BYZANTINE ABBEY HAILS MILLENIUM

The thousand-year old Abbey of Grottaferrata (Lazio) is celebrating its foundation year with a programme of events, conferences and concerts of religious music throughout the coming months, starting on the 23rd March with the “Sabat Mater” concert and a series of lectures on Dante's “Journey of Life” (“il Viaggio della Vita”), running until the 25th May 2024.

The Abbey is an impressive fortified building, surrounded by defensive walls and a moat, harking back to the more turbulent times of its history. It was founded by Basilian monks from the south of Italy, guided by the legendary Saints Nilus and Bartholomew, who followed the Greek Byzantine ritual, which continues to be used today.

The Abbey is a treasure house of art, with the church of Santa Maria di Grottaferrata lavishly decorated with 12th century mosaics and polychrome marble pavements, the Farnese Chapel frescoed by Domenichino in the original “grotto” (actually the remains of a cryptoporticus from a ruined Roman villa) where the first foundation stones were laid, and a “Madonna and Child with Saints Nilus and Bartholomew” by Antonio Carracci.

It also possesses a library with over 50,000 volumes, including some 1000 priceless ancient manuscripts, a museum of antiquities and a renowned School of Book Restoration.

The Abbey is open to the public, with guided tours and entrance to the museum on Saturdays and Sundays.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. +39.3409819736 www.abbaziasannilo.org.

 

Posted on 23 Mar 2024 by Editor

PIENZA'S GUARDIAN OF THE VALLEY

Pienza (Tuscany) has inaugurated a new attraction for walkers and excursionists – “the Path of Art and the Soul.” This is a panoramic 2.5 km. nature trail scattered with art works created by 28 contemporary artists, including internationally famous sculptors like Gio Pomodoro, Joe Tilsen, Mino Trafeli, Pietro Cascella. Justin Peyser, Jean-Paul Phillipe and others.

The collection of sculptures by these artists has been donated by the FUR Foundation, a non-profit institution set up by Swiss millionaire Urs Rechsteiner with seat at Montepulciano (Siena).

The “Guardian of the Valley”, a towering 4m-high sculpture seated on a rock, is destined to become the symbol of the art trail. Created by the artist Antonio Borrelli for the Corto Circuito scenographic laboratory, the Guardian gazes over the valley below, the personification of the “super-hero” protector of all who pass along the route.

Info: Tel. +39.0578.740005 info@turismo@comune.pienza.si.it

Posted on 13 Mar 2024 by Editor

PARADISE IN ANCIENT FLORENTINE PHARMACY

Full immersion in a floral fantasy in the ancient Dominican herbal dispensary of Santa Maria Novella in Florence where artist Felice Limosani has created a unique flowery bower inside the venerable laboratory set up by the friars some eight centuries ago.

Blooming in Paradise” is the title chosen by the artist, a world leader in creative digital technology. The installation includes not only floating blossoms on walls and floors but also music and fragrances to enhance the experience. The exhibition runs until the 7th April 2024, and meanwhile the Pharmacy carries on with its normal business in the adjoining rooms,

The venerable Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica (Perfume and Pharmaceutical Laboratory) of Santa Maria Novella, founded by Dominican friars in 1221, is a major tourist attraction in Florence, especially with Korean and Japanese visitors since the Pharmacy was taken over in 2020 by the major Italian holding Italmobiliare, which specializes in supporting and promoting “Made in Italy” brands.

The Farmacia is a work of art in its own right, with frescoes attributed to Marioto di Nardo (died 1424) and with décor and furnishing carefully restored in the style of the 14th century.

It sells exclusive herbal cures, natural beauty products and liqueurs, some using the original traditional recipes elaborated by the friars.

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Info: +39.055.216276 info@santamarianovella1221

 

 

Posted on 09 Mar 2024 by Editor

ROYAL PALACE OF CASERTA OPENS GRAN GALLERIA

The celebrations in honour of the great 18th century architect Luigi Vanvitelli, who designed and supervised much of the building of the Royal Palace of Caserta (Campania) culminated with the opening of a vast new exposition space in the north west wing of the palace, previously closed to visitors. For almost a century the area had been occupied by the training school of the Italian Air Force (Scuola Specialisti dell'Aeronautica Militare) which has now moved to new premises near the coast.

