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Monthly Archives: March 2016

A busy saturday

First saturday of march, the day wasn’t that good, a little rain in the morning, heavier later in the day…I had a lunch date with my ex-collegue P. and her little boy. I was early, so I decided to get off the bus and take a walk. Not that there weren’t things to look at along the way……..

The Palazzo Dazzi, also known as Palazzo Corradi Cervi, (below) was built on the site of existing buildings between 1794 and 1797 by the architect Domenico Cossetti, a student of Ennemond Alexandre Petitot , at the behest of the Marquis Gian Francesco Corradi Cervi, Captain of the militias of the Duke of Parma. In 1832 it was placed in the small courtyard the statue of ‘Innocence’, by the parmesan sculptor Tommaso Bandini , on a fountain with a marble fish tank. During the nineteenth century, the palace was bought by the Dazzi family, and now it’s a private residence.

The beautiful church dedicated to St. Anthony Abate (below). I already knew about this church, but I went inside for a few moments. (If you wanna know more, I already posted an entry about it here.)

There were lots of open wooden gates, like the one below….just to have a glimpse of the inside courtyards…….can you think of old chariots ready to leave?……

The Palazzo Marchi is a neoclassical building (below), built between 1770 and 1774 for the Marquis Scipione Grillo, duke of  Anguillara, a project by the architect and abbot Giovanni Furlani. In 1859 the building was sold to the Marchi family, that a few years later bought also the scenic Fountain di Proserpina , made ​​in the 20s of the eighteenth century by Giuliano Mozzani for the garden of the Palace of Colorno; it was placed in the back garden of the palace, but already in 1890 it was dismantled and sold to a Venetian antiques dealer, who in turn sold it abroad; broken and without drawings to testify the original arrangement, its pieces were divided into two groups to form two separate fountains, today positioned respectively in front of and behind the Waddesdon Manor castle in England . During World War II , the palace became the headquarters of the military command of the provincial Republican army Republican. In the following decades the Marchi family took care of the restoration of the entire building, part of which was intended for a public function: after being used for some years as the seat of the Institute for the Verdi Studies, between 2003 and 2009 the building housed the representative office of the Arturo Toscanini Foundation. 

I don’t know a thing about this palace below (a private residence) but I wish I would…..

Or why on this house wall they left the date….1721…but maybe it had to do with some renovation began in that year of the adjacent Church of St. Michael of the Arch

The church was called St. Michael of the Arch because it was probably built near the ‘ triumphal arch built in the third century by the Emperor Gallienus on the Via Aemilia . The building is cited for the first time in a document dated 8 February 1136 .St. Michael the Arch was consecrated by Pier Simone Brunetti, aid-bishop of Parma, on 29 May 1437 .

 

In 1514 the original building was knocked down to allow the road axis expansion; Giovanni Gozzadini, prothonotary apostolic and papal governor of Parma, ordered its reconstruction on the left side of the road coming into town, and commissioned the works to Giorgio da Erba, a local architech very active in town. From this church is the altarpiece depicting the Holy Family with Saints Michael, Bernardo degli Uberti and Angels of Giorgio Gandini del Grano , now kept in the Galleria Nazionale Di Parma .The church, united for a short time with the one of St. Sepulchre , was consacrated again as parish on 25 July 1814 .The facade was redesigned by architect Niccolò Bettoli in 1820 and the bell tower was raised in 1877. The church has one nave only, covered by umbrella vault . The frescoes in the lunettes that run along the walls were made ​​by Latino Barilli in 1924 .The altarpiece on the main altar, painted by Stanislao Campana in 1828, represents the Virgin with Saints Michael and Gemignano.

I was really starving when I finally met my friend for lunch…………

After a good coffee (and a lot of talking) we were ready for the second part of the day. We drove (on her car) till the Parma Fair to visit the annual “Merchants on Fair” a mix of antique, brocante and vintage…for all tastes and wallets….We got lost among so many things to see (so lucky her son, after a while, fell asleep….) and I have to admit, If it wasn’t for a bit of sanity left, I could have gone broke in a moment….

It was an intense day, but a funny, relaxing and good one!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Mellifont – a reminescence from the past

Mellifont Abbey is a ruined 12th-century Cistercian monastery near Monasterboice in County Louth, Ireland. It is of considerable historical significance, for it was the Cistercians’ first and most important abbey in Ireland, and a site of conflict between the Irish and the Anglo-Normans.

