Monday, December 29, 2014

CAPRI SANDALS

Talking about sandals means talking about the first type of footwear worn by mankind. The ancient type of footwear known   as “calzari” was worn to protect the feet from bad weather and dangers and only acquired fashionable details at a later stage. 
The earliest testimony of the existence of sandals dates back to the ancient Egypt. 
Historical and iconographic sources indicate that the Romans already boasted about twenty styles each leading to different trends and fashions. Having decided to retire to the island of Capri during his final years, Tiberius Emperor reached the island wearing a pair of heavy-soled sandals with leather straps wrapped around the ankle.

Friday, December 19, 2014

CAPRI 1950, VITA DOLCE VITA

Page after page, the book narrates the extravaganza of the international jet set, the leisure time activities of the great industrialists, the excesses of aristocrats, the glamour of the cover girls, the amusements of the intellectuals and the trifles of the politicians. It hands back the image of a special world, caught up in its light-hearted time.
It is a world made up of the elite, in every field and every country, from King Farouk of Egypt, an habitue of the island, to writer Graham Greene, who always sat at the same table at his favorite restaurant; from the “atomic” Rita Hayworth, who walked the alleys of Capri followed by an adoring crowd to Aristotle Onassis, who strode around the town’s centre; from his wife Tina to Maria Callas, the famous opera singer for whom he had lost his head.
In the evening, under Capri’s starry sky, celebrities and anonymous people danced until dawn to the voice of Roberto Murolo, the tunes of Luna Caprese, the music of Renato Carosone and the songs of the young newly-famous singer Peppino di Capri.

Monday, November 24, 2014

CANZONE NAPOLETANA

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the troubadours came from France in the wake of the crusaders, and many traces of their songs are to be found.  
As a result of repeated barbarian invasions from the far north and the far south, the most remarkable transformations and innovations occurred in the music and language of the period. Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, the founder of the university of Naples, ordered the establishment of a faculty to foster the new language. 
Towards the middle of the fifteenth century Neapolitan was declared the official language by Alphonso of Aragon. 
I know of no authentic musical works which have been preserved from the period of the late antique kingdom, the time of the maritime city-state and the empire of Constantinople, but it is possible to get an idea of them; one has only to think of the Moorish elements that still dominate the entire corpus of the canzone napoletana. This influence is the essential and most characteristic trait, not only in the kind of singing, but also in cadences and the relationship of intervals, and even in the later songs it is possible to recognize their origins through their colouring and expression.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NEAPOLITAN SONGS

Roberto Murolo, along with Sergio Bruni and Renato Carosone, was a major figure on the Neapolitan music scene, in the period after World War II, and it is also thanks to his work that Naples ceased to be a geographical place to become a universal, all-time place of the soul.
"Murolo is not the reason that Neapolitan songs such as 'O sole mio and Funiculì-Funilulà are known abroad. That goes back to yet an earlier generation, the years at the turn of the century when so many Neapolitans emigrated and took their music with them. 
Interestingly, however, Murolo was part of the post-WW2 generation of Neapolitan singers who resisted the onslaught of American popular music and helped keep the traditional music of his native culture from becoming passé".

Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE AMALFI COAST, CAPRI & NAPLES

Filled with color photos, eye-popping features, and fabulous maps, Fodor's The Amalfi Coast is more inspirational and easier to browse than ever, and bursts with all the energy of the region, from the dazzling blue of Capri's Grotta Azzurra to the lush red of a perfect Neapolitan tomato sauce. 
Special illustrated features throughout the book illuminate the most distinctive aspects of the Amalfi coastline and Ancient Pompeii, giving travelers an unparalleled sense of the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Naples. 
Other illustrated features provide an in-depth examination of the food and wine of the region, making it easy to savor the local delicacies.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

THE TOWN OF SIRENS

The activity in Naples of Alessandro Scarlatti from 1683 until his death in 1725 also amplified the international reputation of “the town of sirens” as Naples was named. In their turn, the succeeding generation of composers to Scarlatti began a new style of composing opera; scholars consider today this as the point of departure for the new galant style, epitomized by Leonardo Vinci (who died in 1730), who was the first Neapolitan composer able to gain an international reputation, first in Venice and then in London, where his music was discovered by Handel.
Naples around 1720 additionally saw the beginning of the careers of Pietro Metastasio (the most important librettist of the century), the German-born Johann Adolf Hasse (who was educated in Naples) and the young Farinelli.
The four opera houses in the city offered foreign visitors every kind of vocal music productions, from opera seria in the San Bartolomeo to the new comic operas in the Neapolitan tongue in the minor theatres. And there was music everywhere in the town: in the 500 churches, in the open air, in the streets and in the squares. To sing in Naples was a fundamental achievement for any singer in the 18th century and beyond.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

