Monday, October 29, 2012

November offers: Italian Conversation and Intensive course

Paestum by Italian Cultural Experience

Do you know in 9 weeks it's Christmas. Are you thinking to go to Italy for Christmas?

For the month of November I offer you these options: 

1) New Italian conversation classes in Ponsonby: every Tuesday morning, at 10am, only $20 a person for hour - CLASS LIMITED TO 4 PEOPLE. 

2) Intensive crash course: 8 hours for the price of $240 for the one-to-one or $120 if shared with a friend. Two hours a week to be ready for your Christmas shopping and holiday in Italy.

To register your interest please contact Simona:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Italian Celebration Day

Every year the Italian language is celebrated in all the world during the Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel Mondo (Italian week in the world) by all those people who have an Italian background, speak Italian and live overseas or love the Italian language and culture.

To commemorate the event today we have decided to organise an Italian Celebration Day in Ruma 2 at Richmond Road School in Ponsonby with a pizza, Italian songs and words.

Early in the morning the teacher, Miss Nina, has set up the table for the class, so as soon as the bell rang we have started our adventure. First of all, we have sung a classic Italian lyric:

Ciao buon giorno
Ciao buon giorno
Come stai?
Come stai?
Molto, molto bene!
Molto, molto bene!
Grazie a te
Grazie a te

Good Morning!
Good Morning!
How are you?
How are you?
Very well thank you.
Very well thank you.
How about you?
How about you?

...and then, after talking about the pizza and the ingredients (in Italian and in English) we have all taken turns rolling the dough....

Lorenzo and some friends

Elliott and her friends

Some more rolling

  ....then we have waited for the pizza setting the plates on the tables and making funny jokes !!!
Lorenzo and Leo are waiting for the pizza to be cooked

  ...and finally, when all the pizza was gone, I have taken a photo of all the class!
Ruma 2 at the end of our adventure
 ....some of the girls have made pictures for me!


Believe me the children had lots of fun! 

A presto!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The beautiful and crazy Capri

Capri, the famous island of the stars and the rich people during the '60, is a beautiful and interesting place to visit with friends or family.

the island with lots of traffic, beautiful sites and much more...

The wonderful view from one of the panoramic point

A spot from Anacapri

a narrower street for pedestrian ...

More vegetation

the other islands

a view from the top 

Photos by Simona Albanese

Capri has lots to offer.....

Enjoy your experience!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sassi of Matera

Matera is one of those places you can't miss!

Listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site in 1993, Sassi has been defined as: 

"This is the most outstanding and intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem. The first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic period, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history"

Hence the Sassi represent, first of all, the most outstanding example of urban settlement dug into the rock as they witness, in a continuous way, "the art of living in a cave" from the Paleolithic to the present day.

Starting in the 8th century, more and more Benedictine and Byzantine communities of monks settled both in the Sassi and on the nearby rocky highland of the Murge where they used existing caves or carved new ones in order to transform them in churches.

These monastic settlements have been active through all the Middle Ages till the beginning of the Renaissance and, in some cases, they have attained a high level of iconographic and architectural evolution.

Between the Sassi and the Park of the rupestrian churches, one can count 155 stone churches, with some of them being nothing but hermitages, and others being lauras or coenobia built over several levels.

Starting in the ‘50s, Matera has also been used as a natural set for popular movies like Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of Christ" and many others.

If you’re planning a trip to Italy and you’re prepared to travel to somewhere a little way off the beaten track, include the town of Matera and its magnificent Sassi. But be warned, to get the most from this archaeological treasure, make sure you take your walking shoes with you!

Buona passeggiata!

Monday, August 13, 2012

August: holiday time

During the month of August many people go on holiday in the Northern hemisphere, because it is very hot!
Nevertheless there are people who still live in the city and love to appreciate art and interesting things, therefore even this here the Ministery of Cultural Heritage has decided to keep open many museums and sites during August 15th, a holiday day!

