BLACK AND WHITE STONE STRIPES ON A RARE MEDIEVAL MONUMENT ON LAKE COMO SHORES (GRAVEDONA, ITALY)

 

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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Gravedona is a nice town on Lake Como (Italy). A really stunning medieval monument rises along the banks, a few meters from lake waters. It’s a rare church, Santa Maria del Tiglio, Saint Mary of the Lime-tree (in fact, behind the monument, close to the lake shore, you may see some of these beautiful trees).

Its architectural design was created by the famous “Maestri Comacini” (Comacini Masters). It is an example of the romanesque period in Como dated around the second half of XII Century. It is built over a former baptistry (V Century) dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Unique in its kind, it was built with black and white stones on which raised symbols can be read. Pilasters, vaulted arches, arrow slits, embrasures, profiles and string courses on the windows, columns, arcades, apses and oculi express “Maestri Comacini” inspiration and creativity. Inside the church – where you breath an enchanting atmosphere – some of the grey stones bring frescos (made between XIV and XV Century) as “St. John the Baptist”, “The Wise Men”, “The Holy Trinity”, “The Adoption of the Wise Men”, and an episode from the “Life of St. Julian”. Also of great iconographic interest is the fresco “The Day of Judgement”, with Giottesque traces to be seen. Beside the church, you have to visit the beautiful crypt, with an extraordinary serie of columns, dated from XII century and built on a pre-existing Palaeo-Christian basilica.

THE CATHEDRAL OF SIENA UNVEILS ITS MAGNIFICENT MARBLE INTARSIA FLOOR: EXTRAORDINARY NIGHT OPENINGS (UNTIL OCTOBER 27)

 PHOTOS: COURTESY OF OPERA DUOMO – PRESS OFFICE; LUCA PECCANTINI

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Following last year’s success that witnessed the participation of more than 350,000 visitors, starting next August 18th, right after the Palio dell’Assunta and until October 27th the magnificent Cathedral of Siena “unveils” its extraordinary marble intarsia floor. The precious marble “carpet” is usually protected from being walked upon by visitors and the numerous worshippers who every day enter the sacred temple to pray, and is therefore not totally visible.  The floor is “the most beautiful …, largest and most magnificent” that ever was made, according to Vasari’s well-known definition.

The floor of the Cathedral is fruit of a complex iconographical plan that took on concrete form through the centuries, starting in the XIV century and lasting right up to the XIX century.  The technique employed is that of graffito and marble intarsia using local marble. The preparatory cartoons for the fifty-six panels were designed by important artists, almost all of them “Sienese”, including Sassetta, Domenico di Bartolo, Matteo di Giovanni, and Domenico Beccafumi, in addition to “foreign” painters like Pinturicchio from Umbria who, in 1505, authored the famous panel with The Hill of Wisdom, the symbolic portrayal of the way to Virtue as the attainment of inner peace.

In the nave and two aisles, the itinerary unfolds recounting themes from classical and pagan antiquity:  the She-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, the ten Sibyls, the philosophers Socrates, Crates, Aristotle and Seneca.  The transept and choir instead narrate the story of the Hebrews, the episodes of salvation fulfilled and realised by the figure of Christ, constantly evoked and never represented in the floor depictions, but present on the altar that the artistic and spiritual itinerary converges towards.

In the period of the unveiling, visitors will also admire the part designed by Domenico Beccafumi who here perfected the technique of marble intarsia to the point of attaining results of light and shadow comparable to the chiaroscuro effects of drawing.  The hexagon beneath the dome is the location of the Stories of Elijah and Ahab, while the panels near the altar narrate the episodes of Moses making Water spring from the Rock, Stories of Moses on Mount Sinai, and The Sacrifice of Isaac.  Visitors will also be able to admire from close up the frescoes in the apse and the bronze angels set against the pilasters near the altar by Domenico Beccafumi, one of the most representative exponents of Mannerism.

The Cathedral of Siena never ceases to amaze, however:  visitors will also be able to “stroll about” the choir and the apse to see the wooden intarsias Fra Giovanni da Verona executed employing a technique similar to that of marble intarsia but using wood of different colours to depict urban views, landscapes and still-lifes in the form of various objects arranged on the shelves of cupboards: liturgical objects, musical instruments, multifaceted polyhedrons, skulls and hourglasses, symbols of the vanity of earthly glories.

