made of dried flowers, seeds and grains, the creation of Nando Gabbarini, the oldest master floral artist of the School of Genzano, (Rome, Lazio), famous for its annual Infiorata Festival.

This was a fitting conclusion to an evening centred around the former presence of the Homo Neanderthalensis in the Lazio Region, illustrated by Mario F. Rolfo, Professor of Prehistory at Tor Vergata University, Rome, who has been involved in the recent sensational finds of Neanderthal human remains in caves on the Circeo Promontory some 100 kms south of Rome.

The Arco di Diana (Diana's Bow) Association is active in investigating the ancient history of the region around Rome. Among its many successes is the exploration and documentation of a series of prehistoric tombs in the archaeological site known as Grotticelle, in the former Lazio volcanic ridge, the remains of an ancient stilt village on the shore of Lake Albano and a series of underwater explorations in Lake Nemi with interesting results.


Posted on 29 Sep 2023 by Editor




The stony lava fields of Mt. Etna at 1.980m asl are the chosen venue for the art and photography exhibition “Etna Eternal Flame” organized by the Monira Foundation of New York.

German artist Johannes Pfeiffer, with his interpretation of the bonds of “Prometheus” stretching over the jagged peaks of the crater, and Montenegro-born Aleksandar Duravcenic (black lava “Benches for Etna”) have displayed their works on the lava field created by the eruption of 2001 that almost destroyed the historic Sapienza Refuge, while the accompanying painting and photographic exhibition is set up in the Service Centre at the town hall of Nicolosi (Catania).

For volcano fans a programme of multi-disciplinary lectures on Etna, conducted by Stefano Branca, director of the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, is also currently running at the Etna Observatory.

The exhibition ends on the 19th October 2023, after which it will be transferred to the Monira Foundation international study centre of contemporary art in New York.


Posted on 26 Sep 2023 by Editor


The town of Pietrasanta in Versilia (Lucca, Tuscany) is in mourning for the death of its honorary citizen, Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

Botero, celebrated for his exuberant outsize figures of people and animals, bought a house in Pietrasanta in 1983 and set up his studio near the Piazza del Duomo.

The town, which is near the marble quarries of Carrara (where Michelangelo obtained much of his material), as well as the fashionable beach resort of Versilia, is an open air museum of the maestro's works, including the frescoes “the Gates of Paradise” and “The Gates of Hell” at the Church of Our Lady of Misericordia, his celebrated “Warrior” in Piazza Matteotti and many other works that he donated to the town.

The Botero family is believed to have emigrated from Italy and established itself in South America in the 18th century. The artist was born in Medellin, Colombia, in 1932. The town of Pietrasanta made him an honorary citizen in 2001 and held a major exhibition of his work in 2022.

According to the artist's last wishes, his ashes will be buried in the cemetery of Pietrasanta, next to the grave of his last wife, Greek artist Sophia Vari, who died in May 2023.


Posted on 22 Sep 2023 by Editor


The Municipal Council of Venice has announced that from next year (2024) a €5 tax will be levied on day trippers visiting the lagoon city. The objective is to discourage the mass invasion of crowds who pass only a few hours in the city, spend next to nothing, leave piles of rubbish to be disposed of and bring no benefit to the city itself. At present, the number of Venice-in-a-Day tourists who arrive every day in the city is almost double that of the residential population.

The tax will be introduced on an experimental basis during traditional holiday periods in spring 2024. Residents, local workers and employees as well as students enrolled in the city university, will be exempt. Visitors with hotel bookings will also not be charged as they already pay tourism tax as part of their accommodation package.

Payment must be made in advance online but full details have not yet been released.

Venice and its lagoon have just recently narrowly escaped being added to the UNESCO list of endangered sites, due to the problems of mass tourism, climate change and threats to the eco system. With the introduction of the entry tax, the city hopes to limit the damages caused by the first of these problems. The activation of the massive “Mose” dam across the lagoon is also proving positive in restricting the periodic flooding that plagued the city centre.

Info: visit-venice.italy

Posted on 17 Sep 2023 by Editor

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