14 December, 2019
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Italy is considered an open-air museum by UNESCO. Churches, palaces, Greek, Etruscan, Arab, Longobard Roman, bridges, paintings, frescoes, statues. In Italy everything is art.

Italy hides an artistic heritage that few know and that summarizes in itself the stories of every era: the stones. The stones are obviously made of stone, they do not move but they speak in silence.
Through their paths, they tell stories of travel, of betrayals, of love and curiosity. There are smooth or chiseled stones and stones with inscriptions or even with bas-reliefs, imported stones and bare stones and stones on stones. Then there is color, grain and texture. In short, what looks like a simple piece of construction encompasses an infinite story.

The color of the stones

Perched on top of the hills of central Italy, stone mountains shaped like towns and cities are visible. Each region has a different color. It starts from the gray of the “pietra serena” in Tuscany to get to the brown of the tuff in Etruria. Assisi is pink like the stone of the Subasio that dominates it so as the plateaux of San Terenziano has its pink stone. Moreover, there is the travertine in Lazio and the white stone of Lecce and so on. Simple, just know what is the stone of the area and there is nothing else to see. It is not exact, this is just the beginning.

 

Gualdo Cattaneo

The Mother Church

Cinema and TV have made us know the House on the prairie or the American terraced houses strictly made of wood, swept away by hurricanes or burned from top to bottom. Italy, on the other hand, has marbles and stones that can’t burn, or fly, which have been still standing for 2000 years and that have been distributed like a deck of cards.
To learn how to look and under stand them, it is better to start from a small town like Gualdo Cattaneo that overlooks the Puglia valley and stands above the Umbrian valley. From the fortified tower of Gualdo Cattaneo, Spello, Foligno and also the fortress of Spoletoare visible. If you see, you are seen then you are coveted. Gualdo Cattaneo was the object of desire of the cities in that area, and Pope Alexander VI Borgia bought it to build the fortress. Strong point, impregnable by the dreadful warriors of Perugia. The ascent toward the keep, then the square and the Mother Church, the center of the village is reached.
It starts from the church, even from the foundations of the church that are visible from the street behind the apse. The church lays on gigantic and heavy stones, brought there by the legendary Cyclops so firm that no earthquake has never demolished them. Difficult to find more solid foundations. They were the ancient walls of Gualdo Cattaneo. Why did they build a church on the ancient walls? Because nothing is thrown away and because if it is solid and ready it is usable If it is beautiful and decorative, it is moved to another place. On the facade of the church are the symbols of the four evangelists. Two are white and two pink. All imported stone: the pink ones from San Terenziano and white ones from Giano dell’Umbria. Then you enter the church and descend into the crypt.
The crypt, like almost all the crypts, is built with ancient materials. Columns and capitals that once layed somewhere abandoned, remains of the imposing buildings of Roman times, were used there. This was the best reuse of them, because the Roman marbles, even the imperial ones, were fused together to obtain bricks.

A tour among the stones

 Poverty and fundamentalist religions caused incalculable damages. We have lost an infinite number of works of art, but we still have them, even if they are not in their original shape. Leaving the Church and walking through the village, there are gothic or modified gothic windows, travertines, existing only elsewhere – perhaps in Giano – inserted as a point of support in the buildings. Here and there are stones with inscriptions from every era, from Roman times onwards, inserted because of the lack of a brick or simply because they were decorative or because they remembered an event. Ancient entrances hidden in the walls are discovered one and a half meters above the ground, but with the floor level unchanged. The fear of the rats suggested to build in safety. It was used a flying wooden ladder, which in the evening was retired inside the house. A little like the Walsers, who lived in the Alps, and built their wooden houses on stone mushrooms.
If you’d like toh ave a trip among the stones, and learn more, you can contact the municipality of Gualdo Cattaneo, which organizes guided tours under the supervision of dr. Andrea Peruzzi, a true expert in lapidary art and epigraphy. You will have fun!

