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South of France

At the end of october last year, we made a short trip to the south of France, a place we love so much. We were unsure how to drive there, the year before it was so warm that we decide to go with our new Kawasaki…..I’m glad that at the very last minute we opted for the car, because it was a week dominted by the mistral. The mistral is a wind which blows violently from the north or the north-west, especially during winter and spring. A strong wind is felt 100 days per year on average, and a weaker wind 83 days. This leaves about 182 days without wind. There are two types of “mistral”: the white mistral where the sky clears and the natural light increases, and the black mistral which is rarer but accompanied by rain. Luckily for us it was sunny all the time…

We stayed at this hidden hotel, in the village center, in need of a bit of renovation, but clean and quite.

The village of Salon-de-Provence wasn’t new for us, still a beauty to explore….

For the second time we had a good dinner at this italian-style restaurant…..not really true italian, but almost…

We tried also a spanish one, very good….

and a true italian pasta restaurant….

First goal of this trip, the perched village of Les Baux-de-Provence….so many times we crossed our paths with it, but we never stopped before.

Les Baux-de-Provence is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, and it has a spectacular position in the Alpilles mountains, set atop a rocky outcrop that is crowned with a ruined castle overlooking the plains to the south. The name bauxite (Aluminium ore) is derived from the village name when it was first discovered there by geologist Pierre Berthier in 1821.It has been named one of the most beautiful villages in France and has over 1.5 million visitors per year although it has only 22 residents in the upper part of the commune and 436 for the whole commune. The name Baux-de-Provence comes from the Occitan Bauc according to the classical norm and in Provençal baus according to the Mistralian norm meaning “upright”, “cliff”, or “rocky escarpment”.

The defensive capabilities of Baux have always made it an attractive location for human habitation. Traces of habitation have been found and dated to 6000 BC. in the Costapéra cave which was discovered in 1928 and which houses a collective burial ground from the early Bronze Age. The site was used by the Celts as a fort or oppidum around the 2nd century BC. Peripheral areas or castrum developed very early. While Protohistory was strongly marked by pastoralism and agriculture in the Alpilles, limestone was also extracted from quarries around Baux where a workshop from the end of the 2nd and early 1st centuries BC has been found. In the second part of the Iron Age, the population was sedentary and began to build durable houses. The castrum was structured like a village with its streets and houses. The process of permanent construction was in parallel with the intensification of economic exchanges with Mediterranean traders. In exchange for luxury goods, the inhabitants of the Alpilles produced grain and achieved a state of autarky with a real trading economy. Over the following centuries the population of the Alpilles consistently decreased: the Greek colony at Arles attracted many people from across the region.

In the Middle Ages the area became the stronghold of a feudal domain covering 79 towns and villages. The fortress was built from the 11th to the 13th century over seven hectares. The princes of Baux controlled Provence for many years and they gained a formidable reputation. They were said to be descended from the Biblical Magi Balthazar and their coat of arms was a silver star with sixteen branches as a reminder that, according to the Gospel, it guided the three wise men to Bethlehem. Their motto was: “Au hasard, Balthazar” (At random, Balthazar). As a medieval stronghold on the borders of Languedoc, Comtat Venaissin, and Provence, the fortress had a turbulent military history and has been the subject of many assaults. The solid dungeon that still dominates the village today reiterates the importance of this castle which was a desirable possession in the Middle Ages.

At the end of the Baussenque Wars in the 12th century the princes of Baux were defeated. The large castle began to be renowned for its highly cultivated court and chivalrous conduct. The estate finally came to an end in the 15th century after the death of the last princess of Baux. The death of Queen Joanna I of Naples led to a crisis of succession to the County of Provence. The cities of the Aix Union supported Charles, Duke of Durazzo, against Louis I, Duke of Anjou. The King of France, Charles VI, intervened and sent the Seneschal of Beaucaire, Enguerrand d’Eudin, who rallied Guillaume III Roger de Beaufort. Les Baux, the possession of the Roger, was thus neutral at the beginning of war and on the Angevin side at the end of the decade.

Les Baux, together with Provence, was then attached to the crown of France. Under the rule of the Manville family, the village became a center of Protestantism and even tried a rebellion against the crown. In 1631, tired of conflict, the people negotiated with the king for the redemption of the castle territory and the right to dismantle the fortifications, “which were a refuge for rebels”. Louis XIII consented on 5 August. In 1642 the town was offered the Grimaldi family as a marquisate in favour of Hercule de Grimaldi, Prince of Monaco (1642-1780). The title Marquis of Baux is still carried by the Prince of Monaco. Administratively, the town is entirely French and the title of Marquis of Baux is traditionally given to the heir to the throne of Monaco. Jacques, the son of the current Prince of Monaco Albert II, carries among his many titles that of Marquis of Baux. In 1822 bauxite was discovered in the area by geologist Pierre Berthier. The ore was intensively mined until its exhaustion at the end of the 20th century.