The wing adds an extra 3,000 sqm to the already vast museum space in the Royal Palace, a listed UNESCO world heritage site since 1997, and the one-time residence of the Bourbon kings of Naples and Spain. The newly acquired premises will contain a conference hall, cultural meeting rooms and a cafeteria, while the Gran Galleria area has been adapted to host temporary exhibitions. Its inaugural exposition, entitled “Visioni” focusses on aspects of the Vanvitelli architectural vision by photographers Luciano D'Inverno and Luciano Romano, will run until the 15th July 2024.

Info: Tel. +39.0823.448084 https://reggiadicaserta.cultura.gov.it

Posted on 04 Mar 2024 by Editor

TODI: FULL IMMERSION FESTIVAL IN ANCIENT HISTORY

This year's Umbria Antica Festival (formerly known as “Festival dell'Umbria Antica”, is centred in the perfectly preserved medieval town of Todi and is poetically entitled: “Il Cuore Verde d'Italia batte al ritmo della Storia” (“The Green Heart of Italy beats to the rhythm of History”), following “Dove e Nata la Nostra Storia” (“Where our History Began”) and “Uomini e Dei” (“Men and Gods”), the themes of the two previous editions.

The packed three-day programme (15th - 17th March 2024) offers a full immersion experience in the life and customs of the ancient peoples who once inhabited the Italian peninsula, their heritage and their lasting influence, as well as the processes of integration brought about by the Roman conquest. Lectures will be held in the Council Chamber of the 13th century Palazzo del Capitano, Todi and will be conducted by a group of Italy's most prestigious experts in the historical and archaeological fields.

  1. STENHOUSE

For full programme: www.festivalumbriantica.it info@festivalumbriantica.it

Posted on 28 Feb 2024 by Editor

ROSSINI'S LEAP YEAR BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS

Pesaro (Marche) has a double celebration this year. Not only has it been elected Italian City of Culture 2024, but Leap Year date on the 29th February allows it to celebrate the birthday of one of its most illustrious sons, the great 19th century musician Gioachino Rossini, born, in fact, on the 29th February 1792.

A special Settimana Rossini (Rossini “Week”) is being held between the 18th February-8th March with a packed programme of over 30 events and 10 concerts. These will include the classic “Balcony Recital” from the balcony of Rossini's house, played to the crowd in the street below, a new commemorative postage stamp from the Italian mint, a parade of vintage motorcycles from the local historic Benelli factory, the donation of a pianoforte by the local Lugli family of designers and entrepreneurs to enrich the Rossini Gallery Museum, and, most important of all, the inauguration of the new Scavolini Auditorium concert hall.

A birthday must have a cake and Pesaro has a Super-cake: it was part of the scenery constructed for the performance of “Adina” at the Rossini Opera Festival in 2018. The monumental cake will be part of the opening ceremony of the Auditorium on the 29th February. Rossini, with his quirky sense of humour, would have loved it!

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Info: Tel. +39.0721.3800202 www.rossinioperafestival.it

Posted on 24 Feb 2024 by Editor

FORGOTTEN MEDICI WOMAN ARTIST RETURNS TO UFFIZI

A forgotten self-portrait by a 17th century woman artist has just been acquired by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and will take its place among the self portraits of masters of the calibre of Raphael, Rembrandt, Luca Giordano. Delacroix and “moderns” like Marino Marini, Pellizza di Volpedo, Ai Weiwei, the London Endless and Gilbert & George.

Camilla Guerrieri (born 1628) was celebrated in her day as “the first woman court painter of the Medici family”, for whom she worked for twenty years. She was so highly appreciated that she was awarded a life pension when her leading patroness, Vittoria della Rovere, died.

The self-portrait is a mirror composition that had languished for years in the back of the show-room of a Florentine antique dealer who had been unable to sell it until the Uffizi stepped in.

