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Updates – Historic facts

Trieste is a few km from the slovenian border. We crossed it one day, just to see once more, if necessary, that war is really a madness from any point of view and at any time……

We started this particular journey on italian ground, at Redipuglia War Memorial, a World War I memorial located on the Karst Plateau near the village of Fogliano Redipuglia. It is the largest war memorial in Italy and one of the largest in the world, housing the remains of 100,187 Italian soldiers killed between 1915 and 1917 in the eleven battles fought on the Karst and Isonzo front. The name Redipuglia seems to have origin from the slovenian word “sredij polije” meaning “middle earth”….

The Memorial of Redipuglia was built on the slopes of Mt. Sei Busi and designed by architect Giovanni Greppi and sculptor Giannino Castiglioni, it was opened on 18th September 1938 after ten years of construction. This massive monument, also known as Memorial “of the Hundred Thousands”, accommodates the remains of 100.187 soldiers who fell in battle in the surrounding areas; some of them had been initially buried on Colle Sant’Elia nearby.
Strongly advocated by the fascist regime, this monument intended to celebrate the sacrifice of the fallen soldiers as well as provide a dignified resting place to those fighters who could not be buried in the cemetery of the Undefeated. It is structured on three levels, symbolising the army descending from the sky, led by its Commander towards the Path of Heroes. On the top, three crosses evoke Mt. Golgotha and the crucifixion of Christ.

Leaving your car in the esplanade before the Memorial, the visit can kick off past the chain of the destroyer “Grado”, an Austro-Hungarian vessel seized by the Italians after the war. Heading towards the tomb, you walk along the “Path of Heroes”, a paved road lined by 38 bronze plaques indicating the villages on the Karst that were contended during the Great War.
At the end of this fascinating walk, you can see the majestic tombs of the generals, including the one of the Commander of the Third ArmyEmanuele Filiberto Duke of Aosta, who had expressed his wish to be buried here. The tomb consists of a 75-tonne block of red marble from the Camonica Valley. On the side, there are the granite tombs of five generals: Antonio Chinotto, Tommaso Monti, Giovanni Prelli, Giuseppe Paolini and Fulvio Riccieri.

Behind the tombs, 22 large steps (2.5m high, 12m wide) rise, containing the remains of 39857 identified soldiers in alphabetical order. Each burial niche is surmounted by the wording “Present” and can be reached via the lateral stairs leading to the top. In the centre of the first large step, you can find the niche of the only woman buried here, a nurse named Margherita Kaiser Parodi Orlando, while the 22nd step accommodates the remains of 72 soldiers from the Navy and 56 from the Customs Corps.

At the end of the lateral stairs and the large steps, two large tombs covered with bronze plates contain the remains of over 60 thousand unknown soldiers. Past them, you can reach the top of the memorial and visit a small chapel which houses a “Deposition” and the panels of the Stations of the Cross by sculptor Castiglioni. Three bronze crosses stand above the chapel.

In the rear of the last large step there are two museum rooms: inside, you can admire pictures of the first Memorial of Redipuglia, documents, war relics and paintings by Ciotti that used to decorate the tomb of the Duke of Aosta, originally located in the chapel on the top of St. Elias Hill. On the top, at Height 89, you can see an Observatory and a model of the area showing the borderline as of 24th October 1917, the day of the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo.

After the visit, in what seemed a surreal mood, we crossed the border to Slovenia heading towards Caporetto (once on italian soil), Kobarid in slovenian, and after lunch we visited the local museum.

The Kobarid Museum, awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize for the year 1993, tactfully presents the most extensive story about the First World War on the Slovenian territory by means of photos, maps, models, weapons and personal items of soldiers as well as a documentary film. This story speaks about the ferocity of mountain warfare in the Julian Alps, about the Isonzo Front, and the 12th Isonzo Battle in particular. It was one of the greatest mountain encounters in the history of warfare in which the joint German and Austro-Hungarian forces defeated the Italians by employing new military tactics, pushing the enemy westwards all to the river Piave. The damnation of wars and suffering they bring to the mankind is at the heart of the Museum’s message.

This museum is devoted almost entirely to the Soča Front and the ‘war to end all wars’. Themed rooms describe powerfully the 29 months of fighting, and there’s a 20-minute video (available in 10 languages) that gives context. There are many photos documenting the horrors of the front, military charts, diaries and maps, and two large relief displays showing the front lines and offensives through the Krn Mountains and the positions in the Upper Soča Valley. The Krn Range Room looks at the initial assaults along the Soča River after Italy’s entry into the war in May 1915. The White Room describes the harsh conditions of war in the snowbound mountains. The Room of the Rear describes life behind the battle lines (hospitals, soldiers on leave from the trenches) – a sharp contrast to the Black Room’s photographs of the dead and dying. Finally, the Battle of Kobarid Room details the final offensive launched by the Austrian and German forces that defeated the Italian army.

Why Hemingway? The 1917 Battle of Caporetto, where the Italian retreat, was documented by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms.

There are also some very old finds on display in some rooms, found while excavating the ground after the battles, that tell the story of the region………..

….ages before others men fought and died on the same ground….