We followed the advice of some friends who’s been there a couple of years before, and I’m so glad we did! This place is just amazing!

You’re completely surrounded (in the dark) by music and paintings, litterally all around you, on the ground, on the walls and ceiling….. thousands of images floating around you, leaving you breathless. An amazing experience, worth the trip just for itself….

Once again on our own steps, we reached the vilage of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, after 11 years from the first time…The painter Vincent van Gogh was treated here in the psychiatric center at Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole (visitable today as a museum) from 1889 to 1890. Princess Caroline of Monaco and her children lived in Saint-Rémy for several years following the death of her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi. The first time here we were able to see her luxury villa, now well hidden by high walls and guarded by armed guards….

Next stop was Tarascon. Located south of Avignon and north of Arles, on the left (east) bank of the Rhône River. On the other side is the similarly sized town of Beaucaire in the département of Gard, région of Languedoc-Roussillon. Directly opposite each other and connected by several bridges, Beaucaire and Tarascon effectively constitute one town, with about 30,000 inhabitants. Shards dating from the Late Bronze Age have been found in a shelter at a place called the Lèque, confirming the existence of human settlement in the Alpilles since prehistoric times. Settlement spread in the early Iron Age.  Located along the Rhone, at the crossroads between Avignon, the Camargue and the Luberon, Tarascon is still associated with fairy tales and legends dating back to prehistory. According to tradition, Martha of Bethany, who came from Judea, landed at Tarascon where an amphibious dragon, the tarasque, was destroying the river traffic. She tamed the beast only for it to be butchered by the townspeople. Many pilgrims visit the Royal College of Sainte-Marthe, built in her honor near the castle of King René . This sanctuary, the main monument of the city, contains the relics and the tomb of St. Martha in the crypt which was built on the exact location of her house.

Rostagnetus of Tharascone, knight, was provost of Nice, Alderman of Tarascon (1322, 1325) and son of former co-lords of the city in the 12th century. In 1366-67, Guillam de Sault ruled Tarascon. He received an annual salary of 90 florins. The death of Queen Joanna I reopened a succession crisis at the head of the County of Provence, the cities of the Aix Union supporting Charles de Duras against Louis I of Anjou . Tarascon hesitated before joining the Union of Aix, the community deciding in 1383, without committing itself very firmly. When Louis I died, Tarascon was also one of the first cities to receive Jacques Reillanne, Ambassador of his widow Marie de Blois, regent of Louis II of Anjou, in the summer of 1385. He successfully persuaded them to switch sides and join the Angevin Kings of Anjou. The castle is well preserved. The work of construction began in 1400 under Louis II of Anjou and completed in 1449 by his son, King René, led by Guillaume Crespin, captain of the castle, and his lieutenant, Regnault Serocourt, its close relative . With an impressive defensive system, the building also houses a princely residence. It was turned into a military prison in the 17th century, until its acquisition by the state in 1932.

The novel Tartarin de Tarascon (1872) and its two sequels Tartarin sur les Alpes (1885) and Port-Tarascon (1890), by Alphonse Daudet, were set here. Since 1985, there has been a small museum in the town, dedicated to the fictional character Tartarin. A festival is held every year on the last Sunday of June to remember Tartarin and the Tarasque.

On the way towards Marseille, we stopped (despite the strong wind) at the Plage du Jai (Beach Jai), the beach of the village of Marignane, a strip of land over 5km long and 250 m wide on average which marks the separation between two ponds, that of Berre and that of Bolmon. In summer is crowded with people, but for a day we had it all by ourselves…..well, and the horses….

As we did the year before, we took a little ferry (Bac de Barcarin) to cross the pond saving us a long detour…..

to reach the very little village of  Le Salin du Giraud (a village born to house the workers of the salt evaporations ponds) just to have lunch at a terrific restaurant, Les Saladelles…their specialty? bull meat!

Once again, at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer ……a place that seems lost back in time…

The village of Saintes Marie de la Mer, a place of tradition and pilgrimage, is built where the Rhone meets the Mediterranean Sea.
A legendary site, its shore once welcomed at the dawn of the Christianity Marie Jacobi, Marie Salomé and their handmaid Sarah, who were persecuted Christians escaping from Palestine on a boat without a rudder.
In the shade of its Romanesque steeple, visitors can stroll through the narrow paved streets, following the tracks of the pilgrims. From the top of the church, on the lookout for something, with their nose and their hair streaming in the wind, they are greatly moved by the wild plains, places of discoveries and warm meetings with “manadiers” (cowboys) riding through the pastures of bulls bound to a glorious future.
From the village, visitors feel the attraction of the dunes, the sandy beaches and the large marshlands with reeds and manades (herd of black bulls and white horses).

We bought the typical salt of Camargue (white and grey) some rice (wild red, long white and black) , bull sausages and some white wines….how can you resist, come on?

below….social network….playing bowls on the sand, protectedby the church…

Back to the beautiful Aigues-Mortes……..

