Sunday, January 25, 2015

Winter Walk in Viterbo - Antiques, Weddings and Ceramics

a profferlo in San Pellegrino medieval quarter 

It might be chilly and windy but the sky is blue and  the quiet medieval center of Viterbo beckons to be  explored.  
A Sunday morning walk through Viterbo’s  perfectly preserved medieval quarter  to the Papal Palace for a wedding show  is the  perfect excuse to get  some exercise and meet up with old and new friends.
Daniela Lai's Artistica laboratory and shop

 After parking alongside  the 12th century walls that encircle the city pass through the   Porta San Pietro and head for the cobbled streets of  San Pellegrino medieval quarter. 

On this  January morning  the only shop open was Artistica ceramics laboratory where we  stop for a chat with Daniela Lai and admire her latest masterpieces.   

kids' ceramics workshop Feb. 14th

Around the corner another open door entices us in. Here we find several rooms full of  antique furniture of excellent quality.  
Oriental reflections 

credenza cupboard (approx. 4,000euro)



...and more mirrors 

San Pellegrino was the best place to find antique furniture  back in the 60s-80s when Danilo’s uncle  was my main source for antiques.  
Check the Antiques page on  my website for  stories of collecting antiques  in Viterbo.

Braving the wind we cross Piazza San Lorenzo to the Papal Palace, the venue for this weekend’s  wedding show housed in the lower levels of the majestic 13th century palace.
Piazza San Carluccio 
 A large  number of foreign  couples get married in Italy each year and with the dollar stronger than ever that number will be increasing. 
The possibile  locations  in the Viterbo /Etruria area range from  an agriturismo to a fortified  castle. See my Partners page for  some  examples of magical places in central Italy that I recommend.  More are being added  during the next few weeks, so check back.
Palazzo dei Papi 

ladies of Tenuta di Corbara 

ladies  who sell  wedding rings and locations 

restaurants and photos for weddings

Antonella's  vintage setting 

Torre Alfina, a castle location 

The  Colle del Duomo Museum  and palace complex is the focal point for visitors to Viterbo for something is always going on  here: Mark your calendar for the March 21-29 Antiques Fair  and for the  illustrated conferences that  I will be presenting in February and March. 
Here is the poster for the first one -February 20 at Vetralla's library  

 On March 9th this talk will be repeated for ArcheoTuscia  at Viterbo's Prefettura (with Chief Inspector Felice Orlandini)  and  on March 19th  my newest book "Etruria Storie e Segreti" will be presented  at Museo Civico, Viterbo with Cristina Carosi and Francesca Ceci. 
Your questions and comments are  welcome, just fill in the comments box and  choose Anonymous to leave a message.  Share using the Facebook and Twitter icons . 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Top Five Stories about Central Italy

Today I was interviewed  again  at  Viterbo’s local radio station   Radio Verde,  this time by station owner and manager  Gioia  Capulli  and poetess Lorena Paris. 
at Radio Verde studios 

 One of the first things they wanted to know was the motivation for a  person from another country  to write  about and promote the Etruria Tuscia area. To  answer  I quoted  the motto  of Rome’s  Welcome Neighbor club  founded about 30 years ago by Yolanda Bernardini: “ bloom where you are planted”. 

 Welcome Neighbor  is  still very active in the  Olgiata  area of Rome thanks  to the  volcanic Paula Treu.
in the olive groves of Vetralla

The main  stimulus for writing about and  promoting Northern Lazio's Viterbo/Tuscia area was the  realization that  very little  information about the area  existed in English and  there was a total lack of communication and touristic promotion.  
 Here is how I explained it in the  introduction of my book Etruria Travel. 

This massive  void called out to be filled and as journalist and researcher transplanted to the province I  knew I had found  my niche : after the many  years writing about  Rome and Moscow now  it was to be Tuscia/Etruria.  

Within a few years the void was filling up fast with an award winning website  now in  its  15th year, hundreds of articles  were written and published   as well as several books.

Not bad for a one-woman company.

