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.

 

 

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(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.

THAT MAGICAL CRYPT IN THE TUSCANY MEDIEVAL VILLAGE WHERE THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE WAS BORN

Abbadia San Salvatore, on Amiata Mount (Siena area, Tuscany, Italy) is a place rich of art and history… 

 

In Abbadia San Salvatore, on Amiata MountSiena area, Tuscany, Italy – there is a magical and capturing place. You find it on the ancient abbey church. It is a crypt, where you may breath the history and the beauty of one of the most fascinating Tuscany village.

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. Everytime I have the way to visit it, I always feel astonished by its magic. It happened again a few days ago, when I was in Abbadia SS. for the XIII edition of “Penne and Video Sconosciuti”, the national festival for school journals and videos produced by italian schools.

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.

 

The abbey and all the Medieval centreare telling us how Abbadia San Salvatore was important in the past. All its area is rich in history and traditions, that to a great extent can be found in documents in the old archive belonging to the monastery dedicated to the Saviour at Amiata Mount. The archive contains many references to the importance and power of the abbey, but little or no reference is made to the early Medieval history of the surrounding land and area, or about the people who used to live there.

The castle of Abbadia is first mentioned in a document dating to 1203, which shows that the community was came under the aegis of a communal hierarchy headed by a Podestà, under the political control of Orvieto. A few years later, the strenght and power of this communal organization are described in the “bill of freedom” (“carta delle libertà”) granted in 1212 to communal chancellors by the Abbot of the San Salvatore monastery.

The pattern of settlements in the area of Abbadia was defined around the mid-XII Century, when under the pressure of external threats, the local population, up until then scattered over the surrounding countryside, came together within one large fortified settlement.

 

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 Amiata Mount 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 real art masterpiece, written by amanuensis monks – is now kept in Florence, but we may see a photo-reproduction in the Monastery Museum.

The historical centre is a well kept fortress-village, where you may walk through incredible narrow streets and squares, all built with the local grey stone. You may admire the Servadio Theatre (1873), a tiny but fascinating place. It was built thanks to the initiative of the Carli and Gragnoli families; it is dedicated to Giacomo Servadio (XIX Century) a Florentine member of Italian Parliament, banker, musician and theatre producer. Between the end of XIX Century and the beginning of the XX, the building was the seat of a friendly Society of the workers of Abbadia, where in XIX Century quicksilver mines began their activities, now closed and presented in a museum.

By ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

A RARE MEDIEVAL MONUMENT ON THE LAKE COMO SHORES

I been in Gravedona, nice village on the Lake Como  (Italy). There, I had the way to continue my journey through Italian medieval monuments. An incredible sign of medieval times is found 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 ‘s shore, you may see some of this beautiful trees.

Its architectural design was made by the famous “Maestri Comacini”. It is an example of the roman period around 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  atmosfere – some of the grey stones bring frescos (made between XIV and XV century) as “St. John the Baptist”, “The Wise Men”, an “Holy Trinity”, “The Adoption of the Wise Men”, an episode of the “Life of St. Julian”. Also of great iconographic interest is the fresco of “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.