Sunday, February 27, 2011

Is really him?

Nobody knows which Caravaggio’s last work was. This painting, which was in the collection of Scipione Borghese as early as 1613, has been dated as early as 1605 and as late as 1609-10. 

The work is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome still today together with many other artworks by Caravaggio and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Its melancholy would suit the gloomy thoughts of the artist's final years. The subject matter recalls the Beheading of St John the Baptist in Valletta, but this time there is no brilliant colour and, as a small picture, it has an intimacy that was not evident in the grand public work. 

The young boy handles his trophy with disgust. It could be possible that Goliath's head is indeed Caravaggio's, who knows the end is really close. In fact there is no hope!!! 

The device recalls the way that Michelangelo, in the Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel, placed an anguished face with features evidently his own onto the flayed body of St Bartholomew, but Caravaggio's mood is closer to one of despair. As a witness to God's light, Bartholomew takes his seat in heaven: Goliath, God's enemy, is doomed to everlasting night. 

Caravaggio's painting is dominated by dirty silver, black and brown. The light shows David to look like a boy from the street, whose sword has just a drop of blood on it to show that, like Caravaggio once, he has just killed a man, therefore there's no hope. 

Caravaggio is lost!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

A boom from the top: it's 12 o'clock!!

Have you been at the top of the Gianicolo or Janiculum above Trastevere, one of the oldest area of Rome, full of life , restaurants and monuments? Well, from the top that what you can extended overview of the city plus....

Rome overview from the top of the Gianicolo

when is 12 o'clock you can adjust your watch and be sure it is the correct time!!!

This is an institution in Rome, in fact since 1847 the cannon at the Gianicolo shoots creating a big roar...which you can hear very well in Trastevere and the surrounding despite the noise of Rome!!

My children ready to the cannon!!

Whenever you go...from Monday to Sunday.... you will find there many people observing and looking astonished to this daily my children, who have been there many many time!!!

You should go to if you go to Rome!! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pietro da Cortona: a note on the Triumph

I have a friend who lives in Rome and has a site for which today I have just written a brief article on Pietro da Cortona, one of the most interesting artists of the Roman Baroque, together with Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini.

If you are interested this is the article on the:

The ceiling was also the subject of my Master thesis: it is fantastic!!! 
So if you go to Rome make a stop to Palazzo Barberini!!

Alla prossima....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vatican: The School of Athens

Next time you visit the Vatican don't forget to visit the apartments of Julius II, which were highly decorated by Raphael, another big artist of the Renaissance period. He had the freedom to redecorate the "Stanze Vaticane" at his own pleasure, destroying the previous frescoes done by other artists. 

The most famous of all the works is the School of Athens, where Raphael represented the most famous thinkers, philosophers, astronomers of the time.... with Plato and Aristotle at the centre of the entire philosophical debate.

School of Athens by Raphael,
Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

Plato and Aristotle (particular)
 Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

Plato is  represented with a white beard (maybe Leonardo da Vinci???) and with his hand pointing towards the sky, the heavens, holding his Timaeus, and his strong belief in The Forms. Aristotle, instead, is represented with the palm of his hand turned down: he believed the apprehend-ship of the knowledge was through empirical observation and experience, therefore he holds a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Beata Ludovica Albertoni by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

When you walk along Trastevere, you are amazed by the amount of Churches surrounding the area, including Santa Cecilia and Santa Maria in Trastevere. Between all of them there is a little church, San Francesco a Ripa, far from the view of everyone, easy to reach but not so highly frequented by the tourists, because on the other side of Viale Trastevere.

Here, at the far end on the left inside, walking towards the altar you find the Cappella Altieri, for which Gian Lorenzo Bernini produced one of his latest works: the Beata Ludovica Albertoni (1671-74), a dramatic, mystic marriage and death.

Here Bernini allegorized the redeeming, fiery love of Christ’s sacred heart with the two hearts which flank Ludovica’s body like guardian figures and her burning, consuming devotion. 

During the seventeenth-century Catholic devotion, the fire of sacred love and burning devotion, death and union with the divine were seen as an extended metaphor of fire, flame and consumption. God's love was in the blessed Ludovica, who became a widow in 1506. She  joined the Franciscan Order as a tertiary and spent her family fortune on charity, exhausting her health taking care of the poor and undertaking penitential practices such as fasting. 