The spectacle continues with the extraordinary opening of “The Gate of Heaven”, the lofts of the Cathedral where, for centuries, no one has entered except for the workmen to carry out specific jobs.  The itinerary towards the ‘heaven’ of the Cathedral starts out from a winding staircase inside one of the two towers ending in spires that flank the magnificent façade of the Cathedral.

Once above the starry vault of the right aisle begins an itinerary reserved to small groups accompanied by expert guides, where they will walk ‘above’ the holy temple to admire the interior of the Cathedral and views of the city outside.  From the balcony of the inner wall of the façade unfolds an overall view of the nave and two aisles with the intarsias depicting figures of the ancient world.

For the duration of the unveiling, guided visits to admire the Floor and the Gate of Heaven will be held following the usual timetable, as well as at night.  The two itineraries will indeed be open every Saturday from 24th August to 26th October, 2013, from 8 pm till midnight.

After visiting the Cathedral, the visitor will have a better understanding of the words Cosima, wife of German composer Richard Wagner, wrote in her diary on August 21st 1880:  “I arrive in Siena around 10 am … visit to the Cathedral!  Richard, moved to tears, says that this is the strongest impression he has ever received from a building.  I wish I could hear the prelude to Parsifal beneath this dome!  In the midst of so many worries, a moment’s happiness:  having shared with Richard this rapture, a sentiment of gratitude for my destiny”. The available services include guided tours in various languages led by professionals who will accompany visitors to discover this extraordinary masterpiece.

The initiative is strongly desired by the Opera della Metropolitana di Siena and organised by Opera – Civita Group.

INFOS AND BOOKINGS

Cathedral of Siena – 18th August – 27th October 2013

Opening hours

Weekdays 10:30 am – 7:30 pm

Holidays:    9:30 am – 6:00 pm

Tickets

Opa Si Pass all inclusive ticket € 12.00

Cathedral, Floor and Piccolomini Library

Full price:  € 7.00

Reduced price for schools:  € 3.00

Reduced price groups of more than 15:  € 5.00

Gate of Heaven plus Floor and Piccolomini Library:  € 25.00

Guided tours:  every day at 11 am – 12 pm – 3.30 pm – 4.30 pm

Night openings:  every Saturday, by reservation, from 24th August to 26th October, 2013, from 8 pm till midnight, guided tours are organised to see the Floor and the Gate of Heaven at night.

Multimedia guide on tablet:  for individual guided tours

Itinerary Catalogue:  “Virginis templum”, Livorno, Sillabe 2013, € 18.00

GREAT EXHIBITION IN SIENA (ITALY): DISCOVERING THE INCREDIBLE WORLD OF STEVE MC CURRY THROUGH 200 PHOTOS

 Siena Mostra Steve MC Curry 2013 (2)

 _SM15539, Burma, 02/2011, BURMA-10276

 Siena Mostra Steve MC Curry 2013 (3)

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF PRESS OFFICE, CIVITA, OPERA LABORATORI, SIENA (ITALY) 

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The exhibition “Steve McCurry. Viaggio intorno all’Uomo” ( Siena, Santa Maria della Scala, till November 3, 2013) displays over 200 photos, an anthology of McCurry’s entire production, with many of his most famous images, from the portrait of the Afghan girl with green eyes, and the story behind it, to shots never seen before, a National Geographic documentary

projected in a dedicated area, and material collected around the world by McCurry himself.  Featuring alongside his best-known iconic photographs, taken during his extraordinary 30-year long career as a photographer and reporter, there will also be his most recent work, produced since 2010, together with some new images that have never before been on display, which make up almost 50% of the photos in the exhibition.

The project The last roll with images taken using the last Kodak film, his recent trips to Cuba, Thailand and Myanmar, the spectacular series of images dedicated to Buddhism, a selection of photographs taken in his recent and numerous stays in Italy, in Venice, Sicily, Rome and L’Aquila.  We will be given a first glimpse of the images recently shot in Tanzania as part of Lavazza’s sustainability project Tierra!  This is one more chapter in a long series which started in 2002 in Peru, Colombia, Honduras, India and Brazil.  All visitors will receive a free audioguide in which Steve McCurry personally tells us about his photographs and through them his human and professional development. An absolute novelty that will surprise even those well acquainted with McCurry’s work, including anecdotes, accounts, points of view, contexts and exciting stories.

