CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN FERRARA: HOW HOLIDAYS TRANSFORM A RENAISSANCE CITY

A rich schedule to celebrate Christmas in Ferrara (Emilia Romagna, Italy): markets, lights, shows and many events for kids, in a joyful atmosphere. During holidays, the centre of Ferrara livens up thanks to funny and traditional events which transform the rigorous aspect of the Renaissance city in an immense open stage for the amusement of both adults and children. The lighting of the suggestive illuminations and of the big Christmas Tree in the church square of Piazza Cattedrale at the beginning of December is welcomed by an appreciated ceremony which inaugurates holidays, Christmas shopping and fun.

Street markets, music events, games for children and travelling choirs welcome visitors during Christmas and New Year’s Day Holidays. Santas liven up the squares of the city with funny shows and small booths sell mulled wine, chestnuts and hot chocolate.  At the street corners, in the churches and in the squares Christmas cribs propose the scene of Nativity in original versions to be admired. The most appreciated one is the Crib on the Water, mounted on Christmas Eve by the Underwater Group of Ferrara in the landing stage of the Estense Castle.

The setting up of the new Christmas Tree is about one of the central themes of Holiday events in Ferrara: sustainability. From 2016, in fact,  Christmas and New Year’s programme has gained the ISO 20121 certification as a Sustainable Event. In front of the Cathedral, with its scenic cover designed by Lorenzo Cutuli, a 16-meters tree donated by the town of Lizzano in Belvedere will be decorated with an inspiration about “recycle”. The lighting of the tree, with a real light cascade, will begin with a show by high school pupils, who will perform dance and music.

Dancing Fountains show will be performed with live music in Piazza Castello, with the Philarmonic Band Ludovico Ariosto – città di Ferrara, with more than 45 members, directed by M° Stefano Caleffi.  The famous “listone”, in Piazza Trento Trieste, will turn into a Christmas Market for tourists and citizens during the festivity period, with arts and crafts, typical products,  and Christmas gifts. To stay updated, it is possible to follow their profile: @festadelregalo and the hashtags: #festadelregalo and #festadelregaloferrara.

Every year, a unique New Year’s Day provided with spectacular scenarios which attracts large numbers of visitors is organized in the great Piazza del Castello in Ferrara. The party begins with the concert of international bands and singers which attracts thousand of visitors every year. At midnight is the fascinating show of the “Fire of the Castle”: from the towers of the historic residence of the Estensi family guests can admire gold, silver and colourful jets and the Castle gradually transforms into a great red, gold and silver fire, a suggestive and unforgettable show which takes visitors’ breath away. And then music, balls, panettone, sparkling white wine and mulled wine.

https://www.visitferrara.eu/en/il-consorzio

Ferrara 1

 

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

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© 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…

(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.