It was a stressful day, full of horrible images, but sadly I’m sure we’ll have to suffer many more wars before maybe, one day, human race will eventually learn the lesson….

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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Trieste

Last summer, for our vacation, we decided to go east….first stop was Trieste.

Trieste is a city in northeastern Italy, with the only free port and free zone combination in Europe. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of Italian territory lying between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city. It is also located near Croatia some further 30 kilometres (19 mi) south. Trieste is located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste and throughout history it has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of Latin, Slavic, and Germanic cultures. Trieste was one of the oldest parts of the Habsburg Monarchy, belonging to it from 1382 until 1918. In the 19th century the monarchy was one of the Great Powers of Europe and Trieste was its most important seaport. As a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region, Trieste became the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (after Vienna, Budapest, and Prague). In the fin de siècle period at the end of the 19th century it emerged as an important hub for literature and music. Trieste underwent an economic revival during the 1930s, and Trieste was an important spot in the struggle between the Eastern and Western blocs after the Second World War. Today, the city is in one of the richest regions of Italy, and has been a great centre for shipping, through the Port of Trieste, shipbuilding and financial services.

We reserved a one-bedroom residence in the city center, and our choice couldn’t have been better….and the location was perfect to visit the city, by bus or by feet….

Walking through its street, looking up and all around, you can really see the old, fancy and elegant world that once was, and how much history has passed from here…

Since the second millennium BC, the location was an inhabited site. Originally an Illyrian settlement, the Veneti entered the region in the 10th-9th c. BC and seem to have given the town its name, Tergeste, since terg* is a Venetic word meaning market. Still later, the town was captured by the Carni, a tribe of the Eastern Alps, before becoming part of the Roman republic in 177 BC during the Istrian War. Between 52 and 46 BC, it was granted the status of Roman colony under Julius Caesar, who recorded its name as Tergeste in Commentarii de Bello Gallico, his work which recounts events of the Gallic Wars. In imperial times the border of Roman Italy moved to bigger area. Roman Tergeste flourished due to its position on the road from Aquileia, the main Roman city in the area, to Istria, and as a port, some ruins of which are still visible. Emperor Augustus built a line of walls around the city in 33–32 BC, while Trajan built a theatre in the 2nd century. At the same time, the citizens of the town were enrolled in the tribe Pupinia. In 27 BC, Trieste was incorporated in Regio X of Augustan Italia. In the early Christian era Trieste continued to flourish. Between AD 138 and 161, its territory was enlarged and nearby Carni and Catali were granted Roman citizenship by the Roman Senate and Emperor Antoninus Pius at the pleading of a leading Tergestine citizen, the quaestor urbanus, Fabius Severus.

The city was witness to the Battle of the Frigidus in Vipava valley in AD 397, in which Theodosius defeated Eugene. Despite the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in Ravenna in 476 and the ascension to power of Odoacer in Italy, Trieste was retained for a time by the Roman Emperor seated at Constantinople, and thus, became a Byzantine military outpost. In 539, the Byzantines annexed it to the Exarchate of Ravenna and despite Trieste’s being briefly taken by the Lombards in 567 in the course of their invasion of northern Italy, held it until the time of the coming of the Franks.

In 788, Trieste submitted to Charlemagne who placed it under the authority of their count-bishop who in turn was under the Duke of Friùli. From 1081 the city came loosely under the Patriarchate of Aquileia, developing into a free commune by the end of the 12th century. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Trieste became a maritime trade rival to the Republic of Venice which briefly occupied it in 1283–87, before coming under the patronage of the Patriarchate of Aquileia. After committing a perceived offence against Venice, the Venetian State declared war against Trieste in July 1368 and by November had occupied the city. Venice intended to keep the city and began rebuilding its defenses, but was forced to leave in 1372. By the Peace of Turin in 1381, Venice renounced its claim to Trieste and the leading citizens of Trieste petitioned Leopold III of Habsburg, Duke of Austria, to make Trieste part of his domains. The agreement of voluntary submission (dedizione) was signed at the castle of Graz on 30 September 1382. The city maintained a high degree of autonomy under the Habsburgs, but was increasingly losing ground as a trade hub, both at the expense of Venice and Ragusa (Dubrovnik). In 1463, a number of Istrian communities petitioned Venice to attack Trieste. Trieste was saved from utter ruin by the intervention of Pope Pius II who had previously been bishop of Trieste. However, Venice limited Trieste’s territory to three miles (4.8 kilometres) outside the city. Trieste would be assaulted again in 1468-1469 by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. His sack of the city is remembered as the “Destruction of Trieste.”Trieste was fortunate to be spared another sack in 1470 by the Ottomans who burned the village of Prosecco, only about 5.3 miles from Trieste, while on their way to attack Friuli.

Following an unsuccessful Habsburg invasion of Venice in the prelude to the 1508–16 War of the League of Cambrai, the Venetians occupied Trieste again in 1508, and were allowed to keep the city under the terms of the peace treaty. However, the Habsburg Empire recovered Trieste a little over one year later, when the conflict resumed. By the 18th century Trieste became an important port and commercial hub for the Austrians. In 1719, it was granted status as a free port within the Habsburg Empire by Emperor Charles VI, and remained a free port until 1 July 1891. The reign of his successor, Maria Theresa of Austria, marked the beginning of a very prosperous era for the city.