The photos are printed in various formats, the majority being of large dimensions. Epson produced a “behind the scenes” video explaining how the delicate task of colour printing on photo paper is carried out.   The exhibition is curated by Peter Bottazzi, who also designed the layout, and Biba Giacchetti.  The spectacular layout was specially designed for the space (1,000 square metres) within the beautiful Sottoporticato of Palazzo Ducale.  The exhibition is produced and organized by the Palazzo Ducale Fondazione per la Cultura, Comune di Genova and Civita. A new appointment, which continues the exhibition that Civita and SudEst57 began in 2009 in Milan, which went on to Perugia and Rome, attracting a total of 300,000 visitors.

Infos and Bookings: Tel. +39 577 286300

e-mail : stevemccurrysiena@operalaboratori.com

Website: www.stevemccurrysiena.it

SIENA (ITALY) / : VISITING “THE GATE OF HEAVEN” AND CARAVAGGIO MASTERPIECE: ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, “THE DIVINE BEAUTY”

Caravaggio, San Giovanni Battista, St. John The Baptist

Photos: Courtesy of Opera Duomo, Siena – Press Office

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Guest Writer: Carmelina Rotundo

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 A gently sloping green landscape where olive trees enrich the sscenery, isolated hamlets: in the tangle of branches the buds and flowers in soft clusters along with leavesare reawakening. Here and there, the cypresses, some young, others ancient; the bare geometric vines delineate spaces to then leave room for a forest; the shining yellow; I love this interplay of intertwining branches;more cypress trees in corona, others solitary in the foreground next to glimpses of churches.
How the vineyards climb, and even more bunches of small yellow small flowers glow. Now the landscape is dotted with buildings, factories, now crowded with houses, steeples; the big glass building of Montepaschi Siena stands out.
It is beautiful, this letting go into the weight of a Firenze-Siena journey, united towards the goal: Caravaggio, the painter of the brush of light, that artist that remained in my vision, in my heart when, in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, unforgettable, the conversion of Saint Paul appeared to me: a moment of light in time and space; the conversion had so touched Caravaggio.
I continue the climb, up, up to the “Gate of Heaven” where one gaze embraces little Siena from the North, South, East and West, and the tiles as they let themselves be caressed by the Sun; each ray today made luminous the Torre del Mangia; the only one so close to heaven, celestial blue now, the gaze now flies across rooftops of Siena Convent of San Domenico, the Apuan Alps. I cannot be still and I move on the terraces and into the attics that conserve old machines, tools that, used by the hands of skilled stonemasons, managed to obtain miracles from matter.
The gaze returns to inside the Cathedral; the stained glass windows arelight and color;  the arches, marble columns are elegance; statues I now face, at the same height, and from the rooftops, with the gaze and heart that flies from roofs, in the sky we descend into the cave of the heart of the Duomo di Siena, in the crypt where, in silence and in meditation, he appears to me, by Caravaggio: St. John the Baptist.
That brush of light once again sculpts the form: idea-imagination-creation of a work of art that, launched into time, has been enriched by the looks of the citizens of the world who have admired it, always discovering something new and old, strong and sweet, and that light that was caressing therooftops of Siena. Caravaggio imprisoned and “carved” it into his St. John the Baptist.

http://www.operaduomo.siena.it/

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SIENA CATHEDRAL, APRIL17-AUGUST 18, 2013 

Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi, Milano 1571 – Porto Ercole 1610)

San Giovanni Battista, 1602-1603,olio su tela, cm 129 x 95

Roma, Pinacoteca Capitolina.

 

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Le immagini sono state fornite  dagli Organizzatori dell’evento, ad esclusivo utilizzo collegato alle esigenze di Ufficio Stampa dell’iniziativa medesima. La possibilità di utilizzare questa immagine è riservata unicamente al fine di corredare con la stessa servizi, articoli, segnalazioni inerenti la mostra cui si riferiscono. Qualunque diverso utilizzo è perseguibile ai sensi di Legge ad iniziativa di ogni avente diritto.

 

 

FOOD EXCELLENCES, IRISH MUSIC AND MY SOLO ART EXHIBITION: A VERY SPECIAL EVENT WITH THREE HISTORICAL PLACES…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnjoy this photo-gallery about the special night-event which took place on Sunday, July 14, in the historic heart of Ambivere, Bergamo country, not so far from Milan (this place is quoted in scripts dating back to year 923!). Food excellences, Irish music and a taste of my art (a surprise public exhibition of my Lacer/actions works) drew a lot of people.  

