It was not unusual to see Fellini drinking a cafe in the “Canova bar”, a few meter from there, on the Piazza del Popolo, in the morning, before he went to work, or in his office in Corso d’Italia, just at the other side of the villa Borghese, or in his beloved “teatro 5” at the Cinecittà film studios.
Don’t believe those who say that the magic Rome that princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) discovered during her unforgettable “Roman Holidays” with the irresistible journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) doesn’t exist any more. It is not true, even if that beautiful romance has almost 65 years!
Not far from the noisy and crowded via del Corso, between the sumptuous Piazza del Popolo and the famous Spanish Steps, there is a little street that seems protect by an enchantment. An unexpected oasis of peace and beauty, with small houses surrounding courtyards and gardens that look like little villages lost in the middle of a big town.
Once, there were almost all luminous painter’s and sculptor ’s studios. One of them or, more exactly, two of them (at the number 51 and the number 33), where the sculptor Alcide Tico lived and worked, were chosen by William Wyler to shot his film “Roman Holidays” in the 1952. Today, if you enter in the courtyard of the number 51 where you can find different little shops of design and interior architecture, go the the porter, Fabrizio Falcone. He has transformed his lodge in a little museum with the walls covered by posters and photographs of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and he will, if you are lucky and he is not to busy, show you the famous steps leading to Joe’s apartment and the terrace where the panorama has not change at all from the fifties: the old “centro storico” of Rome that you can admire from the via Margutta terraces, on the slope of the hill Pincio and the park of Villa Borghese, with his roof gardens, churches and cupolas, is exactly the same that princess Ann marvelled. The only new things in via Margutta are some luxury shops, some antiques, and a good vegetarian restaurant…
If you like cinema, there is another important address in via Margutta, at the opposite side of the famous number 51 of the tiny street . Going towards piazza del Popolo, at the number 110, you’ll see a little memorial plaque dedicated to Federico Fellini and his wife, the marvellous actress Giulietta Masina. The couple used to live there, on the first floor, in a huge apartment, full of books, for decades, until they died, in the nineties.
It was not unusual to see Fellini drinking a cafe in the “Canova bar”, a few meter from there, on the Piazza del Popolo, in the morning, before he went to work, or in his office in Corso d’Italia, just at the other side of the villa Borghese, or in his beloved “teatro 5” at the Cinecittà film studios.
Winter is very close and grape and olive harvests are almost completed in Italy.
Now it is time to rest a bit and tell you the amazing story of our olives harvest experience.
We are located in Maremma, the southern part of Tuscany: our country house lies within a working farm estate (27 acres) producing first quality Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.
The olive trees that are all around our house have seen many things and many people as they are much more old than our grandparents. There is a very special atmosphere, the time seems to stop some days, the surroundings are whispering stories about farmers and old traditions from once upon a time.
The olive picking usually starts at the beginning of November and ends in Mid December all around Tuscany depending on atmospheric conditions.
Olive harvesting is not an easy work: usually, the entire family, often friends and even seasonal workers are called to help during the harvest. Usually the older people of the area are the only people whit the know how in order to correctly decide when to start picking up these little green enchanted fruits. If you start too early the oil quantity will be modest, if you wait too much the taste will be bitter. This activity is not about science and numbers but about skills and experience.
The olives are picked by hand or with olive harvester shakers, they are stocked in nets and then in baskets that are transported the same day of the picking to the mill (the Frantoio). In order to have the best oil and to avoid fermentation the olives must be squeezed in 1 or 2 days from the picking.
There is an unrepeatable energy that is produced during these long days around, inside and over these beautiful trees. Probably brotherhood is the best term to define this nice atmosphere.
We do send our olives to the Mill (Frantoio) in Scansano, where Mister Osvaldo controls, manages and conducts all the different aspects of the squeezing procedure. First of all the olives are separated from the leaves and are cleaned with water.
Then the cleaned olives are pressed obtaining the Olive Paste as a result. Then this paste is gently mixed in order to help the separation of water from oil molecules.
The next step is extremely important and consists in the extraction of the olive oil: the paste is sent to a centrifuge that separates water from extra virgin oil. After 1 to 2 hours of procedures the “green gold” flows out of the machines and can be finally tasted on a crispy homemade Tuscan bread bruschetta. The only word that describes this moment is happiness.
Do you know want to learn how the olive oil is produced? Have you ever experienced the olive harvest tradition in Tuscany?
Many hands are needed to pick olives! That's why it could become a very interesting experience for you to join us, so contact us if you're coming to Tuscany during next Fall. We can host you in our marvelous villa!
After years of restoration and excavations, Circus Maximus, the largest Roman monument is opened to the public (since the 17th of November), even if the restoration is not completed (only the North East part is done).