ONDINE

The three act ballet of Ondine  was the result of a collaboration between German composer  Hans Werner Henze and British choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton and is thus the only ballet choreographed by Ashton to an original score. Ashton first approached William Walton to compose a score.  
However, Walton refused and suggested that his friend Hans Henze be approached. Therefore, the music for Ondine was commissioned from Henze, who went to considerable lengths to learn the special requirements of writing for ballet.  
Ashton gave him a very detailed breakdown of the action, with precise timings for each section in a similar way to how the famous nineteenth century choreographer, Marius Petipa did for Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky.  
Henze and Ashton met on the island of Ischia, just across the bay from Naples, to decide their key approaches to this new ballet. They decided to ignore the northern origins of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's novella Undine and move it to the Mediterranean.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

THE GALANT STYLE


In the eighteenth century, young boys with musical talent could dream of success as composers. The odds, however, were against them. 
The galant style of music in fashion at princely courts, opera theaters, and urban cathedrals demanded skills far beyond the reach of an amateur. It required not only excellence in counterpoint, figured-bass, orchestration, text-setting, and me-lodic design, but also such a high degree of compositional facility that one’s creations gave the artistic impression of sprezzatura – refined nonchalance.
A lucky few like Mozart or the Bachs were born into professional musical families. For the rest it could be very difficult to find a teacher with the requisite sophistication and connections. 
An exception to this widespread predicament could be found in the southern Italian city of Naples. There the art of music flourished under the lavish patronage of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. On his name day of November 4, 1737, Charles VII (later Charles III of Spain) gave Naples what was then the largest opera house in the world (3,300 seats), and the oldest one still functioning, the Teatro di San Carlo. 
As the crown jewel among theaters, it presented only serious opera and attracted the greatest composers of the age. Other Neapolitan theaters presented comic opera and lighter musical entertainments. So many productions were staged, so many court concerts were scheduled, and so much elaborate sacred music was required at the dozens of magnificent churches that Naples might soon have run out of musicians had it not been for its four conservatories.

Monday, August 18, 2014

THE WILLIAM WALTON TRUST

The island of Ischia, in the Bay of Naples, has long been a refuge for artists, musicians, writers and screen personalities. Immediately after the second world war William Walton came to live on Ischia with his Argentinian wife Susana.                                                                                     Their home, La Mortella – the place of the myrtles – is set in exotic tropical gardens renowned throughout Europe.  Originally designed by the landscape architect Russell Page , they were opened to the public in 1991 and today can be visited between April and November.                     The house is built on the side of a volcanic hill and includes a Recital Hall and the Archive. Created in 1990, the Archive contains Sir William’s letters, photographs, manuscripts and memorabilia. It offers an important resource for both students and enthusiasts, and part of the material is today on permanent exhibition in the Museum.    
In the Recital Hall, two Seasons of chamber music concerts are staged, one in Spring and one in Autumn. Young musicians sent from Italian and foreign Schools of Music perform more than 70 weekend concerts, all open to the public.                                                                                                       

Friday, July 25, 2014

SAVE ME THE WALTZ

In the early days, Zelda was glad enough to use Scott Fitzgerald's name to promote her stories; his editor handled a slightly cut version of Save Me the Waltz. His friends loyally attended Zelda's art shows and bought her paintings.
Zelda was always on the verge of an independent identity she never embraced. In 1929, a ballet company in Naples invited her to join it as a soloist: she turned down the job and shortly afterwards became a professional invalid. 
In a vivid section of Save Me the Waltz, the heroine does go to Naples, not just as a soloist, but as the prima ballerina in Swan Lake. She is lonely and adrift. When her snooty daughter visits, she is embarrassed by her relative poverty. Naples sickens the child; both the girl and the dancing mother are relieved when she returns to her father. 
Shortly thereafter, as if in punishment, an infected foot ensures that the heroine will never dance again. Instead of living out this dark dream, even finding within it a possible happy ending, Zelda cracked up.
The Naples invitation makes nonsense of the condescending assumption that Zelda's dancing was a pathetic symptom, not a vocation, but her refusal to follow through was, I think, the turning point of her life.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

JOURNEY TO ITALY

Catherine and Alexander, wealthy and sophisticated, drive to Naples 
to dispose of a deceased uncle's villa. There's a coolness in their relationship and aspects of Naples add to the strain. 
She remembers a poet who loved her and died in the war; although 
she didn't love him, the memory underscores romance's absence from her life now. 
She tours the museums of Naples and Pompeii, immersing herself in the Neapolitan fascination with the dead and noticing how many women are pregnant; he idles on Capri, flirting with women but drawing back from adultery. With her, he's sarcastic; with him, she's critical. They talk of divorce. Will this foreign couple find insight and direction in Italy? 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

