TREASURE OF ST. GALGANO RECOVERED AFTER 30-YEAR SEARCH

Another coup for the Comando dei Carabiniere Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (Protection of Cultural Heritage ), Italy's crack corp of culture police, whose exclusive job is to safeguard Italy's antiquities and works of art.

Combing through files in their data bank, inspectors were able to hunt down a collection of treasures stolen in 1989 from the Museum of the Archdiocese of Siena in Montalcino, consisting of a group of eleven precious liturgical objects belonging to several Umbrian churches, including silver, gilded and enamelled chalices and pyxes, a jewelled crucifix and the most precious object of all – the celebrated relinquary of Saint Galgano, the saint connected with the sword in the stone in the abandoned 13th century Cistercian Abbey that carries his name.

The mysterious sword, allegedly planted by the saint in the rock that is preserved in the domed Hermitage beside the Abbey, attracts many visitors due to its apparent similarity with the legends of the Knights of the Round Table.

Saint Galgano was a 12th century warrior knight from Chiusdino who became a hermit monk after a series of visions. He was much venerated throughout the Middle Ages. The relinquary is considered a masterpiece of Sienese goldsmith's art. It was damaged during its years in the clandestine antiquities market and has undergone a two-year painstaking reparation by restorers of the Vatican Museums Metals and Ceramics laboratories.

The treasure will be on show in Room XVII of the Vatican Pinacoteca until the 18th |February 2023, under the exhibition title: “From the Sword to the Cross, the Restored Relinquary of Saint Galgano.”

There is, however, still one item missing from the stolen cache. It is a 16th century silver chalice from the Church of the Certosa of Maggiano in Siena. The hunt is still on!

M. STENHOUSE

Info: https://m.museivaticani.va

Posted on 14 Dec 2022 by Editor

TOCATI' TRADITIONAL GAMES ENTERS UNESCO LIST

Italy has entered a new addition to its World Heritage list. Verona's Tocatì Festival, which celebrates traditional street games and sports, has been included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, joining the other 16 Italian festivals already recognized.

The Tocatì Festival takes place every year in September in Verona. This year's version enlivened Verona's streets for three full days with some fifty time-honoured street games, practiced in Italy and in participating guest countries.

Info: Tel. +39.045.8309162 www.associazionegiochiantichi.it

Posted on 09 Dec 2022 by Editor

LA SCALA LAUNCHES CONTROVERSIAL FIRST NIGHT

Teatro La Scala, Milan's prestigious opera house, opens its 2022-2023 season with Mussorgsky's “Boris Godunov” on 7th December 2022, despite a formal protest from the Ukrainian Consulate in Milan which objected that the choice of a Russian work was “inappropriate” at this moment. La Scala orchestra conductor Riccardo Chailly, however, responded that the production had already been programmed three years earlier and could not now be cancelled. Theatre spokespersons also pointed out that the opera recounted a story of abuse of power, rather than a glorification of Russia and that the theatre had already donated €400,000 in a fund-raising concert supporting Ukraine.

The opening of La Scala opera season, traditionally held on the Feast of Sant'Ambrogio, Milan's patron saint. is a major society event, traditionally attended by the President of Italy and heads of government.

The programme for the 2022-2023 season, offers 14 works, including classic opera favourites as well as some lesser known works and a Milan first performance of “Rosalka”, plus a prestigious ballet programme which includes an evening dedicated to Nijinsky and another to William Forsythe.

The theatre also caters to a young audience with cheap tickets for the preview of “Boris Godunov”, in addition to a special weekend for under 35s from the European network “Juvenilia”. Those attending this year come from 10 different countries.

Info: Tel, +39.0272003744 www.teatroallascala.org

Posted on 04 Dec 2022 by Editor

"BLACK BEARD” FRIAR'S ALMANACK 2023

One of Italy's most quaint traditions is the Barbanera Almanack, a yearly calendar packed with old adages, gardening lore, traditional herbal remedies, horoscopes, lunar phases, recipes and household tips.

Dating back to 1762 and named after a mysterious “Black Beard” friar, it continues to be a fixed feature in many Italian households today.

In 2015 it received a gratifying recognition with its inclusion in the UNESCO Patrimony of Humanity, World Memory category. The 200-year long collection of Barbanera Almanacks (1762 -1962), preserved by the Barbanera Foundation has been officially recognized as “the most complete collection in the world.” It contains hundreds of almanacks and lunar calendars from various European countries, reflecting the tastes of succeeding generations, from Art Nouveau to Art Deco, printed on perfumed paper or containing biographies of celebrities, synopsis of novels and plays.

This year, for the first time, the Foundation has produced a version in special enlarged text for people with poor sight, integrated with Braille and sound explanations through a QR code, in collaboration with the Unione Italiana Ciechi e Ipovedenti (Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired) Onlus-Aps and the Irifor Non-profit organization for Rehabilitation, Research & Formation.