This huge ancient roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue, in the Murcia valley, between the Aventine and the Palatine hills, existed probably at the very beginning of Rome, almost 2.8OO years ago (the foundation of Rome is dated 21 April 753 BC). According to tradition, the founder of Rome, the legendary Romulus, constructed it and vowed it to the god Consus. The famous "rape of the Sabine women" happened there.
Circus Maximus was destructed by fire many times and reconstructed by several kings, beginning with Tarquinio Prisco, at the end of the VI° century BC and, later, by emperors. The first constructions were in wood and than in bricks and stones. There were two obelisks inside the Circus. One is now on the Piazza del Popolo, the other one Piazza San Giovanni.
With his 621m long and 118m large and the capacity to receive hundreds of thousands people (150.000 according some sources, much more according others) the Circus Maximus became the biggest venue for "ludi", the games, that the antique Romans liked so much. Not only for the chariot racing that we can see in the famous peplum film Ben Hur (that was not shut there, though but in another of the 12 Circus of the ancient Rome!) but also "naumachie" (vessel battles), gladiator's fights, beast (leopard, bears, elephant...) hunts and fights, plays, recitals, athletics, triumphal processions ("pompa circensis")...And public executions!
The excavations discovered in the ground level a lot of workshops, shops, taverna, brothels, betting shops and "latrina," lavatories. Centuries ago, the Roman's already used to bet on a horse. And they also had already lavatories, with current water that came from the aqueduct. It is now possible to visit one of these "avant-garde" latrina entering in a stretch of tunnels of 100 m in the "ground level", beneath the last tier of spectator's seating.
The Circus Maximus was still in function in the sixth century (549) under Totila, one of the last kings of the Ostrogoths. Later, the circus was vandalised for centuries and the valley became an agriculture soil, property of the roman family Frangipane who built a tower, la Toretta della Moletta, with defensive walls in the 12th century. This medieval tower was also restored and can be visited, offering a marvellous panorama on the whole archaeological site that, these last years, became a sort of public park with, some times, big concerts (as the one of the Rolling Stones in 2014).
The entrance for the visitors is on the Piazza di Porta Capena. Opened every day except Monday, from 10h to 16h. After the 12th of December only during the weekends (10h 16h) and the other days by request (tel. n°: 00 39 06 0608) from 9h to 21h.
Thanks to Rome Municipality for the photos of the Circo Massimo.
A beautiful surprise is waiting for you in Rome, in the Termini Railway Station. These last years, especially, the station was not at all a place where to stay more than the strict necessary time to catch a train.
Now it is completely restored and the right wing that was build in the thirties by a great architect of that time, Angiolo Mazzoni, closed for years, is again a beautiful opened space dominated by marble vaults (Cappa Mazzoniana) that houses (from the 5 of October) an extraordinary traditional Italian food market called "Il Mercato centrale", opened every days from seven in the morning until midnight in Via Giolitti 36.
Exactly like the one opened in Florence two years ago, at the first floor of the old San Lorenzo market by the famous Florentine chef Umberto Montano and that had, this year, more than 3 millions visitors.
This anti-fast-food place seems to have already a lot of fans. It is so unusual to see all together so much high quality artisanal food especially in a place that never had an "Oyster Bar" (New York-Grand Central) or a Train Bleu restaurant (Paris- Gare de Lyon).
Inside the "Mercato Centrale", there is a restaurant on the first floor with the chef of a famous roman restaurant, Oliver Glowig, and tables everywhere (for 500 people). It is also possible to buy and take away anything, raw food to prepare at home or already cooked delicious traditional dishes. Fresh fish or meat, fresh pasta, pizzas, pastries, ice cream, chocolate, cheese, truffles, Sicilian specialities, salamis, artichokes, mushrooms and other roman specialities...Also bread and whine, vegetarian and vegan food, hamburger of the best beef from Tuscany, the "Chianina" etc...
All together, there are 15 boutiques, 15 big names of Italian culinary tradition. Amongst them, the roman "pizzaiolo" Stefano Callegari that invented, years ago, the famous "trapizzino", a little jewel where a piece of pizza becomes a sort of "tramezzino" (sandwich of sliced bread) full of tasty food.
There is a strange contamination effect: when you leave the "Cappa Mazzoniana" and continue to walk inside the station, you notice that the quality of the food that you can find there, in the "bars" of the station, has improved, at least from an esthetical point of view, and it is a pleasure to go around and discover nice shops everywhere.
It should be even better in the next months if Umberto Montano, the creator of this magic "Mercato Centrale", succeeds to go on with his project that provides also cinema, theatre and other cultural events inside his Mercato Centrale that he wants to be "a space for high quality and culture, a place for interlocking".