Here some of the most beautiful places you can visit on that day!

Chieti, National Archeological Museum

Isernia, Museum

Forte di Gavi

Castle of Racconigi

Naples, Villa Floridiana

Ravenna, Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe

Trieste, Historical Museum of Miramare Castle

Rome, Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

Genoa, Palazzo Reale

Bari, Castello Svevo

Aosta, Forte di Bard

Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera

Perugia, National Gallery of Umbria

 Have a wonderful time, wherever you are in Italy!

A presto!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Trastevere: the Festa de' Noantri

Every year Trastevere celebrate the Festa de' Noantri (our festival), a traditional festivity for the people of the rione. The celebration takes place on the second half of July. As a kid, I remember Trastevere all embellished and with many stalls along Viale Trastevere, and a big marry-go-round on Piazza Mastai.

Today the celebration is limited, nevertheless during this time, Trastevere, which is one of the most characteristic and still colourful ancient district across the Tiber River from the main historic center of Rome, became a destination for many tourists and for the locals.

Originally the Festa began in 1927. Even so, its routes can be back dated to 1535, when a fisherman caught in his nets a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Tiber. After the event the statue, nicknamed Madonna Fiumarola (of the river) was donated to the Carmelite nuns of San Crisogono (in Piazza Sonnino) in Trastavere and became the patron saint of the district.

Today the statue is in the Church of St Agatha, in Largo San Giovanni de Matha, in Trastevere. Replaced during the XXth century by another statue, which will takes bride of place during this festivity, the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is taken around and followed by believers and curious on the Saturday following July 16th.

This year the Madonna will be carried with great pageantry from Saint Agatha to the church of San Crisogono in Trastevere, where it stays just over a week, before being carried back to Saint Agatha's.

On the last night Trastevere has big fire works, therefore if you are in the area during this period don't miss the occasion!

A presto!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Italian for kids (6-9 years old) at Richmond Road School

Learn while having fun!  Italian for kids is based on incorporating simple phrases, numbers, colours, games and craft as integral elements of the language learning process.  The children not only benefit in the area of language but also in their academics, social skills, thinking and confidence. (minimum 5 students – max 10)

When: Wednesday (free trial on Wed. 18 July- lessons start on Wed 25 July for 7 weeks)

Where: Richmond Road School (Ruma 2)

Time: 3:15pm to 4pm

Cost: $ 85 (7 weeks).  The first lesson is free

Instructor: Simona Albanese

Something about the teacher: Simona Albanese is Lorenzo’s mum in Ruma 2. She is a native of Rome, Italy. In the last fifteen years Simona has worked between Italy, New Zealand and Australia as lecturer, curator and public speaker. She loves to share with others, as much as she does with her family and children, her passion for language and culture.

For info or to enrol contact Simona at:

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Crucifixion by Perugino in Borgo Pinti

Pietro Perugino, The Crucifixion, 1493-96
Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi,

Borgo Pinti is one of the main streets of Florence which takes you to the historical centre. On this street there is the complex of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, founded in 1257, and dedicated to the Florentine Carmelitane.

In the Charter House of this complex, Perugino (c.1446/50-1523), an Umbrian painter of the Renaissance period, active between Umbria, Tuscany and Rome, frescoed the theme of the Crucifixion.

The decoration is a triptych and takes up a whole wall, divided by the ceiling vaults and the painted architectural arch elements. The harmonious and luminous scenery contributes to decreasing the emphasis of the drama represented by the scene, that reflects the typical serene and meditative attitude of the artist.

During the summer it is hard to have access to the complex, because the main entrance it is through the local school, which is currently closed for holiday.

An earlier version of the same subject it is visible in the National Gallery of Art in the United States.
If you are curious and you want to know more about it here the link:

A presto!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is that Dante?

