baroque

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Cappella Sansevero

Published March 24, 2013 by Tony

SANSEVERO CHAPEL
Raimondo of Sangro

San Severo

Who has had the opportunity to read some articles in which I speak of Naples, about the long-standing problems facing the city, will be became aware of my love-hate feeling towards it. Different matter, however, is to consider this city under a cultural and artistic point of view. As many assert, and I am convinced, it is a city – if not the only – with the highest concentration of natural beauty and works of high historical and artistic interest, a truly huge cultural heritage. Among these is included the “Chapel of San Severo” or “Santa Maria della Pietà” in the historic center of the city.
Its creator, Raimondo di Sangro VII, Prince of Sansevero was a scholar, a soldier, an inventor, anatomist and esoteric Freemason born in Foggia in 1710 and died in Naples in 1771, around which many legends were born.   The members of his family were grandees of Spain, owners of countless feuds in Apulia (as Sansevero Torremaggiore, Castelnuovo, Casalvecchio), and, by paternal line, claimed to be directly descended from Charlemagne.
Motherless since childhood, he was assigned to the paternal grandparents who at 10 years sent him to study at the Jesuit School of Rome, where he remained until 20 years.  His father was gone to Vienna, to escape incarceration because accused of having killed a girl’s father in Sansevero, with whom he had fallen in love, and later retired to a monastery in Rome where he took his vows. Naples was the permanent residence of Raimondo’s family where he came back as soon completed his studies. In the same year, by proxy, since she lived in the Andes, he married the fourteen Carlotta Gaetani d’Aragona, who met only six years after the wedding. During his life, the prince of Sansevero took care of many things of a military nature, arts and culture, but also of inventions and alchemy. Adjacent to the family  mansion, separated by an alley, is still the chapel of his family, and according to legend, it was built by the ancestors of the prince in 1593 on an ancient temple of Isis, while in 1744, 100 years later, Raymond resumed the restoration works. Construction’s works that drained the family’s coffers and lasted until the death of the prince, but that made the small church with his Masonic influences and allegories, a masterpiece of Baroque Neapolitan, attended by famous artists.

Cristo velato

The chapel is known mainly for three idiosyncratic statues that adorn it, two of which “Veiled Modesty” and “Veiled Christ“, seem to be covered by a transparent veil of marble – that is all one with the sculpture –  and to date critics has not yet figured out the technique used. Same goes for the third statue entitled “Disillusion” on which there is a network created by marble. One of the hypotheses, by modern admirers of the Prince, is that it is the result of a process invented by the Prince to “marbleize” the fabric. This procedure, however, has not yet been put to the test, and still do not seem to be a convincing explanation. One possible interpretation of these works’ allegorical message, focuses on the Enlightenment, which is that through the reason man reaches the disappointment and gets rid of false truths. In the of the chapel’s “Underground Cave” we find two special “mummies” defined  “anatomical machines” by the prince, two human skeletons (a black woman and one man) with their entire circulatory system (including capillaries) perfectly visible.
It is not known how such structures have been obtained and legend has it that the Prince would obtain the “metallization” or “plastination” of the blood circuit “injecting” a compound of his invention and, therefore, the two subjects had to be alive at the time of the experiment (note that the syringe did not yet exist at the time). However, whether they are machines or real bodies is not certain, since the owners of the Chapel have always refused to let perform any type of investigation.

Disillusion

It was easy for the common people to give birth to magical stories on the erudite and mysterious Prince of Sansevero, who, however, did nothing to discredit the rumors rather, cloaked in the secrecy of his life, for days he remained closed in in his alchemical laboratory, where studied and realized his experiments and his inventions. It should be added that, in the basement of the palace, a printing press had been placed and its noise, very original for the time, could well fuel further rumors. From general accusations of alchemy, witchcraft and atheism, other more serious charges took root, without any basis as far as we know, such as kidnapping poor and homeless for his ignoble experiments. For this and more, he was nicknamed the “black noble”.
The Cappella Sansevero also known as the Capella Sansevero de’ Sangri received its alternative name of Pietatella (from the word pity) from a painting of the Virgin Mary (La Pietà), spotted there by an unjustly arrested prisoner, as reported in the book “Napoli Sacra” by Cesare d’Engenio Caracciolo in 1623. When the chapel was constructed it was originally dedicated to Santa Maria della Pietà, after the painting.
With its thirty works of art and decoration in late-Baroque, the chapel has always been a destination for tourists and visitors.

Metal Veins

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SICILY TOUR

Published March 19, 2011 by Tony

Excursion in Sicily for Carnival celebration

Ancient map

Ancient map

Sometimes I take part to some excursion for visiting interesting places or attending some famous celebration organized by the recreational club in the workplace where currently am working.