Continuing our tour amongst the churches of Rome, looking for the most precious treasures of art, it is impossible, sometimes, to avoid queuing. To see the most beautiful Michelangelo's sculpture, "La Pietà" (made in 1499, when he was only 25years old!) you'll have to go inside St Peter that is more crowded than ever because of the Jubilee. But the beauty that you'll discover is worth a long wait...
To see another Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, even if it is just beside St Peter, you'll have to wait in another queue (and, this time, pay also a ticket that is better to book in advance), at the entrance of the Vatican Museums.
But you can also find other Michelangelo's works in other churches with a much easier access. For example, in San Pietro in Vincoli, near the via Cavour, not far from the emperor Nero's Golden House (Domus Aurea) and the Colosseum, you'll see a impressive statue of Moses.
But, if you are in Vatican, you can first just cross the Tiber and walk towards the Pantheon and the Piazza della Minerva. Inside "Santa Maria sopra Minerva", there is another Michelangelo's sculpture, on the left side of the main altar, "Christ bearing the cross", that was completed later or, more precisely, "covered" with a bronze drapery. Like some Sistine Chapel nudes that were "dressed" after the Trent Council (1545- 1563)...
In this beautiful gothic church (the only one in Rome!) built upon a Minerva's temple in the 13th century, you can also admire some marvellous frescoes by the Florentine painter Filippino Lippi (Filippo Lippi's son) in the Cappella Carafa ((the Assumption and the Annunciation are unforgettable), on the right side of the main altar. And, on the square in front of the church, Piazza della Minerva, the amusing little elephant that carries an obelisk is an unusual Bernini's work.
Completely different from one of the most intense Bernini's sculpture, "The Ecstasy of St Teresa of Avila ", a baroque absolute masterpiece that you can admire in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, via Venti Settembre, not far from the Termini train station. It is also not so far from San Pietro in Vincoli (the Michelangelo's Moses) and from Santa Maria Maggiore, the oldest of the four papal basilicas of Rome. You have to visit this beautiful basilica, especially if you like mosaics. And, in that case, you cannot ignore Santa Prassede, jus a few steps from Santa Maria, with her extraordinary byzantine mosaics from the 9th century.
But, all this is just a little part of the treasures enshrined in the... 900 churches of Rome.
Rome is incredibly rich in masterpieces: painting, sculptures, monuments ... Everybody knows that. But it is less obvious that a lot of those treasures are visible without queuing and without having to pay entrance tickets. In fact, many of them are not closed in museums where you have to fight with crowds of tourists. At the contrary, very often they still are on the places where they were originally, in their "natural surrounding": in the churches.
It is particularly the case of one of the most extraordinary artist of the whole history of painting: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573- 1610), the great master of the "chiaroscuro" and the pioneer of realistic painting. Seven of his works are exposed in four different roman churches, not very far one from the other.
The most intensively moving experience is perhaps to discover his St Mathieu triptych (painted between 1599 and 1602) in "Saint Louis des Français", the French church of Rome with a beautiful and austere Renaissance facade (end of the 16th century) and a very rich late baroque interior decoration (beginning of the 18th century). In the fifth chapel on the left of the altar, the Contarelli Chapel, you can admire "The Calling of St Mathieu" facing "The Martyrdom of St Mathieu" (with a self-portrait of the painter on the left side of the painting) and, in the middle, the marvellous "St Mathieu and the Angel" called also "The Inspiration".
With the eyes still full of the magic contrast between light and dark that makes the Caravaggio paintings so alive, you are ready to see other works of the great artist. Just a few minutes walk is necessary to go to another church of the same part (Campo Marzio) of the old roman "centro storico", "St Augustine". When you enter into the church and look on the left side, you find yourself in front of a luminous and though very human "Madonna del Loreto", called also "Madonna dei Pellegrini" (Madonna of the Pilgrims). The model that Caravaggio used for this unusual Madonna was a girl friend of him, Lena, a roman prostitute.
As you are already in that church, have a look to the third pillar. You'll be touched by the beauty (and a marvellous blue colour!) of "The prophet Isaiah", a fresco painted by Raphael a hundred year before the Caravaggio's barefoot Madonna.
The third church where you can see two other Caravaggio is "Santa Maria del Popolo", on the famous "Piazza del Popolo (a quarter of an hour walk from the St Augustine) where "The Conversion of St Paul" and " The Crucifixion of St Peter" are one opposite the other in the Cerasi chapel. But, before that, you can have a look to the place where Caravaggio lived and worked, just near St Augustine, at the number 19 of a little street, the Vicolo del Divino Amore.
There is a fourth church, the "Santa Maria Immacolata" (via Veneto) where you can admire, in the sacristy of the church, a "Saint Francis in Meditation" that was considerate until recently as a copy. According to different experts, that is the original painting and not the very similar one exposed in the museum of Palazzo Barberini!
