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  :-)

 

An Italian Holiday Tradition

Gli Zampognari

In the days before Christmas, from the mountains of the Abruzzo, the Matese and the Sannio, the zampognari come down to the cities to add their sonorous magic to the spirit of the coming Holiday. By tradition they come in pairs, in traditional garb: the senior member plays the zampogna (a kind of bagpipe), while the junior partner play the piffero (a kind of oboe.) Always the repertoire includes “Tu scendi dalle Stelle”, the most beloved and best known Italian carol.

Zampognari
Zampognari

In those times

To us Italians living in self-imposed exile (at least for those of us coming from South of Rome), the sight and the memory of the zampognari are poignant reminders of an Italy that is all but vanished, of a simpler time, of a smaller close-knit world of family members and friends, of a lifestyle that played out almost entirely in the home, the local school, the church, the nearby bar, and the town square dominated by the clock tower. All within walking distance. A trip to the big city, 30 kilometers away, was a sometime thing, a serious undertaking, perhaps a treat for a small boy, offered as a reward for some significant milestone, such as a graduation. And the progress of the seasons was marked by unvarying milestones that spooled their stately way across the months: the hanging of the sorb bush outside the balcony, the making of the sanguinaccio by the severe black-clad women who lived downstairs, the bottling of the tomatoes, the taralli at Easter, the return of the swallows to their mud nests built in the seams between the beams and the flat ceiling. And, of course, the advent of the zampognari.

In those times there were no Santa Claus and no Christmas tree; there were instead the Befana and the Presepe. The Befana, a good witch, brought gifts to children who had been good on January 6 (the Feast of the Epiphany.) Adults did not exchange gifts in this simpler time: the preoccupation with basic needs was still too immediate to allow detours into discretionary items acquired simply for reasons of status, aesthetics, or amusement.

And now…

But that was then, and this is now. Italians now have Santa Claus and Christmas trees, and the trickle of holiday shoppers is morphing into a torrent. Italians are fond of giving and receiving artwork, custom-designed jewelry, and household items that combine functionality with beauty and tradition. Come Christmas, fashion-conscious young girls promenading along Via Veneto or Via Toledo will sport sparkling Murano glass pendants and intricately crafted earrings, the walls of Italian homes will be newly-hung with original Italian paintings and classic photographs recalling an earlier era, and the lady of the house will be enjoying her new Deruta bowls and serving platters. The old ones, after all, will be thrown out of the window with the outgoing year come December 31.

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Le Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome

Scuderie Art Museum
Le Scuderie del Quirinale

Some of the most acclaimed art exhibits to have taken place in Rome in recent years have been held at the Scuderie del Quirinale.  These have included works from quintessentially Italian artists, such as Antonello da Messina and Giovanni Bellini, as well as international collections on loan from from their permanent homes.  Such were the 100 Masterworks of the Hermitage and the masterworks of the Guggenheim, of which more later.  Notable other exhibits were Birth of an Empire, the Ottocento, Pop Art, Metaphysics, and Futurism.Over a scant 10 years the 32 exhibits hosted at the Scuderie have been characterized by uncompromising professionalism and unflagging passion, with the result that this former Museum of the Carriage has been indelibly etched in the memories of artists, art historians, and of the public, as one of the more prestigious venues of its kind in the world.  The physical building is itself interesting, and, as is true for many buildings in Italy, has a somewhat mysterious history which is well worth recounting.

Built in the first half of the 18th century, the building is located between the Piazza del Quirinale and the Salita di Montecavallo.  For the first two centuries of life its quiet purpose was to provide logistic support to its more imposing and important neighbor, the Palazzo del Quirinale, which is the Italian equivalent of the American White House in Washington.  One of the roles played by the Scuderie was to serve as a garage for the conveyances of the Pope, and, later, of the Italian royal family.  In the 80’s it was turned into a museum, the Museo delle Carrozze, in recognition of its early role as a rimessa.

