MY ART SUPPORTING CAMPAIGN AGAINST OIL DRILLING IN THE CANARY ISLANDS AND FOR CREATING A DOLPHINS AND WHALES SANCTUARY    

NERO BASE + logo - Copia (2)

 

© ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI – LACER/ACTIONS, Realistic and not Manipulated Images of Torn and Decomposed Publicity Posters, Cracks, Scratches and Urban Signs

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CLIP SOS StopOilSpill / YOUTUBE

In early October, oil and gas company Repsol will begin exploratory drilling in the Canary Islands in an attempt to bolster the Spanish economy. Environmentalists and locals in Spain are calling foul on this practice, as the drilling could devastate not only the tourism economy, but also the rich population of whales and dolphins who call this place their home. Tell the Spanish government to stop this oil prospecting and instead create a sanctuary to protect these wild and majestic creatures.

The waters off of the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are jeopardized by oil drilling. One-third of the world’s cetacean species call this place home, and the possibility of an oil spill, loud noises, and contamination could devastate all species. A vast majority of Spanish citizens oppose oil drilling, stating their love for the environment and wildlife, and expressing concern toward tourism. In 2011, several whales in the region were found dead from noise pollution and other factors. These deaths inspired the environmental minister to pitch the idea of making the waters a protected sanctuary—an idea that has rallied many citizens.

Unfortunately, Spain’s own Supreme Court threw out many challenges, as the country is eager to jump-start its economy. Spain relies heavily on tourists to drive the economy, and while many citizens understand this, the government doesn’t seem to. Respol is trying to calm citizens, stating that it is only looking for oil in the area. If oil is found, Respol claims it will openly discuss what is to be done with concerned citizens and government officials.

Respol is only concerned with profits, but many citizens are concerned for their economy and the lives of whales. While the company can claim that it is merely looking for oil, it will no doubt pursue drilling if oil is found. Respol does not care for the whales and dolphins in the area, and it seems like the government doesn’t either. Urge the Prime Minister of Spain to stop oil prospecting, and instead create a sanctuary for whales and dolphins.

I been in the beautiful and wild Fuerteventura. Local people and associations have raised protests. Greenpeace told that the planned oil spill – located in deep waters, at 3000 meters – would required 500 boats to act immediately in order to contain it. Fuerteventura doesn’t have the structure to be able to defend itself immediately against such a disaster…   

Natalia Evora, Environment and Trasports Councillor in Fuerteventura, said to “Fuerteventura Magazine Hoy” : “First of all we must remember that in 21st Century we must speak of energies that do not pollute and we therefore think oil has become an obsolete industry… We must take into account the great damage and risks that this would create in our marine element, for biodiversity and for tourism…The Islands that are Biosphere Reserves, such as Fuerteventura, are creating another energy model and not one that is already being eliminated in many countries because of the problems it has created… An oil spill would immediately close the desalination plants that provide the water we consume”.

 

SIGN THE PETITION…

Dear Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy,

I urge you to stop oil prospecting in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These waters are home to one-third of the world’s whales and dolphins, and if oil prospecting were to occur here, it would endanger their lives. Furthermore, oil drilling would hurt your nation’s economy, as it is mainly driven by tourism. If the whales and dolphins were to die because of the noise pollution and oil spills, it would no doubt cause severe harm for your nation’s economy.

Many of your citizens are against oil prospecting, and it baffles me that your Supreme Court would even consider backing this endeavor. While I understand that your economy is struggling, it does not give your government the right to harm living creatures. Consider the harm you will be doing not only to your whales and dolphins, but to the environment and your people if you pursue oil drilling.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

http://forcechange.com/130227/protect-whales-from-oil-prospecting/

 

THE REMARKABLE “HEMISPHERES” OF TERZA LOGGIA: HOW RENAISSANCE PAINTED THE MODERN WORLD / INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES # 4

Terza Loggia (Third Loggia) is another stunning place in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, Rome. On its walls we admire maps of the modern world painted between 1560 and 1585. They include the wonderful Emispheres, the frescoes designed by Ignazio Danti (1582 ca). I recently had the opportunity to visit Terza Loggia (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). I’m so glad to share some pics and news I found in a very interesting research by Francesca Fiorani (“Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance”).