Much enjoyable now, away from the hot july sun….to know more about it, read my previous post

We had really a great time, both discovering new places and finding comfort in old ones….

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Posted by on April 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Bye-bye

I’ll be away for a few days with hubby….a bit of relax in south France…..

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – September

Another busy one….it started the first day of the month with mom’s birthday…..my daughter boyfriend contributed to the celebration dinner with this sooooo good appetizer, canapes with cannellini beans and bacon

my daughter with her famous zucchini and speck pie

I baked some mini pizzas….

a lasagna pan….

and some tasty asparagus

My mom baked her favourite cake, with pineapple and rhum.

One of my collegue, after years of partnership, decided to marry, so one day we had lunch all together to celebrate her…..for once, no problems, no resentment, no hierarchy, just happy faces….

The second-last day of this so very beautiful, unusual and interesting exhibition, my daughter and I hurried to visit, and I’m so glad we did! “A tea with Queen Elizabeth II” at the Glauco Lombardi Museum in Parma, is an idea of Marina Minelli, journalist and historian, with a true passion for crowned heads around the world. In the two ground floor halls of the Riserva Palace, more than three hundred pieces of ceramics (created by companies such as Wedgwood, Spode, Burleigh, Royal Albert, Mason’s, Churchill, Royal Doulton, Aynsley) tell the story of the royal family starting with Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II’s great-grandmother, whose long reign not only coincides with the exponential growth of manufactories in the famous Staffordshire district, but it also paves the way for the great celebrations both political and familiar of an ever-popular and beloved dynasty.
Memorials, or as they call it overseas, ceramic commemoratives are one of the key elements of this relationship. Mugs, cups and teapots decorated with symbols of the monarchy or with the faces of real royal characters favor the popular sharing of events related to the dynasty because through these objects the subjects can symbolically take part in a celebration and do it through the English rite for excellence: the afternoon tea.

On display there are objects dedicated to Edoardo VII, Prince of Wales for all his life, but king only for nine years, and then to his son Giorgio V, celebrated in potteries along with his very royal wife Mary, at the coronation in 1911 and later for the Silver Jubilee in 1935. By the end of 1936 his heir Edward VIII decided to abdicate to marry the woman who has been dating for years and abdication not only deeply marks British history but also risks sending the ceramic factories to bankruptcy. The production of coronation items has already begun and hundreds of manufactures must suddenly head back, store mugs and cups with the face of the former king and create new ones with the reassuring image of George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

(below, Marina, exceptionally present for the day, explaining to us what we were admiring)

Young Elizabeth II continues the heritage of the royal family after his father’s death on February 6, 1952, and his coronation on June 2, 1953 represents not only the beginning of a new kingdom, but the rebirth of a country that bravely endured Hitler’s bombs but still carries the heavy signs of a devastating war. The amount of memorabilia produced for the occasion is directly proportional to the popular enthusiasm for the new kingdom and it attests not only to the importance of the Westminster ceremony, whose ritual is unchanged from the Middle Ages, but also to the economic and social recovery of England and its industries after the nightmare of the conflict and the restrictions on rationing. Other items will be produced in the years to come for the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, for the birth of their children and grandchildren, for the jubilees of the queen and for her nineteenth birthday celebrated in 2016.

There are also postcards, newspapers and magazines in English, French and Italian from the 1950s to the present, which help to rebuild the events of the period. In addition, some special services for the Coronation of 1953 and the Silver Jubilee of 1977 have been used to set up vintage tea tables and dining tables.
For this event – notes Francesca Sandrini, the museum curator – there is also some contribution coming from the collections of the Museo Lombardi, that made available two of its pieces, never exposed to the public and yet consistent with the exhibition proposed, such as a beautiful desk service decorated with jasperware medallions and a great print of Queen Victoria’s crowning in 1838.

(below, Marina explaining how to set up a true english tea table)

After the visit, all the presents were invited to have a real english tea, equipped with all the options….cakes, muffins, scones, biscuits and two classics, battenberg cake and clotted cream….

It really was an amazing experience, loving all that’s english as we do!

And then it was my birthday…..I celebrated it first having lunch with two of my collegues/friends at our favourite vegan restaurant…..

That night I had dinner with my family….and I got some gifts…..

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Austria

We crossed the border to Austria and drove till the Millstatter See (lake Millstatter) where we found a nice B&B in Seeboden, Haus Hatrieb, with a nice view from our balcony….

We felt immediately at home, being in Austria is just like home, and the beauty of the place helped a lot

And the lake in itself was a real pleasure to enjoy

One day we drove through a beautiful valley till the Ossiacher See……last time we were there was in 1995….