After these splendid experiences, you will probably want to see all the other Caravaggio's paintings exposed in roman museums (the third of all his work is in Rome). The richest one is the Galleria Borghese (with 5 paintings!). But there are some Caravaggio also in Capitoline Museum, Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo Corsini, Doria Pamphilij Gallery and the Vatican Museum.
That is not all. In the Villa Ludovisi (near via Veneto) you can discover the only ceiling that he ever painted: an allegory of the Paracelsus alchemical triad where Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto are, in fact, Caravaggio's self portraits.
And, last but not least, from the 24th March to the 3 July, you can make an extraordinary sensorial journey, a total immersion in the Caravaggio's world with the "Caravaggio experience", at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (via Nazionale). Thanks to a video installation with the use of a sophisticated multi-projections system, original music and even fragrances, created by the famous Florence's pharmacy "Santa Maria Novella" that existed already in the Caravaggio's days.
"La Terrazza" is an unforgettable Ettore Scola's film from 1980. It is there, on a beautiful roman terrace that a group of left-wing intellectuals and politicians played by the most famous actors of that time (Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Ugo Tognazzi,
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli etc), meet regularly.
During the parties, they drink, eat and have vivid and stereotypical discussions that Scola caught, without pity, in his entourage.
It is again on a terrace that, thirty-five years after, Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), the main character of the recent Paolo Sorrentino's "La Grande Bellezza", will meet the companions of a new roman Dolce Vita where the terrace is no more a café on the Via Veneto, like in the sixties of last century, but a private house.
In fact, it is a very old tradition. Already at the time of the ancient Romans (the rich ones, of course!), the terrace was the most important place in the house for at least the half of the year, when the whether was nice enough to live outside or so hot, in the stifling narrow streets, to need more air. "Solarium" was the name for the roof terrace. "Peristyle", for an opened space surrounded with colonnade, more often in front or around a monument, but also in some luxury private houses.
When you walk in the centre of Rome, You just have to look up and you'll see, amongst the roofs, a lot of beautiful "hanging gardens". Most of them are private properties: the rich Romans live often in apartments and not in houses, but the terrace is a "must".
If you don' know any rich Roman where to have a diner party with the view on the Colosseum, like in "La Grande Bellezza", don't worry: All the famous hotels of Rome have a roof garden restaurant and bar.
The best one is probably (according different guides) the restaurant "La Pergola" on the roof of the hotel Hilton, with the German (yes!) chef Heinz Beck. An artist!
A lot of other hotels have also a roof restaurant with a panoramic view: Hotel Hasller (above the Spanish Steps), Hotel Minerva (near the Pantheon), Hotel Forum (with a view on the Imperial Forums), the Bernini- Bristol (Piazza Barberini)...and so many others!
You can discover splendid views without spending fortunes. For example, from the Terrazza Cafarelli, on the top floor of the Capitoline Museums where you can have a coffee or a cappuccino even if you don't go to visit the museums.
There are also, because of the conformation of this unique city constructed upon seven hills, a lot of "natural" terraces, where you can just go and have a look around.
From Trastevere (starting to climb from the viccolo del Cedro, near Santa Maria in Trastevere), for example, you can have a walk to the Janiculum hill. Or, on the Aventine hill, to the "Orange Garden" (just next from the famous key hole of the "Knights of Malta" with a view on Saint Peter) that has a belvedere with a magnificent view.
If you prefer to do something easier, you can just walk to the Pincio (Villa Borghese), above the Spanish steps and discover at your feet, from the terrace of the Pincio, the huge and beautiful Piazza del Popolo. And if you go down, on the Piazza, you can have a rest in one of the two historical café-terrace: Canova or Rosati.
Federico Fellini and Ettore Scola (that, unfortunately, left us just a few days ago) started both drawing for the satirical weekly paper Marc' Aurelio before they became famous film directors. At the contrary, another of the greatest names of the Italian cinema, Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007), painted almost in the last years of his life, when he couldn't talk any more after a stroke. As if he wanted to fill the silence with joyful colors.
The first exhibition of Antonioni's artworks is on in Rome until the end of February, at the "Galleria Piazza di Pietra". At the number 28 of the beautiful "piazza", in the hearth of Rome (not far from the Pantheon), where Antonioni shot some unforgettable scenes of "The Eclipse".
Have a look to some of the paintings of the exhibiton
For all the people coming to Rome and wishing to follow the trail of the mythic "Dolce Vita", there is now a place recently restored that is a must: The "Dolce Vita Gallery" (41 Via Palermo), in the neighbourhood of the railway station Termini and the Opera theatre.