Among Camilla's other works is “The Madonna with the Infant Jesus, St. Giovannino and St. Aldebrando” in the Diocese Gallery of Senigallia (Marche), which is due to re-open on the 23rd March 2024 after a twelve-year closure for repairs due to the damage caused by the devastating 2012 earthquake in Northern Italy.

The Uffizi itself has been undergoing an extensive re-organization project in order to display more of its vast collection of 1,600 self-portraits, that cover 6 centuries of art history.

Guerrieri is only one of many forgotten women artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, whose talent and worth are gradually being rediscovered.

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Info: www.uffizi.it

Posted on 19 Feb 2024 by Editor

THE WINNING BOUQUETS OF SANREMO

The lavish bouquets presented to all the competitors in the recent SanRemo Song Contest, Italy's most popular annual media event, never fail to attract admiration. All of them were inspired by the floral contest held a couple of weeks before the Song Contest opening, under the slogan “Sanremo, the Flower of Liguria”.

The florists and designers of the Floral City had the choice of two categories: a formal bouquet inspired by the poetically named themes: “The Melody of the Sea” and “The Song of the Woodland.” Contestants had thirty minutes each to submit their designs and make up their compositions, using the supply of freshly cut anemones, roses, snapdragons, mimosa, poppies, buttercups, carnations, lilac, green and silver leaves and more, supplied by the many greenhouses and flower farms of the Ligurian Riviera. The winner had the honour of helping the team of floral designers prepare the bouquets for the Festival stars.

On the 24th March 2024 the flowers will again be out in force for the annual parade of spectacular flower covered floats for the Festival of the Goddess Flora, that dates back to 1904.

Info: Tel: +39.0184.5801 www.comune.sanremo.im.it

Posted on 15 Feb 2024 by Editor

CHRISTIAN EMPEROR TOWERS OVER HOLY YEAR

The reconstruction of the colossal statue of the Roman Emperor Constantine is set to be one of the new attractions for Holy Year 2025. Presented to the press on the 7th February, the 13m-high, 3-ton statue has been erected in the gardens of the Villa Caffarelli on the Capitol Hill in the heart of Rome, on the spot that archaeologists believe was the site of the ancient Temple of Jupiter dominating the Roman Forum.

The statue has been recreated by integrating seven surviving fragments of the original sculpture of the emperor, using the latest digital technology to gauge the exact measurements and details of the original in its entirety, and was intended, with its superhuman proportions, to strike awe in the hearts of all citizens visiting the Forum.

Constantine was the first Roman emperor to recognize the Christian religion. His mother, Saint Helena, according to tradition, visited the Holy Land, and brought back the Holy Staircase at St. John Lateran, as well as several relics of the crucifixion, which are still venerated by the faithful.

M. STENHOUSE

Info: Tel. 060608 www.museicapitolini.org

 

 

Posted on 11 Feb 2024 by Editor

ITALY'S REFORESTATION PLANS TAKE OFF

As part of a widespread plan to combat climate change and air pollution, Italy has embarked on an extensive reforesting operation that includes “Parco Italia”, a project launched in 2021 by the Stefano Boeri Architect & Foundation to plant 22 million trees in 15 major Italian cities. The first batch of 15,000 trees have already been planted, with the support of 2 million euro from the Amazon company's Right Now Climate Fund. A further 35,000 trees are to be planted during 2024.

Meanwhile, Verona is spearheading a project in its territory: “a tree for every new born baby”, with the initial plantation of 1,300 trees.

Among the more novel projects, however, has been launched by the alpine town of Cuneo (Piedmont) where the Santa Croce Hospital has chosen to plant a grove of paulownia trees in its grounds. The paulownia, a native if China introduced into Europe around two hundred years ago for its decorative appeal, has been found to be a formidable natural air purifier and the most effective of all trees at absorbing smog and CO2.

Info: www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net>project>parcoitalia

Youtube: Paulownia per l'Ospedale di Cuneo

Posted on 07 Feb 2024 by Editor

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