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A TREASURE NOT VALUED

Published May 11, 2014 by Tony

 

CASERTA ROYAL PALACE

Really true that things we’re accustomed to every day have or see, over time they become usual and uninteresting. Yet, Italy is the only country in the world with the greatest concentration of art, churches, monuments and natural beauty. Some cities, then, like Rome or Naples, become really unique pearls that anyone would envy us. In spite of this, some people do not think twice in staining a monument or a public good, and, worst, to damage it, while administrators (who knows why?) have little interest.
For years, it is has been said that Italy could live off of private income with what the past history and culture have left us as a legacy.
We are tired of hear it again and get angry even more if those who can and should take steps to ensure that such a big and particular artistic/cultural heritage can finally bring well-being and job roles, turn a deaf ear, or even make things worse. I am referring to our government, local administrators, politicians and institutions, of course.
Crisis, lack of employment, but it sounds strange that no one put tourism at the first place or thinking what we could get by it.
Another thing that personally bothers me, is the “continuous” and ” endless ” work in progress that spoil the view and often do not allow tourists and visitors to fully enjoy a site. Then, prohibited areas and premises permanently closed to the public for some kind of incurable reasons, which does not allow us to see works and places that should, however, be in the public domain, and a source of pride for having been put on display. I can’t explain myself this, even if only by chance I made a trip of a few kilometers and took advantage of a weekend, but how can we explain this to a Japanese tourist who came to Italy to visit that place after a long journey and having endured many expenses, and that probably never can come back in Italy!

We were still talking about neglect of Pompeii and now is the turn of the “Realm of Caserta”, as we call it.
Just to show arrogance and abuse of our administrators, it is the case of the Italian Garden in Caserta’s Royal Palace and the politician Nicola Cosentino. Despite this wonderful garden with waterfall shows significant signs of neglect and has long been closed (indefinitely!) to visitors, this has not prevented Cosentino to use it for his morning exercises. In fact, the former undersecretary of “Forza Italia” party had the garden’s key to enter and make jogging, thanks to the Prefect of Caserta.

This sumptuous and historic residence of the Bourbons of Naples, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1997, is a monumental complex which occupies 45,000 square meters, and with its five floors it reaches a height of 36 meters, with 1,200 rooms and 34 staircases.
In the Palace various places are closed indefinitely, as the hall of the Nativity of Neapolitan ‘600 and ‘700, as many portions of the park are inaccessible. Many rooms are not open to the public while others are not ever been open to all.
A recent news that in the west of the Palace a portion of the roof collapsed.
The Ministry of assets and cultural activities and tourism (Mibact) has provided approximately € 22 million of funding for the restoration of the facades of which the first batch from 9 million has already been allocated. Since last year, the four facades of the Palace are cordoned off and pending for the restoration work. The whole Royal Palace and its magnificent garden are in a state of neglect, despite the museum complex can count on 340 committed employees who must or should control 130 acres of parkland and 70 rooms. From 2001 to 2013, the center has recorded almost 50 % fewer visits, which go from 812 811 to 439 813, according to data published by the Mibact. After reading this, I hope that most Italians will be pissed off as I am !

Library Girolamini

Published May 10, 2014 by Tony

 

Thieves of books: a scandal in Naples

Library Girolamini

 

The “Library Girolamini” was one of the most valuable Italian libraries of seventeenth-century.
Among relic of saints, tombs and masterpieces of the seventeenth century, it was a state cultural institution in Naples, with very important collection of books, as well as an important operatic music archive. Having been opened to the public in 1586 it is the oldest library in Naples and the second in Italy after “Malatesta” library in Cesena.
From an architectural point of view, the library is part of the church complex Girolamini that with its 68 x 28 meters is one of the biggest religious buildings in Naples. Because of its decoration in gold, marble and mother of pearl, it earned the title of “Domus aurea“;  its interior has a concentration of high quality works by Neapolitan artists but also from Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and Rome. Attached there is the homonym convent, home of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Filippo Neri, whose members, known as “oratoriani” o “filippini”, dedicated to the sanctification of souls through education, spiritual direction, preaching and liturgical apostolate, especially among young people, as it was in the tradition of Filippo Neri.

The library of the Girolamini treasured more than 160 000 titles, mostly antique, including incunabula and sixteenth, (ie printed documents with the technology of movable type in vogue in the mid-fifteenth century till the year 1500), numerous manuscripts, with many compositions and musical works from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Holdings also included the private collection of Giuseppe Valletta, with rare editions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with the classics of Greek and Latin literature, history and philosophy.
Due to the earthquake of 1980, the monastery and library’s premises were used as temporary shelter for the displaced, and has since started an era of abandonment that has lasted until last year. The institution has been closed to the public for decades, and was in a state of decay. The precariousness of the housing, according to an estimate of its conservative father Sandro Marsano, would have led over the years to the disappearance of hundreds of books and works of art.

