Italy

Coming Exhibition: Ornament and Illusion ~ Carlo Crivelli of Venice

Ornament and Illusion:
Carlo Crivelli of Venice

Who:  

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

When: Oct. 22, 2015 – January 25, 2016 (Hours Vary)

Where: 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
25 Evans Way
Boston, MA 02115

More Information: Here.

Ornament and Illusion is the first monographic exhibition dedicated to Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli in the United States. The Gardner’s newly conserved Saint George Slaying the Dragon is the touchstone for a two-part installation. The first reunites four of six surviving panels from Crivelli’s Porto San Giorgio altarpiece, of which the Gardner painting is a fragment. The second features 20 of Crivelli’s most important works from Europe and the U.S. Together, they will introduce visitors to the artist’s repertoire of dazzling pictorial effects, and refine each encounter with his bravura illusionism.

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How an illiterate woman wrote love letters to her migrant husband in 1973

“How an illiterate woman wrote love letters to her migrant husband in 1973”

by Annalisa Merelli via “Quartz

Being far from the people you love is one of the most challenging experiences in life, even with today’s cheap and easy trans-continental video-calls. So one can only imagine how hard it was for our ancestors not so long ago, when international phone calls were luxuries and the only way to keep in touch by writing letters that took days, sometimes weeks, to arrive.

And that’s assuming they could write.

In the 1970s, 5.2% of Italy’s population was illiterate. Most of those who could not read or write were women in rural areas. One, we know now, was a mother of three, likely from the area around Catania, on the eastern side of Sicily. Her story has made history, thanks to a poignant 1973 letter written entirely in pictures, discovered by the Sicilian writer Gesualdo Bufalino.

(Copyright Eredi Gesualdo Bufalino. All right reserved, managed by The Italian Literary Agency, Milan)

The letter was addressed to her husband, explains Bufalino in his bookLa Luce e il Lutto (“Light and Grief,” link in Italian), a migrant worker abroad in Germany.

To preserve the intimacy of their correspondence, she did not ask for help in composing the letter in Italian. Instead, writes Bufalino, the woman and husband developed their own secret code. Bufalino, reportsItalian online publication Il Post (link in Italian), was able to retrieve one of their letters and translate the symbols into words:

Here is his translation—rendered in English by Quartz, and republished below in the original Italian:

My dear love, my heart is tormented by your far away thought, and I stretch my arms toward you, together with the three kids. All in good health, me and the two older, unwell, but not seriously, the little one. The previous letter I sent you didn’t receive a reply, and I am sad about it. Your mother, hit by a disease, is in the hospital, where I go visit her. Do not worry that I go there empty-handed; or alone, generating gossip: our middle son comes with me, while the oldest looks after the youngest.

Our little field, I ensured that it was ploughed and sown. To the two daily workers, I gave 150,000 lire [about €500, or $560 today] . The town elections were held. I voted for the Christian Democracy, as the parish suggested. For the Hammer and Sickle, the defeat has been huge: as if they died, in a coffin. . . . .

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Italy’s culture minister looks abroad for overhaul of art galleries and museums

“Italy’s culture minister looks abroad for overhaul of art galleries and museums”

by Rosie Scammell via “The Guardian

Dario Franceschini ruffles local feathers by appointing seven foreigners to head Italy’s most prestigious galleries, including Florence’s Uffizi and Accademia

 The Uffizi gallery in Florence. The new director wiull have to develop innovative cultural programmes and bring some creative flair to financing as government budgets are cut.
The Uffizi gallery in Florence. The new director will have to develop innovative cultural programmes and bring some creative flair to financing as government budgets are cut. Photograph: John Kellerman/Alamy

Italy’s culture ministry has appointed 20 new directors to manage some of its top museums, including Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, with a number of foreigners brought in to revamp the way the country’s vast heritage is presented to the public.

Fourteen art historians, four archaeologists, one cultural manager and a museum specialist make up the new directors, who will be at the forefront of cultural reform in Italy. The majority have international backgrounds and half are women, although the culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said nationality and gender had no influence on Tuesday’s appointments.

Beyond daily museum management, each director will be tasked with coming up with innovative cultural programmes and impressing both local and international visitors. The new bosses will also need to bring a creative flair to financing, making way for alternative funding models such as philanthropic donations in the face of tight government budgets.