I like these planned trips through a luxury chartered bus where the price includes hotel and the meals too so, my family and I can leave worriless and relaxed.

This tour was organized in occasion of the Carnevale (Carnival), an annual celebration that take place in many Italian countries on February or on March, according to the Lenten period of the Liturgical year Church calendar. It is a festive season which typically involves public celebrations or parades with public street party where people often dress up or masquerade. The Carnival of Venice is the most renowned while Viareggio one is well-knew around but, more or less in any country there is some public party as in Acireale and Sciacca two of the places we visited during the tour.

Here’s shortly the plan of the tour.

Saturday morning
Leaving at 7,00 a.m. from Naples. Some stop for breakfast and lunch in some motorway-café.
We arrived on Saturday night at the “Kore hotel” in Agrigento, a small but comfortable one.
Messina

Messina harbor

Agrigento is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, renowned for the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas (or Acragas) one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece now known as “Valle dei Templi” (Valley of the Temples) that we visited Sunday in the morning.

Statue

Statue

Inside the archaeological site there is a long path on the top of a hill where you can see Agrigento city on the right and along the way the different Greek ruins. Even if on March, the place is sundrenched and bright thus, in the case you like to photograph take in account that the contrast always is high and at the risk of overexposing.  Path to the Valley of the Temples

Temple of Juno Lacinia
Temple of Juno Lacinia

It’s amazing to see those ancient temples towering above the valley with the sea in the foreground and more stunning thinking they date from the 5th century BC! The Temple of Juno – measuring 38.15 x 16.90 m. – was usually used by the Carthaginians for the celebration of weddings.

Argas Wall

Remains of the wall

Along the path we also meet some remains of the ancient walls.

Temple of Heracles

Temple of Heracles

Probably this temple was dedicated to Athena and built under Theron outside the city which could be identified with that of Hercules. The columns are rather high and have wide capitals. On the eastern side are remains of the large altar.

Olympeion field

Olympeion field

Tolomon

Tolomon

On the other side of the road running through the Golden Gate of the ancient city, there is a plain with the huge Olympeion field, today reduced in ruins. Here, it had to be the temple of Olympian Zeus, that would have been the biggest temple ever built – covering an area of 112.6 x 56 metres. Besides, other areas whose nature is still under

investigation from archaeologists. We found the remains of what it had to be a sanctuary, a Sacellum and a Tholos, a copy of one of the 38 big Atlas that once was in the valley and which Roman called telamons. One of the original remains of an Atlas is in the Regional Archaeological Museum of Agrigento inside the Valley of the Temples. We visited it later.

Ancient Olive-trees

Ancient Olive-trees

Temple of Concordia

Temple of Concordia

Due to its good state of preservation, the Temple of Concordia is the most notable edifices of the Greek civilization existing today. It had a peristatis of 6 x 13 columns built over a basament of 39.44 x 16.91 m. It really is a wondrous building and exciting to see it closely.

Temple of Concordia

Temple of Concordia

Garden of Empedocles

Cloister of San Nicola

Cloister

San Nicola where you can admire the old remains of the Ekklesiasterion (III sec.) an environment obtained in the rock and used as seat of the town meeting (Ekklesia).

Ekklesiasterion & Oratory of Phalaris

Ekklesiasterion

Small temple from Roman period, turned into a Christian oratory in the Middle Ages. Then we visited the Museum, a big one with a lot of archaeological finds while the local guide talked about the most important ones. I took some photograph but now are showing you only two of them because don’t know yet if it is allowed to publish such a material, awaiting to have an answer to the e-mail I sent to the museum.

Museum potteryInside the museum

Pirandello house

Pirandello house

Luigi Pirandello (1867 – 1936) the author of Sei personaggi in cerca d’ autore (Six persons in search of an author), written in 1921, and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. His birthplace at Caos quarter (a plateau falling sheer into the sea) is now a museum where there also is his monumental tomb.

Pirandello monumental tomb

Pirandello monumental tomb

Panorama seen from Caos

Panorama seen from Caos

Sunday evening

Sciacca is in the province of Agrigento in the south-western coast of Sicily just in front of the Africa coastline. In this country still retains much of its medieval layout which divided the town into quarters, each laid out on a strip of rock descending toward the sea. Sciacca’s festival is a Carnevale with a parade of bizarre figures mounted on floats. There are big cars dragged by tractors moving slowly along the main street of the country and at the end a panel decrees the winner. It looks like a village festival quite disorganized and folksy.

