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The wonderful Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

posted by Home In Italy on March 11th, 2015

Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

The wonderful Piazza dei Miracoli, also known as the Square of Miracles in Pisa is likely one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, is not located in the city center as you might imagine, but it is situated northwest of the fortified wall of the city. The the Square of Miracles has been considered central to religious life since the Etruscan time: the three structures that it comprises, symbolize the main stages of a human’s life: The Baptistery represents birth, the Cathedral life and the Cemetery, of course, alludes to death.
And what about the Tower of Pisa? Well, we have not forgotten it! The so-called Leaning Tower is actually part of the Cathedral, being its Bell Tower.
The square is surrounded by a beautiful green lawn where tourists and students can lie down and relax in this historical setting of rare beauty. The name “Square of Miracles” was given only after the First World War , when the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio in the last novel “Maybe, maybe not” credits it with these words: “The Ardea rotated over the sky of Christ, over the meadow of Miracles”.
Its building began in the XI century and, after various changes, it was completed only in the XIX century, when the architect Alessandro Gherardesca gave the square its final present appearance. The latest changes have been done in the Fascist era: the monument Lupa di Rome was built and 17 cypress were planted, in memory of the militants died during the War.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Emblem of the Pisan Romanesque, designed by the architect Bruscheto in 1604, the Cathedral represents through its splendor the influence of different styles and cultures. Byzantine and Islamic components testify the richness of the Maritime Republic of Pisa in the past; pay attention to the columns in the Cathedral and you will certainly remember those typical of the mosques.
Despite the fire of 1956, in the Cathedral are preserved many important works of art, including a mosaic by Cimabue, a masterpiece of Giovanni Pisano and works of Beccafumi and Andrea del Sarto.

The Baptistery
The works for the construction of the Baptistery, which is the largest in Italy, began in 1152 under the direction of the architect Diotislavi. Positioned in front of the Cathedral, it was entirely revisited by Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni in the mid XIII century. They both modified it following the Gothic style and added a loggia and a hemispherical dome. At the center of the Baptistery there is the baptismal font by Guido Bigarelli from Arogno, originally lit by a light coming from an opening in the ceiling, now covered by the Dome. The Pulpit by Nicola Pisano (1255-1260) recounts scenes from the Life of Christ on five panels, while the columns represent the Virtues. We can clearly perceive a classical style in the work, not surprisingly Nicola Pisano is entitled a precursor of the Renaissance.

Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa
The Leaning Tower
The beginning of the construction of the Tower dates back to 1173 and its slope is due to the land where it was built, which is not perpendicular and subject to constant failures. 55 meters high, it has a slope of 5° south and to reach the top you have to climb 294 steps. The tower was closed to public from 1990 to 2001 due to stability problems.

The Graveyard
The Camposanto is an ancient monumental cemetery located north of the Square of Miracles. It has a rectangular structure with an inner cloister in Gothic arches. Following the tradition, the cemetery was built around a good quantity of Holy Land, coming from the place where Jesus Crist was crucified. In the meadow at the center of the cloister there are numerous tombs and sarcophagi of the Roman age, while in the floor of the corridor there are the tombs of the nobles families of Pisa. Here you can admire many works of art including the Pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, the lamp of Galileo Galilei, frescoes by Benozzo, Gozzoli, Buonamico Buffalmacco with the famous “The Triumph of Death”, the Tabernacle of Della Robbia and many others.

The city offers many beautiful monuments, churches and museums to visit, but the Square of Miracles itself is worth travelling to Pisa. The beauties preserved in the square are numerous, you’ll need a day to discover them all inside. So, what are you waiting for?

Pompeii’s Ashes. The Reception of the Cities Buried by Vesuvius in Literature, Music, and Drama.

posted by Home In Italy on March 3rd, 2015

a work of literature on PompeiiMarch 2015 is the launch of Eric Moormann’s new work of literature, Pompeii’s Ashes. Although many novels have been written on Pompeii and Herculaneum, none of them can be compared to Moormann’s study.

In this book, the author encompasses the entire spectrum of material related to the reception of Pompeii in popular imagination. Pompeii’s Ashes studies an extensive variety of documents, from travelogues between 1740 and 2010 to fictions, stage works, music a and films.

The work focuses on the many ways Pompeii and Herculaneum feature in fiction, drama, music, and cinema and shows how interest in the oldest running archaeological projects in the world continue until now. It begins with in-depth analysis of the excavation history and an overview of the reflections of travelers.

The novel continues with discussions of travelers’ reports and their depiction in historical novels, contemporary and time traveling adventures, and works dedicated to Vesuvius.
“Pompeii’s Ashes” demonstrates how the eternal fascination with the oldest still-running archaeological projects in the world began, developed, and will continue forever.

