A Visit to Trieste

Trieste, what a pleasant surprise!! An often overlooked gem of the Adriatic, TRIESTE provided lots of beautiful sites and emotions.

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We visited the Castle of MiramareMiramare, which stands on the tip of the promontory of Grignano. Commissioned and built between 1856 and 1860 by Archduke Maximilian of Austria, also eventually Emperor of Mexico, the building is positioned overlooking the sea, providing a stunning view of the Gulf of Trieste.

The Castello is surrounded by 22 hectars of a beautiful botanical garden and its interiors feature sumptuous original historical furniture. Miramare has more than 20 rooms including Maximilian’s bedroom, furnished as a ship’s cabin. The poet Giosue Carducci speaks of the “white towers” of Miramare, with its English and Italian style garden, stepping down towards the sea with a beautiful ‘Scalinata’.

What a fabulous place to visit, don’t miss it!! We wholeheartedly  recommend it  :-)


The Venetian Gondola in Italian Art

Venezia e i suoi Spendori
Venezia - Canaletto

The gondola is simply the symbol of Venice, a unique Italian city often described as the most romantic city in the world.  Born early on as a canoe, later it became the stylized and elegant black boat we all know and admire. The polished black vessel  is propelled easily with a single oar by one man, in the traditional stand up position that has come to be known as the “Venetian Rowing” (Voga alla Veneziana).  We  must add that it is  the only big boat in the world which can be controlled with agility by just one person, yes, our beloved”Gondoliere”.  The Gondoliere is traditionally a man’s profession and the job is often passed from father to son. At this time there are 425 licensed Gondoliers in the official  Venetian Gondoliers Association, and though several women have tried to become licensed Gondoliers, so far none has been able to pass the grueling testing to become licensed in the city of Venice.  Many women have tried and failed.  Testing  candidates must demonstrate  the physical strength  and the skills to safely navigate currents and paddle in reverse and the ability to handle a 35-foot-long gondola.  It must be clarified that many male candidates fail the test as well.
The  typical Gondola is approximately eleven meters long, with an average width of 1.40 meters, weighing from 400 kilos to about 600 kilos, and it is composed of 280 parts made  from eight different kinds of wood, and it can take up to 2 years to build.  The bottom of the gondola is flat so as to navigate safely even in very shallow waters.   The gondola is asymmetric with the left side  larger than the right by 24 cm.  The asymmetry and slight inclination  on one side causes the gondola to resist the tendency to turn toward the left at the forward stroke.

The origin of the name “gondola” is controversial: some speculate that the origin of the name comes from latin word cymbula (little boat) or from concula (shell). Others guess it may have something to do with the italian verb “dondolare”  and others still  speculate the name comes from the greek word kuntelas, which is formed by the combination of  the words kontos (short) and helas (shuttle). We find a first official note about a gondulam in 1094, in which a decree of the Doge made mention of it.

During the golden age of the ‘Serenissima’, the independent Republic of Venice,  the gondola was not only a means of transportation but it offered both shelter from bad weather and privacy for the passengers, adopting   a closed cabin placed in the center of the Gondola. The delighted passengers could enjoy drinks, food, conversation or romance in complete confidentiality, surrounded only by the waters of the Adriatic Sea.  During the hot summer nights Venetians would cool off while showing off their finery by removing the cabin.  Therefore the gondola also became a social status symbol.  Today, thousands of tourists happily, and somewhat in awe, enjoy the luxury once only reserved to the Venetian aristocracy.