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Broken toilet leads to 2,000 years of history

“Broken toilet leads to 2,000 years of history “

by Sarah Griffiths via “Daily Mail

A search for a sewage pipe beneath an Italian restaurant yielded two centuries worth of history.

Lucian Faggiano bought the building in Lecce, Puglia in the south of Italy and had planned to turn it into a trattoria – but renovations were put on hold when he discovered a toilet on the site was blocked.

And while attempting to fix the toilet he dug into a Messapian tomb built 2,000 years ago, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel, and even etchings thought to be made by the Knights Templar.

Scroll down for 3D tour 

Lucian Faggiano's dream of opening a restaurant was scuppered when a dig to find a blocked sewage point yielded some 2,000 years of hidden history, including vast rooms and pottery (shown in this image that features Mr Faggiano left and his son)

Lucian Faggiano’s dream of opening a restaurant was scuppered when a dig to find a blocked sewage point yielded some 2,000 years of hidden history, including vast rooms and pottery (shown in this image that features Mr Faggiano left and his son)

In a bid to stop the sewage backing up, Mr Faggiano, 60, and his two sons dug a trench and instead of isolating the offending pipe found underground corridors and rooms beneath the property on 56 Via Ascanio Grandi,The New York Times reported.

Lecce, at the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’ was once a crossroads in the Mediterranean and an important trading post for the Romans.

But the first layers of the city date to the time of Homer, according to local historian Mario De Marco.

Eight years after it was meant to open as a restaurant, the building has been turned into Museum Faggiano (pictured) and a number of staircases allow visitors to travel down through time to visit the ancient underground chambers discovered by the family

Eight years after it was meant to open as a restaurant, the building has been turned into Museum Faggiano (pictured) and a number of staircases allow visitors to travel down through time to visit the ancient underground chambers discovered by the family

He imagined it would take a week to dig down and fix the plumbing beneath the building, but instead, the DIY mission led to the discovery of a Messapian tomb and a Roman granary

An ancient room beneath the modern building is shown

He imagined it would take a week to dig down and fix the plumbing beneath the building, but instead, the DIY mission led to the discovery of a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary (pictured left), a Franciscan chapel – and even etchings from the Knights Templar. An ancient room beneath the modern building is shown right

The search for the pipe (shown in this image of Mr Faggiano and his son) began at the turn of the millennium when no-one could have predicted the treasures hidden beneath the floorboards, which revealed a subterranean world dating back to before the birth of Jesus

The search for the pipe (shown in this image of Mr Faggiano and his son) began at the turn of the millennium when no-one could have predicted the treasures hidden beneath the floorboards, which revealed a subterranean world dating back to before the birth of Jesus

It is not unusual for religious relics to turn up in fields or in the middle of the city itself, which has a mixture of old architecture

For example, a century ago, a Roman amphitheatre was recently found beneath a marble column bearing the statue of Lecce’s patron saint, Orontius in the main square and recently a Roman temple was found under a car park.

‘Whenever you dig a hole, centuries of history come out,’ said Severo Martini, a member of the City Council.

Years of excavations have seen the emergence of Roman devotional bottles, ancient vases and a ring with Christian symbols as well as hidden frescoes and medieval pieces. Here, Mr Faggiano carries a piece of Roman pottery from an underground room

Years of excavations have seen the emergence of Roman devotional bottles, ancient vases and a ring with Christian symbols as well as hidden frescoes and medieval pieces. Here, Mr Faggiano carries a piece of Roman pottery from an underground room

The building yielded plenty of nooks and crannies including mysterious shafts
The building yielded plenty of nooks and crannies including mysterious shafts

The building yielded plenty of nooks and crannies including mysterious shafts (pictured left and right) which lead to older parts of the building deeper and deeper underground

Lucian Faggiano bought the seemingly standard building in Lecce, Puglia in the south of Italy, (marked on this map) but his dream of turning it into a trattoria was put on hold thanks to a broken toilet. Lecce, at the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’ was once a crossroads in the Mediterranean and a trading post for the Romans

Lucian Faggiano bought the seemingly standard building in Lecce, Puglia in the south of Italy, (marked on this map) but his dream of turning it into a trattoria was put on hold thanks to a broken toilet. Lecce, at the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’ was once a crossroads in the Mediterranean and a trading post for the Romans

THE HISTORY OF LECCE

The origins of Lecce in southern Italy are thought to be more than 2,000 years old.