As always Bernini has shown his magistry and ability in representing this work, which was commissioned by Cardinal Paluzzi degli Albertoni.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This time in Dunedin: I walked around the city until I had to leave

Dunedin is a very vibrant and cultured city with a rich heritage and a strong emphasis on education and the arts. The city is very compact with some of the main sites at a walking distance, such as the Town Hall and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery on the Octagon.

City Hall

a shoot from the Octagon

a particular of the gallery facade

some historical building
Window's particular
the gallery's entrance

Dunedin's Railway Station
 The Dunedin Railway Station is the most photographed building in New Zealand, certainly I can say one of the most beautiful and certainly the front cover of many books published on New Zealand.

onside the station

Shops have their own character too and you enjoy to walk around 

 When it was time to leave on Sunday afternoon the weather had changed again, it was raining, therefore the departure was a bit more difficult...
on the plane

landscape shoot before the departure
nevertheless I could make a nice shoot of the beautiful is so beautiful down there, but it is a bit too cold for me....

I will go back there again one day!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This time in Dunedin: I ate the Pavlova (Part 1)

Pavlova with an espresso at the Octagon
During my last visit to Dunedin I have finally ate a Pavlova. There is not certainty about the origin of the cake: is it an aussie or a kiwi cake? I am not sure about that, nevertheless I have really enjoyed that with a friend of mine, who has never eaten that before and she was pleasantly surprised.

I have found out that the dessert was actually named after Anna Pavlova, a famous Russian ballerina, who toured world with her company most of her life, reaching Australia and New Zealand in early 1910s and late 1920s.

This is one of the many versions of the Pavlova recipe:


  • 4 egg whites
  • 250g castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • Pinch of cream tartar

Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff and then add the water. Continue to beat and then add the sugar and carry on until it is dissolved. This process will take approximately 15 minutes.

Fold in the corn flour and the rest of the ingredients. Heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Place the mixture on aluminum foil which you have previously sprinkled with some corn flour. Turn the oven down to 100 degrees C. Lay the mixture on a six inches diameter surface. Cook for about 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave until cold. 

Decorate the top with whipped cream and kiwifruit or strawberries before serving.


Monday, February 14, 2011

My passion for Rome and art

From the top of the Spanish Step

A particular of the Four River Fountain's By Gianlorenzo Bernini

Here is a small article I wrote a few years ago on Rome:

by Simona Albanese
October 2008

As a native of Rome, art historian and curator, I would like to tell you something about my city.
trevi.jpgTrevi Fountain
All images by the author

As the saying goes 'all roads lead to Rome', and in my opinion Rome is one of the places on earth necessary to visit at least once during your lifetime. Rome is a city for Romans, tourists and visitors, a place where everyone can stop, see and do something during their journey. Every visitor to the city will leave with something special etched in their memory.
romanruins.jpgRoman ruins

Rome is celebrated for its major attractions, such as the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, but Rome has so much more to offer. Books and tourist guides can provide you with specific information on the city and it's best known attractions but this is a city of subtleties and quiet discoveries as well.
romanfountain.jpgWater fountain in Trastevere

Being a historical city with well over 2,000 years of history Rome can't be revealed in just one visit. In order to understand what I want to convey, it is best to have a slow and lengthy stay in Rome. Romans like to be in company,to visit places and talk to people, they like to go to the places not everyone goes and so I think there are some places that should be visited or noticed while you are in Rome.
beataludovicaalbertoni.jpgBeata Ludovica Albertoni by Gianlorenzo Bernini in San Francesco a Ripa

Rome is a great place to enjoy and to inhabit starting from one of the most picturesque and distinctive areas, such as Trastevere, for its old streets, colour, students, vagabonds and famous people - a place where everyone goes to meet friends or to go out and have fun.
santamariaintrastevere.jpgSanta Maria in Trastevere
spqr.jpgSPQR - symbol of the city of Rome