«Insist, persist, reach and conquer»

This is the phrase which represents Fiammetta Rossi most. She is 23 year old, from Foligno and she is studying law at University. Last March, Fiammetta won two golden medals at the University World Cup shooting in Malesya: one in the Women Individual competition, the other in the Team competition. “Insist, persist, reach and conquer is a phrase that my grandfather used to tell me and in which I believe very much, so much so that I tattooed it”.
Fiammetta – which is part of the Golden Flames Sports Group – is carrying on the tradition of family champions in shooting, after grandfather Nando and dad Luciano, starting by chance this discipline: «For nine years I rided, then something changed».

 

Fiammetta Rossi

What is it like to have two golden medals around your neck?

It is something unique. I trained a lot for this and Iam still working hard to succeed in my career and it is something which I believe in a lot. The beauty of this sport is that you retire late, you can practice even over 50 years, so I still have time.

Your father Luciano is the president of Fitav (Italian Federation of Shooting in Flight): so it was a destiny already written?

Not exactly. For nine years of my life I practiced horseback riding, then one day watching the London Olympic games I noticed a friend of mine who competed in shooting and I decided to try. I started by playing, I liked it and so I continued.  After all, as child, my dream was to be a policewoman on horseback: now I am part of the Golden Flames Sports Group of the State Police.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic games are approaching: do you hope to go?

I would really like. I’m in the team and I want to believe it!  My dream is participating in them: already the mere fact of being there repays the sacrifices you faced to get there. All athletes dream of Olympics games as the they remain and will always be the Olympics. If you win a medal there you enter the legend. I am working every day for this, making sacrifices and training constantly. I still have a lot to do.

Do you have any important appointments in the next months?

Next year I am participating in the University Olympics, so I’ll experience the Olympic context I already know that I will like it a lot.

A Little curiosity: where do you keep the medals?

I keep them at home, I must have them nearby. Every now and then I pick them up, cuddle them I look at them and relive the emotions that I felt at the moment of my victories and I think: «They are mine!»

Let’s talk a little about Umbria: what is your link with this region?

I love it a lot. I love its landscapes, the food and the green that relaxs me. I like everything about it. Travelling is nice, but coming back home is nicer too. I was born in Montefalco and I live in Foligno now, but I lo venature and animals a lot and I love being in touch with them.

 

You love animals: so, you don’t shoot at them?

I have never practiced hunting, but I respect those who practice it. It is an ancient art and I am not integralist in this regard. Also because, true hunters respect nature very much.

Can the shotgun give other satisfactions to Umbria apart from Diana Bacosi and you? Are there any promising young people?

In Umbria there is a very interesting youth sector and we are doing a great job with them. I am very confident.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Passion, tradition and well-being. Although three words are not enough to describe Umbria.

The first thing that comes to mind thinking of this region…

The house, my roots and love. I am a very traditionalist girl.

INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PEOPLE
  • 1.5 kg of freshwater shrimp
  • A few leaves of mint
  • fresh marjoram
  • parsley
  • garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

 

 

PREPARATION

Put a pot with salt water on the stove and, when it boils, add the prawns. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until they have turned red; drain and let it cool. In the meantime, chop mint, parsley, marjoram and garlic, mix with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove the shell, then the intestines; place them in a bowl, season with the sauce and serve.

 

This recipe belongs  from the area of Terni, where there is Piediluco lake. In Norcia and in Foligno, people made fried shrimps instead: tails, once clean, are fried in hot oil, salt and pepper. In areas where water offered shrimp, those who fished them put them in large buckets and then passed through the streets of the city to sell them.

 

 

Courtesy of Calzetti-Mariucci Editore.

«I do not see a concrete design, a global project that aims to promote the knowledge of contemporary art in its various forms».

Artist, university professor and art historian and much more, it is the professor emeritus of History of Art, Bruno Toscano, born in 1930. In the post-war period, with the Group of Six and with the Spoleto Prize (National Exhibition of Figurative Arts) he helped to promote Spoleto as one of the most active centers of contemporary art: a remarkable personality for the Italian art and the Umbria itself.

 

Bruno Toscano

Professor, what is your link with Umbria?

My parents were from Calabria, but I was born and I received my first education in Spoleto. Moreover, many of my researches are focused on different aspects of Umbria.

I read that you was the founder of the first Spoleto film club: today, what is your relationship with this art?

