Pontremoli and its Disfida dei Falò

Every year on January 17th and January 31st the town of Pontremoli in Lunigiana hosts a bonfire competition which actually re-enacts an old medieval rivalry. The Disfida dei Falò, the Bonfire Challenge, is held in the dry riverbeds of Pontremoli and sees the town split in two for the most blazing, tallest and long-lasting bonfire.

The making of San Nicolò’s bonfire @FalòdiSanNicolòPontremoli

The two factions represent the two patron saints of Pontremoli, San Niccolò, whose feast is on January 17th, and San Geminiano, celebrated on the 31st. Once a pagan ritual held at the beginning of the year to invoke the “god of fire” against the long cold winter months, the bonfires were later adopted to celebrate the Catholic patrons. Furthermore, during the early fourteenth century there was a huge antagonism between the factions of the Guelfi and the Ghibellini which brought to the building of the great bell tower to separate the two rival camps. 

San Geminiano burning high @FalòdiSanGeminianoPontremoliMS

Today both parishes pacifically commemorate these events with gigantic piles of wood, whose flames can even reach a height of 30 metres. The San Niccolò group lights its bonfire on the 17th on the dry side of the Magra river, whilst the San Geminiano clan builds theirs on the 31st next to the river Verde. Fundamental is height and how long they burn, but also how well they hold together during the celebration.

The town of Pontremoli

One of Lunigiana’s most distinctive towns, Pontremoli combines tradition with Tuscany’s most historical territory, a mountainous region covered with forests and with one of the highest concentrations of castles in Italy.

Pubblicato in Events in Lunigiana, Events in Tuscany, Lunigiana, Senza categoria, Tuscan traditions, Tuscany | Contrassegnato , | Lascia un commento

Celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s Death

2019 marks the quincentenary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci and museums and galleries around the world are honouring him with special exhibitions and tributes. As a result Tuscany, where the great Italian Renaissance master was born and where he lived for most of his life, couldn’t obviously remain behind in this commemoration. Let’s take a look at just some of the many events on in Tuscany this year.

The first to kick off the celebrations was Palazzo Achille in San Marcello Pistoiese up on the tall mountains of Pistoia. The Eco-Museum, in fact, inaugurated on January 11th an exhibition of Leonardo’s machines, recreating a vast selection of models. The intent is to present and investigate Leonardo’s studies in combination with this territory and the Eco-Museum’s itineraries. Furthermore, visitors will be able to test their own dexterity with wooden games made from Leonardo’s designs. The show closes on September 1st.

Likewise, Palazzo Vecchio in Florence started its commemorations by offering visitors a special itinerary dedicated to the Battle of Anghiari. Open from February 23rd to  January 12th, 2020, this multimedia event intends to retrace the story of how Leonardo failed to complete the painting of the Battle of Anghiari on the wall of the hall known today as the Salone del Cinquequento.

Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, instead, is hosting from March 9th to July 14th the exhibition “Verrocchio, Master of Leonardo”.  This exhibit gathers together the extraordinary masterpieces of painter, sculptor, goldsmith and designer Andrea del Verrocchio and those of his pupils, Leonardo da Vinci, Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Lorenzo di Credi. Verrocchio’s workshop in Florence influenced generations of masters during the 15th century, both in Italy and Europe. On show will be over 120 works, including paintings, sculptures and drawings, from important collections from all over the world: the Victoria and Albert museum of London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Uffizi Galleries of Florence.

From March 29th, Palazzo Vecchio will be hosting an exhibition celebrating the Florentine essence of Leonardo da Vinci. The show “Leonardo da Vinci and Florence. Folios chosen from the Codex Atlanticus.” will be held in the Sala dei Gigli, and offers a selection of papers on which Leonardo made a series of written or graphic annotations related to enterprises, memories and relationships with Florence in a period that goes from the 1470s to his death in 1519. On until June 24th.

Pontedera in the province of Pisa is to host from April 1st to May 4th an exhibition on Leonardo’s Mona Lisa especially dedicated to the visually impaired and to the blind. As part of the celebrations of the 500th death anniversary, Pontedera has organized a 1:1 scale reproduction of da Vinci’s most famous portrait in Sala Carpi. People will be able to discover the masterpiece by simply touching it. There will also be a descriptive text in Braille and an audio description.

The Casa Rodolfo Siviero Museum along Florence’s Lungarno is hosting from May 18th to September 29th the exhibition “The Leonardo of Giorgio Castelfranco and the 20th-century Cult of Genius”. On display the archives of Giorgio Castelfranco, today conserved at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Castelfranco was an art historian and one of Leonardo’s greatest and above all most passionate scholar, who also happened to be director of Palazzo Pitti during the two WWs as well as a resident in Casa Siviero. Most importantly, this is undoubtedly a unique chance to see the documents and photographs of this archive while grasping the chance to admire the objects of art which are a permanent exhibition of the house.

Still in Florence, the Complex of Santa Maria Novella, will be hosting from September 13th to December 15th an exhibition on “Botany and Leonardo: Synthesis between Art and Nature”. On show the original scripts of Leonardo’s investigations on the shapes and structures of plants and their relationship with art and science. Many of the implications he made then are today still very valid and it is certainly a privilege to visit this show and witness his acute spirit of observation.