There, you can admire and also buy hundreds of photos of one of the most famous "paparazzo" of the Dolce Vita, the golden years of Rome, between the fifties and the beginning of the sixties, Marcello Geppetti. According to some people, he is the one who inspired Fellini the character of the photograph in the film "la Dolce Vita" named Antonio Paparazzo (in Italian, means noisy mosquito)!
At that time, via Veneto where Federico Fellini had his office, was the centre of the eternal city that was itself again, for a wile, the centre of the world, the "caput mundi". All the international biggest stars of cinema, fashion, design, music etc. came often to Rome, for holidays or for work. In those years, the film studios of Cinecittà where overbooked with peplum and other movies and roman families strolled along Via Veneto just to catch a glimpse of the stars sitting on the terraces of the Doney or, in front, the Café de Paris: Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Anita Ekberg, Sofia Loren...all beautiful women that the Marcello Geppetti's camera has photographed and that now we can find again in the Dolce Vita Gallery.
Thanks to the son of Marcello, Marco, that runs the gallery, the complete archives of his father have been assembled in Via Palermo where the walls of the first room are covered by more than a hundred of his photos. Amongst them, the historical kiss between Liz Taylor and Richard Burton on a boat deck, in the summer 1962, when they fell in love playing together in the J. Mankievicz 's Cleopatra, shot on the island of Ischia and in Rome. The photo caused an enormous scandal at that time because Liz Taylor and Richard Burton were married... but not to each other!
If there are not already enough reasons for you to visit Rome in this moment, there is a supplementary one, very important, especially for the Catholics: the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, convoked by Pope Francis.
This Jubilee started on the 8th of December, feast of the Immaculate Conception, with the traditional opening of the "Holy Door" of the Saint Peter's Basilica by the Pope; and will end on the 20th November 2016, feast of " Christ the King".
Even if only 15 years passed from the previous one (in the 2000), this "extraordinary" Jubilee is, in fact, a return to an old tradition because it happens exactly 50 years after a very important event for the "modernisation" of the Roman Catholic Church: the end (the 8th of December 1965) of the Second Vatican Council.
The Jubilee has not, however, been invented in Rome by the popes but has his roots in the Bible. Exactly in the Book of Leviticus that says that, every 50 years, all the slaves and all the prisoners would be freed, the debts forgiven and the land returned to their former owners. All this, in the name of mercy of God.
The 50 years period is based on the "magic" number 7. In fact, between two Jubilees, or Holy Years, there are 49 years that represent "seven Sabbath of years" says the Bible. In other words, "seven time seven years". That special year of forgiveness was announced in the whole country with the blowing of a ram's horn called "yobel" in Hebrew. The word Jubilee comes from that and not at all from the Latin "jubilare" that means shout of joy or jubilate.
This old Jewish tradition was renewed at the beginning of the fourteenth century by the pope Boniface VIII. He organised, in the year 1300, the first Jubilee in Rome with the intention to encourage pilgrims to come to Rome to obtain a plenary indulgence, the complete remission of the pains for their sins, exactly as the Crusaders had going to deliver Jerusalem. In 1499, the pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) introduced the rite of entering through the Holy Doors of the fourth principal basilicas of Rome: Saint Peter, Saint John Lateran, Saint Paul Outside the Walls and Saint Mary Major. For centuries, the popes didn't really respect the traditional period of 50 years and convoked Jubilee much more often, for different reasons.
For this extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that really began on the 29 November with the opening of the Holy Door of the cathedral of Bangui, in Central African Republic, by pope Francis, the three first roman doors are already opened and the last one, S. Mary Major, is going to be opened on the 1st January. But today, the pilgrims have not to go, like at the time of Borgia, in 1500, through the Holy Doors of the four basilicas. And certainly not, as in 1300 when, to obtain the plenary indulgence, they had to go to Saint Peter's and Saint Paul once a day for for thirty days if they were Roman, and "only" for fifteenth days if they were strangers!
Anyway, even for who is not religious or not a Roman Catholic it is absolutely worth to visit the marvellous four most important roman basilicas.
The walk into the Villa Borghese's beauty and the discovery of amazing places goes on in a splendid sunny end of November.
If almost everybody, in Rome, knows the Museum of the Galleria Borghese and his beautiful occupant, Pauline Bonaparte, there are a very few people that have ever heard of the much smaller but nevertheless precious Carlo Bilotti Museum (from 10h to 16h and from 10 to 19h on saturday and sunday. Monday closed), just near the lake of the park.
The museum gathers a part of the collection Carlo Bilotti that was not only a successful business man who lived between Italy and the States (until his death in 2006) and operated in the branch of cosmetics and perfumes, but also a lover of arts and a friend of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Niki de Saint Phalle and many others. Bilotti gave to the city of Rome a particularly beautiful and unusual (two portraits together) Warhol, the portrait of his wife and his daughter and, amongst other works, 18 paintings and sculptures signed Giorgio De Chirico.