In the following decades, Trieste was briefly occupied by troops of the French Empire during the Napoleonic Wars on several occasions, in 1797, 1805 and 1809. From 1809 to 1813, Trieste was annexed into Illyrian Provinces, interrupting its status of free port and losing its autonomy. The municipal autonomy was not restored after the return of the city to the Austrian Empire in 1813. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Trieste continued to prosper as the Free Imperial City of Trieste, a status that granted economic freedom, but limited its political self-government. The city’s role as Austria’s main trading port and shipbuilding centre was later emphasized with the foundation of the merchant shipping line Austrian Lloyd in 1836. By 1913 Austrian Lloyd had a fleet of 62 ships comprising a total of 236,000 tons. With the introduction of the constitutionalism in the Austrian Empire in 1860, the municipal autonomy of the city was restored, with Trieste becoming capital of the Austrian Littoral crown land.

In the later part of the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII considered moving his residence to Trieste or Salzburg because of what he considered a hostile anti-Catholic climate in Italy following the 1870 Capture of Rome by the newly established Kingdom of Italy. However, the Austrian monarch, Franz Josef I, rejected the idea. The modern Austro-Hungarian Navy used Trieste as a base and for shipbuilding. The construction of the first major trunk railway in the Empire, the Vienna-Trieste Austrian Southern Railway, was completed in 1857, a valuable asset for trade and the supply of coal.At the beginning of the 20th century, Trieste was a bustling cosmopolitan city frequented by artists and philosophers such as James JoyceItalo SvevoSigmund FreudZofka KvederDragotin KetteIvan CankarScipio Slataper, and Umberto Saba. The city was the major port on the Austrian Riviera, and perhaps the only real enclave of Mitteleuropa (i.e. Central Europe) south of the Alps. Viennese architecture and coffeehouses dominate the streets of Trieste to this day.

In 1882 an Irredentist activist, Guglielmo Oberdan, attempted to assassinate Emperor Franz Joseph, who was visiting Trieste. Oberdan was caught, convicted, and executed. He was regarded as a martyr by radical Irredentists, but as a cowardly villain by the supporters of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Franz Joseph, who reigned another thirty-five years, never visited Trieste again.

Molo Audace, formerly Molo San Carlo, is a place dear to the hearts of Trieste’s inhabitants. This walkway extending about 200 metres out to sea is a magical place for a stroll and a breath of fresh air at any time of day and in any season, a place of enchanting autumnal sunsets, when the buildings on the shores are tinged with red. If you fancy a real challenge you can run to the wind-rose at its far end, and try to remain standing against the Bora winds of up to 100 km/h! The pier was built between 1743 and 1751 on the wreck of the San Carlo, a ship that sank in the harbour. Originally 95 metres long and connected to land by a small wooden bridge, the pier has been gradually lengthened and now measures 246 metres. In 1922 the pier was renamed Molo Audace in honour of the destroyer Audace, the first ship of the Italian Navy to arrive in Trieste, on November 3, 1918.

From the pier, you can have a wonderful view of maybe the best known attraction of Trieste, as shown by hubby in the photo above…..

Piazza Unità d’Italia (Unity of Italy Square) is the main square in Trieste. Located at the foot of the of San Giusto, the square faces the Adriatic Sea. It is often said to be Europe’s largest square located next to the sea. The square was built during the period when Trieste was the most important seaport of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and includes the city’s municipal buildings and other important palaces. Before 1919 it was known as Piazza Grande, or Great Square. The local Slovenes still refer to it as Veliki trg (Great Square), both in daily speech and in the media. In the last decade, the term Trg zedinjenja (Unity Square) or Trg zedinjenja Italije (Unity of Italy Square) has also become popular, especially in official documents. The square itself has occasionally been used as a concert venue, with Green Day using the square as a venue for a show on their 99 Revolutions Tour in 2013. The attendeance was of 12.000 people . In 2016, it was used by heavy metal band Iron Maiden as a concert venue (it was the third of three italian dates): the concert was sold out with over 15.000 fans. The square is also occasionally used for visits of foreign heads of state and meetings. In November 2013 President of Russia Vladimir Putin met Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta there for bilateral talks. In July 2017 (just a week before our arrival) a trilateral meeting attended by Angela MerkelEmmanuel Macron, and Paolo Gentiloni was held there, as well as the fourth Western Balkans Summit. Between 2001 and 2005 it was completely renovated and the buildings overlooking it were renovated as well. The stone paving was replaced by thin sandstone slabs, the Fountain of the Four Continents was placed in its original position opposite the Town Hall’s main entrance and, on the sea side, a blue led lighting system was set up in remembrance of the ancient small sheltered harbour, filled in between 1858 and 1863.