A GOOD WOMAN

Mrs Erlynne (Helen Hunt), at the conclusion of yet another affair and financially exhausted, leaves New York ostensibly to exploit Robert (Mark Umbers) and Meg Windermere (Scarlett Johansson), a young but high-profile couple of the 1930s, at their fashionable vacation scene on the Amalfi Coast. 
The witty, romantic comedy is inspired by Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's fan, and the spark of the film is Tom Wilkinson's performance, skilfully directed by Mike Barker in the visually sumptuous setting of Ravello.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

HOUSE OF SALLUST

In this detail of Calvert Richard Jones 1846 calotype, "The House of Sallust", in which the grainy sepia patinas of the photograph perhaps suggest that the swirling volcanic ashes that buried Pompeii so many years ago have still not quite yet come to rest, a languidly frock-coated English gentleman leans somnambulantly against a slice of excavated masonry, as if waiting for night to fall and the haphazard contents of a painting by De Chirico to materialize around him with all hazy, sudden velocity of dream logic. Yet here we only see, fixed in time by photographic paper, the atrium at the front of the house leading to the columned garden court beyond, and then Vesuvius itself, pale and almost indistinct, looming ominously in the background ...

Monday, June 23, 2014

NEAPOLITANER

The Neapolitan horse is small, but very compact and strong; his neck is short and bull-shaped, and his head rather large; he is, in short, the prototype of the horse of the ancient basso-rilievoes and other Roman sculptures found in the country.

Friday, May 23, 2014

ROSINA FERRARA

Rosina Ferrara (1861–1934) was an Italian girl from the island of Capri, who became the favorite muse of American expatriate artist John Singer Sargent.
She was born in Anacapri, Capri, in 1861. Visitors to her native island, some of whom were famous artists, were captivated by her exotic beauty. She posed for a variety of 19th-century artists, including Frank Hyde, Charles Sprague Pearce, and George Randolph Barse (whom she later married), and is immortalized in paintings and sketches by them and other artists, which now hang in museums, art galleries, and private collections.                  Ferrara was described by various artists as an "Arab/Greek type," the type seen in classical art, such as that of Ancient Greece. Greek colonists settled in Capri in ancient times and left their mark in their descendants.

Monday, May 19, 2014

THE CAPRIS

Founded in 1906, La Parisienne is still the island's best source for the famous pants - you can legit get a made-to-measure pair within a day. You can even buy copies of the originals worn by Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot. It's like, do you even want to look like a sex siren of the 1950s and '60s?! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

LANDSCAPE

Level upon level of wash and stone
Cab drivers yelling that each one, each one's alone
A forced-up smile when casting your eyes
Insanity reigns on streets of no size
High crumbling walls of stones that have seen
The rigors of war and have never been cleaned
A modern pay turnpike in midst of it all
While an old woman works in a garden with trowel
Trees are just blooming, I've come just in time
Purple spring flowers in rebirth pantomime
A miniature red castle in black craggy pass
Jig-saw puzzle houses the resultants of mass
The top of a mountain cut off by the mist
And a white serene temple in space does exist
The lemon trees, oranges, and cactus alike
The growth of a vineyard with grapes not yet ripe
A truck is forced off as big as a house
While dawdling along like a little green mouse
A long sweeping view expounds my belief
And clear restless water with an absence of reef
Evolutions and cycles we come face to face
While foliage drifts in green filmy lace
Now rough and then coarse soon velvet to touch
Octagonal mosaic on a church that is such
And columns of clouds go boiling across
The mountains that stop them and suffer no loss
Head reeling cliffs that fall down to sea
While people are sleeping they hang peacefully
But the trucks rolling blindly are waking them up
To talk quietly murmuring over the morning's first cup
Arches and steps are seen everywhere
Manmade and Godmade and one made of air
The essence of time is virtually gone
Day goes and night comes, I breathe up my lawn
Buona sera, buona sera is a faithful reply
From any stranger you pass who catches your eye
And pinpoints of brilliance, some moving, some still
Are caught in the glass of my window sill
The pinpoints I mentioned I don't speak of stars
But then, think again, it's funny they are
Stars made by man who himself is a star
If only he'd realize the powers that are
And all he's got to do is lay down and play dead
And now looky here Vesuvius looms overhead

Sunday, April 13, 2014

NEW VESUVIAN LANDSCAPES

"Suspended in time, bridled in circular forms, the landscapes images bear a paradoxical resemblance to the uncontaminated beauty of 19th Century paintings belonged to the Neapolitan School of Posillipo".
This series represents a chronicle of abused nature. We are at the foot of Vesuvius; a volcano dormant since 1944, a national park since 1995, and home to several archaeological UNESCO sites. This is a notorious volcano, not only for its unique landscape, but also for the human tragedies it has dispensed in the past.  For some time, Vesuvius has been the sole guardian of itself as well as the surrounding nature, which has been allowed to grow undisturbed. It is a site enjoyed for centuries by international tourists for its historical sites that are without comparison, and for the Grand Tour, popular among artists and the public. 