In a picturesque setting between ancient walls, medieval towers and the “Countess Palace”, with a concert performed by “Fuich Irish Music” band, three Historical Places proposed delicious menus representing Antica Osteria dei Cameli (founded in 1856), Trattoria Visconti (founded in 1932) and Caffè del Fiola (founded in 1887), Historical Places which has been highlighted and recognized in national and international publications, as Michelin Guide (Antica Osteria dei Cameli). Really good wines were served by “Azienda Agricola Sant’Egidio” from Fontanella di Sotto il Monte (Bg).   

My solo show displayed in an “open-air space” 20 works from “Lacer/actions” Project about torn and decomposed publicity posters and urban tokens. My art usually comes from the streets and through this surprise public exhibition it went back to the streets…  This special event – which had a charity purpose for “Ponte di Stelle” Association – was promoted by Ambivere Council and the three Historical Places.

MY SURPRISE PUBLIC EXHIBITION IN A BEAUTIFUL MEDIEVAL SQUARE WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF 3 HISTORICAL PLACES AND THEIR FOOD EXCELLENCES…

A surprise public exhibition dedicated to my works… It will happen on Sunday, July 14, during an evening event with food excellences, good Irish music and a special performance with my “Lacer/actions” artworks. The venue is an ancient and fascinating place: a beautiful square in the historic heart of Ambivere, “The Countess Palace”, Bergamo country, not so far from Milan; this place is  documented and quoted in scripts dating back to year 923!

In this picturesque setting between ancient walls and medieval towers, three Historical Places will present some delicious menus: this is “GustAmbivere”. Master chefs and barmen will represent Antica Osteria dei Cameli (founded in 1856), Trattoria Visconti (founded in 1932) and Caffè del Fiola (founded in 1887). These Historical Places has been highlighted and  recognized in national and international publications, as Michelin Guide (Antica Osteria dei Cameli). A special selection of wines will be served by Azienda Agricola S.Egidio from  Fontanella-Sotto il Monte. 

I was invited to have a “solo show” focusing on some of my works from “Lacer/actions” Project about torn and decomposed publicity posters and urban tokens. I think these historic square and places, evoking the passage of times, are an ideal space to enhance the contrasting language of colors and shapes of my compositions. My art comes from the streets and now it goes back to the streets, along these ancient streets… This special event – which has a charity purpose for “Ponte di Stelle”Association – is promoted by Ambivere Council and the three Historical Places.

(HE)ART PLACES / THE MYSTERIOUS LONGOBARD CRYPT (8TH CENTURY) ON MOUNT AMIATA IN TUSCANY

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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In Abbadia San Salvatore, on Mount AmiataSiena country, Tuscany, Italythere is a magical and capturing place. You find it on the ancient Benedectine abbey. It’s a Crypt where we breath the history and the beauty of one of the most fascinating Tuscany villages. According the documents, the Crypt was built in VIII Century. It was restored in XX Century and now we may admire it in all its beauty.

The Longobard crypt shows 32 columns that form 13 small aisles. They are made in various shapes; some of them are round, with different sculpured ornaments. Also the beautiful capitals are sculptured in various shapes, as palm leaves, loto flowers or animal heads. This Benedectine monastery was founded by Erfo, a Longobard nobleman, in the VIII Century, under King Astolfo, and it was dedicated to the Saviour, which was typical of that people and in the tradition of christian religion. It rose on the east side of Mount Amiata in order to reclaim the surrounding woods and forests. It also overlooked the Via Francigena, running through the Paglia Valley.

The imperial abbey greatly developed in the Carolingian period thanks to Charlemagne‘s and Ludovick‘s confirmation of its landed propertues and privileges, Around the year 1000, under Abbot Winizo, it increased its power by acquiring new territories. The church and the crypt were rebuilt in 1036. In 1228 the monastery passed to the Cistercians. It was suppressed by grand-duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1782 and re-opened later. In the year 1087, a certain Miciarello and his wife Gualdrada made a donation in favour of the monastery of St Saviour. Below the donation document, the notary Ranieri signed three verses, commonly known as “Cartula Amiatina” (“The Amiata Footnote”). This extemporary poem represents to linguists the first voice of vernacular coming from Tuscany. That is, the first expressions recording the evolution of the Italian language.

But this is not the only important document about Amiata History. Till XIX Century, the monastery hosted the famous “Bibbia Amiatina”“The Amiata Bible” – which is considered the oldest latin version ever known. The Amiata Bible – a true masterpiece, written by amanuensis monks – is now kept in Florence, but we may see a photo-reproduction in the Monastery Museum.