Ossiach Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery now one of the venues of an annual music festival called “Carinthian Summer” and it houses also a very good hotel…..the attached church…is still a church…

In 878 the East Frankish king Carloman of Bavaria dedicated the Treffen estates around Lake Ossiach to the Benedictine monastery of Ötting. In the late 10th century the lands passed to the Bishops of Passau and later to Emperor Henry II, who conferred them to a certain Count Ozi, affiliated with the Styrian Otakar dynasty and father of Patriarch Poppo of Aquileia. A church probably already existed at Ossiach, when Count Ozi about 1024 established the Benedictine abbey, the first in the medieval Duchy of Carinthia. The first monks probably descended from Niederaltaich Abbey in Bavaria. Ozi’s son Poppo succeeded in removing the proprietary monastery from the influence of the Salzburg archbishops and to affiliate it with the Patriarchate of Aquileia, confirmed by Emperor Conrad II in 1028. Upon the extinction of the Styrian Otakars in 1192, the Vogtei of Ossiach according to the Georgenberg Pact passed to the Austrian House of Babenberg. In 1282 it finally fell to the Habsburgs.

Ossiach Abbey was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1783, after which the buildings were used as a barracks. In 1816 the premises were largely demolished. Between 1872 and 1915 the few remaining buildings were again used as a barracks and as stabling. Since 1995 the premises have been owned by the administration of Carinthia.

According to legend, King Bolesław II the Bold of Poland, after he was banished in 1079 for the murder of Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów and had fled to Hungary,  wandered through Europe and found peace at last when he arrived at Ossiach in 1081. There the king is said to have lived in the remote monastery as a mute penitent for eight years humbly doing the meanest and lowliest jobs, until on his death bed he told his father confessor who he was and what he had been doing penance for. The legend is documented since the 15th century; whether Bolesław actually ever lived at Ossiach could not be conclusively clarified. Bolesław’s alleged tomb is embedded in the northern side of the church wall, a Roman marble relief depicting a horse with the Latin inscription: REX BOLESLAVS OCCISOR SANCTI STANISLAI EPISCOPI CRACOVIENSIS (“Boleslav, King of Poland, Murderer of Saint Stanislav, Bishop of Cracow”).

The church since the dissolution has served the local parish. Two stained glass windows were donated by Karl May in 1905, though according to recent research the popular writer had probably never visited Ossiach. The Romanesque church itself was first mentioned in 1215, built on the groundplan of a basilica, with the tower above the crossing. Restored in a Late Gothic style after a fire in 1484, the abbey, a member of the Benedictine Salzburg Congregation from 1641, was extensively altered in the Baroque period, including stucco decoration of the Wessobrunner School.

We had lunch at the same restaurant of 22 years ago (now completely renovated), and in the afternoon we just relaxed enjoying the view….

Another short drive was through another beatiful landscape towards Osstirol region and the village of Matrei……

…..just to have lunch at a place we already love and appreciated over the years….

We spent our last day in Austria driving along the Drava valley…..

so to reach the village of Spittal…..

We’ve been there already recently, in 2015, so I just wandered around taking more pictures, enjoying the sights….for more about the castle, read here….

And with that our vacation was over….sadly enough…but we came back home with a lot to fill our photos’ album and our souls….

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Ljubljana #1

And then we hit the road again, for a short transfer to Ljubljana, where we stayed at a very convenient hotel, being it near to the most amazing part of the town.

Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of SloveniaIt has been the cultural, educational, economic, political, and administrative center of independent Slovenia since 1991. Its central geographic location within Slovenia, transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions, and cultural tradition are contributing factors to its leading position. During antiquity, a Roman city called Emona stood in the area. Ljubljana itself was first mentioned in the first half of the 12th century. It was under Habsburg rule from the Middle Ages until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. Situated at the middle of a trade route between the northern Adriatic Sea and the Danube region, it was the historical capital of Carniolaa Slovene-inhabited part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

While looking through the photos I needed for my blog, I realized I had so many of them and many very similar, taken in different days and times….I got a little confused about how to post them here, so I decided to show this beautiful city by “subject” hoping to be able to do so (it won’t be easy I guess…)

Back in the 13th century, the Order of Teutonic Knights, the so called Knights of the Cross, settled at the upper end of the Novi trg square and built a church there. The only surviving item from the church is the famous relief of the Madonna of Krakovo from the church’s main portal. The relief, created between 1265 and 1270, is now kept at the National Gallery of Slovenia. Back in the day the church has also been referred to as the Monastery Church of Our Lady of Mercy. The present Križanke Church was built between 1714 and 1715 by Domenico Rossi, one of the leading Venetian architects of the time. This indicates that the only church of the cross located on Slovenian territory was of great importance not only to the Knights of the Cross but also to the imperial court in Vienna, which donated interior furnishings. Side altars were painted by the court painters Martin Altomonte and Anton Schoonjans. The main altar painting, a work by Johann Michael Rottmayr which burnt down in the 19th century, was replaced by a painting by the Viennese painter Hans Canon in 1859. Too bad the church is not open to tourists…..

The church is located next to the Križanke Summer Theatre (once part of the monastery, now renovated) where the Opera Music Festival is held every summer.

Near the church, just at the corner with Gosposka ulica…..