A very strange place, this little museum called also the "Orangery" (before it became a museum it was a store house where the citrus trees were protected during the winter). In the eighteenth century, it had another name: the "Casino dei Giochi d'Acqua", the "House of the Water Games" and was a place dedicated to social events and parties that were the talk of the town. In 1849, during a French military intervention to reestablish the temporal power of the Pope, the "Casino" was destructed. But not entirely. When you enter in the rooms of the temporary exhibitions, an extraordinary surprise expects you: the wall of one of the rooms is a magnificent fountain, surrounded by two antique roman statues, forgotten for more than one and a half century!
Strangely, in the front of this unexpected treasure from the past, the exhibition "Urbs Picta" that is on in this moment (until the 17th January) is related to street art: graffiti and murals painted on the grey walls and boring facades of the poorest suburbs of Rome. Sometimes, there are just sunny colors and comic's humor, but in these last years, violence, anger and even desperation are present always more often.
Thanks to the photograph Mimmo Frassineti we can see well and even better (when they are in difficult places as inside tunnels or very high on the walls) these very strong interventions of artists as Blu, Borondo, Malala and many others that are perhaps the most interesting in this moment. Much more, probably, than many of those whose "installations" are exhibit in contemporary art galleries and museums...
But there is another jewel at the other side of the villa Borghese, at the Pincio hill (with a magnificent panoramic view above piazza del Popolo) where you can go walking from the "Orangery", passing through via delle Magnolie. In these days, more than ever, you cannot miss the splendid Villa Medici (open every day except monday from 10 to 19). Constructed in the middle of the 16th century by the Medici from Florence, the villa became, in 1803, thanks to Napoleon, the French Academy of Rome. This institution founded by the king Louis XIV (but in another place, in palazzo Capranica) houses young French artists from all disciplines (painters, musicians, writers...) who, getting a scholarship, come to stay in Rome for six month or a year. The Villa Medici organizes also concerts and exhibitions. In this moment, until the 31 January, there is a particularly fascinating exhibition of an artist who had a very important part in the restructuration of the villa Medici in the sixties and seventies of last century, the painter Balthus (Balthazar Klossowski de Rola) who was the director of the villa from 1961 to 1977.
It is possible not only to see his paintings and drawings, very often nudes of very young girls, delicate and vanishing as a dream, but also the apartments where he lived and worked and the rooms that inspired his paintings like the famous "Chambre Turque" that is exceptionally possible to visit with a guided tour.
And after you have seen the magic Balthus in the villa you will probably want to go and see the other exhibition that is dedicated to the great artist in another beautiful place of Rome: the "Scuderie del Quirinale".
But before, you have to go just beside the French Academy, to have at least a coffee at the Casina Valadier, a splendid café-restaurant from the beginning of the nineteenth century, recently renewed.
"The beauty will save the world", said Dostoevsky.
In this dark moment of the History, the best antidote is probably that: the beauty. And, in Rome, there is a magic place with an incredible concentration of natural beauty and art: the Villa Borghese park.
This huge park in the hearth of the city is probably unique in the whole world. Here you can not only walk amongst the golden trees of an extraordinary Indian summer, or rent a row boat on a peaceful lake surrounded by roman pines and other trees and bushes, with a roman temple in the middle, in a purest romantic English Garden style, but also discover so many master pieces from all periods.
From the strange Mona Lisa smile of the Etruscan couple of the "Sarcophagus of the betrothed" that will welcome you in the "Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia" to the tiny but so alive Giacometti's sculptures and the solar Van Gogh's "Gardener" or Modigliani's "Reclining Nude" at the "Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna" (distant only a few minutes walking).
Another very famous laying young lady, the beautiful Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's sister and prince Camillo Borghese's wife, sculptured by Antonio Canova as "Venus Victorious", will receive you in the first room, on the ground floor of the luminous "Galleria Borghese".
The Cardinal Scipione Borghese, an ancestor of the prince Camillo, built it for his magnificent collection of sculptures and paintings, at the beginning of the 17th century. You can still find there an important part of that extraordinary collection. Amongst all these treasures, The Bernini's "Rape of Proserpine" or his "Apollo and Daphne". But also a few Caravaggio: "David with the head of Goliath", "Sick Bacchus", "St Jerome." A "Deposition" of Rubens or the famous Titian's "Sacred and Profane love"...
Not far from the Galleria, you can bring your children to the "Bioparco", a new word for the old Zoo, whit a population of 1.444 animals and 200 species. For the more curious, there is even a new little very avant-garde museum dedicated to the "Environmental Crimes". To regenerate yourself, you can find also a restaurant inside the Bioparco.