The Museo of Bargello in Florence is one of those museums less visited by tourists! It has an extensive sculpture collection, including some of the best work by Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Cellini and Giambologna. It has a collection of Renaissance medals on the second floor, which includes some wonderful work by Pisanello, a charming collection of Medieval household implements such as combs, hair pins, mirrors and ivory caskets in the so-called Sala degli Avori, or Ivory Room.

This building itself was the official residence of the Captain of the People, later the Podesta` of Medieval Florence, but also as a prison where many convicts awaiting execution would spend their last days. 

In this museum there is a room on the first floor, the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, the place where the convicts would spend their final hours before beginning their journey to the scaffold. Vasari informs us that Giotto (1267-1337), a famous Italian painter, acclaimed for the cycle of Saint Francis in Assisi and for the Arena Chapel in Padua, painted on the altar wall of the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene a portrait of his friend Dante Alighieri, the writer of the Divine Comedy. 

Portrait of Dante, 1337
Fresco, Florence

In 1839 a group of Italian art-lovers, having read this same passage in Vasari's Lives of the Artists, applied for permission to search for the portrait underneath the coat of whitewash that had meanwhile been applied to the walls. They uncovered a largely ruined cycle of frescoes depicting, amongst other subjects, Hell and Paradise. Below the figure of Christ they found the group described by Vasari complete with Giottos's portrait of Dante. 

Unfortunately, the face of the supposed poet was badly damaged. Dante's characteristic profile was quickly returned to him by simple and pragmatic exigency of a restoration policy of the time.

Therefore today its authenticity is more than dubious! 

You know the best thing to do it is just to go and check with your own eyes next time in Florence!!!

A presto!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Biennale di Ferrara

The International Biennale of Ferrara is a cultural initiative organised by the Associazione Culturale Ferrara Pro Art in collaboration with public and private institutions.

The event offers its stage to emerging talents, established names alongside some of the cultural-artistic scene. The program provides a large space dedicated to visual arts and contemporary events, such as music, performances, guided tours to the city and much more.

The Biennale will run until December and it will involve many historic sites of the city of Ferrara, which is a place full of art and history.

Some of the instalment will be in the Castello Estense, the real fortress of the city centre. Erected in 1385 for Nicolo' d'Este to protect him and his family against external attacks, it was commissioned to the court architect Bartolino Novara. The new building was leaning against the old Tower of the Lions, incorporated in the new building, which was thus provided with four corner towers, joined together by restrained walls. For several decades, the castle was used as a military fortress, until when, since 1450, was gradually transformed into a stately home and lots of space was occupied by the court, which was embellished with frescoes and decorations. In short, the castle lost the stark appearance of the fortress to become a beautiful place with courtyards, decorated with turrets, balconies and sumptuous apartments.  Today the Castle houses the Provincial administration and the Prefecture of Ferrara. 

Even the Chiostro of Sant'Anna recently restored, will be used for this event. In the past this place was used as the old city hospital. In later centuries the complex was expanded to occupy much of the block to the north-east of the Castello Estense. The cloister is famous for the fact that the poet Torquato Tasso was imprisoned there for years for alleged insanity.

Many other places will be utilised during the next few months for the Biennale, therefore if you want to see something different, stop over in Ferrara for the day!

A presto!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Caravaggio's Raising of Lazarus is in Rome

Caravaggio, Raising of Lazarus (1609) 
Museo Regionale, Messina

Finally, after several months of conservation, Caravaggio's Raising of Lazarus will be on display for a month at Palazzo Braschi, the current Museum of Rome, to then return to Museo Regionale of Messina.

The painting was produced in the last years of Caravaggio's life in Sicily, after he fled from Malta. Commissioned by the Genoese merchant Giovanni Battista de' Lazzari for the Church of the Padri Crociferi or "Cross-Bearing Fathers" in Messina, the Raising of Lazarus is interpreted as redemptive for Caravaggio who is a fugitive for murder and with a death sentence on his head, desperately in need o a miracle. 