…..there’s Križevniška ulica, beside Metelkova (the artists’ neighbour) the most gypsy street in town…..photos studios, tattos’ parlors, craft shops and alternative restaurants……

(can you spot me above?)

Ljubljana is crossed by a river with the same name. From Roman times to the construction of the railway in the mid-19th century, the Ljubljanica was a major trade and supply route. On its way to Ljubljana, the river flows through the unique natural landscape of Ljubljana Marshes. Its bed is one of Slovenia’s most important archaeological sites. Excavations have yielded objects dating from prehistory to the early modern period. Archaeologists believe that the river once had a cult status. During our stay we crossed it so many times through its most famous bridges……….

The site of the present Cobblers’ Bridge, built by the architect Jože Plečnik between 1931 and 1932, was formerly occupied by a covered wooden bridge connecting the Mestni trg and Novi trg squares, two major parts of medieval Ljubljana. The bridge provided space for cobblers’ workshops – hence the name Cobblers’ Bridge. At its south end it was decorated with a statue of Christ, now kept in the Church of St. Florian. The 19th century saw the building of a new, cast iron bridge. On the initiative of the architect Jože Plečnik it was later moved to a site opposite Ljubljana’s maternity hospital to connect the Zaloška cesta and Poljanska cesta roads. The present Cobblers’ Bridge was conceived as a broad balustraded platform connecting two different parts of the city. It was made of artificial stone like another of Plečnik’s creations, the Triple Bridge. The characteristic appearance of the Cobblers’ Bridge is due to its balustrades with short balusters and tall, different sized pillars topped with stone balls. The central two pillars support lamps and are slightly shorter, which gives the bridge a uniquely dynamic appearance. On the sides, the bridge platform is decorated with a geometric pattern.

The Triple Bridge is a group of three bridges, connecting two parts of Ljubljana’s downtown, located on both banks of the Ljubljanica. Originally, there was only a single bridge, which linked Central Europe and the Balkans. In order to prevent an 1842 stone arch bridge from being a bottleneck, two additional pedestrian bridges on either side of the central one were added in 1932 according to the Plečnik’s 1929 design. He decorated them with large stone balusters and lamps. There are two staircases, leading to terraces above the river, the banks with poplars, and the Ljubljana fish market. Two Plečnik’s urban axes of Ljubljana, the water axis and the Ljubljana Castle–Rožnik Axis, cross at the bridge.

The Dragon Bridge, built by Josef Melan and designed by Jurij Zaninović, is often regarded as the most beautiful bridge produced by the Vienna Secession. t is located in the northeast of Vodnik Square (Vodnikov trg). It is a triple-hinged arch bridge and has a span of 33.34 meters (109 ft 5 in). When opened in 1901, it had the third largest arch in Europe. Today, it is protected as a technical monument. The chief attraction of the bridge are four sheet-copper dragon statues, which stand on pedestals at its four corners and have become a symbol of the city.

The symbol of the city is the Ljubljana Dragon. It is depicted on the top of the tower of Ljubljana Castle in the Ljubljana coat of arms and on the Ljubljanica-crossing Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most). It symbolizes power, courage, and greatness. There are several explanations on the origin of the Ljubljana Dragon. According to a Slavic myth, the slaying of a dragon releases the waters and ensures the fertility of the earth, and it is thought that the myth is tied to the Ljubljana Marshes, the expansive marshy area that periodically threatens Ljubljana with flooding. According to the celebrated Greek legend, the Argonauts on their return home after having taken the Golden Fleece found a large lake surrounded by a marsh between the present-day towns of Vrhnika and Ljubljana. It was there that Jason struck down a monster. This monster has evolved into the dragon that today is present in the city coat of arms and flag. It is historically more believable that the dragon was adopted from Saint George, the patron of the Ljubljana Castle chapel built in the 15th century. In the legend of Saint George, the dragon represents the old ancestral paganism overcome by Christianity. According to another explanation, related to the second, the dragon was at first only a decoration above the city coat of arms. In the Baroque, it became part of the coat of arms, and in the 19th and especially the 20th century, it outstripped the tower and other elements in importance.

One day we decided to not cross the bridges but to take a boat ride under them and to see the river from another point of view….

The last photo above is the Butchers’ Bridge, a footbridge. It was officially opened in july 2010 and complets Plenik’s plans from the 1930s. Shortly after the opening, padlocks of couple in love started appearing on its steel wires, symbolizing declarations of eternal love, a phenomenon similar to the one on the parisian Pont des Arts or Ponte Milvio in Rome….