Looking at the square from the sea side, from left to right, the square is overlooked by the following buildings: the palace of the Austrian lieutenancy, now the seat of the Prefecture, characterized by mosaics that now depict the coat of arms of the House of Savoy that replace the original ones, which depicted the Austro-Hungarian imperial coat of arms…………

 

….then Palazzo Stratti, where the historic café Caffè degli Specchi is situated, and Palazzo Modello

the Town Hall, the tower of which is topped by two bronze figures, “Mikeze e Jakeze“, that strike the hours; before the entrance, the Fountain of the Four Continents, which was built between 1751 and 1754, had to represent Trieste as the city favoured by fortune thanks to the establishment of the free port. The world is represented by four allegorical statues that recall the features of the people who lived in the four continents known at that time (Europe, Asia, Africa and America).

Palazzo Pitteri, the oldest building in the square, Palazzo Vanoli, which houses a prestigious hotel

and the palace of the Austrian Lloyd shipping company, then Lloyd Triestino, and now the seat of the Region.

What hit me while visiting the ground floor of the Town Hall was a piece of stone from the ruins of the World Trade Center of New York, placed there to commemorate that tragedy on the occasion of the  “2017 World Trade Centers European Regional Meeting”, held in february….

If you plan to visit the square, you absolutely have to wait till sunset, to enjoy the most amazing nature show, as the sun and then the lights, color everything in gold…..with a hint of blue recalling the sea…

You have to walk for 8 km from the city center (or take a bus, as we did) to discover another very touristic attraction…..

…..the gardens and Castle of Miramare….we didn’t visit the inside (a very long line discouraged us) but we just strolled around enjoying the sun and the peaceful surrounding…..

Miramare Castle is a 19th-century castle on the Gulf of Trieste built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, later Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico, based on a design by Carl Junker. The castle’s grounds include an extensive cliff and seashore park of 22 hectares (54 acres) designed by the archduke. The grounds were completely re-landscaped to feature numerous tropical species of trees and plants.

In 1850, at the age of eighteen, Maximilian came to Trieste with his brother Charles and, immediately afterwards, he set off on a short cruise toward the Near East. This journey confirmed his intention to sail and to get to know the world. In 1852 he was appointed an officer and in 1854 he became Commander in Chief of the Imperial Navy. He decided to move to Trieste and to have a home built facing the sea and surrounded by a park worthy of his name and rank. According to tradition, when the archduke was caught in a sudden storm in the Gulf, he took shelter in the little harbour of Grignano and he chose that bare rocky spur of limestone origin as the setting for his home. The whole complex, purchased for the first time at the beginning of March 1856, was called Miramar, after the name of Prince Ferdinand of Saxony’s residence in Pena, Portugal.

The architectural structure of Miramare was finished in 1860. The style reflects the artistic interests of the archduke, who was acquainted with the eclectic architectural styles of Austria, Germany and England. The craftsman Franz Hofmann and his son, Julius, were entrusted with the furnishing and decorations. Hofmann, who worked in the city of Trieste, was a skilful artisan who was willing to follow Maximilian’s suggestions. Both the artisan and his patron had a similar cultural formation and they were well acquainted with the eclectic tendencies of the time. The work, steadily supervised by Maximilian, was finished only after his departure in 1864 for Mexico where he was appointed Emperor, and where after a brief reign he was shot in Querétaro in June 1867. Maximilian intended to create an intimate atmosphere in the castle in the area reserved for his family – an area which he wanted to be in contact with nature, reflecting both his own spirit and that of an epoch.

 

On the ground floor, destined for the use of Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, worthy of note are the bedroom and the archduke’s office, which reproduce the cabin and the stern wardroom respectively of the frigate Novara, the war-ship used by Maximilian when he was Commander of the Navy to circumnavigate the world between 1857 and 1859; the library, whose walls are lined with bookshelves and the rooms of the Archduchess with their tapestry of light-blue silk. All the rooms still feature the original furnishings, ornaments, furniture and objects dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Many coats of arms of the Second Mexican Empire decorate the castle, as well as stone ornamentations on the exterior depicting the Aztec eagle. The first floor includes guest reception areas and the Throne Room. Of note are the magnificent panelling on the ceiling and walls and the Chinese and Japanese drawing-rooms with their oriental furnishings. Of particular interest is the room decorated with paintings by Cesare Dell’Acqua, portraying events in the life of Maximilian and the history of Miramare. Currently, the rooms in the castle are mostly arranged according to the original layout decided upon by the royal couple. A valuable photographic reportage commissioned by the archduke himself made accurate reconstruction possible.

Miramare Park, which at one time had no vegetation, and has now a surface area of 22 hectares (54 acres), as far as the botanical aspect was concerned, a gardener, Josef Laube, was called in but was replaced in 1859 by Anton Jelinek, a Bohemian who had taken part in the frigate Novara’s expedition around the world. The park, on which work began in 1856, represents a classic example of a mixed, artificial implantation of ligneous forest-trees and bushes and it succeeds in blending the charm of a typically Northern environment and a Mediterranean context. In contrast to the baroque garden, the English one – on which Miramare is modelled – introduces a new relationship with nature, resulting from a different sensibility towards the material world. This is why, when strolling along the paths in the park, you can breathe in an atmosphere that is tightly bound up with the life of its owner and his romantic relationship with nature, which was typical of his epoch.