There are, however, in the Villa Borghese, other places, much more sophisticated, where you can have a lunch, a dinner or just a drink. One of them, a beautiful sunny terrace where you can sit outside in the middle of the winter if it doesn't rain, the "Caffé Delle Arti", is attached to the Museum of Modern Art (entrance Via Antonio Gramsci). The refined menu and the exquisite desserts seem to be just a natural continuation of the museum visit.
At the other side of the Villa Borghese Park, called the Pincio, other surprises wait for you. Coming up next...
The famous Federico Fellini's film has already more than 55 years but the expression "La Dolce Vita", the sweet life, is more than ever lively in Rome. So many restaurants, bars, night- clubs in Rome and also in other Italian cities are named after it. And, in this moment, two important Roman events are related to it.
The first one is the inauguration of the renewed "Fontana di Trevi" where Marcello Mastroianni followed the beautiful blond Anita Ekberg, on the 3th of November. The restoration of the famous fountain (Nicola Salvi, 18th century, late baroque) began in June 2014 and was financed (2, 2 millions Euro) by the Fendi sisters. After one and a half year, the Romans and the tourists will be able to admire it again without any scaffolding and imagine having a part in the mythical scene of the film. And also, and this is not irrelevant, it will be again possible to drop some coins into the fountain just to be sure to come back to Rome.
Fellini's is also present, in a certain way, in another part of Rome. After Paris and the "Musée d'Orsay", the exhibition entitled "Una Dolce Vita? From Liberty to Italian design 1900-1940" is now in Rome, in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, via Nazionale (not far from the railway station Termini), until the 17th of January.The title "Dolce Vita" has a question mark. In fact, in this exhibition we are not at all in the fellinian decadent Rome of the beginning of the sixties, but in a very young Italy, at the beginning of the twentieth century where artists and artisans worked together, full of enthusiasm, united by an optimistic vision of a world based on progress.
Everything started with the First Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art of Torino in 1902. It was the period of floral patterns and interlaced curves of the "Liberty" style, but also the extravagant furniture of Carlo Bugatti, followed very soon (1909, Marinetti' s "Futurism Manifesto") by the even more eccentric Futurists.
After the choc of the WWI, these lovers of progress, movement and speed will be ready to reconstruct the universe with their unlimited fantasy and their faith in the miracles of the contemporary world.
On the top floor of the huge "Palazzo delle Esposizioni" you can admire all that extraordinary creativity through a rich selection of furniture, glasses, lamps, ceramics, cloths, toys.... overflowed of fantasy and joy. The objects made by the futurist Fortunato Depero for his "House of the Magician" are particularly amazing. You'll discover also the incredible modernity of the objects designed much before 1940. As, for instance, the table lamp "Bilia" (1931) of the great architect Gio Ponti, considered as the father of the Italian design.
As in the 1931 the lamp was considered too much avant-garde, the production of it started many years later. And today, Bilia is still produced under the brand name "Fontana Arte" created by Gio Ponti in the thirties. The Dolce Vita is not over.
RO_map turns the heart of Rome into an open-air museum under the sky that investigates the most innovative frontiers of digital art applied to architecture and urban spaces. From the 9th – 12th September the Circus Maximus arena and Piazza Navona will become the protagonists of an extraordinary stroke of magic.
For the first time in Italy, the French collective group Coin will interpret the evocative setting of the Circus Maximus in a new light by means of the monumental installation entitled Globoscope: 256 luminous spheres arranged in an area of more than 3,000 metres squared and controlled by a wireless system that will transform the arena into a digital landscape.
Mathematics, sound and lighting will be used by the digital artist Maxime Houot, of the collective group Coin, to reproduce, transform and amplify the urban space, as well as offering spectators a surrealistic walk under the stars on the evenings of the 9th and 10th of September.
The festival will continue on the evenings of the 11th and 12th September in Piazza Navona. The Renaissance faҫade of the Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart will be transfigured by the 3-D projections of the artists “Apparati Effimeri” from Bologna, in a synergic composition of spectacular colours, sounds, lights and images that play on the aesthetic canvas of the architecture. 3-D glasses will be distributed to visitors in the square who can then immerse themselves in the first 3-D mapping ever presented in the capital. Architectonic mapping is a form of digital art that through 2-D and 3-D projections effectively transforms the architectural structures hosting the performance into stages or projection screens. Music accompanies these gigantic extraordinary visual effects, helping to create a pluri-sensorial experience that is highly evocative.
This is what will happen the 11 and 12 of September in Piazza Navona
And this is what happened these days
All the information, texts and videos are just shared from the website http://www.ro-map.it
As we already said in late April, there are no doubts, Rome is green! With over 15 parks, public gardens and historical villas, Rome is one of Europe's "greenest" cities. After a long day visiting the most famous beauties of the Eternal City you may want to refresh and relax in some of the amazing parks that cover a huge part of the city’s area. Some of them are big and well known but still hiding many secrets, others are tiny and hard to find, hidden or even forbidden. Many of them have breathtaking views or are hedging Historical Villas that are worth to visit.