Info: Tel. +39.0742.391177 www.barbanera250.H info@barbanera.it

Posted on 01 Dec 2022 by Editor

 

ITALY TO PLANT 6.6 m TREES

According to a recent census carried out by the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (Italian State Forestry Commission), the Italian peninsula is host to approximately 12 billion trees, which equals the equivalent of 200 trees for every human inhabitant. This, however, is not considered sufficient to make an impact on global warming and present tree planting schemes by conservation organizations like Legambiente (Environmental League) aim to have added 6.6 million new trees before the end of 2024, with special attention paid, where possible, to metropolitan areas.

The Italian forests also contain many ancient trees, known affectionately as “Patriarchs”. The greatest number of these are oaks (2.407 listed), plus plane trees, pines and cypresses, while the tallest tree in the entire country is allegedly a 62.4m Douglas Fir, known as “the Italian Tree King” which grows in the heart of the Forest of Vallombrosa, Tuscany.

Sardinia came out as the surprise winner as the Italian region with the greatest forest extension, with the 173.000-acre Parco di Sulcis that covers the mountainous area of the south west of the island.

The Italian city with most trees – another surprise! - is Milan, which already has 465,521 urban trees, but aims to plant a further 3 million trees by 2030 to offset the negative consequences of air pollution and soaring summer temperatures.

M.STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.06.862681 www.legambiente.it legambiente@legambiente.it

Posted on 27 Nov 2022 by Editor

POPE'S XMAS TREE MUDDLE

After some initial hiccups, the Vatican can breathe a sigh of relief since the annual Christmas Tree for St. Peter's Square has finally arrived in good time for the 2022 festive season.

Every year, a different Italian region donates the Vatican tree, which dominates the centre of the great piazza in front of St. Peter's. This year it was the turn of Abruzzo and the regional authorities had picked out a majestic 30m-tall silver fir in the Monte Castel Barone nature reserve that spreads over the central mountainous area of the peninsula, near the charming village of Rosello, (total 182 inhabitants) classed among the most beautiful borghi (small historic towns) of Italy. However, after investigation, the chosen tree actually turned out to be over the Abruzzo border and in the territory of Agnone (celebrated for its bell casting industry) in the adjoining Molise Region.

To add fuel to the fire, environmentalists protested that a tree of this age (an estimated 200 years) and dimension (30m tall) should not be cut down at all. The dispute threatened to drag on for at least a month while the regional authorities sorted things out by which time, of course, the festive season would be well over. Luckily, the Christmas spirit of goodwill prevailed and the dispute has been amicably resolved, with a graceful withdrawal on the part of Molise, leaving the way free for Rosello, which chose an alternative tree from the Palena Tree Nursery in Abruzzo.

The new tree, a mere stripling of 62 years of age, has now been delivered, with the unveiling and lighting ceremony scheduled for the 3rd December. The tree will remain in situ until after Epiphany.

Info: www.comune.rosello.ch.it

Posted on 23 Nov 2022 by Editor

ITALY'S CITY VINEYARDS

The “Michelangelo Vineyard” is the latest entry into the network of vineyards in the heart of Italian cities. The vines are aligned along the slope under the Michelangelo Belvedere in Florence (hence the name) with views over the spread of terracotta rooftops, the dome of Santa Maria dei Fiori and the River Arno. Planted by the wine estate Donna Fittipaldi di Bolghera, run by Maria Fittipaldi Menarini and her four daughters, the first harvest is expected in 2025, with the resulting thousand bottles bearing the lily of Florence brand on their labels.

Other major Italian cities already have urban vineyards - some very old, like the vineyard in the cloister of the monastery of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice. It dates back to 1253, whereas the Island of Mazzorbo on the lagoon is home to the Tenuta Venissa, recently revived by the Bisol Family who can boast 21 generations of wine cultivators. Gianluca Bisol has planted the vineyard with Dorona, a native vine that had almost become extinct.

The Vigna del Gallo in Palermo is situated within the Botanical Gardens, founded in1789. The traditional vineyard was restored in 2019 with 195 vines planted, thanks to a project launched by the University of Palermo and the Consortium of DOC Sicilian Wines in which rare native vine stocks are studied and cultivated, while industrial capital Turin has its historic urban vineyard in the grounds of the former residence of the Queen of Sardinia and consequently named the Vigna Della Regina.

Perhaps the most fascinating old vineyard to visit is the “Vigna Leonardo” in the centre of Milan. This vineyard was gifted to Leonardo da Vinci in 1498 by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro. It can be visited in the grounds of the splendid renaissance Villa Atellani, restored in the 1920s by architect Piero Portaluppi, whose family replanted the vineyard for EXPO 2015 and enjoyed their first grape harvest in 2018.

The Urban Vineyards Association is a network of vineyards planted in city environments in Italy and France.