It was founded by the Messapii, who are said to have been Cretans in Greek records, explaining the city’s Greek culture.

According to legend, a city called Sybar existed at the time of the Trojan War and was founded by the Messapii.

It was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, who gave it the name Lupiae, which later became Lecce.

Under the emperor Hadrian, in the second century AD, the city moved two miles (3km) northeast, got a theatre and an amphitheatre and was connected to the Hadrian Port.

Oronotius of Lecce, who is known as Sant’Oronzo is thought to have served as the city’s first Christian bishop and is now Lecce’s patron saint.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was sacked by king Totila in the Gothic Wars.

After that it was conquered once again by the Byzantines in 549 and remained part of the Eastern Empire despite some small conquests.

After the Normans arrived in the 11th century, Lecce grew in commercial importance again, having been an important trading post in Roman times.

It grew rich and became one of the most important cities in southern Italy, evidenced by its many impressive Baroque monuments.

Plague broke out in the 17th century and the city was briefly home to Allied fighters fighting the Nazis in the Second World War.

Mr Faggiano asked his sons to help fix the problem with the plumbing so he could accelerate the opening of his restaurant, in a building that looked like it was modernised.

But when they dug down they hit a floor of medieval stone, beneath which was a Messapian tomb, built by people who lived in the area before the birth of Jesus.

Legend has it the city was founded by the Messapii, who are said to have been Cretans in Greek records, but then the settlement was called Sybar.

Upon further investigation, the family team also discovered a Roman room that was used to store grain, and a basement of a Franciscan convent where nuns were thought to have once prepared the bodies of the dead.

Afraid of costs and the delay in opening the restaurant, Mr Faggiano initially kept his amateur archaeology a secret from his wife, in part perhaps because he was lowering his youngest son, Davide, 12 though small gaps in the floor to aid his work.

But his wife, Anna Maria Sanò suspected the work was more complex than it appeared thanks to the amount of dirty clothes she was washing, and because of dirt and debris being taken away.

Investigators shut down the site, warning Mr Faggiano he was conducting an unofficial archaeological dig.

After a year, work continued but had to be overseen by heritage officials who witnessed the emergence of Roman devotional bottles, ancient vases and a ring with Christian symbols as well as hidden frescoes and medieval pieces.

Retired cultural heritage official, Giovanni Giangreco, who was involved with the excavation, said: ‘The Faggiano house has layers that are representative of almost all of the city’s history, from the Messapians to the Romans, from the medieval to the Byzantine time.’

Afraid of costs and the delay in opening the restaurant, Mr Faggiano initially kept his amateur archaeology a secret from his wife. Here, he sorts though pieces of glass and pottery found in one of the rooms. There are even pieces embedded in the wall

Afraid of costs and the delay in opening the restaurant, Mr Faggiano initially kept his amateur archaeology a secret from his wife. Here, he sorts though pieces of glass and pottery found in one of the rooms. There are even pieces embedded in the wall

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Coming Exhibition: Dolce Vita? From the Liberty to Italian Design (1900-1940)

“Dolce Vita? From the Liberty to Italian Design (1900-1940)”

Who:  Musée d’Orsay 

When: Apr. 14, 2015 – Sept. 13, 2015 (View Hours Here)

Where: 

Musee d’Orsay
1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 
75007 Paris, France

How Much:  (View Pricing Here)

More Information: Here

“In Italy in the early twentieth century the decorative arts were used to interpret the desire for progress of a nation that had only just found its unity. Cabinetmakers, ceramicists and glass-makers all worked together with the leading artists, creating a veritable “Italian style”.

This period of extraordinary creativity is recalled through around a hundred works in a chronological display. The “Liberty” style, which came into its own at the turn of the century, is recalled with designs by Carlo Bugatti, Eugenio Quarti and Federico Tesio mixed with works by the Divisionist painters. A second section is devoted to Futurism, its esthetic inspired by progress and speed extending to every aspect of life.

Later, the return to classicism in Italy came in various guises, finding its expression in the ceramics of Gio Ponti or the glass creations of Carlo Scarpa, up to the stern language of the “Novecento”.
Meanwhile, the rationalist style marked the advent of modern “design”.“