The first map cycles with maps of the modern world were painted for the papal residence at the Vatican between 1560 and 1585. Pope Pius IV commissioned the French cartographer Etienne Du Pérac to prepare the cartoons for thirteen modern maps of Europe, which were to be painted in the east wing of the Terza Loggia, the third story of the Renaissance addition to the papal residence Du Pérac arranged the maps according to the order of Ptolemy, but based their cartographic content on Gerardus Mercator’s map of Europe (1554) and additional modern maps.

On the wall above the maps are landscape views related to the mapped territories, while on the vaults of the loggia are inscriptions commemorating papal deeds, along with scenes painted by Lorenzo Sabatini illustrating examples of good and bad life. Unfinished at Pius IV’s death and untouched by his successor, Pius V, the Terza Loggia was completed around 1580, when Gregory XIII entrusted the Dominican polymath Ignazio Danti with the design of a world map divided into two hemispheres and ten maps of Africa, Asia, and America, which were painted by Giovanni Antonio Vanosino. Danti, who had served Gregory XIII in the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, based the completion of the Terza Loggia on the similar map cycles in the Guardaroba Nuova in Florence that he had made for Cosimo I in the 1560s, a fact attested by comparing the Vatican maps with the earlier Florentine maps.

The maps of the world were complemented by city views that have not survived. Danti was also responsible for the connection between the maps and the other parts of the decoration. On the wall above the maps, a frieze painted by Antonio Tempesta and Mattheus Bril illustrates the procession staged in 1580 for the translation of Gregory of Nazianzus’s body to Saint Peter’s, celebrating Gregory XIII’s wish to reunify believers under the Greek and Roman rites. On the ceiling, scenes of paradise inspired by the breviary, the liturgical text Gregory XIII had reformed in the early 1580s, refer to the papal desire to unify the Catholic liturgy worldwide. The inscriptions commemorating important events of Gregory XIII’s pontificate, also on the ceiling, restate the centrality of Rome to Catholic spirituality.

As a whole, the Terza Loggia celebrates the wish of the post-Tridentine papacy to expand Catholicism universally by reconverting large parts of Europe to the Catholic faith, reaffirming the unity between those under the Greek and Roman rites, and converting the peoples of Africa, Asia, and America. The actions of the Roman pontiffs, recalled metonymically in the frieze of the Gregorian procession and in the inscriptions of papal deeds on the ceiling, took place in Rome, but their effect needed to spread to the world mapped on the walls below. That papal actions were meant to affect the world spiritually rather than politically is made manifest by the scenes from paradise, which crown both the scenes of papal deeds and the maps of the world below.

Following a firm medieval tradition, post-Tridentine popes adopted the language of Renaissance cartography as a vehicle of their ecumenical message. But, unlike their medieval predecessors, they had detailed maps with which to penetrate unknown lands and thus transform the medieval dream into a real program of propagating the faith. Indeed, the use of modern cartography for religious purposes became such a distinctive element of papal iconography that the Terza Loggia, even before its completion, served as a model for Cardinal Farnese’s Sala della Cosmografia discussed earlier. Francesca Fiorani, From “Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance

(4 – To be continued)

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THE TRIUMPH OF RENAISSANCE: THE IMPRESSIVE REGAL ROOM AND DUCAL ROOM / INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #3

© Roberto Alborghetti - Sala Regia and Sala Ducale (12)

Sala Regia (Regal Room) and Sala Ducale (Ducal Room) are two beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. They aren’t generally open to visitors: they usually host consistories, conferences, papal hearings or special events. I recently had the opportunity to visit them (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). Here some news (from New Advent website) about Sala Regia and Sala Ducale. They well represent the triumph of Renaissance.  