In 2011, Marino Massimo De Caro became director of the Library,  whose appointment by the Minister for Cultural Heritage Lorenzo Ornaghi, has raised some concerns. After a series of articles of complaint signed by the art historian Tommaso Montanari of Federico II University, the professor Francesco Caglioti became the organizer of a petition together other exponents of the culture, in order to solicit the De Caro impeachment.
As a result of these events, on April 19, 2012 the entire library complex was impounded by the police and the director of De Caro investigated. The investigation leads to the discovery, in the province of Verona, of a deposit containing 240 volumes stolen from the library. Investigations acquire evidence that many other books had already gone abroad for being sold, including the names of some buyers, located in England, Japan and USA. For the latter, procedures for recovery already have been initiated. The investigation leads to the arrest of De Caro and the curator Sandro Marsano, and the start of the investigations against the Senator Marcello Dell’Utri. On 15 March 2013, Massimo De Caro has been convicted after an abbreviated trial, with the prison sentence of seven years and perpetual interdiction from public office.

171 thousand volumes of which one hundred thousand uncatalogued, while four thousand had disappeared. Some sold at an auction in Monaco of Bavaria, other priceless sold between 5000 and 50,000 Euros: a real looting . The senator Dell’Utri, an expert bibliophile, with the help of director De Caro, and with the excuse of wanting to make the library a museum admired throughout the world, they empties and upset it. With their authority they forced the library staff to step aside, and at night plunder the library. The stolen books end up with various tricks in the hands of various collectors, and to the director De Caro is attributed the most serious theft, the precious book: the “Sidereus Nuncius”  of 1619 by Galileo Galilei.

From the initial investigation turns out that De Caro did not even have the qualifications to be appointed director of a library, and that he had dealings with Pastor Daniel Guido, involved in the investigation of thefts to the libraries of Madrid and Zaragoza. Yet, even though it was a state institution, he became the director with the support of Sandro Marsano and validation of the Ministry of Culture, where meantime the senator Dell’Utri was performing his task under Berlusconi government. Dell’Ultri, collaborator of Berlusconi, has been a Deputy of “Forza Italia” party from 1996 to 2001, when he was elected Senator of the Republic and held, among other tasks, the Chairman of the Commission for the Senate Library. In 2008 he was re-nominated to the Senate, and elected in the PDL party, despite in the meantime he had been convicted for collusion with Mafia. On 25 March 2013, the Third Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Palermo sentenced Dell’Ultri in the second degree of judgment and with a penalty of 7 years imprisonment for collusion with the Mafia. The judgment considered Marcello Dell’Utri an intermediary between mafia and Silvio Berlusconi. As a fugitive shortly before the measure of arrest, he has been tracked down and arrested April 12, 2014 in Beirut by Lebanese police, where he is currently being held pending extradition to Italy.
For a long time, thanks to new manager Umberto Bile, the library is again open to the public and after rummaging around in rooms closed for decades, he has found relics of saints, forgotten tombs, hand-embroidered copes of the eighteenth century, some paintings and even the column used by Caravaggio to paint the ” Flagellation of Christ “.  A funny thing in having found the remains of a man who was 2 meters and thirty centimeters tall in a crypt which is just a few steps from a nearby street called “Giant’s alley.”  Everything will be photographed , cataloged and restored if possible.

Girolamini Church

Girolamini cloister

UNITED STATES OF ITALY?

Published May 12, 2013 by Tony

A NATION THAT NEEDS LOVE

Italy is the country of emergencies!
Living a situation of perpetual emergency, including media with a monothematic information, this has created irreparable damage to our democracy.
From long, we are not having a stable government, political parties that fight each other like gladiators in the arena just to gain power, laws and decrees designed to favor castes, politicians easily corruptible and fixers and crime present wherever there is movement of capital or a business, while the real needs of the country are constantly disregarded and postponed.
In the face of significant economic, structural and political issues, it is normal that some civil rights and social issues pass in second order, if not even appearing useless. As like as thinking about this country such a great and inimitable place on the planet that, because of its history, that focuses the major artistic and natural beauty of the world, and that
even could revive the economic fortunes of the country.
A unique and small country geographically, administratively divided into regions, but that appears to be politically and socially as a huddle of small separated lands, where everyone competes and speaks ill of the other. For this reason, there is no national unity, a forward-looking view of understandings or a national patriotic love.