The weekly blog   begun  in February 2011 now has 170  posts of which only  three were contributed  by carefully selected guest blogger friends.  

 The  blog’s mission is to  highlight  itineraries, travel  tips and happenings in the central Italy area  especially Viterbo and the many lovely surrounding towns but when I began traveling  on luxury cruise ships as guest lecturer  I was able to add many other interesting themes. 

Since its birth four years ago, 50yearsinItaly  has received 185,435 page views with about 50%  of these  coming from USA and Canada. 

The top five stories are listed here with links  just in case you missed them. 

Subscribers never miss a post for they are automatically advised when a new one is published. You can sign up  at the bottom of the page by leaving your email. 

Top Five Stories  Feb. 2011- Feb. 2015

Top Ten Italian Beaches     Jan 11, 2012, 24 comments   14,421 views
Fellini's Dolce Vita Castle  Aug 22, 2012, 14 comments    4,022 views
 8 comments   1,940
10 Money Saving Tips for Mediterranean Cruise Port...  Oct 22, 2012, 7 comments      1,718
 7 comments       1,480

I’d be very interested to know which stories you liked and learned something from. 
You can still make a  comment on the stories you like best. It’s the comments that make this labor of love worthwhile.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Forgotten Paintings in Viterbo Exhibit

Along with the Sacred and Profane exhibit visited and described in last week's article, Viterbo  offers another  niche art show-Immagini  della Vergine- which  is a perfect theme  for the Christmas season. A dozen large sized paintings from churches and convents of the Diocese of Viterbo are exhibited together in the majestic  Conclave hall of the ancient Papal Palace in Viterbo.
blue boxes ..

Many of the large  paintings  have been recently restored and  had never been seen  or published before. During the  centuries  since they were commissioned,  most  have been hidden away  in obscure churches and monasteries of the Diocese, known only to the religious  in residence.  

 Among the artists Palma il Giovane, Federico Mozzanti and Antonio Berzettoni.

 My favorite  is the  magnificent  Immacolata with the Dukes of Latera, from the S. Maria della Grazie monastery in the town of  Farnese. Here  angels in diaphanous striped robes and peacock feathered wings create a magical atmosphere  heightened by the  girl in the forefront gazing out at spectators.

 Another delicate  Madonna with child and saints  from church of S. Giovanni Battista  in the town of Grotte di Castro is  exhibited here and published for the first time.

Several other small towns of the Viterbo Diocese (Onano, Latera, Valentano  and Canino) have lent  images of the Virgin  for the exhibit in the Papal Palace  which lasts until February 1st
souls in purgatory 

transport of the holy house
The Bishop’s residence, adjacent to the Papal Palace, loaned  a large, newly restored banner as well as paintings of the Annunciation, the transport of the holy house and the  mystical marriage of Santa Caterina.

the papal loggia  

The show, Immagini della Vergine,  is also a chance to see the inside of the  Palace where the first Papal Conclave was held in the mid 1200s. 

 The architectural details of the palazzo  include primitive stone pavements and a  soaring wooden roof , the original one was removed  “to let in the Holy Spirit” and help  the cardinals decide  who was to become  the next pope. 

Art historian Mari   and archeologist Alberto Pichardo greet visitors
The atmosphere created by the historic building, the modern framing  and  appropriate  music  make the visit, coordinated by  Giannino Tiziani,  a multi-sensorial one.  
Art historians  will enjoy the detailed  catalogue  of the exhibit  published  by Edizioni Archeoares, a branch of Archeoares which is celebrating  its  10th anniversary as managers of the museum complex  this month. Compliments  go to threesome  Francesco Aliperti, Bruno Blanco and Giampaolo Serone  for their  professionalism and hard work in the past 10 years.  

You will find more information about Viterbo, the Papal Palace complex  and all the Etruria/Tuscia/Viterbese area  on my website  
Try the search  button at the top of the blog page too.
Please share with your friends using the Twitter and Facebook icons below and of course your  comments are always much  appreciated.