The result is a sprawling settlement, against all logic and rules: the security, the preservation of the environment and the identity of the place. Palazzos and villas, hotels and restaurants all lay their foundations on the shaky ground of Vesuvius. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

THE SALERNO IVORIES

During the second half of the twentieth century the field of medieval art-history was mainly dominated by the concept that Byzantium had been the leading production-center in the Mediterranean, offering "superior exempla", understood largely in terms of strong ties to the classical past.
A detailed, multifaceted, interdisciplinary analysis of the extraordinary eleventh-twelfth century, the 'Salerno ivories', the largest ivory ensemble preserved from the Middle Ages, (mostly Salerno, Museo Diocesano), still needs to be accomplished.
Combining Islamic, Byzantine, Egyptian, and Latin features, the ivories were outstanding within the most precious furnishings of the late-eleventh-century cathedral in Salerno, the mainland capital of the Norman kingdom of Southern Italy, which sheltered the body of the evangelist Matthew, and which sported Byzantine bronze doors, mosaics, magnificent 'opus sectile' floors and pulpits in line with those of royal Norman churches of Sicily.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MEDIEVAL AMALFI

'Rich in gold and cloths'? This is the first full-length study of the history of medieval maritime republic of Amalfi that addresses both the internal political, social, and economic history of Amalfi - as an independent city-state, under Norman rule and as part of the Kingdom of Sicily - and the history of its diaspora, those Amalfitans who left temporarily or permanently and whose activities contributed to the image of their home city as a thriving centre specialising in the luxury end of the market.
By taking a prosopographical approach, Patricia Skinner reveals the presence of Amalfitans in many parts of the Italian peninsula and further afield in the Mediterranean. 
At the same time, she critically re-examines some of the externally-generated views of Amalfitan wealth, suggesting that these may have as much - or more - to do with literary and patronage networks as with the actual situation on the ground.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

SANTA LUCIA

Dating back to 1849 and originally titled “Barcarolla,” the song became “Santa Lucia” when it was the first Neapolitan song to be translated into Italian during  il Risorgimento (the political and social movement that gathered different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy).
The lyrics of “Santa Lucia,” which celebrate Borgo Santa Lucia, the picturesque waterfront district in the Bay of Naples, are the invitation of a boatman to take a turn in his boat, to better enjoy the cool of the evening.
“Santa Lucia” has been covered by many artists over the years, but the 1916 recording  by Enrico Caruso, the great Neapolitan opera singer, is by many considered the definitive 20th century recording of the song. Other singers who’ve lent their voci (voices) to “Santa Lucia” include, Mario Lanza, Luciano Pavarotti, and even Elvis!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

MARECHIARE

One of the greatest hits composed by Salvatore Di Giacomo, was put to music by the great maestro Francesco Paolo Tosti and published by the Ricordi company in 1885. 
As Pietro Gargano reports to us in his Nuova enciclopedia illustrata della canzone napoletana, Di Giacomo reportedly had never visited Marechiaro before composing the famous song. 
It was impossible for Di Giacomo to have even leaned out of that famous little window, decorated with vases full of geraniums, since it was built by a clever innkeeper with an eye for business after this song became a hit. 
Although it was a song of enormous success, Di Giacomo did not seem to appreciate it greatly: so much so that it was not even included within the collections that the poet himself edited. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

AGNES OF SORRENTO

This story revolves around Agnes, a beautiful young girl, in Italy. 
When reading this book you can lose yourself in Italy and its people by Stowe’s use of poetic language. 
One can almost touch the characters and smell the landscapes with her descriptions. Come to Italy with Harriet Beecher Stowe!
The setting sunbeams slant over the antique gateway of Sorrento, fusing into a golden bronze the brown freestone vestments of old Saint Antonio, who with his heavy stone mitre and upraised hands has for centuries kept watch thereupon.
A very pretty picture was she, reader, - with such a face as you sometimes see painted in those wayside shrines of sunny Italy, where the lamp burns pale at evening, and gillyflower and cyclamen are renewed with every morning.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

OECUS WALL PAINTING

The cycle of frescoes from the oecus or banqueting hall in the 
Villa of Publius Fannius Synistor in Boscoreale is generally interpreted as a portrait gallery of a Hellenistic dynasty. 
On the basis of a meticulous iconographic analysis, the author arrives at an entirely new interpretation. He demonstrates that the individual panels of which the fresco cycle is composed are not unica, as was hitherto assumed, but that they belong to an iconographical tradition which has left traces elsewhere in 
ancient art. 
On the basis of this new interpretation, the author comes to the conclusion that the fresco cycle from the Villa of Fannius was intended as an eloquent testimony to the cultural aspirations of a well-to-do Roman from the middle of the first century B.C.