There is sufficient street-life and things to see in this neighbourhood without even stopping to visit such wonders as the Beata Ludovica Albertoni by Gianlorenzo Bernini in San Francesco a Ripa or the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. This is one of the oldest churches of Rome, containing 13th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini on the Life of the Virgin Mary. The main square where the basilica and the fountain sit is a meeting place, one of the centres of Trastevere nightlife in both winter and summer. In Trastevere even the old streets full of graffiti are a form of art. So too is the iconic Fiat Cinquecento; the symbol of the city or a glimpse of old buildings with the flags between some more modern constructions.
oldcarandgraffiti.jpgFiat Cinquecento

At the top of Trastevere is the Janiculum - one of the best locations from which to see the city below - the domes, gardens and bell towers. From Janiculum is it also possible to hear the 12 o'clock cannon fire coming from the direction of the Tiber signalling the correct time.
janiculum.jpgJaniculum overlooking Rome

Moving from Trastevere, crossing the Ponte Sisto bridge is Via Giulia, leading to Via del Gonfalone, with the Oratorium of Gonfalone - a special place where concerts are held. The Oratorium is thoroughly decorated inside with mannerist frescoes showing the cycle of Christ's Passion, restored at the end of last century for the year 2000 Jubilee.
oratoriodelgonfalone.jpgOratorium of Gonfalone

And then there is another important place to visit in the centre of Rome, The Triumph of Divine Providence by Pietro da Cortona in the Palazzo Barberini, the second largest ceiling in size decorated in Rome after the Sistine Chapel Ceiling depicted by Michelangelo.
divineprovidence.jpgThe Triumph of Divine Providence by Pietro da Cortona in the Palazzo Barberini

The places I have mentioned are just some of my favourite places that I visit every time I return to Rome. Naturally there are many other attractions and treasures, but I'd need a book to list them all. 

If you want to have an Intro to Italian Art don't forget to join my course starting next Thursday February 17th at New Farm State School Community from 6.30pm. 

You have still got time to enroll!!

The Trevi's Fountain

Ciao ci vediamo in classe!!!
Bye, see you in class!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Between Love and Passion

This is the week-end for lovers: Valentine's Day is next Monday!!

The ProLoco of Coppito, in the Abruzzi region, in collaboration with the broadcaster TVuno, under the patronage of the Province of L'Aquila, and the cinematographic institute La Lanterna Magica has organized this exhibition: a journey in erotic films and love through some of the most beautiful posters from the '60s onwards.

The exhibition, at no charge, will be open until March 14th. 

This is a good reason to stop and have a look to the surrounding area. Coppito is a really small distance from L'Aquila, which was affected by the earthquake on 6 April 2009.

For more information have a look to:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love and art on Valentine's Day

If you love art and you want to celebrate this event with someone you love, a beautiful initiative has been organized by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture for the following week-end all over Italy, so don't miss this occasion!

Valentine's day is the perfect day to celebrate love and sweetness, so a wonderful experience for all those who love to get together, give flowers, chocolates or sharing moments of love.

For this reason the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, 12 and 13 February decided to give all couples a Valentine's Day alternative, with the opportunity to learn and discover the wonders of Italian cultural heritage by offering two entrances to the price of one in all the museums, monuments and archaeological sites state.

Valentine's Day is the first major event of the year MiBAC offers to all Italian citizens and foreigners to stimulate the knowledge and rediscovery of our artistic and enhance the wealth that the world envies us and that we, first, we enjoy.

For more information on the places that adhere to this initiative, have a look to this link (in Italian):


Monday, February 7, 2011

The fleeing Caravaggio: a paper for Dunedin

Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
Oil on canvas, 361 x 520 cm
Saint John Museum, La Valletta

Last week the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2-5 February 2011) has organized a conference in Dunedin at the University of Otago, where I have happily participated with a panel entitled: Artists and Travel.  

Who better than Caravaggio? He fled to Naples and then to Malta, in order to escape decapitation following his conviction for the murder of Ranuccio TomassoniHoping in the Pope's forgiveness, he departed from the conventions of his time to paint works evoking acts of clemency to receive the permission of the Pope to come back to Rome. 

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is a clear example of Caravaggio's changes, almost a testimonial to his own destiny: his death! 

To know more about the other papers presented at the conference, 
this is the link: 
anzamems 2011 conference

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