UNESCO STATUS for the QUEEN OF ROADS

Not before time, the world famous Appia Antica road that connected Ancient Rome with Brindisi, the gateway to Greece on the Adriatic coast, has applied to be included in the list of UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES.

Known as the “Queen of Roads”, the first tract from Rome to Capua, near Naples, was built in 382 BC by the Roman magistrate Appius Claudius after whom it was named. A century later, it was prolonged to join up with Benevento and Brindisi. Considered a superb example of Roman construction, the entire length stretches 583 kms (364 miles) and long tracts of the original paving are still visible. It was also unique as being the first free “public road” where no tolls were charged.

Much of the fascination of the Appia Antica road is thanks to the monumental ancient Roman tombs alongside it. Most have been badly damaged over the centuries and stripped of all their rich marble facings and decorations, however, they still provide the same romantic picture that entranced illustrious 19th century visitors like Goethe and Shelley.

The best preserved of these monuments are in the First Mile leading out of the old city gates. The most famous is the impressive Tomb of Cecilia Metella, an obscure Roman matron, whose tomb has been exceptionally well preserved because during the Middle Ages it was converted into a fortress and incorporated into the city's defensive walls.

Elaborate tombs were, of course, the reserve of the wealthy, but the sepulchres of lesser mortals are equally stunning – like the Columbarium of Augustus' Liberti with rows of niches that contained the funeral urns of the Emperor's freed slaves in a domed construction resembling a dovecot (hence the name). Incredibly, this construction housed a restaurant until fairly recently. Even after two thousand years, the Appia Antica still comes up with surprises. In the area of the First Mile, archaeologists are at present uncovering the remains of what is believed to be the Sanctuary of Mars Gradivo (the Avenger) which marked the entrance to the city boundaries. According to legend, this was the spot where the twins Romulus and Remus were conceived thanks to the union of the god Mars with the Vestal Virgin Rea Silvia.

  1. STENHOUSE

Info: cultura.gov.it/appiaunesco#

Posted on 03 Nov 2022 by Editor

 

HALLOWE'EN AT TREVISO PUMPKIN VILLAGE

Pumpkin bonanza at Nonno Andrea Villaggio delle Zucchi (Grandpa Andrew's Pumpkin Village) at Villorba, near Treviso (Veneto) where visitors have been flocking every weekend since the beginning of October. Over 200,000 pumpkins of different varieties, spread over an area of 70,000 sqm, are on show at the Villorba Farm, which specializes in biodiversity cultivation according to the directives established by the 1992 UN Convention on Biodiversity.

The pumpkins are surrounded by ingenious vegetable sculptures, autumnal theme exhibits, Hallowe'en lanterns and so on. Food and drink are available as well as this years' novelty – a mais maze (no pun intended).

Nonno Andrea's Pumpkin Village has registered sold out every weekend and will reach its peak this Hallowe'en weekend.

The Village is the brainchild of Luca Manzan, former President of the Consortium of Treviso and Castelfranca Radicchio – a highly prized gourmet speciality of the chicory family, native to the area.

Info: Tel. +39.0422.444670 www.nonnoandrea.it info@nonnoandrea.it

Pumpkin Lantern by MJ RIGILLO

Posted on 30 Oct 2022 by Editor

STONE ART AT THE BORGHESE ROME

The art of painting on stone, rather than on canvas or wood, is the theme of the exhibition currently running at the Villa Borghese Gallery, Rome. “Meraviglia Senza Tempo. Pittura su Pietra a Roma nel Seicento” (Timeless Marvels. Painting on Stone in Rome in the '600) highlights a branch of art that has been largely underestimated and ignored.

Inaugurated on the 25th October and running till the 29th January 2023, visitors have the rare opportunity to view 60 exquisite art-on-stone works from both Italian and foreign museums as well as private collections, by artists of the calibre of Antonio Tempesta, Antonio Carracci, Carlo Saracena, Orazio Gentileschi, Cavalier d'Arpino, Leonardo Grazia and others.

Many of the pieces were part of the 17th century collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, grand patron of the arts and protector of Bernini and Caravaggio.

The idea of painting on a hard base, less subject to damage or destruction, is believed to have been launched by Sebastiano del Piombo after a great many of his paintings were ruined during the havoc of the Sack of Rome by the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1527.