Before 1856, the park area was bare, with only some shrubs and thorny bushes. Today, on the other hand, there is a group of different species of trees that are, for the most part, of non-European origin or in any case, that are not native to the area. Within a period of ten years, cedars of Lebanon, North Africa and the Himalayas were planted, along with firs and spruces from Spain, cypresses from California and Mexico, various species of pine from Asia and America, to which some exotic specimens, such as the giant sequoia and the ginkgo biloba, were added. Miramare was conceived as a private garden and not as a park. In fact it does not have a monumental entrance or a driveway up to the castle. It was a garden of wonders, not intended for public use, even though the archduke opened it to the public a few days per week. Watercourses, pools, twisting paths, trees placed according to natural models, some grassy areas, are typical of English gardens. The roughness of the ground favoured the irregular lay-out of the promontory, combining the artificial transformation with the natural environment.

The park is also characterised by the presence of some buildings included in Junker’s project: the Castelletto – inhabited off and on by Maximilian and Charlotte – on which work began at the same time as work on the castle; the greenhouses, intended for the growing of the plants to be placed in the park; the ruins of the chapel dedicated to Saint Canciano, in whose apse is preserved a cross made from the wood of the frigate Novara, which was laid up in 1899; and lastly a little house, used nowadays as a coffee-shop, the “Swiss house“, placed at the edge of the swans’ lake.

Up until 1954, Miramare became the headquarters for German, New Zealand, British and American forces of occupation respectively. Finally in 1955, the complex was reopened to the public under the name Miramare Park, whose management was entrusted to the Sopraintendenza per i Beni Architettonici ed il Paesaggio e per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Today the gardens play host during the summer season to spectacles such as the musical “Sissi“, reliving the story of the Empire in its natural setting, and various concerts.

It was sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful place, but we were confident that the next stages of our trip would have reserved other surprises…..

 
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Posted by on October 19, 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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Updates – Six – June

June, where summer really begins….

Near the river Po, there’s a village called Zibello, known all around the world for a culinary excellence, culatello….every year, the first week-end of june all the area celebrates it with dinner, concerts, games, markets and debates with italian top chefs…….could we miss the chance to eat something so good?

However, the best part of the dinner was the company, as always…….

The village was full of people, all the shops and tourists’ attractions were open………

and I just couldn’t pass the chance to visit the local main church…….

Following the foundation of the marquisate of Zibello, Giovan Francesco Pallavicino, the first gentleman of the small state, before his death expressed the desire to complete the construction of the Dominican convent, which he started in 1494, and a church in the village that served as a family chapel; it was only in the middle of the sixteenth century that the work for the church was started, on the initiative of the Marquis Uberto Pallavicino, before he was forced to surrender the marquisate to the Rangoni of Modena.

The work was concluded around 1580 but the church was consecrated only in 1620; elevated to parish, assumed the functions of the church of the Blessed Virgin of Graces , until then it was dedicated to the saints Gervasio and Protasio. In 1673 the rectory was erected attached to the church, while the bell tower was built in 1677, at the wish of the parish priest don Gardini.

The imposing church develops on a three-nave plant, with three chapels in the absidial area and a baptistery beside the entrance. The symmetrical salient facade , made of red brick in Gothic-Lombard style, is marked in three parts by buttresses surmounted by high tented roofs; in the middle there is a large rose window framed by terracotta tiles made by Jacopo de Stavolis around 1484. On the left side of the façade, the baptistery rises with Renaissance tracts, on which an octagonal dome rises. 

Inside, the three aisles are subdivided by a high colonnade whose decorated capitals support elegant arched bows, whose solemnity is accentuated by ornamental motifs that frame them, and from high vaulted ceiling, repeated in the same shapes even in the lower aisles.

To the left is the baptistery, covered by an octagonal, featuring 19th century decorations by Girolamo Magnani, a scenographer.

The left chapel houses a particular relic of the patron saint of the country, Saint Carlo Borromeo, a piece of the robe he wore on the day when he was extraordinarily saved by an attack. 

The next day we had another culinary date in the city center…..the second edition of Gola Gola Festival, the first after Parma was nominated Unesco City of Gastronomy, so this year the foods stands were even more…

our friend A with two new friends….lol…

For dinner we opted for a very much loved abruzzo excellence, arrosticini

and obviously a little dancing was mandatory!

The night of June 23 is the magic night for excellence. There are, in fact, very ancient popular traditions and profound esoteric and religious meanings that Saint John’s recurrence is linked to the summer solstice that corresponds to the winter one that is remembered at Christmas. In conjunction with the summer solstice, when the sun reaches its maximum positive declination and then resumes the winter walk, begins the summer, so St. John is the supreme solar festival, the overwhelming victory of light on darkness, good on bad. But the most clear and eloquent explanation on the important and significant astral situation is provided by Maria Castelli Zanzucchi, a writer, a scholar of traditions and author of interesting publications: “The sun reaches the highest point on 23 June: it is common knowledge that the night of St. John is the best time for planets and zodiacal signs to give stones and herbs their virtues. It is a magical night, the night of the impossible, of wonders, deceit, evil influences and witches. “

In Parma and around, the traditions of the “rozáda äd San Zvan” (dialect for dew of Saint John) are countless: from the best known, such as the gastronomic dish “tortelli di erbetta” (chard ravioli), to those less well-known, whose origins are lost in the night of time. Preferably the “tortelli” are made to be enjoyed with the feet under the outdoor table, but inside is allowed too, as long as you leave the door and windows open to favor the benefits of dewy influences……better if with dear friends and surrounded by flowers and herbs collected the year before…

Another month gone, leaving great memories of food, places and dear faces……..