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Seven – Patti Smith

The american singer arrived in Italy to partecipate at the ceremony for honorary degree in Classical and Modern Letters, which was delivered on May 3rd at the local University. For the occasion, there was also the beautiful exhibition hosted at the Governor’s Palace: a collection of shots and artists met and photographed by Smith with his Land 250 Polaroid over the years. In the shots, you can really meet many different characters, from Virginia Wolf to Rimbaud, to Frida Kahlo or Grabriele D’Annunzio. Sometimes indirectly told and represented, through their personal objects and places. Higher Learning is an evolution of Eighteen Stations, presented in New York and recently exhibited in Stockholm. The original project was realized in collaboration with the Robert Miller Gallery in New York and the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in Stockholm.
Born in 1946, Patti Smith, known to the general public as one of the most important singers in rock history, is a multifaceted artist: photographer, painter, sculptor, writer, poet and performer who left, and continues to leave an indelible mark in the American and international cultural landscape through a career that lasts for over forty years. During his first explorations in the field of visual arts he worked closely with Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the greatest photographers and portraitists between the sixties and eighties of the last century. The two artists met for the first time in New York City in 1967 and remained friends until the death of Mapplethorpe in 1989.

After more than ten years of his latest photo exhibition in Italy, with Higher Learning, Patti Smith returns to exhibit with an exhibition around the world of M Train book, released in 2015. In the volume, the artist, as he wrote the prestigious “Rolling Stone” magazine, “tackles a journey through the most memorable memories, travels between life lived and dream universe, his faithful companion of all time”. Smith describes what is, in effect, his autobiography, “a roadmap for my life,” telling from coffee shops to homes where he worked around the world. Reflecting on the themes and sensations of the book, Higher Learning is a sort of meditation on the act of creating art and over time. The illustrations accompanying the pages of the book, together with the writings, dwell on the potential that art and literature can offer to hope and consolation. The photos portrays the beds, the statues, the artwork and the gravestones that have belonged to characters that have contributed to the formation and development of the culture of humanity, creating a sort of visual diary. Frida Kahlo’s crutches, Gabriele D’Annunzio’s bed, Johnny Depp’s bathrobe, Carlo Mollino’s apartment, Virginia Woolf stick, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s tombs and Jean Genet’s chair and Roberto Bolaño’s chair resuscitate their soul through the images of their goods or their resting places.

“As a young woman – says Patti Smith – I dreamed of attending a large university. It is an honor to receive the honoris causa degree from the University of Parma, one of the oldest and most prestigious Universities in Europe. I have always believed in the importance of education, and getting recognition from this eminent higher education institution is both embarrassing and stimulating.
The sense of the exhibition is a tribute to another kind of education. The university of life, travel, books, artists, poets and teachers. The images are visual representations of pilgrimage and gratitude, and continuous love and respect for our cultural voices, their great works, and the humility of their instruments. A brush, a typewriter and the beds they dreamed of. The places of their eternal peace “.

Along with Higher Learning, another exhibition of photographic works was inaugurated at the Palace of the Governor, The NY Scene – art, culture and new avant-garde, 1970s and 1980s, produced by Photology in collaboration with the Municipality of Parma and “devoted  to the New Yorkese scene of those years that have so much been about creativity and a culture that has become global and on the same experience as Patti Smith. ”
Throughout the 1970s, New York became the world capital of contemporary art, and the great commercial affiliation of Pop Art makes the avant-garde culture grow in the bourgeois salons of the city. The exhibition wants to remember those moments that New York lived through sex, art, drugs, pop culture and literary avant-gardes.
Photographers on display have been chosen among many people who worked in those years in a New York photo-making. Shots and videos on big pop characters, common citizens, and creative and fashionable sites are fragments of memory of a kind of experience that great photographers and artists like Galella, Ginsberg, Goldin, Gorgoni, Makos, Mapplethorpe and Warhol wanted or knew how to deal with with courage and abnegation.
Some of these were deeply tied to Patti Smith, who watched Ginsberg on the deathbed and lived the most formative years of his youth together with Mapplethorpe.
In the 1970s, artistic photography went through radical changes. The birth of performance and installations, as well as various types of landart and bodyart, makes photographic documentation indispensable. The great revolution that these artists have captured in the “Big Apple” of those years is the first symptom of a changing world, that of “total culture”, “mass snobbery”, of a society with no “middle class” . It is the new hedonistic America of Ronald Reagan that is about to be born, a company that in a few years will match the “market system”.

Smith uses a vintage Land 250 Polaroid camera, produced at the end of the 1960s with a rangefinder Zeiss Ikon. The camera uses a special film that produces instantaneous printing. Patti Smith’s Polaroid photographs are printed on silver jelly in limited editions of ten. In the era of digital shots and image manipulation, her works fought for the use of photography in its most classic form, as a tool for documenting and fixing an instant for a moment, a moment found.

The Patti Smith Library, which contains a hundred literary and cinematic works inspired and directed the work of the artist during his life, and was set up inside the exhibition. Books and DVDs will be available to the public, which can be consulted on the spot. Some works were also be on sale in the bookshop.

For my daughter and I, really and deeply in love with photography, Patti Smith and New York, this was really a great experience….all the best in just one place!

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Step seven – The other two cities

Our hotel in Carcassonne was located near the walls of the old medieval city of ” La Citè” in the old neighbourhood of Trivalle, just halfway from the old Bastide St. Louis….

