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

 *

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

Advertisements

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

 *

Guest Writer: Carmelina Rotundo

 *

 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/

 *

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.

 

*

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.

 

 

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

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

*

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.

(HE)ART PLACES / THE NIGHT (AND THE SILENCE) IN THE FASCINATING MEDIEVAL TUSCANY VILLAGE

© Photos by ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

The historical centre of Abbadia San Salvatore (Siena, Tuscany, Italy) is a well kept medieval fortress-village, where you may walk through incredible narrow streets and squares, all built with the local grey stone.

The castle of Abbadia is first mentioned in a document dating to 1203, which shows that the community 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.

The Abbey and all the Medieval centre are 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. The archive contains many references to the importance and power of the Abbey.

In Abbadia we may also 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.

HEART PLACES / THE TUSCANY LANDSCAPE, SOURCE OF NOURISHMENT, BEAUTY AND INEXHAUSTIBLE GIFTS

© Photos by ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

My recent 100 days exhibition at Rocca Aldobrandesca – the XIII Century manor on Mount Amiata – gave me the way to trip through the enchanting Tuscany landscapes, discovering its natural beauty. Whatever direction you come from, the Mount Amiata appears suddenly and unequivocally. It shows different profiles: more or less high and more or less large, depending on which side you look at it. Surely its conic shape, that in the past inspired a widespread holiness can only remind of a mother breast, source of nourishment and peace.

The legend says that the Etruscans considered the Mount Amiata a natural sanctuary, the ideal place to evoke their gods. In fact some placenames come from Etruscan and Roman gods names and many people think that, at the time of the Roman expansion in the Etruscan territory, this area was a marginal land, protected by the two-faced god Janus, that set both the geographic and sacred limit between the region dominated by Porsenna and the one dominated by the Tarquin kings.

The mount Amiata is more ancient and sacred than the Etruscans thought, it is a Great Mother full of inexhaustible gifts, that still nourishes its children.

THE TUSCANY LANDSCAPE, MOUNT AMIATA, VIEW OF RADICOFANI VALLEY

“A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH”: COLLAGE # 5 IN THE “SECRET ROOM” AT MY SHOW IN THE TUSCANY FORTRESS

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI - LACER/ACTIONS COLLAGES - 2012

*

“I SAW A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH”

by Roberto Alborghetti

COLLAGE OF PAPER PIECES FROM

TORN AND DECOMPOSED PUBLICITY POSTERS

2012, CM.70X50 Framed

This collage – created with hundreds of paper pieces from torn and decomposed publicity posters (its title is from “Apocalypse” of John) – is displayed at Room #7 at Roberto Alborghetti Show (“Colors of an Apocalypse: An Intrigue for the Eyes and Mind from the Decomposed Publicity Posters”) which is taking place at Aldobrandesca Fortress (XIII Century) in Tuscany (Piancastagnaio, Siena, Italy); the show has been extended till January 15, 2013.

In Room #7 – it’s a sort of hidden space you have to discover at the end of your visit at the exhibition – are presented for the first time five particular collages created by Roberto Alborghetti for his “Lacer/actions” Project…   

*

Roberto Alborghetti ‘s LaceR/Actions is a multidisciplinary project and research about the apparent chaos of ripped and decomposed posters and urban/street signs. Roberto has already collected, around the world, more than 40.000 images.

Transferred on canvas, reproduced on lithographs or textiles (as pure silk), re-build on collages, or scanned in videoclips, the details of torn publicity posters give new life to paper lacerations and decomposition.

“THE TACTILE AFFAIR”: THEY FEEL LIKE TOUCHING ARTWORKS / SCENES FROM MY EXHIBITION AT TUSCANY CASTLE

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

***

“Colors of an Apocalypse

The Decomposed Publicity Posters”

Roberto Alborghetti Exhibition

Aldobrandesca Fortress

Piancastagnaio, Siena, Tuscany – Italy

Promoted by:

Piancastagnaio Municipality

Osa Onlus

Sponsored by:

Provincia di Siena 

 *

Opening Time: 10 to 12.30 am/ 17 to 19.30 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and all public holidays.

For information and visits by appointment:

Tel +39 0577/784134

e-mail: info@prolocopiancastagnaio.it