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Five -Another castle

An elegant fortress, with a big farming court, a moat full of water takes our memory back in time. Today it is a private residence, a biological farm, a vegetable garden with old vegetable varieties, educational farm and place of imporant meetings dedicated to land farming……that’s the Castel of Paderna.

These two kind human beings are the owners of the castle, who where there on a warm sunday in may, when we joyned our friends present with their stand at the spring date in the beautiful castle garden, for the great exhibition of plants, flowers and fruits…. and so many other things….

The first testimony of the existence of the castle is a notarial purchase order dated 1028 , another act of 1163 which attests the property to the monastery of San Savino in Piacenza maintained until 1453 when it was given to the Rimini family of the Marazzani that kept it in the centuries to the current owners Pettorelli, their descendants. It suffered heavy destruction in 1216 due to Pavia and Parma troops invasions and in 1247 by the troops of Emperor Frederick II to repair which the abbot provided in 1280 to the reconstruction works and to the rise of the tower.

A strongly articulated, trapezoidal plant complex is completely surrounded by the walls , which are surrounded by buildings, and by a large moat that is still full of water. It is divided into two segments separated by a wall, one to the south, with a large square encircled by farmland: stables, barns, porches and farmhouses; the other, to the north, divided into two courtyards: one with the stately residence, the well, the main tower and other dwellings; the other with the chapel and the building through which you enter the garden. The access on the south side is protected by a massive dungeon that collects the two lifting bridges, one for the pedestrian crossing and the other for the carriages . The towers, all based on quadrangular but of different shape and size, are four distributed along the walls in an irregular manner. Unusual the location of the north tower outside the walls but inside the moat.

 

We bought herbs pots, asparagus, strawberries and seeds but the most interesting thigs was that we had the chance, following our friends who for almost a decade are well knwon to the castle tenants, to have a look at small private area just “behind the scene”…………

We had a very special day off, spent in the open, smelling so many perfumes and enjoying some very special quality time with our friends, filling our eyes with so many colors and our hearts with treasured moments….

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Four – A day at the castle

The Castle of Scipione of the Marquises Pallavicino (just to stay loyal to some of my life characteristics….lol) is one of the oldest historic castles in the region. It proudly stands watching the hills breathtaking landscape of the Stirone and Piacenza Regional Park, on the charming medieval village named Scipione Castello, halfway between Parma and Piacenza. On a sunny may sunday, with a couple of friends, we were there for a private visit in order to fix details for our friends’ son wedding (scheduled for next spring).

Again, a little bit of history about the Marquises Pallavicino. They originally formed together with the Malaspina Marquises, the Massa Marquises and the D’Este Marquises – from which the Dukes of Ferrara and Modena and the current Hannover Princes originated – one single family known as the “Obertenga”, from Oberto (945-975) their common progenitor who was the Marquis and the Count of the Sacred Palace. Their land possessions included the Counties of Luni, Tortona and Genoa, reaching near Pavia, and his descendants also acquired the County of Milan, who held it until the eleventh century. After that period, the different family branches became independent from each other and the Marquises Pallavicino founded their own State, as immediate feud of the Holy Roman Empire, on a vast territory between the Po River and the Apennines mountains whose capital was Busseto. In 1479, Gianfrancesco Pallavicino, the son of Rolando “The Magnificent” founded a new capital called Cortemaggiore, an ideal city, perfect example of the Renaissance architecture,  according to the precepts of Leon Battista Alberti. In 1636 the Marquisates of Busseto and Cortemaggiore were confiscated by an act of force by the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, dependent from the Farnese family while the Marquisate of Zibello survived up to the Napoleonic Era. When, in 1636, Emperor Ferdinand offered to the MarquisesPallavicino the title of “princes”, they refused, faithful to the dignity of marquises that have always bound them to their lands.

The first official document recording the existence of the Castle dates back to 1025 when the castle was built by Alberto Pallavicino as a military fortress, part of a large defensive system set up by the Pallavicino family for the protection and control of their State, which embraced a vast territory between the Municipalities and the Diocese of Parma, Piacenza and Cremona, strategically extending from the river Po to the Apennines mountains. The legend states that its name derives from a preexisting Roman Villa built by the family that once destroyed the Empire of Carthage. In 1267, during the feudal struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, the castle endured several attacks by Piacenza’s families and in the years 1403 and 1407, by the Guelph families Rossi, Da Correggio and Terzi. In 1447, the castle was rebuilt and transformed by the brothers Lodovico and Giovanni Pallavicino who conformed it to new and more advanced defensive requirements. From this restructuring period are in fact the new circular tower and the reinforced walls in order to be less vulnerable to the attacks of new firearms. From the same period are the narrow prisons that remained unchanged until today. Other important changes have been performed during the middle of the XVII century as the elegant loggia and the great entrance doorway that leads to the main garden.