The Sala Regia (Regal Room)

 Although not intended as such, this broad room is really an antechamber to the Sistine Chapel, reached by the Scala Regia (Royal Staircase). To the left of the entrance formerly stood the papal throne, which is now at the opposite side before the door leading to the Cappella Paolina. The hall was begun under Paul III by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and was completed in 1573. The elegant barrel-vault is provided with the highly graceful and very impressive plaster decorations of Pierin del Vaga. The stucco ornaments over the doors are by Daniele da Volterra. The longitudinal walls are broken on the one side by two, and on the other by three, large doors, between which Giorgio Vasari and Taddeo Zuccaro have introduced very powerful frescoes, whose effect is more than ornamental. They depict momentous turning-points in the life of the Church, among others the return of Gregory XI from Avignon to Rome, the battle of Lepanto, the raising of the ban from Henry IV, and the reconciliation of Alexander III with Frederick Barbarossa. This hall served originally for the reception of princes and royal ambassadors. Today the consistories are held in it, and an occasional musical recital in the presence of the Pope; during a conclave it is a favourite promenade for the cardinals.

The Sala Ducale (Ducal Room)

The Sala Ducale lies between the Sala Regia and the Loggia of Giovanni da Udine. Formerly there were here two separate halls, which were converted into one by Bernini by the removal of the separating wall (the position of which is still clearly perceptible). The decorative paintings, which are of a purely ornamental nature, are by Raffaellino da Reggio, Sabbatini, and Matthæus Brill. In this impressive hall were formerly held the public consistories for the reception of ruling princes. It now serves occasionally for the reception of pilgrims, the consecration of bishops, when (as rarely happens) this is undertaken by the Pope, or is used for the accommodation of specified divisions of the papal household, when the pope holds a consistory in the Sala Regia, proceeds to the Sistine Chapel, or sets out with great solemnity for St. Peter’s.

(3 – To be continued)

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INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #2 / EXCLUSIVE: THE FRESCOES BY MICHELANGELO IN CAPPELLA PAOLINA (LIMITED ACCESSIBILITY AREA)

I recently had the honour to meet Pope Francis for the presention of the biography I wrote about him. The private encounter took place in Casa Santa Marta, an unpretencious house where he usually lives. Before the encounter I had a very special gift: the possibility to visit some of the beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. I been also in the enchanting Cappella Paolina (the Pauline Chapel) to admire the incredible fresco paintings by the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo Buonarroti : The Crucifixion of St. Peter (c. 1546–1550) and The Conversion of Saul (c. 1542–1545).

Being a sacred space, Pauline Chapel is a limited accessibility area. Despite the efforts of contemporary scholars to illustrate the genius behind these two works, they remain relatively obscure. This is due primarily to the fact that tourists are not permitted to enter the Pauline chapel because it’s a worship space. Most of those who do know of these works will never have the opportunity to see them in person. According to Williams no other work by Michelangelo has ever been so grossly misrepresented in reproductions. The only way to view these works as the artist intended them to be seen is to see them in situ.

The Crucifixion of St. Peter is the last fresco executed by Michelangelo. The artist portrayed St. Peter in the moment in which he was raised by the Roman soldiers to the cross. Michelangelo concentrated the attention on the depiction of pain and suffering. Pope Paul commissioned this fresco by Michelangelo in 1541 and unveiled it in his Cappella Paolina. Restoration of the fresco completed in 2009 revealed an image believed to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself. Vasari states about the fresco: “There are no landscapes to be seen in these scenes, nor any trees, buildings or other embellishments and variation”.

The positioning of St. Peter himself is often noted as the most interesting innovation Michelangelo implemented in this piece. He defied convention by positioning Peter’s upper body so that it cranes upward and twists his neck around so that his eyes make contact with the viewer.