Because of its graceful shape, its cultural significance, and its iconic status, the Venetian gondola has been represented in Italian paintings repeatedly.  Economical prints of Venice, many featuring the gondola as the main subject, others merely including it in the background, abound in art and print stores.  The sight of a gondola says unequivocally Venice, just as the sight of the Vesuvius says unequivocally Naples and the sight of the Coliseum says unequivocally Rome.  However, the gondola is not widely found in the works of the Renaissance Venetian masters, such as Giorgione, Titian, Veronese, etc.  Bellini’s Miracle of the Cross at San Lorenzo (1500) is an exception, and the gondolas represented herein are more primitive versions of today’s elaborate boats.  More than two hundred years had to elapse before the gondola was able to take honor of place in the works of Canaletto (The Grand Canal toward Rialto, 1720) and Bellotto (Il Rio dei Mendicanti, 1740).  The main reason for this is probably the early masters’ overweening preoccupation with biblical subjects, but it probably also points to the utilitarian status of the early gondola, regarded simply as a useful conveyance rather than a subject worthy of an artist’s attention.

Contemporary artists whose original works feature the Venetian gondola with skill and passion include Angelica Di Chiara and Linda Lowry, among others.

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Italian Art – Post-Renaissance Paintings, Mannerism in Italy

The term “mannerism” is applied to an Italian artistic movement of the 16th century, which drew its inspiration from the maniera (or the style) of the great artists who worked in Rome during the preceding years, particularly Raffaello and Michelangelo.

The age of the maniera begins with the death of Raffaello in 1520, and it is given impetus, ironically, by one of the blackest events in the history of the West, the sack of Rome by the Imperial Army in 1527.  This event scattered the Roman community of artists all over the Peninsula (Naples, Pesaro, Bologna, Mantova), and as far away as Fontainebleau in France, and everywhere they went the artists brought their visions and techniques and seeded the flowering of the maniera in Late Renaissance Europe.

However, the term maniera is already present in the writings of Giorgio Vasari in the 15th century.  For Vasari the next logical step from naturalism was the surpassing and the perfectioning of nature herself.  The logical argument went as follows: if the earlier greats had finally succeeded in understanding and codifying the laws by which nature can successfully be imitated, then their successors, starting with a complete understanding of these rules, will know how to bend them to their pleasure and their artistic inspiration.  Technical competence of the highest order and an ability to faithfully depict the natural world are givens in the ethos of the maniera: the mastery of the rules is merely the starting point for the license the artist is then allowed.  This tension between rule and license is in fact a key philosophical feature of the maniera movement.  This is the pictorial equivalent of that sprezzatura exhibited with such eloquence in the Il Cortigiano, by Baldassarre Castiglione.  Furthermore,  the maniera exhibits the inclusion of bizarre or incongruous elements, a vagueness in the colors, and a wide variety of background scenes.
Amongst the practitioners of the maniera there stands out a group of artists who elaborated classical themes with greater personality and depth than heretofore.  Of these we may mention Bronzino, Vasari, Daniele da Volterra, Francesco Salviati, Giuseppe Porta, Nicolo’ dell’Abate, Carpenino, the brothers Federico, and Thaddeus Zuccari.

The age of the maniera begins to decline with the end of the Council of Trent 1n 1563, but the movement, as it wanes, becomes ever more refined, introverted and decorative, giving birth to works of unexcelled virtuosity,  commissioned by the great European ruling houses for private enjoyment of an extremely elitist character.  Such were the works belonging to the Studiolo di Francesco I in the Palazzo Vecchio in Firenze, and in the collection of Rudolph II in Prague.  The movement finally declines into affectation, artificiality, preciousness, characteristics that have been variously found and evaluated in these artists according to the changing tastes of the times.

The term manierismo (as opposed to maniera) appears much later, with the flowering of the neo-classicism of the late 18th century.  Fundamentally this was understood as a digression of art from its own ideal, and was thus negatively judged by the historian Jacob Burkhardt in characterizing the Italian period between the Renaissance and the Baroque.  However, in the early years of the 20th century, with the advent of expressionism and surrealism, the Mannerists were rehabilitated and the underlying Mannerist philosophy (the separation of art from physical reality, the abandonment of the idea that the beauty of nature is unsurpassable, and moving past the idea that the artistic ideal  should be the imitation of nature) was vindicated.  In this conception then art becomes art for its own sake, ars gratia artis.