In the middle of the Seventeenth Century, other large projects have been implemented with an elegant loggia that enables the open view of the surrounding hillside, a great gateway to the courtyard surmounted by the family’s coat of arm as well as frescoes and important paneled ceilings in the halls that can be admired in their original condition.

Today, in some rooms, the medieval ceilings with their original decorations are still jealously preserved, with their soft garlands, flowers and emblems that seem to narrate of the bygone days, when the castle was inhabited by Manfredo, brother of Uberto “the Great”, as the historian Salimbene de Adam reported in its thirteenth century Chronicle “(…) In this castle lived Messer Manfredo, he had four sons and three daughters, beautiful ladies, married in different parts of the world. His wife and their mother was Donna Chiara of the Counts of Lomello, beautiful lady, very wise and jovial. (…) Messer Manfredo was a man of peace and almost religious (….) And gave to all institutions salt in abundance without measure. He had in the area of Scipione’s castle many wells of salt, for which he became rich and powerful(…).

In the Medieval times the castle had a central role also due to its strategic position perfect for the control of numerous salt wells, whose the Pallavicino Marquises were both major producers and the most powerful market arbiters, promoting the development of salt factories and digging new wells around Salsomaggiore. For centuries salt has been an essential element in food preservation and for this reason it was a strategic and valuable resource, even more important than gold. The same saline waters from which the salt was extracted, centuries ago, are today appreciated thanks to their beneficial and healing properties that gave birth to the thermalism in Salsomaggiore.

The Castle of Scipione always remained a possession of the Pallavicino family except for a short time after World War One, when it was donated by the Marquese Clelia Pallavicino Fogliani to the ‘National Association of The Orphans of War”. In the1970’s the castle was bought by the Danish diplomat Christian Frederik Per von Holstein, who gave it as a gift to his wife, Marquise Maria Luisa Pallavicino, turning it into their new residence. The castle thus returned to its founder’s family branch that ranks among its ancestors important historic figures such as Adalberto, a great leader praised in the Ludovico Ariosto poem “Orlando Furioso” and in the Torquato Tasso “Jerusalem Delivered”, and Rolando called “The Magnificent”, man of the Renaissance times who wrote the “Statuta Pallavicina”, an important legislative text which was the basis for a modern reorganization of its own State and that will remain in force until the nineteenth century.

The Castle of Scipione was among the first in the region to be declared a National Monument in 1922 for its historical-artistic and landscape values.

I can’t wait to be back there to celebrate a young couple’s wedding next year!

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Updates – Three – April

You can live in a place all your life and still be surprised, from time to time…at the end of last april, my daughter and I registered for a guided tour of a very specific area in the Cathedral….always a pleasure, because it’s really stunning!

A little bit of history: the construction was begun in 1059 by bishop Cadalo, later antipope with the name of Honorius II, and was consecrated by Paschal II in 1106. A basilica existed probably in the 6th century, but was later abandoned; another church had been consecrated in the rear part of the preceding one in the 9th century by the count-bishop Guibodo. The new church was heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1117 and had to be restored. Of the original building, remains can be seen in the presbytery, the transept, the choir and the apses, and in some sculpture fragments. The wide façade was completed in 1178: it has three loggia floors and three portals. Between the central and the right doors is the tomb of the mathematician Biagio Pelacani, who died in 1416. The Gothic belfry was added later, in 1284-1294: a twin construction on the left side had been conceived, but it was never begun.

Two great marble lions guard the entrance to the Cathedral: they were sculpted by Giambono da Bissone in 1281 and are among the symbols of the Cathedral. The door is by Luchino Bianchino, who carved it in 1494. A closer look at the lions reveals that they are not perfectly symmetrical. On the contrary. One is red and the other is white. It seems that this difference may be interpreted as the dual human and divine nature of Christ.  The two lions represent the Lord and embody his strength, his ability to support his own Church and victory over death.

All the visitors, once inside, are attracted by the painted ceiling, very up above their heads, a real catalyst for everyone’s attention….

but the real protagonist is the dome……

The Assumption of the Virgin is a fresco by the Italian Late Renaissance artist Antonio da Correggio decorating the dome. Correggio signed the contract for the painting on November 3, 1522. It was finished in 1530. The composition was influenced by Melozzo da Forlì’s perspective and includes the decoration of the dome base, which represents the four protector saints of Parma: St. John the Baptist with the lamb, St. Hilary with a yellow mantle, St. Thomas (or Joseph) with an angel carrying the martyrdom palm leaf, and St. Bernard, the sole figure looking upwards. Below the feet of Jesus, the uncorrupt Virgin in red and blue robes is lifted upward by a vortex of singing or otherwise musical angels. Ringing the base of the dome, between the windows, stand the perplexed Apostles, as if standing around the empty tomb in which they have just placed her. In the group of the blessed can be seen: Adam and Eve, Judith with the head of Holofernes. At the centre of the dome is a foreshortened beardless Jesus descending to meet his mother. Correggio’s Assumption would eventually serve as a catalyst and inspiration for the dramatically-illusionistic, di sotto in su ceiling paintings of the 17th-century Baroque period. In Correggio’s work, and in the work of his Baroque heirs, the entire architectural surface is treated as a single pictorial unit of vast proportions and opened up via painting, so that the dome of the church is equated with the vault of heaven. The illusionistic manner in which the figures seem to protrude into the spectators’ space was, at the time, an audacious and astounding use of foreshortening, though the technique later became common among Baroque artists who specialized in illusionistic vault decoration.