The Exhibitions

A new life for the Scuderie began in1997, when the Office of the Italian Presidency, to which the building belongs, gave permission to the Commune of Rome to remodel and use the historic building for major art exhibitions.  Following an international competition, the architect Gae Aulenti was selected to restore the structure and design the exhibition spaces.  The work was performed in record time, just in time to inaugurate the new millennium.  On December 21, 1999, this most recent addition to the world’s top-tier exhibition halls was officially launched with the attendance of the President of the Republic, the Mayor of Rome, and the Italian Minister of Culture.  At its launch the Scuderie featured the 100 Masterworks of the Hermitage, obtained on loan from Saint Petersburg, the largest outpouring of art in that museum’s history.  Included were masterworks by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, Rousseau  le Douanier, Vlaminck, Derein, Vallotton, Vuillard, Sisley, Pisarro, Matisse e Picasso.  They were to remain at the Scuderie until June 2000.  Five years later, in 2005, there followed an equally important exhibit, the Masterworks of the Guggenheim, which definitely solidified the position of the Scuderie as one of the premier artistic centers of international collectivism.

Another important paradigm that animates the choice and programmation of exhibited material derives from the expressed goal to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation for Italian classical and modern art.  This goal has been amply supported by great exhibits dedicated to such figures as Botticelli, Alberto Burri, Antonello da Messina.  Entire historical periods, such as the Renaissance and the Risorgimento, have been featured.  The place of Italian art in the larger context of international art has been explored in a series of thoughtful and innovative shows (Maestà di Roma, Rembrandt, Metafisica, Velazquez, Bernini, Luca Giordano, Da Giotto a Malevic. La reciproca meraviglia, Dürer e l’Italia.)

Not least of the Scuderie’s endeavors is carrying out a mainly summer program dedicated to the great figures of the international cultural scene (Sebastiāo Salgado, Wim Wenders e Santiago Calatrava.)  These are extraordinary events that manage to deliver maximum enjoyment and comprehensibility to the public, while retaining  maximum historical and artistic rigor and innovation.

The Scuderie, after 10 years of uninterrupted successful exhibitions, represents simultaneously the realization of an ambitious artistic goal and a departure point for similarly important endeavors in the future.

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Italy of Old Artistic Photo Collection | Magic Lantern Slides

The pictures presented in our Italy of Old collection were passionately produced from Magic Lantern slides that my grandfather, Rinaldo Rosati, brought from Italy when he immigrated to America around 1900.

The glass slides present Italian culture, Italian art, Italian architecture, Italian cities and countryside, and were probably taken in the mid 1800’s by my great grandfather, Angelo Rosati.

Fond memories, a passion for Italy, and honor to our ancestors are what brought about this endeavor.

Just a little background:

As a child, my mother would bring my sister and myself to visit Grandma and Grandpa Rosati every Saturday. We would catch the 6 AM bus and arrive at their home around 8 AM. My dad was a milkman and would come to pick us up after he got off work. My grandmother would constantly tease him, speaking in Italian – he never understood what she was saying but he always came back with some made up words of his own which nobody understood and we laughed till we cried. We really enjoyed those visits and occasionally brought our friends with us. I think they came along because my grandmother made such great spaghetti sauce – however my grandfather always said he made the best sauce because he used wine which he made himself.

As a little boy, I would always “snoop” around their home to look for interesting things, like the wine press in the basement and the oak barrels where my grandfather aged his homemade wine.

Then there was the attic with some old trunks, a few boxes with old pictures, and a unique old wooden box with some strange looking glass slides in it. I never thought much about that box until one day grandpa said that someday I could have it – so, after that, it became a “prize” that I constantly asked for, but was told “when you get older.”

I never really thought about it as I got older until my grandfather passed away when I was in my twenties. I remembered what he had said about the box and at that time I finally collected my “prize.”

Again, many years passed and I occasionally looked at the slides, but nothing really clicked until we (my wife, Debbie, and kids, Baron & Juliene) visited Italy and fell in love with the people, the culture, the immense beauty, the amazing art, the unsurpassed architecture, and the cities and countryside.

The slides now had a new meaning and became our family’s labor of love.

We lovingly present these pictures for your enjoyment and to honor our Italian ancestry.

Grandma and Grandpa Rosati were such awesome loving grandparents who brought into our lives the appreciation of their Italian heritage which we carry with us today, as do our children.

The slides have been scanned, painstakingly detailed, and reproduced for all to see, and hopefully feel the extreme passion that Italy can bring into your heart.

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