The Conversion of St. Saul or St. Paul  is often discussed in conjunction with The Crucifixion of St. Peter. As its title suggests, the fresco represents the conversion of a lawyer from Tarsus named Saul (a man who prosecuted Christians) into a follower of Christ. In the book of Acts, Paul states that he saw an impossibly bright light and heard the voice of Christ himself. The blindingly bright light is the Apex of this story. The style is more mannerist than his earlier Sistine Chapel frescoes, and was not as well received by contemporaries.

Giuseppe Frangi (30 Giorni) writes: “On 25 January 1540, the Feastday of the Conversion of St Paul, until then celebrated in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Paul III Farnese consecrated to the saint whose name he had taken, the new parva (small) chapel, commissioned from Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and built in just three years in the heart of the Papal Palace. The chapel – parva as opposed to the chapel magna, the functions of which had been taken over by the Sistine – was the chapel intended for the conclave. And above all it was the place where the Blessed Sacrament was kept, for which purpose it had been fitted with both an altar and a tabernacle. When Paul III consecrated it, the chapel had no decorations, but it was clear who would climb the scaffolding: it was again up to Michelangelo, just down from the scaffolding of the Sistine Chapel, where he completed the great toil of the Last Judgment”.

 The reconstruction of the work – Frangi states – done day by day, made possible by modern restoration techniques, shows Michelangelo was capable of getting through a large amount of work in a day. Eventually there were 172 working days (85 for the Conversion of St Paul and 87 for the Crucifixion of St Peter), spread over seven years, with the break in 1544, when he was halted by health problems. These frescoes were largely ignored for centuries and incurred a great deal of damage due to neglect. In the early twentieth century there were some scholars who came to reconsider the frescoes under the new light of expressionism and abstraction.

William Wallace proposed an entirely new perspective on the subject claiming that the disproportionate quality of the figures is not a failing on the part of Michelangelo, but rather another instance of his genius. According to Wallace, the real innovation in this piece comes from the incorporation of time and space in the overall composition of the frescos. In addition to conceiving of these frescoes in terms of perspective, Michelangelo also took into consideration the architectural and environmental context they were to be set in.

After the last restoration Pope Benedict XVI said: “The two faces are opposite each other. One might therefore imagine that Peter’s face is actually turned towards the face of Paul, who, in turn, does not see, but bears within him the light of the Risen Christ. It is as though Peter, in the hour of supreme trial, were seeking that light which gave true faith to Paul”.

(2 – To be continued)

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I LEAD YOU INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #1 / THE BEAUTIFUL BERNINI’S ROYAL STAIRCASE…

© Roberto Alborghetti

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Before my recent private encounter with Pope Francis  for the presention of the biography I wrote about him, I had the way to visit some of the beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City; as we know, Pope Francis doesn’t live there, but  in the unpretencious house, Casa Santa Marta, where I met him.

I been firstly on the incredible Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Scala Regia ( Royal Staircase) which is a flight of steps and part of the formal entrance to the Vatican. It was built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in the early 16th century, to connect the Apostolic Palace to St. Peter’s Basilica, and restored by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1663 to 1666.

The site for the stairs, a comparatively narrow sliver of land between church and palace, is awkwardly shaped with irregular converging walls. Bernini used a number of typically theatrical, baroque effects in order to exalt this entry point into Vatican. The staircase proper takes the form of a barrel-vaulted colonnade that necessarily becomes narrower at the end of the vista, exaggerating the distance. Above the arch at the beginning of this vista is the coat of arms of Alexander VII, flanked by two sculpted angels.

(1 – TO BE CONTINUED)

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PARALLAX ART FAIR RETURNS IN FEBRUARY TO CHELSEA TOWN HALL IN LONDON. AN IMPRESSIVE VARIETY WITH 225 INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS

Parallax International Art Fair 2014 will return to Chelsea Town Hall in February for its ninth event, its organisers have announced. The fair, most recently held in October 2013, will open with a private viewing on Thursday 20th February, and then opens its doors to the public from 1-8pm on Friday 21st and 11-5pm on Saturday 22nd February.