Cantelli Chapel: the neobizantine decoration of the walls and vault is due to Gerolamo Magnani (1881-82), who in the medallions of the vault represented the four evangelists. Various gravestones are found in the walls, including the one in the right pedestal that remembers the primitive chapel (probably an altar hanging on the wall with the family tomb, as the chapels, as we see them now, were built during the ‘400s) made in 1285 by Bartolo Cantelli, with coat of arms of Count Giuseppe Cantelli, chamberlain of Maria Luigia, who died in 1845. The carved and golden niche, containing the statue of St. Joseph with the Child, dates back to the end of the 18th century.

But now our solitary walk was interrupted by the guide who grouped us up to climb up there…..near the vault….along the arches of the matroneum to admire the medieval capitals….

An encyclopedia of images engraved in stone: this is how one can describe the countless medieval capitals that can be discovered while walking along the aisles of the cathedral, and we were lucky enough to see them from very nearMost of the capitals in the Cathedral are of the Corinthian-type, with vegetal decoration. But there are also capitals with different decorations, such as hunting scenes, mythological tales, Bible stories and scenes drawn from daily life. The capitals used to be polychromatic, but today bare stone and 16th-century gilding prevail.

An imposing cycle of frescoes that accompanies worshippers along the entire central nave….they tell the story of the Life of Christ and also depict episodes from the Old Testament. And to see them so close was really an experience! Both the right and left wall are entirely covered by frescoes, which follow a precise thematic organization. The frescoes between the arches and the women’s gallery (matroneum) depict scenes of the Old Testament, those between the women’s gallery and the lunettes images from the Gospel, while allegorical figures appear in the lunettes. This imposing work bears witness to Lattanzio Gambara‘s apprenticeship with Giulio Campi, but also to the influence of the painter Giulio Romano.

After descending the stone spiral staircase, we didn’t stop at ground level, our descent continued to the crypt….

A dense interweaving of columns and groin vaults that can be compared to a “stone garden”. Here are preserved the relics of San Bernardo degli Uberti, patron saint of the Diocese. It is thought that the columns used in this crypt were taken from the ancient Roman town, thus establishing an ideal continuity between the ancient town and the Cathedral. Of particular interest is the statue of Saint Bernard at the centre of the chapel dedicated to him and altered over the centuries. From the crypt one gains access to two precious Renaissance chapels: the Rusconi chapel and the Ravacaldi chapel.

Ravacaldi Chapel: here one can see the fresco of the Annunciation and a cycle of paintings about the life of the Virgin, evidence of the fine narrative taste of the workshop of Bertolino de’ Grossi. This chapel is also named after its patron, a canon whose figure seems to be included in the Annunciation fresco. The particular attention given to details and faces makes of these frescos an interesting example of 15th-century painting.

Rusconi Chapel: this side chapel located at the right of the crypt contains elegant frescoes commissioned by Bishop Giovanni Rusconi in 1398. A magnificent votive fresco dominates the chapel. This fresco shows the Bishop kneeling by the throne of the Virgin and absorbed in prayer. The rest of the chapel shows depictions of the prophets, attributed to Padua workshops, and images of the Evangelists enclosed in elegant frames. Of particular interests is the depiction of the Trinity through the superimposition of the three divine faces, which at the time was considered an unorthodox choice.

The visit led us behind the main altar, in a series of rooms used by the priest to change them for Mass and where we could admire some precious wood carved closets used to store priests’ clothes, religious adornments, Mass books, ect…

Our visit finished passing before the Bishop’s throne, under the golden tabernacle….

The throne is adorned with a symbolically rich marble group in which scenes from the Scriptures are intertwined with anthropomorphic figures and episodes drawn from hagiographic stories. From a symbolic point of view, the bishop’s throne represents the Bishop presiding over liturgical assemblies within the Cathedral, which takes its name from this seat (“cathedra”). The arms are symmetrical and consist of two human figures crushed by lions that embody the victory of Christ over death. Other episodes are depicted on its sides, such as the battle between Saint George and the dragon and the conversion of Paul.

We couldn’t exit the Cathedral without paying tribute to the most (maybe) famous piece inside….the Deposition by Benedetto Antelami This is the first great known work by Benedetto Antelami and a masterpiece of Gothic art.  It originally was part of the ambo, from which the Word of God used to be proclaimed. Looking at the composition carefully one becomes aware of the modernity and humanity that the artist sculpted into the marble. The scene has a strong dramatic impact: Christ is at the centre, his lifeless body supported by John. At the left of the Cross are the gambling centurions, casting dice for the robes of the son of God. Antelami‘s style is very personal, and although he created this work in 1178 he anticipates with remarkable foresight elements of Gothic sculpture.

We enjoyed this tour so very much, a nice diversion for our usual saturday afternoon….

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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