Keep your eyes on this article because it will be continuously updated as the year goes by.

Pubblicato in Events in Florence, Events in Tuscany, Exhibitions in Tuscany, Florence, Masterpiece's of Tuscany, Museums in Tuscany, Tuscan art, Tuscany | Contrassegnato , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

Tuscany and its Christmas dinner traditions

Straight from the best Tuscan cuisine traditions to the table. What’s in store for Tuscany at the Christmas dinner table? Well there’s certainly going to be a mouth-watering display of antipasti Toscani: the traditional mixed cold cuts, Pecorino cheese and my personal all-time favourite the crostini bread with chick liver pâté.

Pasta cannot be missing from the Christmas table so there will be ravioli. Depending on which region of Tuscany you’re staying in, the ravioli stuffing varies from ricotta cheese and spinach to meat or fish. Likewise the sauce accompanying it will conform from the classical meat sauce to a simple melted butter with sage leaves. The more rural areas will also be dressing their pasta up with wild boar or hare sauce.

Hence the main course, shouldn’t it yet have been enough. A delicious roasted Florentine-style pork sirloin, arista, with aromatic fennel and apples will be a big favourite, while in the Casentino region it will be the stuffed neck of a chicken, previously used for the Eve’s broth. Probably down on the coast around Livorno they will prepare a tasty cacciucco, fish stew, but in other areas it will mainly be a roast chicken, guinea-fowl, pigeons or even thrush. Vegetables in these occasions are more an optional.

The choice of wine is almost embarrassing with all the excellent wines Tuscany has to offer. Of the over 70 DOCG wines in Italy, 11 are produced in Tuscany: Super Tuscans, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Rosso della Val di Cornia, Morellino di Scansano, Montecucco, Chianti Classico, Chianti, Elba Aleatico passito, Carmignano and Suvereto.

To conclude, the dessert. The meal ends with the traditional Sienese panforte or panpepato, a selection of traditional Christmas biscuits, like the rhomboidal ricciarelli and the cavallucci, plates full of sticky nougat and bowls overflowing with dried fruit, nuts of all shapes and forms and dates. Before ending with your classical caffè espresso, you just have to have some cantuccini biscuits dipped into a glass of home-made vinsanto.

No one keeps up age-old traditions, especially food ones, like the Italians.

Pubblicato in Italian food and wine, Tuscan food and wine, Tuscan lifestyle, Tuscan traditions, Tuscany | Contrassegnato , | Lascia un commento

On display in Arezzo two exhibitions: Aligi Sassu and Pino Deodato

Arezzo will be hosting from December 22 two exhibitions. First of all to be inaugurated that day, at 5 pm, is “ALIGI SASSU Epopea del Vero”. On display at the Palazzo della Provincia until January 27, 2019, Aligi Sassu is renowned as being the most precocious talent of the 20th century, having been invited, when 16 years old, to participate in the Venice Biennale by Marinetti himself. Sassu’s paintings and sculptures respect the dignity of truth but continuously challenge it, apparently going beyond the limit, yet remaining consistent with the reality of existence. His works suggest lyricism, like in a dream or a memory, magnifying emotions and feelings and compromising mimesis. Open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 am to 1 pm and from 4 to 7 pm, free entrance.

The second exhibition will be inaugurated at 6.30 pm, at the church of the Saints Lorentino and Pergentino, and is “PINO DEODATO sPARTITI Quelli che Vanno. Quelli che vengono e a volte si fermano”.  Contemporary artist Pino Deodato from Milan is a slipware artist and his artwork is disseminated throughout the church representing fragments of thoughts, opinions, dreams with his minute, yet determined, characters, in a very elementary way. On until February 3, 2019, open on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 to 7 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 1 pm and from 4 to 7 pm, free entrance.

Pubblicato in Arezzo, Art exhibitions, Art exhibitions in Tuscany, Art in Arezzo, Exhibitions in Arezzo, Tuscany | Contrassegnato , , , | Lascia un commento

Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester returns to Florence

As an absolute preview of the celebrations that will take place around the world next year, 2019, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence has  organized an exhibition with one of the polymath’s most renowned manuscripts.

The Codex Leicester is a collection of scientific writings and drawings on the properties of water, rocks, fossils, astronomy and celestial light. Apparently Leonardo worked on them , while in Florence, between 1504 and 1508, a period of intense artistic and scientific activity for him.

The “Water as Microscope of Nature. Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester” exhibition will be on from October 30 to January 20 in Aula Magliabechiana. The Uffizi Gallery will have on display more than 80 original pages of this and other precious manuscripts by Leonardo. Likewise visitors will also have the opportunity to admire the Codex on the Flight of Birds, as well as four sheets from the Codex Atlanticus, illustrating Leonardo’s studies of a canal project from Florence to the Mediterranean sea, as well as of the moon and the invention of the crane.

Opening hours from 8.15 am to 6.50 pm. The exhibition is included in the admission ticket to the Uffizi Gallery.

Pubblicato in Exhibitions in Florence, Florence, Museums in Tuscany, Tuscany | Contrassegnato , , | Lascia un commento