Let’s continue our tour discovering some smaller and hidden green spots of the Eternal City!
1. Villa Torlonia - Where Nature Meets History and Art
This refreshing Oasis is located in the lively Nomentano Area, not far from the very interesting Coppede’ neighbourhood and from Porta Pia, one of the most famous gates of Rome. The villa belonged to the Torlonia family, Mussolini lived here, the Anglo-American troops used it as their headquarters until 1947 and after they left it was abandoned and neglected for over 30 years.
Since Rome authorities acquired the estate part of the buildings were restored and the park was open to the inhabitants and to the visitors. The persistent feeling you can experience when you walk through the many park’s paths is strictly connected with History and Art and we bet you will be exceptionally fascinated by the originality of its English-style garden (one of the few examples in the city), and to the unexpectedly large number of buildings and garden furniture in the grounds.
We suggest you to visit the villa or Casino Nobile and the intriguing Casina delle Civette (House Of The Owls), do not miss the eclectic False Ruins, The Temple Of Saturn and immerse yourself underground where an air-raid shelter was constructed with the intention of resisting both aerial bombardment and chemical warfare. Last but not least near the Casina you will find Technotown, where children are entertained by many interactive contents about Nature and History.
If you cannot resist without an Internet connection do not forget that there is a free Wi-fi all around the Park!
2. Villa Celimontana – The Peace A Couple Of Steps From The Colosseum
We are back in the heart of the City! The Villa Celimontana is located on the top of the Celio Hill in the south-eastern area of Rome, very close the Colosseum and the Forum and not very far from the Terme di Caracalla. This information should be enough to realize that the location is just amazing.
The Renaissance structure inside the Park represents a peaceful refuge in the Archaeological Area of Rome, and a rendezvous spot for all the jazz fans that are visiting the Villa during the international Jazz festival organized every summer. The Villa houses also the Italian Geographic Society, where some of the most important and antique maps of Italy are kept.
In the 16th Century the vineyard that was in the actual position of the Villa was acquired by the Mattei Family who transformed it into a villa in 1580, instructing the architect Giacomo Del Duca (a student of Michelangelo) to build the villa and the first garden scheme. The original villa has been much adapted, but was probably a single-floor structure with a portico along its facade, topped by a Doric frieze and balustrade, which still survive.
This is not a pretentious park but a good place to basking in the sun, or walk in love. You'll be surprised by the green parrots that have made their big nests here and the funny turtles leaving in the park fountains. If you are visiting the Colosseum and you want to escape for the chaos this is a very good spot!
3. Giardino Degli Aranci – An Unforgettable View With Orange Perfume
This beautiful garden scented with the perfume of oranges boasts one of the best views of the Roman Basilicas, rooftops, parks and ruins. Just grab a spot on the cute little terrace looking down over the Tiber River and watch the sunset over St. Peter’s Dome. This lovely little location is definitely one of the favourites among Romans. It’s the perfect place to steal a bacio or two. Though the oranges produce bitter fruit, they give a pleasant shady air to the garden, offering a lovely retreat from the bustle and noise of urban life. The park itself fits neatly behind the ancient Basilica of Santa Sabina, and beside the Piazza Pietro d'Illiria on the tranquil Aventino Hill just above the Circo Massimo. Do not be scared about the climb, you will be rewarded by a superb view. The scowling face of Giacomo Della Porta’s fountain, perhaps made in reference to Oceanus, a River god, greets visitors of this secluded square. Upon entering the Garden of Oranges, the ancient apse of the Basilica of Santa Sabina appears, while, on the opposite side, scanty remains of the old Savelli fortress, drawbridge and towers are visible. The garden was designed on a symmetrical plan, guiding visitors toward the central walkway leading to the terrace. A couple of steps forward and you will be rewarded by fantastic panorama of the Tevere, the ancient temples of the Forum Boarium, Santa Maria in Cosmedin (where the Mouth of Truth is located) the Gianicolo, and the imposing dome of St. Peter.
During the summer it is not surprising that the garden is used as a setting for theatrical productions, a favourite resting spot for visitors touring Rome and a quiet nest for lovers. The inspiring view is a great choice for love declarations!
Many people enjoy the sunset here and go back in the City center but it is worthy to go further up until Malta's Square, where there is a little secret to discover: it is the keyhole in the door of the Headquarter of the Knights of Malta. You will be delighted to admire the San Peters Basilica framed by the greenery of the garden which is perfectly in line with the hole. Just a case or made on purpose?
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