We founded, my painters friends and me, the film club immediately after the war, in 1949, as an act of freedom. We wanted to introduce many films that had been forbidden during the Fascism period. We decided to inaugurate the cineclub with “La grande illusione” Jean Renoir’s masterpiece against the war. In the program there was a lot of French cinema of the 30s, but also the Italian Neorealism, which was exploding in those years. Overall, it was a poor cinema, in black and white.

How was Umbria, from an artistic perspective, at the time of the Group of the Six (Bruno Toscano, Giuseppe De Gregorio, Filippo Marignoli, Giannetto Orsini, Ugo Rambaldi, Piero Raspi)?

It was a period of intense activity and very far from a provincial dimension. Critics and leading artists came together from the major Italian centers to Spoleto. In the jury of the numerous editions of the Spoleto Prize, which started in 1953, there were critics such as Francesco Arcangeli, Luigi Carluccio, Marco Valsecchi and artists such as Mario Mafai, Roberto Melli and Marino Mazzacurati.

How is our region today from an artistic point of view?

I do not see an effective and global project that aims to promote the knowledge of contemporary art in its various expressionsThe Ciac of Foligno is an exception, conceived as an observatory of wide visibility. But this is no t only a problem for Umbria. It is known that the decline has deep and wide-ranging origins. When knowledge is no longer considered necessary, the level of education and the interest in history and art are lowered. 

How did Umbria influence your painting?

My paintings are linked to the places that surround me. But these are not “views”, but rather a habitat full of stimulus and very engaging. There is something maternal in the earth that surrounds us, which can’t be represented through conventional figurative forms.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Divided between growing areas and abandoned areas; as a consequence, impoverished; despite everything, fascinating.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

“…fertile land of high mountain hangs …”from the “Divina Commedia” XI Canto.

Known by most as the town of the steel, as a working town, almost completely destroyed by the bombings, Terni still hides in itself a small treasure. The Universal Judgement, by Bartolomeo di Tommaso painter from Foligno and precursor to the Umbrian Renaissance, survived to the devastation of the Second World War. To jealously guard it, there are the walls of the Cappella Paradisi which opens at the end of the right nave of the Church of Saint Francis.

 

The cycle currently visible, is perhaps the most important pictorial witness of the Fifteenth century, yet its critical history began late. Indeed, the local historians could not speak about it until the Nineteenth century because the conventual monks, to whom the Church belonged, used that room as a warehouse for the convent’s wood and walled up the archway. The frescoes came to light again only in 1861, thanks to the work of the architect Benedetto Faustini.

A Controversial Attribution

Before the problem of the attribution, the critics faced the one of the controversial iconography. At first all the critics talked about illustration of the Divine Comedy. Actually, in 1872, Marino Guardabassi read in it «the deep concepts of Alighieri», and this reading seemed to be comforted by the attribution to Bartolomeo di Tommaso because the first printing production of the Dante’s Poem has been made in the town of Foligno.
In 1977 and 1978, Bruno Toscano and Pietro Adorno took care of the iconographic study, which having failed to find timely correspondence with the Dantesque Terzines, directed their research to another road which refers to the social and religious climate that the city lived in the mid-Fourteenth century and to the ties of the painter with the Franciscan Order and with Giacomo della Marca, travelling preacher. San Giacomo was certainly in Terni in 1444 and often preached in the Church of San Francesco against the vices he had observed. Terni, therefore lived under the spiritual guidance of this friar who one year later brought his oratory also to Foligno, profoundly influencing Bartolomeo di Tommaso.
It should be also considered that who commissioned the work in 1449 was Monaldo Parisi, a figure particularly linked to the Observance and the reform statutes that were wanted by San Giacomo.
Actually, the Last Judgement is a constant in the preaching of the friar, and one of the Sermones Dominicales, the De Judicio Extremo, seems to correspond step by step to the paintings of Bartolomeo di Tommaso, as if the painter had faithfully followed it by transforming the images into words. Thus Giacomo della Marca turns out to be the inspirational main source of the painter.