In rue Trivalle (just opposite the hotel) stands a three-story house whose façade, long neglected, has recently been restored, House Montmorency. The ground floor is made of stone like the framing of the stories, but it have an inside structure of wood. This type of construction, common in the sixteenth century – probably the date of construction of the building – was obviously fragile due to frequent fires that were ravaging towns: this is one of the few building that have survived over the centuries in the region. The name of Montmorency is given by a family of the sixteenth century, the most famous of its member being Henri de Montmorency, Lord of Damville, who during the Wars of Religion between 1585 and 1591 was the captain of the Catholic “moderates” based in the Trivalle area, that was the scene of violent clashes, as the one that took place between the 14 and 16 April 1590, when the fortress pulled over the lower town and the suburbs more than 600 cannon shots.

One of the many houses that presents a cathar symbol (a flag in this case, disturbed by the wind…) a cross that has became the symbol of the region…

A church dedicated to Our Lady seems to have existed in the fourth century. It was then mentioned at the beginning of the tenth century under the name of Sainte-Marie-du-Saint-Sauveur. This church was served by regular canons living under the rule of St. Augustine. The Capuchins settled in the Church of Our Lady of the Abbey in 1592 and restored it completely. In the nineteenth century, the chapel again changed its name to St. Gracious and became the major seminary chapel. It houses now the Diocesan Museum.

On the outer wall of Notre-Dame of the Abbey, a magnificent fresco realized in 1991 by ” The City of the Creation “a company based in Lyon. Measuring 100 m of length and 5 m of height, the fresco represents strong moments of the past of the medieval City between XI ° and XIII ° century. In the form of miniatures from the 11 letters of “Carcassonne”, it offers a succession of historic pictures staging characters of the crusade among whom Trencavel, Saint-Louis, Simon de Montfort, the “heretics”, the Saracens and the crusaders…..

Between old houses and little shops…………….

 

……at the end Rue Trivalle surprises with the old Royal Manifacturing building, with the coat of arms of the king of France on the main entrance door. Material benefits accompanied the honorary privileges. Manufactures Royales each received three thousand pounds a year as a subsidy for rent and a bonus for the amount of linen exported to the Levant. In return, the Manufactures Royales had to maintain the number of jobs in business and ensure a minimum production. Former home of a noble family Carcassonnaise, the building was bought in 1694 by a relative of Colbert, who founded a cloth mill. The latter will take the title of Manufacture Royale in 1696. The only building from that time still visible, is the owners’ home. The Royal Factory grew until 1789, but by lack of investment, modernization of equipment and accounting rigor, the establishment went bankrupt.

On the side door of the old factory, has disappeared the word “Royal”, it was cleared out in 1789, during the French Revolution.

Near this building there’s the access to the oldest bridge of the town “Pont Vieux” (‘old bridge’) and it is indeed old, dating from the 14th century. Until the 1800s it was the only bridge between the Bastide (the ‘newer’ lower town) and La Cite (the ancient walled town) over the river Aude. It’s closed to traffic and it’s a really nice walk for pedestrians…

On the other side of the bridge the building of the Old Hospital still exists (very much restored), and it is nowadays a house for pensioners.

In front of it, the little chapel Of Notre-Dame de la Santè (Our Lady of the Health). It was formerly used as the chapel of the hospital and this function certainly gives the explanation for the name….

This chapel is a true jewel and a perfect example of the Flamboyant Gothic architecture, though it was built during the Renaissance period. In the choir of the chapel behind the altar stands a nice statue of the Virgin and Child. Another statue of the Virgin is to be found outside, hidden in a recess of the wall. Although the dimensions of this chapel are very small, it is still visited by many people who come there to pray, or just light a candle. Obviously many visitors had their whishes granted according to the wall full of ex-voto….

Just around the corner of a beautiful house recently renovated, there’s one of the most frequented place, Square Gambetta.

Built on the former Place Coal after various properties acquired or expropriated by the City, following a city council decision of 20 December 1850, it was then called Place St. Cecilia. It took the name “Gambetta Square” by decree of July 7, 1883 with the addition of a garden. This garden remained in its state until March 27, 1944 when “by order of the German occupation authorities” began the demolition of the square. 
After the liberation of the city on 22 August 1944, the Municipality worked to remove the stigma of the passage of the occupant.
On the platform facing the east stands the Monument of the Resistance, by the sculptor Iché, presented to the City of Carcassonne by the Resistance Veterans. The sealed urns at the feet of the monument contain soil from the Buckenwald camp. 

The Museum of Fine Arts, closing one side of the square.

Oh my…how much I love this kind of old houses, very french, don’t you think?

As well as this school….

….or this Court of Justice….