Contents

Introduction
I From Treasure Hunting to Archaeological Dig. History of the Excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii
II Travelers to the Vesuvian Cities
III Pagan Pompeii in Fiction
IV Jews and Christians in Pompeii Novels
V Modern and Contemporary Visits to Pompeii in Fiction: A Perilous Affair
VI Time Traveling to Ancient Pompeii
VII Real and Fictional Manuscripts from Pompeii and Herculaneum
VIII Pompeii on Stage and Screen
IX Herculaneum Under Vesuvius
X Intimations of Pompeii: By Way of Envoy

Wonder of Italy: Pompeii

GLASS ARTS IN MURANO

posted by Home In Italy on March 18th, 2014

Artisan tradition and a manufacture that combines industrial, manual and technological techniques have for centuries characterized and exalted the Italian art of glassmaking. A segment of the luxury sector and synonomous with Italian design, glassmaking on the Peninsula calls the Venetian isle of Murano its epicenter – at least since the 8th Century – Murano being the famous brand name that is known and imported throughout the world.

On Murano, packed with Renaissance-style houses and in part defined by its dominant white lighthouse, glass production stands as the highest expression of refined objets and furnishings. It is an expression realized over time by several dynasties of master glassmakers, passing down this art of transforming sand with air and fire, and maintaining an archive of knowledge that has been kept very hush-hush on this semi-secluded little island.

Some maintain that the glass arts hark back to ancient Egypt, whence the tradition arrived in old Rome for the purpose of adorning noble residences. Yet it was with Eastern and Arab influences that glass design and manufacture was further refined throughout the centuries. More specifically, such took place in Venice, but not in Venice proper – rather, on the outlying island of Murano, where the possibility of large and dangerous fires (as a result of the glassmaking process) destroying the Most Serene Republic was minimized.

The creation of objects in glass is rather complex, both materially and economically, which is why early on glassmakers enjoyed certain immunities and were allowed to possess swords for self-defense; the catch is they could never be permitted to leave the Republic, in the regrettable case that the secrets of the glass arts might be given up by any mode or means.

For this, Murano’s glassmakers held a tight monopoly on both quality and manufacturing techniques, including millefiori, crystal or lead glass, glazed, and milk glass, up until the re-discovery of ancient Roman glass, today’s murrine.

Murano is still the foremost hub of artisan labs for both artistic and mass commercial production. One of the standouts among the most unique, original creations are glass objects imitating precious stones. Of course many of Venice’s historic glass ateliers have become international household names, including Salviati, Barovier & Toso, FerroMurano, and Berengo Studio.

Tourists in Venice seek out the workshops of the grand maestros – that, by the way, assisted Picasso, Fontana and Chagall in creating their own glass sculptures. Here visitors can acquire light fixtures, goblets and chalices, jewelry and vases – thin as paper or thick like marble, white like porcelain or cold-painted.  Before visiting the Museo del Vetro in Palazzo Giustinian, witness the glassmaking of Murano in person to appreciate the expert techniques used to shape and form these works. Viewing the manufacturing process up close truly makes the final product come alive in a brand new way.

DISCOVER ITALY: ANCONA

posted by Home In Italy on January 28th, 2014

Ancona, Capital of the Marches Region, lies on the promontory of Monte Conero directly facing the sea. Founded by the Greeks, the city experienced remarkable development when the Emperor Hadrian extended the then-small port, long of great strategic importance for the traffic across the Adriatic.

Split into two parts - the historic center on Monte Guasco and the modern part on the coast - Ancona is a fascinating city. Among its principal monuments are the Cathedral of San Ciriaco, with its white and rose marble façade. The Cathedral dominates the city from the heights of Guasco Hill, where the city’s Acropolis was built.

Be sure to see the Archaeological Museum of The Marches, preserving relics from the Iron Age and from the civilizations that peopled the Adriatic coast; as well as the 11th-Century Church of Santa Maria della Piazza, originally in the Romanesque; Trajan’s Arch, built in the year 115 by Apollodoro da Damasco; and the Mole Vanvitelliana, a military construction designed by Luigi Vanvitelli in the 18th Century. The Roman Amphitheatre (1st Century A.D.) is a splendid Roman remnant, with thermal baths in its annex; the baths feature breathtaking mosaics with various epigraphs.

Much of the Province of Ancona composes part of the Conero Regional Park, characterized by sprawling evergreen woods and Mediterranean maquis, by cliffs jutting out high above the sea, beaches accessible on via water, and a countryside still pristine but rich in the local fruits of the land – including lavendar, honey, olive oil and citrus. Certain spots within the Park should be mentioned, particularly Portonovo, evocative and highly-frequented attraction, for its forests in the vicinity of the beaches, and for its ancient monuments.