By the mid-12th century, Irish monastic life (as in many other places) had become significantly less austere and more corrupt than in earlier days. So in 1140, Malachy, Bishop of Down, invited a group of severe Cistercian monks from Clairvaux to set up a monastery in Ireland and act as a reforming influence. Malachy had stopped by Clairvaux in France during a pilgrimage to Rome and had been so impressed by St. Bernard (founder of the Cistercian order) and his monks that he converted to the monastic life himself. Malachy was canonized a saint after his death. A group of Irish and French monks settled in this remote site in 1142 and began construction in the traditional Cistercian style. This marked the first time that a monastery was built in Ireland with the formal layout used in the Continent. The name Mellifont comes from the Latin, ‘Fons Mellis’ meaning ‘Fount of Honey’.

The Abbey was extremely successful from it’s earliest stages, and it developed rapidly. Monks from Mellifont were dispatched to found ‘daughter houses’ around Ireland, within just five years of the foundation of Mellifont in 1147 a daughter house had already been established at Bective in County Meath and within twenty years the Cistercians had establishments in Connacht, such as that founded at Boyle, County Roscommon in 1161. It is recorded that at least 21 abbeys were founded by monks from Mellifont.

The Cistercian community in Ireland faced a grave crisis following the Norman Invasions of Ireland in the late twelfth century. Irish established Cistercian institutions such as Mellifont became embroiled in a power-struggle with the Cistercian establishments that came from England following the invasion. The outcome of what became known as ‘The Conspiracy of Mellifont’ led to a dramatic reduction in the powers and number of monks allowed to Mellifont. Despite these restrictions, Mellifont remained one of the richest monastic institutions in Ireland due to it’s huge landholdings of the rich agricultural land of Meath and Louth.

It was probably due to this vast ownership of prime land that Mellifont was one of the first of the Irish monastic sites to be dissolved in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Mellifont became the private fortified home (1556) of Sir Edward Moore, using materials scavenged from the monastic buildings. This house was the site of a turning point in Irish history. After Hugh O’Neill, last of the great Irish chieftains, was defeated in the Battle of Kinsale (1603), he was given shelter here by Sir Garret Moore. O’Neill soon surrendered to the English Lord Deputy Mountjoy and was pardoned, but he fled to the Continent in 1607 with other Irish leaders in the Flight of the Earls. Later Mellifont played host to William of Orange, who established his headquarters at Mellifont during the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The site of Mellifont Abbey and its manor house was abandoned in 1727.

Of the site itself there isn’t much of the original Abbey left standing today. However excavations have revealed the foundations of many of the buildings, so it is easy to get a good sense of the size and layout of this important Abbey. Mellifont became the standard format for all Cistercian Abbeys in Ireland, and many other monastic orders were influenced by the layout. The cloisters were positioned at the south, and were surrounded by a range of domestic and spiritual buildings, with a cruciform shaped church to the North. The site is certainly worth visiting for its famous Lavabo. This building is in the Romanesque style of architecture, and dates to the early thirteenth century. It is octagonal in shape and served as the ritual washroom, where the monks would wash their hands before entering the refectory for meals. Excavations revealed fragments of lead pipe that brought the water into the central fountain. The interior was decorated with delicate images of plants and birds. A number of fragments of the fine architectural features are on display in the visitor centre.

The first ruins visitors encounter are those of the abbey church, which has a typical cruciform plan and some gravestones in its floor. Beyond this, to the south, is the cloister (with only a short section of its colonnade remaining) and the chapter house. The chapter house remains mostly intact and is partially paved with medieval glazed tiles that originally decorated the church. Adjacent to this was the refectory, kitchen and warming room. The monks’ sleeping quarters was in the eastern range.

Up the hill from Mellifont Abbey and worth a quick look is a ruined little church, of unknown date but presumably used by the lay employees of the monastery.

My daughter is sorting out things to throw away and things to keep, when she finally will be at her own home, we hope in just a few months. So we were lost among books, photos albums and travels diaries…I found myself so longing for coming back to the Emerald Isle….

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Back to Milan…..yes, again.

Last saturday of february, rainy and windy….we took a train to Milan for another day in the city. We arrived at the Centrale railway station under a heavy rain….