We walked so far as to reach the first lock of the city on the Canal du Midi (south canal)………

The work of Pierre-Paul Riquet and excavated in the XVIIth century to link the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the Canal du Midi, formerly used for transporting goods and people, is today frequented by numerous boaters and tourists and flows through the centre of the city of Carcassonne. In 1996, the Canal du Midi was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The locks, bridges, aqueducts and canal bridges along the 240 km of the waterway are witness to the technical prowess of its constructors and also a work of art..The canal banks, once towpaths, are fringed with different varieties of trees and are a ideal walking and cycling trail for visitors

From there we walked toward the Bastide St. Louis.  The bastide is hemmed by boulevards built in the 18th and 19th century over the old, once fortified town ditches. The military enclosure and the gates protect the “ville basse” or lower town. Its surrounding wall was built betwen 1355 and 1359, under the orders of the comte d’Armagnac; it was 2,800 metres long; the bastions were built after 1359; at that time, people simply erected in the corners some round-shaped towers, greater than the other parts of the wall. Toward the end of the 16th century, during the wars of religion that devastated the South of France, the town was flanked with 4 bastions located at each corner: the bastion of Saint-Martial in the northwest, the bastion of la Figuières in the northeast, of Montmorency in the southeast, of la Tour Grosse or les Moulins in the southwest (now called du Calvaire).

On the eve of the French Revolution of 1789, the lower town had yet only 4 gates: – the western gate, porte de Toulouse or des Augustins (rue de Verdun), adorned with two handsome towers forming like a manor, which were restored in 1749. But because of a Council decree issued on 31 May 1778 ruling that the walls, towers, ditches, ramparts and walkways were to be handed in perpetuity to the Lower Town Community, the consuls let this monument fall into decay, and it was entirely destroyed in 1806.
– Rue des Carmes (located at the end of today’s rue Georges Clemenceau).
– The western Rue des Cordeliers, located at the eastern end of today’s Rue Aimé Ramond (formerly rue de la Mairie).
– The gate, porte des Jacobins, currently preserved and registered on the additional Historical Monuments inventory.

Situated right in the heart of the main avenue of the lower city, nested between two shops so that it would almost go unnoticed, the Church of Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel (XIV century) remains open permanently. Very dark, very Gothic also, you can admire especially an attractive altarpiece and some very old statues made with golden wood.

Near the church there’s a place very dear to the people of Carcassonne, Place Carnot….

Place Carnot, while one of many squares scattered throughout town, is the “heart” of the city, the central square since medieval times that has been the main meeting place and market for the lower town.  Place Carnot is where the open-air vegetable, fruit, and flower market is held every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  This is the place to sit and enjoy a morning café creme or afternoon Pastis at one of the many cafés’ outdoor tables and watch people walk past. Place Carnot is where you can enjoy watching children chase pigeons past the Fountain of Neptune or skate on the seasonal skating rink that is assembled during the Christmas season.  This is where many free musical events and an occasional wine tasting are hosted during the year.

The history of the square is very rich.  At the junction of the main streets of rue de Verdun and rue Georges Clemenceau, royal surveyors marked out a large square. After 1355, the square was reduced to the size we see today. After the fire in 1622 which destroyed more than 150 houses and the arcades filled with shops round the square, a new corn market (now the covered market) was built on the site of the Officiality. This cleared the square. On 27th December 1792, during the French Revolution, Jeanne Establet, or Joan the Black, was guillotined here with two of her accomplices. Two years later, Father Henri Beille, Vicar of Alet, a non-juring priest became the only victim of the Reign of Terror when he was executed. During the Napoleonic Empire, the square was renamed Place Impériale. It became Place Royale during the Restoration of the Monarchy, then Place Dauphine, Place de la Liberté and Place de la Révolution, Place aux Herbes (1852) and, finally, Place Carnot (1894).

At the center of Place Carnot is the marble Fountain of Neptune.  The fountain is surrounded by a rose-colored marble basin from the village of Caunes-Minervois which has been producing marble since Roman times. Neptune was sculpted by Italian artist Barata and his son and finished around 1771.  Beneath Neptune are marble figures of dolphins and naiads.

Straight from Place Carnot, one the old gates of the Bastide, the Jacobins’ Gate…..

Raised in 1779 on the place of an old gothic gate, it is part of a more ambitious town planning. In the 18th century old gothic buildings were not fashionable anymore. Bishop Bazin de Bezons decided to raze those old gates and build modern and monumental entries to the Bastide in neo- classical style. There were four gates (north, south, east, west) which were old were destroyed.The Jacobins’ Gate which is the south gate of the Bastide is the only one that was erected. The royal coat of arms decorating the gate was destroyed during the French Revolution. The little house next to the gate was formerly the lodging house of the doorkeeper. There is a very nice fountain too, on the square facing the gate…

We walked around a little portion of the old Bastide walls. The three bastions we see today in the Lower Town are the only remains of the former fortifications. They date back from the 16th century.There were five of them originally. Bishop Armand Bazin de Bezons ordered in 1764 to demolish the two others together with the ramparts. The fortifications were replaced by the Boulevards.

And then, through some little streets and alleys, here we are again, on the Pont Vieux towards the Citè…..

Stunning view, isn’t it? We’ll keep this view in our eyes and in our hearts for a very long time…..

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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