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Sites reopened at Pompeii PDF Print E-mail
Aug 11, 2014 at 08:48 PM

The House of Apollo
Ten buildings in Pompeii have reopened to the public as of August 4; they include eight domus (or upper-class houses) and a bath complex, with a caldarium and frigidarium as well as a changing room where there are sixteen panels with depictions of erotic scenes, including one portraying two women, almost unique in Roman painting, The spa is believed to have been a privateone and is housed in a structure that at the time looked out onto the sea (Pompeii today is much further inland).

The sites had been shut because of a lack of personnel but as of this month 30 new attendants have been hired. The re-opened houses include the prestigious House of Apollo, with frescoes depicting scenes from the mythology surrounding the god, and the Lararium of Achilles, which takes its name from the paintings showing the latest episodes of the Trojan War, such as the duel between Achilles and Hector. The 30 new employees welcome visitors and provide historical, artistic and archaeological information about the buildings, including in English. Their duties include protection of the archaeological treasures on view and ensuring compliance with site rules and safety regulations.

The agreement underwriting the hiring of additional personnel was signed on July 28th by the Superintendent of Archeology for Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabia and the ALES company which provides the day-to-day management of the site. It follows an earlier meeting between European and Italian Culture officials that underwrote the new 100 million euro Grande Progetto Pompei (GPP) which is supposed to restructure, enlarge and better protect a world-famous site that in recent years has been astonishingly neglected.

Sari's e-book on sale this weekend at Amazon PDF Print E-mail
Jul 27, 2014 at 04:16 PM
ImageMy e-book, "My Home Sweet Rome: Living (and Loving) in the Eternal City" is temporarily on sale at the Kindle Store
One I will make sure NOT to miss. PDF Print E-mail
Jul 26, 2014 at 05:22 PM

ImageAnyone who has read my book (My Home Sweet Rome: Living (and Loving) in the Eternal City) knows how frustrating life can be in this country, especially if you come from places where efficiency is considered a value. But there are certainly reasons for continuing to live here, as I have done now for 40 years (40 years!). One of these is the incredible wealth of artwork and the ability of Italian authorities - local and national - to make these works available to the rest of us.

Here, therefore, is one art show that I am not going to miss even if I have to travel to see it. Starting on July 26th (today) and lasting through November 30 is the from Giotto to Gentile show in Fabriano (in the Marche) that will be featuring painting and sculpture during the 1200s and 1300s', The show, curated by the controversial but surely brilliant art critic, Vittorio Sgarbi, provides a unique insight into little-known medieval masterpieces.

The exhibition in Fabriano's Pinacoteca Civica will be flanked by visits to the churches of Sant'Agostino and San Domenico and in the Cathedral of San Venanzio and will incloude paintings, frescoes, sculptures, miniatures, manuscripts, gold jewellery and altarpieces on loan from major Italian museums and private collections. Among the artists on show is local 14th century painter Allegretto Nuzi, who travelled to Tuscany in 1348 during a plague pandemic and painted the Madonna dell'Umiltà - also portrayed by his pupil in Fabriano, Francescuccio di Cecco Ghissi, in the sumptuous style that made him appreciated by local patrons.

I can't wait!

The Great Beauty” may show Rome’s beauty but it is hardly great. PDF Print E-mail
Mar 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM

ImageWhen the film “La Grande Bellezza” opened here in Rome in spring, 2013, it hardly made a splash. The reviews were mixed and some people, me included, hadn’t even heard of it. I was asked about it by a friend from New York and had to confess my ignorance. I don’t go to the cinema all that often but aside from that, there hadn’t been any real talk about the film or at least not enough for it to have come to my attention.

Then early this year it started winning prizes in the US and the UK where, to my mind, stereotypical ideas of Italy continue to prevail, along with understandable nostalgia for a real cinematic genius, Federico Fellini, whose like will probably never again be seen. So the film gathered motion and it quickly became clear that because of a mistaken mindset about Italy by many US and UK critics the film would get the Oscar for best foreign film of 2013. By this time, I had seen it and to be honest it was hate at first sight. Why? Because aside from the starring role given to some of the gorgeous monuments, buildings, landscapes and statues of the incomparably beautiful city where I have spent the last several decades of my life, it is a film about nothing. Or rather about a silly man who made his name with a book he wrote when he was 30-40 years younger and since then has done nothing but spend money on parties to which he invites would-be intellectuals and misfits, spend money and wander around Rome at night, everywhere bumping into people he knows – countesses, drunkards with daughters who think being a striptease artist is the maximum, his best friend who is a failing actor, an odd little man who claims to have the keys to most of the great palaces of Rome (and by the way, the ones shown are almost all museums not private dwellings), a secretive neighbor who turns out to be a criminal in hiding and so on and so forth. At 65, the protagonist is starting to become aware of his own mortality and feels sad about friends who die and what he himself will soon lose. Big deal! This is the kind of thing most people who reach 65 start thinking. But it doesn’t seem to occur to him that he has wasted his life with a stupid frivolous lifestyle. So the film has no dénouement and in effect is about nothing, rien, nada, except, perhaps, him finding some comfort in the timeless beauty of the Eternal City.

I apologize but my imagination is not touched when I know I am being manipulated; something you never felt with the best of Fellini. This is a largely non-existent Rome of white-garbed nuns and novices (haven’t seen any of those lately), an ancient Mother Teresa knock-off supposedly vowed to poverty who allows herself to be feted by the protagonist’s rich friends and who is awakened the next morning by a flock of flamingos (flamingos, on a Roman rooftop?) whom she blows away with what might be her last breath. And I wish the director had cut out the cheap anti-clericalism, including a scene which has a church prelate (I can’t remember if it was a cardinal or a bishop) dining, and plying with champagne,  a giggling nun in a (real) elegant Roman restaurant. Oh, give me a break. I am not Catholic and think I have a pretty unjaded view – light and shadows of the Vatican. But I can assure you that you would NEVER see anything of this sort in Rome. NEVER.

The movie was shown on Italian state tv a couple of weeks ago so many normal Italians who had never seen it finally got a chance to view it and from what I hear from friends, either fell asleep or are not worrying that they weren’t intelligent enough to understand the film. I feel like reassuring them all. Don’t worry about it. There was nothing to understand and the best title for the film would have been La Grande Nulla. The big nothing.

Recovered stolen Italian art on view PDF Print E-mail
Jan 24, 2014 at 11:43 PM
Image Here’s an interesting exhibit. One hundred stolen artworks from the 6th century BC through the 16th century recovered by Italy’s crack Carabiniere art recovery squad went on exhibit January 23rd on the second floor of the Quirinale Palace, residence of the Italian President, through March 16.


ImageThe exhibit includes some wonderful antique statuary, 23 magnificent vases that were part of an underground Etruscan tomb near Perugia, a series of silver drinking cups given my the Spanish king to his confessor and which had been bought by a Swiss man after disappearing from a church in Chiusa, near Bolzano as well as vases and paintings returned by a Japanese businessman who also lives in Switzerland. A massive silver cross that was made in Baronecchia in 1442 is part of the recovered booty along with 13th, 14th and 15th century paintings statuary.


The exhibit, which is free, can be viewed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. and 18:30 every day but Monday when the Palace is closed to the public. Sundays it is open from 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 when it is combined with a general tour of this 16th century former papal summer residence. The cost for the Sunday tour is 5€.


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