Milano Centrale is the main railway station in Milan, and one of the main railway stations in Europe. The station is a railway terminus and was officially inaugurated in 1931 to replace the old central station (1864), which was a transit station and could not handle the new traffic caused by the opening of the Simplon tunnel in 1906. It is served by high speed lines and conventional railways.

The first Milano Centrale station opened in 1864 in the area now occupied by the Piazza della Repubblica. It was designed by French architect Louis-Jules Bouchot (1817–1907) and its architectural style was reminiscent of Parisian buildings of that period. The station was designed to replace Porta Tosa station and Porta Nuova station and was interconnected with all lines, either existing or under construction, surrounding Milan. It remained in operation until 30 June 1931, when the current station was opened. There is now no trace of the old station left. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy laid the cornerstone of the new station on April 28, 1906, before a blueprint for the station had even been chosen. The last, real, contest for its construction was won in 1912 by architect Ulisse Stacchini, whose design was modeled after Union Station in Washington, DC, and the construction of the new station began. Due to the Italian economic crisis during World War I, construction proceeded very slowly, and the project, rather simple at the beginning, kept changing and became more and more complex and majestic. This happened especially when Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister, and wanted the station to represent the power of the fascist regime. The major changes were the new platform types and the introduction of the great steel canopies by Alberto Fava; 341 m (1,119 ft) long and covering an area of 66,500 square metres.

Construction resumed in earnest in 1925 and on July 1, 1931 the station was officially opened in the presence of Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano. Its façade is 200 metres wide and its vault is 72 metres high, a record when it was built. It has 24 platforms. Each day about 330,000 passengers use the station, totaling about 120 million per year.

The station has no definite architectural style, but is a blend of many different styles, especially Liberty and Art Deco, but not limited to those. It is adorned with numerous sculptures. “The ‘incongruous envelope of stone’ (Attilio Pracchi) of this gigantic and monumental building dominates Piazza Duca d’Aosta.” On September 25, 2006, officials announced a € 100 million project, already in progress, to refurbish the station. Of the total cost, € 20 million has been allocated to restore “certain areas of high artistic value” while the remaining € 80 million will be used for more general improvements to the station to make it more functional with the current railway services. The project includes moving the ticket office and installing new elevators and escalators for increased accessibility.

Off the train and on the subway to Piazza del Duomo….I’ve already posted about the stunning Milan Cathedral here, if you’ve missed it.

Looking over the main square in Milan, there’s also the Galleria, simply as that as the MIlanese called it, its full name being Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Read more about it here.

We did a little shopping under its arches and we had a nice coffee break.

We tried to get lunch at our usual place, a nice self-service restaurant overlooking the spires of the Cathedral, but it was so crowded we gave up….

Instead we choose a cozy and traditional restaurant just behind the square, and I’m glad we did….

After lunch it was time for the very reason we went there, the Mucha exhibition held at the Royal Palace, on the right of the Cathedral….

Alfons Mucha is one, along with Lempicka and Klimt, on mine and my daughter fav artists….and the exhibition was great!

He was one of the greatest  Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, known best for his distinct style. If you wanna know more about him, read this.

The one above is the piece my daughter likes the most, in fact she has a copy in her bedroom, see below….

For the ones who purchased a guided tours at specific times (as we did) there were free tickets for another exhibition about the history of bijou. We enjoyed it as well, many pieces were not new to me, having seen them already in another contest.

It was a very interesting visit indeed….we had just the time for a quick tea break at the Palace bistrò, before catching the train back home…

Till next time Milan…..au revoir….

 

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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February….not so short, after all

Lunch given by a collegue for his retirement…lots of laughters, memories and some tears….

Lunch for my daughter’s birthday, just for the family, a very good lunch (minus the cake coz she was having dinner that same night with her friends)

We are renovating my m-i-l apartment for our daughter ( an operation of titanic proportions!), so we had to sell lots and lots of things, usually a joint task force daughter/hubby, but one day I went along…..problem is I would have bought almost everything I saw….

Valentine’s day….we had lunch with a couple of friends…..

Looking for new furnitures for my daughter’s home, led us to Ikea one saturday afternoon….and I’m glad to say, another little piece has been choosen…

Saturday night, as often, dinner out with some friends….

For the end of the month, our agenda had a visit to Milan for an art exhibition….but this is worth a post on its own…

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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