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Margaret Thatcher

Published April 13, 2013 by Tony

Margaret Thatcher Valediction

As always it happens, after the death of celebrities, then many speak well and even turn them into saints and heroes.
Death does not like anyone and sorry to everyone, including myself, that someone leaves us, but about the recent death of Margaret Thatcher “The Iron Lady“, I do not share some posthumous opinions that so many national and international politicians are saddling her with, making she rise to the role of the great stateswoman.
For me, considering her work, however, can be considered a symbol of capitalism, which has not hesitated to attack the British workers to assert the interests of capital through exploitation and desertification of entire production sectors. She was responsible for the destruction of the Trade Union and unfortunately other politicians in other countries tried to follow her examples, as well as in Italy and the tragic result is today under the eyes of everyone.

2013 ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Published February 16, 2013 by Tony

POLITICAL CHAOS
Who do we vote?

Electoral symbols


Apart from the current “Festival of Italian Song”, which ends tonight, the Italian media will have a lot to do this month, with the upcoming political elections and the election of the new pope, Ratzinger’s successor.
On 24 and 25 February Italians are called to vote for the renewal of the House and Senate.
Thirteen months ago, after the previous government, with Berlusconi as prime minister, had been dissolved, the Professor Mario Monti was brought on as prime minister for an interim “technocratic” government. Monti had to guide and trying to save Italy from European debt crisis and then resign after that the 2013 Italian budget law had been approved.
Although Monti had said in the past that, not being a politician, would retire at the end of his mandate, then on the contrary, has created his own political party and now is a candidate for prime minister in this next election campaign. In fact, he presented the name of his new movement, “Scelta Civica“, with a logo that virtually is a blank space occupied by his last name written in large letters. His return to Palazzo Chigi is backed by the centrist coalition UDC (Unione Democratica di Centro, by premier candidate Pierferdinando Casini), by FLI (Futuro e Libertà, by Giancarlo Fini), from Pli (Partito Liberale Italiano, by Stefano de Luca) and by the political movement “ItaliaFutura” sponsored by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.
The same was the case with Berlusconi that, despite leader of his party (PdL, Popolo della Libertà), had decided not to run. Then about a month ago, to the astonishment of all, he announced his candidacy. To the uninitiated, this party can be considered a party of center-right. Some historian representatives of Berlusconi’s training (PdL) have come out of the shadows of the former Prime Minister, while leaning his race, as Giorgia Meloni and Ignazio La Russa, who founded the new party “Fratelli d’Italia“. Alongside Berlusconi, the “Grande Sud” by Gianfranco Micciche and with Marcello Dell’Utri, and the party “Alleanza di Centro” by Francesco Pionati, confirm their presence. And recent is the news that the party of right “LEGA NORD” led by Robero Maroni and Giulio Tremonti, despite his previous break with the PdL, has again close alliance with Berlusconi.

And as always, in the last days, the fear of not having enough votes and consents to get some seat in the House (by a minimum threshold of 8%), brings different (weird!) alliances between the various political parties. Weird alliances because among the various political leaders and their “electoral programs” there are well-known conflicts and disagreements. Everyone speaks evil of another, in an endless carousel, sometimes grotesque. Less than 10 days before the election and yet so much confusion, too much, certainly not as much as in the past and so close to the elections. A policy framework which seems chaotic and that confuses even more the electorate.
The first, in chronological order, to have confirmed his run to the premiership was Pier Luigi Bersani, secretary of the party PD (Partito Democratico). A party that could be politically in the center, and that has allied himself with the party “Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà” by Nichi Vendola (who had supported enthusiastically Bersani in the runoff election against Matteo Renzi), and with “PSI” (Partito Socialista italiano by Riccardo Nencini), and “Centro Democratico” (formerly API- Alleaza per l’Italia by Rutelli, and with some deserters of IDV, Partito dei Valori by Antonio Di Pietro).
Returning from exciting electoral results – like the victory in the municipal Parma or the good result to the Sicilian regional, the movement “Movement 5 Stelle” headed by ex-comedian Beppe Grillo, is hoping to get a lot of votes from distrustful and hesitant people, the protest votes.
The leader of the new critic party “Revoluzione Civile” by Antonio Ingroia, winks at Beppe Grillo and Bersani (Pd).

These are the main fronts, which likely will share almost all of the votes. Then there is an understory of parties and lists, and among these, the movement “FARE” led by economist Oscar Giannino, liberal area, but is adverse both to the Berlusconi’s team that to the government’s fiscal rigidity of Monti. Then, “Unione Popolare“, the movement that has stood for a few battles by referendum, with Maria Di Prato as a candidate for prime minister, who says available to dialogue with other forces, provided that they are alternative to  Monti’s policies.

What a mess!

People are hesitant, afraid to give still credit to politicians who led Italy to ruin, or to others that promise but which do not, to political figures of the last hour, unreliable or unprepared. By now, is a common thought that all politicians do this work not for love of country and its well-being, but for their own benefit, because a chair to the House or Senate is convenient to all. Discouragement is total, and we think of going “from bad to worse” or “falling from the frying pan into the fire”… we just have to say… “God help us.”

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