 

Universal Judgement

The decoration of the Paradisi Chapel lies in an imposing and terrible Universal Judgment. It begins in the entrance soffit with six quadrilobate frames framing the busts of the prophets who announced the return of Christ: Jeremiah, Daniel, Malachi, Isaiah, Jonah, and Abdia. Inside the Chapel, above the entrance arc, you will find two additional figures of semi lying prophets inserted in a woody and rocky landscape, the only naturalistic note of the fresco. The other walls are horizontally framed by a painted frame that divides them in half.
The action winds from left to right starting from the lower register where the space is divided into caves and a capital sin is assigned to each cave. Only five of those caves remain and in each of them there is an angel leaning forward his arms to the souls to lift them and point them upward.
In the upper register we find the figure of Christ with the red banner, darting figures are leaning towards the Christ.
Also in the central wall we find again the figure of the Son of God represented as Christ Judge in the Mandorla, sourrounded by the Baptist, by a Virgin with curiously oriental features, and three groups of angels and Patriarchs.
St. Peter opens the door of Paradise surrounded by the 12 apostles, Paul and Barnaba. Below the Archangel Michele, around him are the figures of the Chosen ones, among them a magistrate with the red cap is identified as Giovanni Paradisi, founder of the principals whose coat of arms is seen at the feet of the Archangel.
The wall on the right, however, is more damaged due to the fall of plaster. We can see the representation of the sinning souls falling to the hell pulled down by chains to the neck and violently struck by the angels that bring them into the spells. In the lower register a gigantic Satan stands framed by rings of fire. Some demons beside Satan give him the souls that he grasps and mauls. Fire springs are raining everywhere.

 


Bibliographic references: P. Mostarda in Arte e territorio. Interventi di restauro, Terni, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Terni e Narni, 2001

 

More on Terni

You have to see it. Not only because it is «Hermann Nitsch’s largest and most complete exhibition set up in Italy so far» as Italo Tomassoni writes, but because Hermann Nitsch’s OMT Orgien Mysterien Theater (Theater of Orgy and Mysteries) – Color from the Rite, set up at CIAC –  Italian Centre of Contemporary Art in Foligno by Italo Tomassoni and Giuseppe Morra, and available until August 13th, is really stunning.

The exhibition displays 40 works, divided in nine different series made between 1984 and 2010, coming from Hermann Nitsch Museum in Naples, founded in 2008 by Giuseppe Morra, an historian and publisher of his writings since 1974.

Disgust

He wants to disgust us, offend us, because the Viennese performers, of whom Nitsch is still one of the most important members, had always been impressed by his performances since their formation in the 1960s, featuring images and themes inspired by a widespread disenchantment, almost desecrating, against the religious symbols, body functions and the sexual acts. We can cry the scandal out, but that will only confirm the artists’ intention «to provoke the spectator an instinctive sensual excitement .» For that, Nitsch has been arrested several times.

One of the Artist’s desecrating works, displaied at CIAC in Foligno

A Wizard from Northern Fairy Tales

The show is actually lyrical and engaging, set up as a single large openwork; it makes us think of Nitsch as «a magician from Northern fairy tales» writes Tomassoni «an aesthetic Orphism inspired by the Creation’s mystery and by the Art’s unlimited visionary opportunities.»
The Wiener Aktionismus artists, heirs of that Viennese secession and Egon Schiele, saw in the expressive intensity, in the psychological introspection of the action, the only way to communicate their inner discomfort and all the anguish and complexity of human existence.
But I find it decisive, as critics has pointed out over the years, the deep sense of guilt derived from being involved in World War II, which provokes a sense of refusal and the need to freed themselves with every means.
Among the many celebrated installations on display, we mention 18b.malaktion, 1986, Naples, Casa Morra. These are large canvases where red or spotted red color, composed as a cross, is dominated by an action painting that is pure gesture and drama.

18b.malaktion, 1986, Napoli, Casa Morra.

With the scraps, the wrecks of his performances, he created installations such as 130.aktion Wreck Installation, 2010 Nitsch Napoli Museum, large white coats and blood-stained shirts, stretches to carry bodies that become tables or altars, surgical tools such as scalpels or retractors, test tubes and alembics that refer concern to body and its lymph, lumps and paper tissues in perfectly regular lines, suggesting sensations of freshness and purity. Decomposing fruit, proof of an absurd sacrificial event, ritual and formal signs of physical and carnal facts.