The Parallax Art Fair is not your typical art fair. It allows both new and established artists to exhibit on equal footing, without judgment or qualification by the organisers. The international line-up includes award-winning artists from many fields, as well as the new and undiscovered. From a sculptor whose work in steel now adorns the outside wall of the Harlow Theatre, to a painter whose work was chosen by the City of London as its official Christmas card, the art fair showcases an astonishing range of styles and media.

With 225 artists in February’s line-up, the variety will be impressive. As well as paintings and sculpture in all conceivable materials, the fair will include photography, light-display, textiles, pottery, jewellery, ceramics, natural materials, embroidery and far more to create an experiential, visual, tactile exhibition that explores the possibilities of art and form to the full. Coinciding with London Fashion Week (14-18 February) it will doubtless prove a popular attraction for creatively minded individuals looking for new avenues of inspiration.

The exhibition is free to the public, and further information is available at

www.parallaxaf.co

http://www.parallaxaf.co

THAT SIGISMONDO MALATESTA HERALDIC SYMBOL (XV CENTURY) WHICH INCREDIBLY LOOKS LIKE A DOLLAR SIGN…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

Following my post “From Malatesta Temple to Augustus arch and bridge: great monuments in Rimini, Italy”, Doralynn Pines (from USA) sent me an interesting comment at my LinkedIn account – (“Medieval and Renaissance Art, Antiques, Architecture, Archaeology, History and Music” group).

Doralynn Pines – as Associate Director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York she served as Administrator for all departments reporting to the Director –  commented: “Wonderful images.  I was always fascinated by the Malatesta heraldic symbol which looks like a dollar sign long before there was anything like a dollar sign.  I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but I believe that Rimini was the site of Fellini’s wonderful movie, Amarcord.  And there are beautiful scenes of the town.”

Doralynn comment is really intriguing. So, let’s have a detailed view on Sigismondo Malatesta heraldic symbols we admire at Malatesta Temple in Rimini.    Yes, they incredibly look like dollar signs… The debate is open…

“THE ALLEGORY OF PATIENCE”: ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PAINTINGS IN THE MEDICI COLLECTIONS ON SHOW AT PALAZZO PITTI IN FLORENCE (ITALY)

 VASARI

At Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy) an exhibition opened on one of the most significant paintings in the Medici collections, The Allegory of Patience, which belonged to cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici and is today held in the Sala di Prometeo in the same Palazzo Pitti. Initially attributed to Parmigianino in the inventories of Palazzo Pitti, catalogued in the museum’s first guides under the name of Francesco Salviati, and later attributed to Girolamo Siciolante by Federico Zeri, the painting is today recognised as fruit of the collaboration between Giorgio Vasari and Spanish artist Gaspar Becerra. Its complex collectors’ history involves important figures tied to the court of Cosimo I and Giorgio Vasari himself.

The first of these was Bernardetto Minerbetti,bishop of Arezzo and ambassador of Cosimo I, a refined man of letters and patron of the Renaissance philosophical and literary academy known as the Accademia Fiorentina. Shortly after 1550, he requested Vasari to execute a painting that in a new and emblematic manner would represent the principal virtue of his character, that is to say the art of Patience. Vasari accepted and proposed to his patron an invention inspired by ancient sculpture, enriched by a refined symbolic repertory alluding to time and to the life of man. The invention took the shape of a young woman chained to a rock, patiently waiting for the drops of water falling from a vase to corrode the stone and thus set her free. This scholarly and very cultured image would become quite popular far beyond the borders of Florence, soon reaching the Ferrara court of Ercole II d’Este who did not hesitate to use it in his ‘impresa’. In fact, a few years after Minerbetti’s painting, Duke Ercole II d’Este commissioned a new version of the Patience from Camillo Filippi, intended for the so-called “Camera della Pazienza” in the tower of Santa Caterina of his castle in Ferrara. The Duke also introduced the same personification on the verso of a famous medal that Pompeo Leoni coined in 1554, on the base of a bust sculpted by Prospero Sogari Spani and in a series of coins produced by the mint of Ferrara.