Here’s some allegoric cars:

Allegoric cars in Sciacca

Allegoric cars

Allegoric car

Carnival in Sciacca with allegoric cars

Carnival in Sciacca

Monday morning

Aci Castello and Aci Trezza are small countries in the Province of Catania. Aci Castello developed around a castle built of black lava strone in 1076 by the Normans and under the Bourbons, around 1787, the fortress was used as a prison. Aci Trezza is a small fishing village dominated on the seaward side by the Rocks of the Cyclops, a treacherous pointed mass of black lava rising up from the crystal-like waters. This village has a long history of maritime activity and is a popular spot for Italian vacationers in the summer. According to local legend, the three great stones in the sea are the ones thrown at Odysseus in The Odyssey by the Cyclops.

Panorama of Aci-Castello

Panorama of Aci Castello

Aci Castello square

Aci Castello square

Aci Trezza church

Aci Trezza church

Aci Trezza stacks

Aci Trezza stacks

Monday evening

important hub of the technological industry, gaining the nickname of the “European Silicon Valley.

Here we tasted the famous “arancini” (fried or baked rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and with different stuffing) and “cannolo sicilano” (meaning “little tube”, a singular pastry desserts consisting of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta cheese with candied peel of any of the citrus species. Honestly, we tasted the cannolo also while staying in Agrigento and believe in me the fine ricotta (made with sheep’s milk) inside is irresistible! Here I also bought a Sicilian bottle of a particular wine flavoured by almond paste…. the best liquor to match with cannolo!


Roman Amphitheatre found in the city

Roman Amphitheatre

 
Old Ficus macrophylla in the park

Old Ficus macrophylla in the park

Catania: Cathedral of St. Agatha

Cathedral of St.Agatha

Basilica facade

Facade of the Cathedral

Basilica maindoor

Basilica maindoor

Cathedral interior

Cathedral interior

chapel of Saint Agatha

Chapel of Saint Agatha

Particular of the sacristy

Particular of the sacristy

u Liotru

Elephant’s fountain

Sicilian call it “u Liotru” and is the symbol of the city. It is the Fontana dell’Elefante (Elephant’s fountain) assembled in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It portrays an ancient lavic stone elephant and is topped by an Egyptian obelisk. Legend says that Vaccarini’s original elephant was neuter and for the men of Catania it looked as an insult to their virility. To appease them, Vaccarini appropriately appended elephantine testicles to the original statue. The Sicilian name “u Liotru” is a phonetic change of Heliodorus, a nobleman who, after trying without success to become bishop of the city, became a sorcerer and was therefore condemned to the stake. Legend has it that Heliodorus himself was the sculptor of the lava elephant and that he used to magically ride it in his fantastic travels from Catania to Constantinople. Another legend has it that Heliodorus was able to transform himself into an elephant. The presence of an elephant in the millenary history of Catania is surely connected to both zooarcheology and popular creeds.


Tuesday morning

Taormina is a small town on the east coast in the Province of Messina, about midway between Messina and Catania. It has been a very popular tourist destination since the 19th century for its popular beaches on the Ionian sea, which is remarkably warm and has a high salt content. Here, we again were attracted by some cake -shops and tasted some pastries made by almond paste … yum..yum…. another Sicilian sweet speciality.

The most remarkable monument remaining at Taormina is the Ancient theatre, which is one of the most celebrated ruins in Sicily, on account both of its remarkable preservation and of the surpassing beauty of its situation. It is built for the most part of brick, and is therefore probably of Roman date, though the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek, rather than Roman, theatres; whence it is supposed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. With a diameter of 109 metres this theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after that of Syracuse) and nowadays is frequently used for operatic and theatrical performances and for concerts. Being in front of the ocean it really is so scenic.

Taormina landscapeGreek amphitheatre

Greek amphitheatreGreek amphitheatreGreek amphitheatreGreek amphitheatre


Tuesday evening

Acireale is a coastal city in the north-east of the province of Catania, at the foot of Mount Etna, on the coast of the Ionian Sea. It is famous for its churches, including the Neo-Gothic St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Sebastian’s Basilica in the Sicilian Baroque style, and the 17th century Acireale Cathedral. Besides, this country is famous throughout Sicily for its spectacular floats, costumes, and parades during the season of carnival, which attracts many tourists and visitors.

Cathedral of Acireale

Acireale Cathedral

Basilica of San Pietro e Paolo

Basilica of San Pietro e Paolo

Carnival in Acireale

Acireale carnival

Carnival in Acireale

Carnival in AcirealeCarnival in Acireale

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Having to be back late, we eat something here in a local pizzeria-rotisserie.

Wednesday morning

Homeward journey.


Some Sicilian Sweet

almond past

candied fruits

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SOME SOUVENIR

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Moltenrock turtle

Moltenrock turtle

Copper Minotaur

Copper Minotaur

Greek vase reproduction

Greek vase reproduction

Copper warrior

Copper warrior

Erotic Satyr

Erotic Satyr