Another work displaied in Foligno

Prinzendorf Castle

On the lower floor, inside a some kind of a crypt, you can watch the long video of Prinzendorf’s 1984 action, played in theaters in 2000s.
The castle of Prinzendorf, near Vienna, purchased by the artist in 1971, becomes the headquarter of his das Orgien Mysterien Theater, whose actions follow one another from the Sunday of Pentecost 1973. On July 1984, his 80th long action lasts three days and three whole nights. The tragic nature of the passive suffering on the cross, the symbolic stain of crucified Christ, is carried out in a «spiritualized», «abstract, but equally realistic» way, as Nitsch describes it. And, again: «My theater of orgies and mysteries focus on intense experiences, on the ritual in the sense of shape, creating a festival of existence, a concentrated, conscious and sensual experience of our being.»
Today he continues to carry on, intensifying and charging it with stronger implications, his idea of ​​the Orgien Mysterien Theater, as a preview of his worldwide synthetic project that involves all senses and every human action. In his Statutes he highlights the deep meaning of his art: «The commitment of art is to be the priesthood of a new existential conception […]: to free mankind from its beastily instincts.»
Opening times: Friday 16.00-19.00, Saturday and Sunday 10.30-12.30 – 16.00-19.00
Ticket: € 5,00; reduced-price ticket € 3,00. Free entry: children up to 14 years old, schools and disabled

 

More on Foligno

arte liberty in umbria

Title: Il Liberty in Umbria.

Architettura – Pittura- Scultura e Arti decorative. Architecture – Painting – Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Scholar: Maurizio Bigio

Publisher: Fabrizio Fabbri

Date of publication: 2016

ISBN: 97888677806886

Features: 231 p., photos 28 x 24.5cm, numerous colour photographs, stapled illustrated paperback.

Price: € 35,00

 

«This publication has been created from the interest I have always had for the arts in general, in particular for painting, sculpture, architecture and photography. I have always been interested in beautiful things.»

This is how Maurizio Bigio, a graduate in Business and Economics, and a Chartered Accountant for the last 37 years, speaks of his latest enterprise “in the field of the arts”. This is not a new departure for him, as he has always been involved in the arts as a musician, having had important achievements in collaborating with major singer-songwriters of the Seventies and issuing the Rock Bigio Blues LP. He recently expanded his artistic horizons devoting himself to photography, collaborating in the creation of the new MUSA (Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts P. Vannucci of Perugia) catalogue edited by Fedora Boco and the book on Ferdinand Cesaroni edited by Luciano Giacchè.

The Author

The subject of Liberty in the Umbrian region previously had only been addressed by Professor Mario Pitzurra, when in 1995 he published Architettura e ornato urbano liberty a Perugia, a text which is now out of print and, according to the author, it was limited to the regional capital city area. It was Pitzurra himself who concluded his work with the hope that «…others will follow my example, possibly extending their study to the rest of Umbria.»

And now, twenty years on, Maurizio Bigio takes up the challenge with purpose of re-awakening interest in this XX century art movement, which has been little studied in the region.

Topic

The foreword to Il Liberty in Umbria, is written by Anton Carlo Ponti with the text edited by Federica Boco, Emanuela Cecconelli, Giuliano Macchia, Maria Luisa Martella, Elena Pottini and Mino Valeri as well as Bigio himself.

The publication is divided into sixteen chapters, encompassing the region from north to south, touching on the city of Città di Castello, Perugia, Marsciano, Deruta, Foligno, Spoleto, Terni, Allerona, Avigliano, Acquasparta and Narni.

The Publication

And the author’s interest is not just in architecture, he also focuses on the decorative details in wood, wrought iron, ceramics, glass and, where possible, on the internal painted decoration inside dwellings.

An interesting chapter, edited by Elena Pottini, is devoted to liberty sculptures in the Perugia Cemetery, while Fedora Boco outlines the protagonists of this period with a small biography and related bibliography. The photographs also include Liberty design lost in time such as the Perugina shop and the internal decor of the Bar Milano. This interesting volume also includes a translation of the text in English by Eric Ingaldson.