Anna Bisceglia curates the exhibition and the catalogue published by Sillabe to investigate these elements along the underlying themes of patronage, literary sources, and artists’ explorations against the complex and fascinating backdrop of the Italy of royal courts. Alongside the Vasari Allegory of Patience, visitors will see the same theme in an artwork that Camillo and Sebastiano Filippi executed in 1553-54 and currently in the Galleria Estense of Mantua. This version also inspired the portrayal of this virtue on the base of the bust of Ercole II sculpted by Prospero Sugari, known as Clemente (1554), and on the medals that Pompeo Leoni executed for the Duke (Florence, Bargello, 1554 ca.). Moreover, a large painting from the Galleria dell’Accademia of Venice will illustrate the complex genesis of this iconographic motif. It was part of a wooden coffered ceiling executed for the Corner family in 1542. Finally, the exhibition will also present the little painting on wood from the Uffizi, mistakenly known as Artemisia mourns Mausolus, which instead has been recognised as a Patience, and several drawings and engravings from the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe of Florence and the Cabinet des Dessins du Louvre.

P.Leoni - Duca Ercole

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Exhibition Credits

Promoters

Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e Turismo, Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze, Galleria Palatina, Firenze Musei

Exhibition Venue

Galleria Palatina – Palazzo Pitti, Florence, 26 November 2013 – 5 January 2014

Exhibition curated and Catalogue edited by Anna Bisceglia

Exhibition directed by Alessandro Cecchi

Exhibition installation designed and directed by Mauro Linari

Exhibition installation produced by Opera Laboratori Fiorentini – Civita Group

Coordination, communication and public relations: Opera Laboratori Fiorentini – Civita Group

Ticket prices

Full price: € 13.00; Concessions: € 6.50 for E.U. citizens from 18 to 25 years of age. Free admission for visitors under 18 and E.U. citizens over 65 years of age. Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 8:15 am – 6:50 pm; ticket counter closes at 6:05 pm. Closed Mondays

(HE)ART PLACES / FROM MALATESTA TEMPLE TO AUGUSTUS BRIDGE AND ARCH: GREAT MONUMENTS IN RIMINI (ITALY)

 © Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI ; Tiberius (or Augustus) Bridge photo is from Wikipedia (free use).

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Rimini is the capital city of Italian vacations. It is located on the Northern coast on the Adriatic Sea. It is approximately 110kms southeast of Bologna, about three hours South of Venice and also three hours North of Rome. It is mostly a place where Italians go on vacation but also British, German, French and Russian tourists love to go there. But in Rimini – the city of the great Fellini! – visitors find some spectacular monuments: the Malatesta Temple (Tempio Malatestiano), the Arch of Augustus and the Bridge of Tiberius or Augustus.  

The Malatesta Temple – as Luigi Orsini writes in his book “The Malatesta Temple” (Bonomi Editore, Milano) – is perhaps “the only monument in the world of which it can be said that it lifted an architect to the heights of glory, immortalized the power of a potentate, and made vivid through the ages a woman’s smile. That edifice which Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta entrusted to Alberti’s genius for the perpetual exaltation and honour of the divine Isotta degli Atti, his mistress and consort, comprises in itself, the sweetest harmonies of art and sentiment, exquisite line and colour, subtle forms of mysticism, passion’s potent spell, in a perpetual union of real and ideal, of energy and dream, of mind and matter”.

The Tempio Malatestiano is the cathedral church of Rimini. Officially named for St. Francis, it takes the popular name from Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, who commissioned its reconstruction by the famous Renaissance theorist and architect Leon Battista Alberti around 1450. St. Francis was originally a thirteenth-century Gothic church belonging to the Franciscans. The original church had a rectangular plan, without side chapels, with a single nave ending with three apses. The central one was probably frescoed by Giotto, to whom is also attributed the crucifix now housed in the second right chapel.