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Italian Art from Roman Times to the End of the Renaissance

Pre-Roman Art in Italy

Venezia Impressionista Italian ArtBefore Rome started her expansion on the Italian peninsula, notable works of art were being produced by the Etruscans, dominant in Central Italy, and by the Greek colonists who had settled along the coastlines of Southern Italy.  The artistic expressions and techniques of the Hellenized parts of Italy  followed closely those of the mother country, whereas Etruscan art, though still influenced by Greek models, is readily differentiated in style and subject.  Etruscan art was mainly religious and the few surviving examples are connected with funerary rites.  Excavated Etruscan tombs containing bronze figures, jewelry, artistic implements, etc., offer a rich archeological evidence of artistic activity.  In painting there are notable frescoes in Tarquinia which represent the earliest surviving examples of pictorial art on the Peninsula.

Italian Art during the Roman Period

In the early Roman polity, during the semimythical period of the seven kings, there was a strong admixture of Etruscan social and artistic influences.  It is not surprising, therefore, that early Roman art was essentially a continuation of Etruscan art.  This condition persisted during the early republican period.  But in the later stages of the republic, as closer ties were forged with the Greek world, Roman art began to borrow more and more heavily from that world.  The decorative use of pictorial mosaics in the residences of the rich became widespread, as well as the practice of sculpture in public and religious buildings.  Numerous examples of both art forms survive in the ruins of both temples and villas, representing the flow of organized religion and public worship in Roman life.  Later, in imperial times, the influence of Greece in Latin art, and in many other fields, became even more pronounced.

Italian Art during the Byzantine Period

More severe, less naturalistic and sometimes more dramatic artwork styles were later developed in the surviving Eastern empire, following the fall of the West.  The stylized representation of the human figure, two-dimensional, with no depth or perspective,  characterizes the Byzantine style that dominated Italian painting until the end of the 13th century.  The context is almost invariably religious, and the intent of the artist is clearly not to produce a faithful representation of the physical world, but to evoke in the spectator feelings of otherworldliness, mysticism, and piety.

Italian art during the Renaissance period

The Renaissance was the great reflowering of art, literature, philosophy and science which began at the start of the 15th century, the fabled Quattrocento of Italy.  In this period, inaugurated by Giotto’s epochal break with Byzantine traditions, we have a more realistically representational art, an art more concerned with the representation and interpretation of the physical world, and the humanity that inhabited it, rather with purely religious themes.  This does not mean that religious themes were no longer treated; it does mean that, within these themes, the renderings were more worldly, more human, less stylized and ethereal.  Space came to be represented with the discovery of the laws of perspective, and in time secular subjects came to be represented along with religious ones.  Classical (pre-Christian) ideals were revived, the achievements of the ancients were rediscovered, and some were found valuable.  Hybrid subjects uniting religious and classical themes became common.  Humanism, the idea that humanity and human concerns were after all worthy objects of study, came into its own and left its mark on painting, sculpture, and architecture.

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The Path To Happiness Should Include Italian Art

Today’s hectic world could use a little Italian spice

Italian Wine Shadow PaintingThere are so many stresses and pressures people are under nowadays that it is a wonder more people haven’t discovered the healing and calming effects that Italian Art can give you. For some people doing everything right is just not enough to break out of the slump that difficulties in life can produce. There is a psychological phenomenon that most people are completely unaware of.

Color has a strong influence on your outlook on life

Ever looked at a cluttered desk or table and felt a feeling of frustration? Ever been in a bad mood because your home or office is just filled with too much stuff?  You are not alone.  Millions of people suffer the same problem. Clutter is an example of how visual shapes and colors can cause your subconscious mind to be overburdened with calculations. The same problem with clutter is magnified when it comes to more pervasive things, like wall color, curtains, and other large features of your home.

Color can effect your subconscious mind

It seems to be common knowledge that certain colors make you feel one way or another.  The exaggerated example is the saying “I was so mad that I was seeing red.” Bull fighters for instance have been irritating bulls for centuries with the color red.  Using red in your home can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your personality.

