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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.

MILAN FASHION DISTRICT

posted by Home In Italy on February 27th, 2014

Milan is known first and foremost as Italy’s – and an international – fashion capital.

The city hosts innumerable boutiques – selling jewelry, decor, and of course, the most sought-out fashion labels – in its Quadrilatero d’oro della moda or Fashion Quadrilateral. The district is brodered by four main thoroughfares – Via Monte Napoleone, Via Alessandro Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia – hence the Quadrilatero reference.  The shops and showrooms in these streets make a purchase or a mere glance at the window dressings motive the fashion set to arrive in droves from all over the world.

Tourists traipsing through the quarter can experience the true atmosphere of the Lombard Capital, noting the lights, colors and elegance of the various ateliers. One will also note the endless succession of classic, international names as Armani, Versace, Alberta Ferretti, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Bulgari, Cartier, Valentino and Gianfranco Ferrè.

Via Monte Napoleone is one of most chic and expensive streets in the world – along with New York’s Fifth Avenue and Paris’s Champs-Elysées. Via Manzoni, dedicated to the writer Alessandro Manzoni, was already considered the most elegant street in Mediolanum at the beginning of the 19th Century.

The entirety of the Quadrilatero della Moda consists of refined streets, particularly Via Borgospesso, Via Santo Spirito, Via Gesù, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Bagutta. Not only, but the zone is very alive in cultural terms, with numerous historic palazzi interspersed with the shops and stores. For instance, the Poldi Pezzoli and Bagatti Valsecchi House-Museums are here, as well as Palazzo Morando, which hosts the city’s new fashion museum, and the Grand Hotel et de Milan, where the maestro Verdi is said to have lodged. Not to be left out are the Church of San Francesco di Paola, the 1700s Palazzo Gallarati Scotti, and Palazzo Borromeo d’Adda.

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.

EXCLUSIVE WINE TASTING

posted by Home In Italy on November 23rd, 2013

Home in Italy would like to welcome its guests in Umbria with a special gift. They are kindly invited to experience an exclusive Wine Tasting in Enoteca Properzio, Spello, Umbria.

Imagine entering a room with ancient origins, dating back to medieval times, where the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. This is Enoteca Properzio, one of the most popular wine stores in Italy, not only for the high quality of its products, but also for the context in which it is inserted.

The wine tasting experience is a trip through intense, fruity aromas and some of the best sparkling Italian and foreign wines, a memorable experience of senses.

Everything that the enoteca of your dreams would have, is here: marble floor, prosciutto slicer, coffee machine, cheeses beyond inventory, hams galore, that wonderful aroma of Italian food shops and some 2,200 wines alongside typical Umbrian products” (The Independent Traveller).

The wine bar Enoteca Properzio, in the heart of Umbria, carries more than 2,200 labels, along with wine pairings – olive oils, honey, marmalades, sauces, mushrooms, truffles, and more” (New York Living).

A wine-tasting featuring the best vintages of Italy’s premier winemakers” (Condè Nast Traveler).

Recently voted one of Italy’s top ten wine shops by an Italian wine magazine, this enoteca gives serious wine buffs a run for their money. Presided over by the enthusiastic Angelini brothers, it stocks some 2,200 global wines, including a vast selection from Umbria. The enoteca occupies part of Palazzo dei Canonici, its sleek contemporary styling encased in ancient bricks vaults” (Time Out).

Today the free Wine Tasting is available only for Umbria bookings because of the location of the enoteca.