So if you are in Rome in the next few weeks, don't miss this opportunity and go to visit this work together with the museum of Palazzo Braschi, located between Piazza Navona and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

A presto!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Escaping to Mantua

Mantua overview

Sometime planning a holiday it is a hard work, especially if you are not sure where to go and for how long. Italy has so much to offer, so here a possible alternative....Mantua. This is a small city, located in the south east of Lombardy, one of the Italian regions. This centre is perfect for a week-end away from the confusion or for an overnight stop during your Italian trip. 

Mantua was ruled until 1707 by the Gonzaga family, who were some of the most important patrons of Renaissance art. In fact, during their regency they cultivated a court which included some of the most illustrious artists and intellectuals of the time, such as Andrea Mantegna, the court painter between 1460 and 1506. The main commission he received from Ludovico Gonzaga was the decoration of an historiated portrait gallery for the Ducal Palace or Palazzo Ducale. The so-called Camera Picta (1465–74) or Camera degli Sposi, shows the Marchese and his consort, Barbara of Brandenburg, together with their children, friends, courtiers and animals engaged in professional and leisurely pursuits, illustrating the present successes and alluding to the future ambitions of the Gonzaga dynasty.

Mantegna, Camera degli sposi

An interesting particular of this decoration is the painted vault, a trompe l'oeil, a perfect example of illusionism. Here a group of foreshortened putti happily play around a balustrade.

Another artist who worked for the Gonzaga family was Leon Battista Alberti, the great Renaissance theorist and architect from Florence, who designed the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, which was only constructed in a later date. 

Basilica of Sant'Andrea

Even Giulio Romano, who worked in Rome with Raphael, became the court architect and painter in Mantua from the 1520’s. His most significant and most famous work was the architecture and decoration of Palazzo Te, once considered the villa suburbana for the Gonzaga family, today only a short walk from the Ducal Palace.

Giulio Romano, Palazzo Te

The most amazing thing in the palace is the decoration of the rooms, of which the Camera dei Giganti or Chamber of the Giants is very famous. The story portrayed is the Fall of the Giants from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and, as is clear from some of the details, it is derived from a later Italian edition that alters the original text.
Giulio Romano, Fall of the Giants

Mantua has lots to go and immerse yourself in this beautiful place!

Do you want to know more? or do you have intention to learn some basic Italian before your departure?
You can contact me HERE

Alla prossima!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Trevi Fountain is 250 years old!

 The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is probably the most famous of all the fountains in Rome! It attracts so many tourists and non tourists each day.

Situated in the heart of the city centre, among narrow streets and alleys, this fountain is 250 years old this year. Designed in 1732 by Nicola Salvi, who won the competition organized by Clement XII, the fountain was formally opened, still incomplete, in 1744 and was finished only in 1762, after the death of his creator. 

Salvi perfectly interpreted the pope's expectations. In fact, the fountain was not simply accommodated by a piazza or square, but the space of the piazza became an integral part of the monument. 

This fountain is a wonderful symbiosis of sculpture and architecture: they complement each other!
So if you go to Rome remember to visit this fountain and think: "What could Rome do without this fountain?"

A presto!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome

Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

When I talk about Rome I could tell you so many things without stopping, because that's the place were I come from. Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the favourite places I like to go because it has a wonderful square to relax and chill out. 

The fountain and the church have a story behind them! All the kids of Trastevere have played here when they were little. This square was our meeting point during the afternoon after school, a place where it was possible to run safely, play soccer or more!

Still today this square is a meeting point for the "Trasteverini", the residents of Trastevere, especially during the evening when everyone meets for a drink or a pizza or just an ice-cream. 

So next time you visit Rome, stop by in the square and absorb a bit of the Roman culture! Santa Maria is perfect for your kids to run around especially after a long walk around the ancients sites of Rome. 

Ciao! Alla prossima!

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