Behavioral controls that use color

Hospitals and government institutions have been using color as a behavior modification technique for decades. Ever wonder why large facilities have well coordinated color schemes?  Many institutions use shades of blue, green, and earthy tones in order to create a calming atmosphere especially in places where patrons are in a stressful situation and may be easily irritated.  Many doctors and health officials believe that environmental conditions can increase the rate of recovery after injury or surgery and color plays a major role in that process.

Why Italian Art can bring you more satisfaction in life

There is no question that Italian artists have know how to inspire joy and feelings of well being through their masterful use of color. You won’t often find Italian art that is full of nonsensical clashing of colors. The eye wants to make sense of the world and too many clashing color combinations repel most viewers.  And Italian painters have the art of mood enhancement using colors down to a science.  It is no wonder that people are willing to pay top dollar to have this wonderful type of mood enhancing art in their homes.

Recent Art From This Author For Sale

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Acquiring Italian Paintings and other Art

The History of Italian Art is Important To Understand

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Italy is a country internationally admired for its vast culture, art and romance. The fascinating history and culture that constitute the essence of Italy is exemplified partly by its fashionable art, which has been flourishing and enriching the world since ancient times to the present.  Italian art recreates the heart and soul of Italian life and makes you feel like you are standing there in the midst of beautiful countrysides, vineyards, gardens and coastlines. Italian art finds its expressions in characteristically beautiful and elegant ceramics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, architecture, as well as in modern and vintage photography, cinematography, design and other crafts.

Acquiring Italian Art

The traditions of Italian art and craftsmanship go back to pre-Roman times and come to us through the Medieval reflowerings, the Renaissance, the Baroque, etc.  But most original Italian art, as is true everywhere in the world, is properly preserved in art galleries and museums to be enjoyed by connoisseurs and casual visitors alike for the price of an admission ticket.  It is only the truly wealthy and the truly dedicated who can afford to add a Raffaello or a Caravaggio to their private collections. But there hope for the rest of us: contemporary artists who are virtual students of the great masters in that they have nurtured their talents in their traditions and their styles offer us the opportunity to catch solid echoes of the works of the masters of long ago at a fraction of the cost. Other artists, on the other hand, have evolved their art along paths that lead to no immediately discernible connection with the classical masters, but their art exudes nevertheless the same subtle aura of “Italianity”.  The works of these contemporary artists and artisans are within reach of most of us, and who’s to say which of them will be deemed a Raffaello by the art critics of a century hence?  Another affordable possibility, for us “normal” people, to display a masterwork in our homes is the acquisition of a quality print, which can be obtained in a variety of sizes at reasonable cost.

Italian Art In Modern Age


Modern Art in Italy can be summed up by three different major artistic movements, namely Futurism, the Metaphysical School, and Classical Modern Art

Futurism came to life as a child of the Industrial revolution.  Its first proponent , poet Filippo Marinetti, published a manifesto on “Le Figaro’ in 1909. He summed up the major principles of the futurists, such as a love of technology, speed and violence, a celebration of the technological era of the future. Industrial cities, along with cars, and airplanes represented the ongoing motion of modern life and a sense of victory of man over nature and demanded a blunt cut from the traditions of art of the past. While Futurism remained mostly confined to Italy some of its ideas influenced movements such as dadaism, Surrealism , Art deco and constructivism (Carlo Carra’, Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant’Elia)

The Metaphysical School
Giorgio de Chirico is considered the father of this art movement, closely followed by Carlo Carra’, already a leading futurist.  The main characteristic of the movement is the concern with the effects of the subconscious mind on people’s lives. The result is idealized Italian cities and their squares (piazze) and the dream like effects of mixing and bonding of object of a visionary world . This movement is believed to have influenced Surrealism, which later dominated art in Europe. ( De Chirico, Carra’, Giorgio Morandi)

Classical Modern Art in Italy
At the beginning of the 20th century The Classical Modern school of art was popular in most of Europe with several Italian artists at the core of this school .  The intent of the school was the revitalizing of a simpler, less sentimental but more vigorous Classical tradition (Arrigone, Arturo Martini, Manzu’)

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