Early august. A sunday with nothing to do. Husband was away all day long, so me and daughter M decided for a “green” morning….and we weren’t alone
The origins of the Parma Botanical Garden can be traced back to the year 1600. Even before this time Parma had the “Giardino dei Semplici” (Garden of Simple) founded by Ranuccio I Farnese which formed part of Medical Department and used to grow healing herbs (hence the name simple indicating medicines from the plant kingdom). The present Botanical Garden was created in the 1768 by the abbot Giambattista Guatteri, professor of botany, under the auspices of Ferdinando I of Borbone and was located in the city centre, covering the same area of 11000 square metres when established as it does today. The central part, in front of the greenhouses, preserves the Italian garden style of the eighteenth century project, even if the shape has been partially modified with the march of time. The wooded part, created between the XVIII and the XIX century, remains in the east of the Garden, whilst the western part has been rebuilt according to the British garden style.
In the last years a reorganization and an enrichment of the collections has been started, and the flowerbeds and the border have been fixed. Precious herbarium kept at the Garden include that of Giambattista Guatteri, Giorgio Jan and Giovanni Passerini which also has some working tools; an ancient herbarium of healing herbs which was the property of the botanic doctor G. B. Casapini (1722); the herbarium of the countess Albertina Sanvitale with her autograph hints (1828 – 1830) and the herbarium of Luigi Gardoni (1836 – 1878) composed of 274 boxes containing a diverse mix of local and exotic species.
It was a refreshing and relaxing moment before having lunch ………..rice for both of us……….
For the fifth year in a row on august 6, at 9.00pm the Ilaria Alpi International Library in cooperation with the Japanese Community of Parma invited the entire city to the commemoration of the Feast of Toro Nagashi that was held at the Lake of the Parco Ducale (the park I go through almost every day going back from work). Me and my daughter, along with some of our friends, were there early to have a walk in the park and something to eat before the ceremony started.
Toro Nagashi is a Japanese ceremony in which participants float paper lanterns (chōchin) down a river; toro is traditionally another word for lantern, while nagashi means “cruise, flow”. This is primarily done on the last evening of the Bon Festival festival based on the belief that this guides the spirits of the departed back to the other world. The ceremony may be done on some other days of the year for other reasons such as to commemorate those lost in the bombing of Hiroshima and those who died on Japan Airlines Flight 123; or in other areas of the world, such as Hawaii, to commemorate the end of World War II. The Bon Festival takes place on the thirteenth to sixteenth of August or July, depending on the calendar you go by. The white lanterns are for those who have died in the past year. Traditional Japanese beliefs state that humans come from water, so the lanterns represent their bodies returning to water.
In recent years the city has been very sensitive to this event with which we commemorate the victims of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which so profoundly marked the history of modern era. So this day helps to create a bond between Parma and Japan and the city of Parma clings to the Japanese community to celebrate with them this charming tradition.
Everyone was invited to take a lantern and write a wish or a message on it, then entrust it to the water and the good spirits….
It was pure magic to be surrounded by darkness (at one point they turned off the lamps) and the only lights were the lanterns floating on the water, and the only sounds were the whispered prayers….
In Italy, as well as in other european countries, the 15th august is national holiday. We hadn’t planned how to spend the day, so it was a last minute decision for me and my daughter to go and visit an exhibition we long wanted to see, and we took my mom along as well (hubby is not really into this kind of things…)
The Ducal museum of antiquities was founded in Parma in 1760 by Don Philip of Bourbon in order to preserve the finds from excavations carried out at Veleia, a small Roman town on the Apennines near Piacenza. The Tabula Alimentaria of Emperor Trajan, containing directions for the maintenance of poor children, had been discovered there by chance and is still exhibited in the museum…
During the French rule, at the beginning of the 19th century, it was stripped of its most prestigious items, which were to be returned only after the Congress of Wien. Under Marie Louise, the collections were extended thanks to important purchases. Since the Unity of Italy, it has also housed a study and research center in the field of Paleontology.
The collections are currently displayed on two floors: the first floor houses the finds from Veleja as well as the non-local Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculptures, ceramics, glassware and coins
The ground floor houses the pre and protohistoric sections and the one concerning Parma and the surrounding area in the Roman period.The aim of this exhibition, that involves public and private institutions, locally and nationally, is to promote and spread the knowledge of archaeology in a local and international range, presenting new discoveries after the excavations of the latest years in the Parma territory, that contribute to redesigning the historical environment, known so far for the oldest periods of the city.
A room on the first floor is dedicated to the Egyptian collection, including a limestone fragments of the Tomb of Amenemone from Menphis (1405-1370 BC). The collection consist about 190 objects, mostly purchased on the antiquities market by Mr. Michele Lopez, director of the museum, with the support of Ms. maria Luigia, Duchess of Parma; in purchasing the director was often helped by the authoritative advice of the egyptologist Ippolito Rosellini.
It was such an experience for my mom, she took all the time in the world to read all the explanation panels …and I mean ALL of them……..so it was a very long visit………but I’m really glad that at almost 81 (next sunday) she’s able to enjoy things like this and wanting to learn more…………
Then it was time for a day in the little town in the mountains where a couple of friends have their (just renovated, but not finished) country house…..In the morning we went to the Mass in the cathedral, a sanctuary actually. I have to admit we are not that much religious so to attend Mass, but that day it was our friends wedding anniversary and they really wanted their family and friends to celebrate it.
The sanctuary is dedicated to Our Lady of Consolation, but is commonly called the “Madonna di San Marco” by the pre-existing title of the oratory. Tradition has it that in 1600, some Venetian merchants (thus San Marco) attacked by robbers in these parts, were miraculously freed by the intercession of the Mother of Consolation. In gratitude they erected a chapel called Chapel of the Well. In 1685 was built the oratory of San Marco, which soon became a center of devotion to Our Lady. Around 1731 came from the area of Pontremoli, (it seems, a work of a Capuchin friar) the current statue of Our Lady of Consolation, wood work of uncommon artistic value (1531).
In 1948, the Chapel of the Well was incorporated in the crypt, which was completed in 1952. In the Marian Year 1954, was erected the magnificent dome by the architects Sassi and Robuschi and in1955 the high walls.
The interior is a square with side chapels, above the altar is the great mosaic of Pentecost, at the bottom is a small temple with a wooden statue of the Madonna and a semicircular room with stained glass windows depicting the Visitation and the Wedding at Cana . In 1889 here was crowned Bishop Scalabrini, founder of the Missionaries of St. Charles for Italians emigrated, better known as the Scalabrini Fathers (from the sanctuary brochure).
After the Mass we had a moment to greet the ones who were leaving and I had the chance to talk a little english with some family members living in UK (lots of people from this part of our mountains are living abroad, especially in UK or the States – actually my friend’s mom was born in NYC) and we, invited to lunch too, had a little walk to the restaurant….
the best? this……………….mmmmmmmmmmm………….
After the walk back, we spent the rest of the afternoon at our friends house (just the four of us) chatting in their garden……….