The fashion soon caught on when artists realised the additional benefits of the special effects they could obtain by using bases of slate, coloured marble, hard polished surfaces, precious blue lapis lazuli and other gem stones to create particular backgrounds and atmospheres.

Info: Tel. +39.06.67233753 www.galleriaborghese:beniculturali.it

ga-bor-info@cultura.gov.it

 

Posted on 26 Oct 2022 by Editor

 

 

HUNTING FOR FANTASTIC BEASTS

A novel way to approach works of art in Italian museums – especially with children – has been suggested by the history of art magazine “Finestre sull'Arte” (Windows on Art) produced in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Editors have compiled a review of paintings and frescoes in museums and galleries all over the Italian peninsula that feature strange creatures born of ancient mythology traditions.

In Rome, some examples include the painting of Orpheus by 16th century artist Marcello Provenzale in the Borghese Gallery, where the legendary musician sits playing, surrounded by all kinds of animals, including a winged dragon, then the mysterious 5th century BC Etruscan Wolf Man plate in the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia and the incredible ceiling of the Altovidi Room by Vasari in the Palazzo Venezia Museum, covered in grotesques of satrys and other strange creatures. This latter fresco has almost miraculously survived, first from fire that broke out in the palace in 1569 and later from Tiber flooding. In fact, it was detached from the ceiling when the original Altovidi Palace was dismantled during the construction of the Tiber embankments.

Info: finestresullarte.info/viaggi/animali-e-luoghi- fantastici-musei-italiani-lazio

 

Posted on 22 Oct 2022 by Editor

SALUZZO FESTIVAL CHESS CHAMP PLAYS 30/ 1

One of the biggest draws at the Festa del Libro Antico e Medioevale (Festival of Ancient and Medieval Books) at Saluzzo (Cuneo, Piedmont) will certainly be a chess game starring 2018 Olympic Gold champion Marina Brunello against thirty competitors contemporarily on the 23 October 2022.

This year's International Fair of Ancient and Medioeval Book will run from the 21st - 23rd October as part of the Salone del Libro Internazionale (s) with a busy programme animated by jugglers, acrobats, jesters, dancers, falconers, typical games and medieval music.

Festival theme centres round women, taking inspiration from Petrarch's celebrated description of the fairer sex as “uno spirito celeste, un vivo sole” {celestial spirit, a vibrant sun}. Sessions for specialists and the curious on the revolution in printing techniques are to be held in the town's Historic Library while the Saluzzo Communal Cemetery, built in 1787, holds guided tours centred on “Stories of Dreams and Dreamers.”

Info: Tel. +39.0175.46710 www.salonelibro.it info@visitsaluzzo.it

Posted on 19 Oct 2022 by Editor

ITALIAN BARMEN WORLDTOPS

Top places in World's Best Bars awards of 2022 have gone to Italian barmen, Giacomo Giannotti and Simone Caporale, who concoct their magical cocktails in Barcelona, in the celebrated bars “Il Paradiso” and “Sips” respectively.

While Giannotti scooped first place, Caporale's “Sips” got the “Highest Climber” nomination for leaping 34 places to number 3 in this year's classification.

The two displaced many years winner Connaught of London, owned by Italian Agostino Perrone, which still ranked however in the top ten.

The World's Best Bars is run by William Reed Ltd, the group behind “The World's 50 Best Restaurants”. Classifications are voted annually by 650 international drinks experts belonging to the World's 50 Best Bars Academy.

Info: www.worlds50bestbars.com

Posted on 14 Oct 2022 by Editor

THE TIBER RUNNING DRY

As a result of the long spell of dry weather this spring and summer, the Tiber river, historic symbol of Ancient Rome, has diminished in volume to the extent that it has dropped a meter and a half lower than its average flow, as registered over the past 16 years. The tributaries that feed the river have been reduced to little more than trickling streams, transforming stretches of the river in the city centre to virtual marshland.

On average the Rome area records an average rainfall of 357 mm but only 137 mm of rain have fallen during this year's four month-long drought.

Looking down from the Bridge of the Angels at Castle Sant'Angelo at the weeds poking up from the shallows it seems impossible to believe that for centuries the city was subjected to flooding. The last great flood, when the Tiber burst its banks and covered the city centre in 2m of water, was in December 1870, just after the Unification of Italy.