I will be pleased to meet readers at upcoming events: February  20 at the  Vetralla library and  March 19 at the Museo Civico  in Viterbo.  Sign up  to follow the blog and befriend me on  Facebook  to keep in the loop and receive updates . 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sacred and Profane Art in Viterbo

Viterbo's Baroque  Gonfalone church 

Sacro & Profano  is the name of the itinerant art exhibit being held in Viterbo from now until January  31st . Visitors and local art enthusiasts  stroll  from one historic building to another in the center of Viterbo to view the   important works of art on show. 

chapel  Palazzo dei Priori, Viterbo 

Begin in the Viterbo city hall Palazzo dei Priori to see  works by  Salvator Rosa, Marco Benefial, Bartolomeo Cavarozzi , Domenico Corvi and Romanelli, most of which are on loan from the Museo Civico of Viterbo. If it is your first time in Viterbo, don’t miss the  opportunity to see the   frescoed Sala Regia and other public halls of the Renaissance Palazzo dei Priori.

San Tommaso  by Salvator Rosa

A short walk from Palazzo dei Priori brings you to  the church of San Silvestro in Piazza del Gesù  where a series of frescoes depicting the 14 virtues are on show after having been rescued a few years ago from the illegal art market by Chief Inspector Felice Orlandini. 

 See more about these interesting frescoes here.

the rescued 14 virtues hung in San Silvestro church 

San Silvestro church, Piazza del Gesù 
tower facing San Silvestro, Piazza del Gesù

The Gonfalone church on Via Cardinal La Fontaine  deserves a visit also for its  frescoed walls and recently restored  Baroque architecture.

Baroque ceiling, Gonfalone church 
Other sacred and profane  works of art dating from the 1400s to the 1700s  are visible at the Museo Civico including Sebastiano del Piombo’s iconic  Flagellation. The Museo del Duomo next to the Papal Palace and Duomo of San Lorenzo offers  a vast permanent collection of the  Viterbo area‘s sacred art.

 If you have a car you'll want to  make the  panoramic drive to San Martino al Cimino where you can  admire the borgo’s fascinating town planning  as well as  paintings by Mattia Preti housed in the Museo dell’Abate.

reliquary Gonfalone church 

brochure  of the exhibit

detail  Gonfalone  church 

 Please share with friends interested in art (its easy just use the  icons for twitter, Facebook)   and leave a comment .  For more ideas for travel, itineraries  in the Viterbo area, check out  my website . 
Order signed copies of  books about the area   here  directly  from the author. Discounts  are available for groups, students, tourism  and  travel companies.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vallerano : Christmas in small town Italy

grotto shrine in the main church, Vallerano

Vallerano, a typical small hilltown north of Rome  is known  for its hazelnuts, wine production and lively summer festivals. 
 The symbolic  lily of the noble Farnese family adorns towers, fountains  and the ancient walls that have kept the town’s  medieval flavor in  - and the cars out.  
Farnese lily symbols abound 

At  Christmas  time the sober  decorations are low key and traditional, ignoring  the crass commercialization seen in  big cities and suburban malls.
pedestrian access to Vallerano 

 Piped music entices locals and visitors  to stroll along  the narrow streets of the medieval  quarter  where doorways, piazzas and cantine are decorated with  Christmas nativity scenes.  

holy water fount in San Vittore church, Vallerano
Renaissance palace with  climbing Santa 
One can find handmade  local crafts in wood and wool as well as traditional foods  and sweets, vintage and antique pieces as well as a train ride. 
wooden bracelets and design objects 
Luciano's mini furniture

Here are some photos taken today. If you feel a need to escape the  hype of big city Christmas, take a drive to Vallerano next Sunday, Dec 21st  for  the final day of “Vallerano Incantato”.
Have you visited Vallerano or any of the other hill towns in Northern Lazio?  Your comments are welcome. Please share with friends. 

a side altar San Vittore, Vallerano
cat in a corner of the town

window garden 

Madonna del Ruscello  (1609) 


train through the historic center 

 Many more stories and information about life in central Italy, Northern Lazio  can be found on my award winning  website ,  Hope you find time to check it out!