Malatesta called on Alberti to transform the building and make it into a kind of personal mausoleum for him and his lover and later his wife, Isotta degli Atti. The execution of the project was handed over to the Veronese Matteo di Andrea de’ Pasti, hired at the Estense court. Marble for the work was taken from the Roman ruins in Sant’Apollinare in Classe (near Ravenna) and in Fano. The Temple is immediately recognizable from its wide marble façade, decorated by sculptures probably made by Agostino di Duccio and Matteo de’ Pasti. Alberti aspired to renew the Roman structures of Antiquity, though here his inspiration was drawn from the triumphal arch, in which his main inspiration was the tripartite Arch of Constantine in Rome. The entrance portal has a triangular pediment over the door set within the center arch; geometrical decorations fill the tympanum. Due to the strong presence of elements referring to the Malatesta’s history, and to Sigismondo Pandolfo himself (in particular, his lover Isotta), the church was considered by some contemporaries to be an exaltation of Paganism.

Not so far from the Temple, located in the centre of the city, we admire the amazing Arch of Augustus (Arco d’Augusto), an Ancient Roman monument constructed in 27 BC for the Rome’s first emperor. Thought to have been the gateway to Ancient Rimini which would have formed part of the city walls, the Arch of Augustus is a fairly ornate structure depicting various deities such as Neptune, Apollo and Jupiter.

Outside the city centre, looking towards Bologna, on the old Consular road, the Via Emilia, we find the Bridge of Tiberius or Augustus, so-called through being constructed on the decree of Augustus, although afterwards finished by Tiberius (from 14 to ai A. D.). It is of white travertine, of the Doric order, and is composed of five great arches, of which the central one measures 10.50 metres in diameter and the others, 8.75 metres. The piles are laid obliquely in order to second the current without interfering with the Via Emilia, which passes above. The last arch, towards the town, was broken by the Goths in 552 to prevent the crossing of Narsete. It was restored in 1680 on the order of Innocent XI by Agostino Martinelli of Ferrara.

(HE)ART PLACES / THE WONDERFUL BYZANTINE BASILICA OF SANT’APOLLINARE IN RAVENNA (ITALY) SHOWING MOSAIC DECORATIONS DATED TO THE 6th CENTURY

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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Some weeks ago I had the pleasure to visit again the enchanting Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe a few kilometers from the beautiful Ravenna. Sant’Apollinare is one of the most important monuments of Byzantine art.  When the UNESCO inscribed eight Ravenna sites on the World Heritage List, it cited this basilica as “an outstanding example of the early Christian basilica in its purity and simplicity of its design and use of space and in the sumptuous nature of its decoration”.

It was erected at the beginning of 6th century by order of Bishop Ursicinus. It was certainly located next to a Christian cemetery, and quite possibly on top of a pre-existing pagan one. The Basilica was consecrated on May 9, 549 by Bishop Maximian and dedicated to Saint Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna and Classe. The exterior has a large façade with two simple uprights and one mullioned window with three openings. The narthex and building to the right of the entry are later additions. The  round bell tower with mullioned windows was built in the IX Century.

The church has a nave and two aisles. An ancient altar in the mid of the nave covers the place of the saint’s martyrdom. The church ends with a polygonal apse, sided by two chapels with apses. In the naive we admire  24 columns of Greek marble with carved capitals. The faded frescos portraits some of the archbishops of Ravenna.

The mosaic decorations in the apse and on the triumphal arch are the most striking features of Sant’Apollinare in Classe. Inside a medallion, in the  upper section of the triumphal arch, we see Christ. At the sides, the winged symbols of the four Evangelists: the Eagle (John), the Winged Man (Matthew), the Lion (Mark), the Calf (Luke). The lower section shows precious gems from which twelve lambs (symbols of the Twelve Apostles) exit. The sides of the arch show two palms (they represent justice), the archangels Michael and Gabriel, the bust of St. Matthew and another unidentified saint. The decoration of the apse date to the 6th century. The Basilica’s walls are lined by numerous sarcophagi from different centuries.