Work on the Tiber embankments began in 1876 and involved the construction of 8 kms of 13m-high containing walls, finally completed fifty years later in 1926.

Photo: The Tiber at Castle Sant'Angelo September 2022 by M. Stenhouse

Posted on 11 Oct 2022 by Editor

VENETO: AUTUMN MAGIC IN HISTORIC VILLAS

Six historic villas of Veneto open their doors between the 9th October and 6th November for “Foliage Month, the Magic Atmosphere of Autumn” when visitors can admire the beautiful autumnal colours of the trees and plants. The villas all belong to the Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane (ADSI) (Historic Houses of Italy) and are open on different dates during “Foliage Month” with various programmes that include guided walks with botany and arboreal experts, culinary events and art associated with nature. Some of the visits will be accompanied personally by the estate owners.

The Villas involved in the programme are:

Villa Sagramoso Sacchetti of Verona, Borgo Feriani, Castello di Thiene, Villa Angarano (Bassano di Grappa), Villa Valmarana ai Nani (includes view of rooms frescoed by Tiepolo) and Villa da Schio (Castelgomberto) with its sculpture garden.

Foliage 2022” also runs a photography and video competition

For full information on dates of openings: Tel. +39.349.639317

www.dimoreamichedelveneto.it

Posted on 07 Oct 2022 by Editor

ARCHAEOLOGY AND WINE – A WINNING DUO

The Codice Citra Cooperative has recently financed the restoration and preservation of a rich collection of ancient grave goods belonging to the pre-Roman Frentani people in the hilly area near Chieti (Abruzzo). The Cardetola Necropolis at Crecchio was first excavated in 1844, unearthing a 1.47 m funerary stele with a rare inscription in the language of this little known people. Since then, the site has yielded 138 tombs dating between the 6th and 3rd century BC.

The Codice Citra Coop, composed of 300 families, represents Abruzzo's largest community of winegrowers. As a personal contribution to the cultural heritage of their area, members volunteered to help with recent excavation work involving three Tombs - nominated 17, 34 and 57, all of which have yielded a cache of objects that proved continuous trading links with the Magna Grecia, Taranto and Campania, as well as the Baltic and Africa.

Tomb 17 contained some 28 pieces of refined terracotta tableware. The owner of the tomb had been cremated, which was considered unusual practice for this area and at that time. He is believed to have been an athlete as his strigil (a tool used to massage the body and scrape it clean of sweat at the baths) was buried with him.

Tomb 34 belonged to a woman of wealth, buried with refined gold and silver jewellery.

Tomb 57 is considered particularly interesting. It contained a youth with a splendid bronze and gilded crown decorated with terracotta fruit.

The finds are to be added to the collection of the Museum of the Crecchio Ducal Castle, which also contains an important collection of Byzantine and Medieval antiquities.

Info: Nazionale Archeoclub Italia: Tel. +39.25967459 Museo: +39.0871.941392 www.citra.it

Posted on 04 Oct 2022 by Editor

THE WHITE GHOSTS OF APULIA BECOME ART

The ancient olive trees, with their towering heads of silver-grey leaves, their gnarled trunks and twisted branches, were the pride of Apulia and much admired and photographed by tourists to the region. That was until some years ago when they were attacked by an implacable enemy – a bacteria called Xylella fastidiosa which dried up their vascular system, cutting off water and nourishment and turning them into twisted spectres. The disease spread like wildfire, killing off gigantic trees that were centuries old and a seemingly eternal feature of the landscape. An estimated 20 million trees were affected.

Fortunately, scientists eventually found a remedy by grafting on cultivars such as “Favoloso” and “Leccino” which have proved resistant to the disease. Trees which couldn't be saved are being replaced, with the help of EU funding, by new immune varieties.

Many however could not be saved. A local non-profit association called EXIBART, headed by photographer Ulderico Tramacere, decided to give them a second life as Land Art objects. In 2020 Tramacere created the Field of Giants, a 2 ½ acre area near Nardò (Lecce) of spectral olive groves, whitewashed in lime disinfectant. These old warriors make natural sculptures and are destined to become a new tourist attraction.

Photo by EXIBART

Info: www.exibart.com

Posted on 29 Sep 2022 by Editor

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