Info: Tel. +39.01194.34044 www.urbanvineyards.org

Posted on 19 Nov 2022 by Editor

SAN CASCIANO DEI BAGNI PREDICTS A BOOM

The amazing discovery of a cache of Etruscan /Roman bronze votive statues buried in the mud on the bottom of the hot mineral water baths at San Casciano dei Bagni (Tuscany) has galvanized this small historic town hitherto off the normal tourist track.

The town has under 1,600 residents, most of whom live in the outskirts. A mere 80 live in the historic centre, which has the common disadvantages of all Italian medieval towns, such as difficult car access, narrow streets, flights of stairs, few shops and services - all factors that discourage young families from settling there.

During the past few years, a successful yearly Festival called “La Terrazza” has been held in San Casciano over the summer months to attract visitors, in addition to the normal spa clientele. However, this has had nothing of the impact expected to be produced by the recent sensational discovery, which hit the headlines all over the world.

The two-year long excavation campaign in the old hot spring baths involving teams of archaeologists and archeology students from various countries, coordinated by the University for Foreigners in Siena, brought the old town to life, says lady mayor Agnese Carletti, who predicts a future boom of visitors.

The find, in fact, has been described by Massimo Osanna, Director General of Museums of the Ministry of Culture, as “the most sensational archaeological find since that of the celebrated Riace Bronzes”, discovered fifty years ago by fishermen off the Calabrian coast.

The Minister has promised that the treasure trove of 24 bronze statues of gods and goddesses, along with numerous inscriptions in both Etruscan and Latin, a host of votive objects and some 6000 coins in gold, silver and bronze, will remain in San Casciano, in a brand new museum to be set up in a 16th century palace in the town's historic centre.

In the meantime they have been transferred to the Italian Centre of Restoration in Grosseto Tuscany) for the necessary care and preparation for their conservation.

Info: Tel. +39.0578.58141 www.sancassianoliving.it

Posted on 15 Nov 2022 by Editor

WHAT ARE SINOPIE? PISANELLO SECRETS REVEALED

The Ducal Palace of Mantova is running a special exhibition to mark the revolutionary discovery in the 1960s of the cycle of frescoes by Antonio Pisano, better known as Pisanello, that had been concealed under coats of plaster for 5 centuries.

The works covered some 100 sqm in two adjoining rooms formerly known as the Room of the Princes and the Room of the Popes on the piano nobile of the palace. The paintings depicted the cycle of the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, with the emphasis on battle scenes and jousts.

The frescoes had been detached from the wall and much of the original colour lost. However, the sinopie, or preparatory drawings, in red ochre pigment or black, that the artist had traced as guidelines on the wall were clearly revealed and this rare find caused great excitement at the time among art experts and restorers.

The frescoes had been smothered under layers of plaster and fragmented by alternations carried out over the centuries, such as the opening of new doorways, the lowering of the pavement and the installation of a fireplace.

The detached frescos have been mounted on steel frames and a raised footboard installed so that visitors can admire the scenes at the level they were originally intended to be seen at.

The exhibition also contains 30 works, including Pisanello's “The Madonna and Child with Saints Anthony and George” on loan from the National Gallery of London and the first time in Italy since 1862, some drawings from the Louvre in Paris and the enigmatic “Madonna della Quaglia” (Madonna of the Quail) from the Museum of Castelvecchia in Verona.

Pisanello Il Tumulto del Mondo” (the World in Tumult) until the 8th January 2023.

Info: Tel. +39.041.2411897 www.mantovaducale.beniculturale.it pal-mn@cultura.gov.it

Posted on 11 Nov 2022 by Editor

ROME AIRPORT IN THE LEAD

Rome's Airport Leonardo da Vinci has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan to cope with the predicted boom in air travel arrivals for Jubilee Year 2025 and EXPO 2030.

The new departure Terminal, which was opened in May 2022, is designed to handle 6 million passengers, in a 20,000 sqm area complete with shopping malls and restaurants and with 23 departure gates, 13 of which equipped with loading bridges for quick and easy boarding.

Particular attention has been paid to energy saving and the use of environmentally friendly materials.

The new Terminal has been constructed according to the internationally certified standards of Leed (Leadership Energy and Environmental Design). The high arched ceiling and huge window panels flood the area with natural light. High tech heating and air conditioning systems are programmed to function automatically according to the number of people in the Terminal, while energy is transmitted through solar panels mounted on large sections of the roof.

Italy's unique heritage has also been showcased with a number of ancient Roman statues of deities from the archaeological site of Ostia Antica on display.

Leonardo da Vinci has been rated “Best European Airport” four times in the past five years by the Airports Council International (ACI) in the category for hubs handling over 40 million passengers, the first time that an airport has won this award for four consecutive years.

Info: www.rome-airport.info

Posted on 07 Nov 2022 by Editor

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