Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Provenance Network is an independent service that gathers news and information relating to provenance in the realms of art and cultural heritage, disseminating it to museums, cultural heritage professionals, private collectors, law enforcement agencies, archaeologists, scholars and journalists.
This group is run by Tom Flynn, one of our fantastic professors I had the pleasure of learning from in the ARCA program. Please pass the word along of this wonderful new network that has been made available to us!
Here you may see a sample of what The Provenance Network has to offer.
The Provenance Network
You can either sign up to receive emails or simply check in from time to time and read the latest news about cultural heritage online! Enjoy. :-)
Friday, July 24, 2009
Chronicles of Narni
Silvia Marchetti goes underground for a fascinating tour
Narni, an easy hour’s drive north from
Beneath a 14th century Dominican church, called Santa Maria Maggiore, is an extraordinary site—the best-preserved of the Catholic church’s Holy Inquisition secret courts in
It was unearthed one night, when a local student, Roberto Nini, with some friends, decided to explore an open crock in the wall of a neighbor’s house [side note: this is different than the information the tour guide provided]. Below, they saw the eyes of an angel surrounded by a star-blue sky, staring at them in the torchlight. They had discovered the ruins of a medieval chapel frescoed with angels. Built to worship St. Michael the
The discover began a lifetime’s work for Nini. In his bid to recover and reconstruct the history of this court, and its victims, he has been inside the
In April 2005, days before the death of Pope John Paul II, Nini wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) when he was still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the former Holy Inquisition Office, asking permission to visit the Congregation’s secret archives. After a month the new Pope granted him a special pass. Here he found a list of victims’ names.
Nini, now 50, is an archaeologist and still in charge of the tours to the Inquisitions rooms, the frescoed chapel and a Roman aqueduct. The money from these tours helps preserve the site, but there’s a lot of work to be done and Narni hold other “hidden treasures” still to be unearthed.
The tours through the spooky halls, torture rooms (racks, ropes and other instruments are displayed) and cells are an evocative reminder of a terrifying past. These cells were used for more than 200 years (1650 to 1860) and thousands were held and tried here, accused of polygamy, blasphemy and other “crimes”—such as eating meat on forbidden days. Women were accused of witchcraft and adultery. The church considered them all heretics, and friends of the devil.
The pain endured by the detainees in the “Room of Torments” is almost tangible. One of the cells is covered in esoteric codes, prayers alchemic formulae, religious and Masonic symbols, signed in 1759 by Sir Andrea Giuseppe Lombardini, a guardian of Spoleto’s Inquisition jails who was accused of freeing another prisoner. He carved suns, moons, triangles, ladders to paradise, Jesuit and cabalistic images and the word “innocent”—later erased by his jailers. In one corner, the bed bears the imprint of a body’s head and sweat. In this cell, I felt a man’s personal drama, unwavering spiritual faith and desire to communicate his innocence to future generations. Lombardini, however, was lucky—condemned to the pillory in 1763 he begged forgiveness and was freed.
Every town and even small villages in
For more information and to book visits by email: www.narnisotterranea.it. Narni Underground is open until October 31.
I think it is most effective to describe my trip to Narni with pictures and descriptions, some of which I have kidnapped from Narni Sotterranea's (Narni Underground) website, that you can go to for extra information and many more beautiful photographs.
Google translation in English:
In the town square. We started our trip with a little tour around the town to see all of the beautiful medieval structures.
The picture at the top of this blog with me by the lion (Aslan!!) was taken at the entrance of the museum and is a testament to Narni's embrace of pop culture and the relationship to the Chronicles of Narnia, much like how Forks, WA has embraced the Twilight series and flourished.
We had a museum guide explain to us about the various parts of the piece, all while a track of modern music played in the background by a group who was inspired by this piece and played a song using only the instruments depicted here. Very cool!
One thing we did was visit Narni Sotterranea, or Narni Underground, where the convent of San Domenico had a secret underground premises including a church with beautiful frescoes and a prison complete with torture chambers for those accused of crimes like blasphemy or eating meat on Friday during the Inquisition. It was discovered in 1979 by boys who were digging in a garden looking for "treasure" per request of an old man. You can now take tours and go into all of these places, which is SUPER awesome. Here are some of the robes in the beginning of the tour. Scary dudes!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Even though the parts pulled from my interview sort of make me sound even more like an idiot, I still got quoted! And you can KIND OF see me in the back of the picture included. :-) Kind of cool, no?
On Wednesday I headed to the airport in Rome to pick up Todd who was kind enough to come visit me for a week! :-) We got a hotel room at the Hotel Champagne Palace, a 4 star establishment near Termini Station with tiny bathrooms decorated with a repulsive amount of red marble and free breakfast consisting of the most generic pastries, cereals, and "juices" you can imagine. But hey, it's complimentary, right?
Here you see what we dubbed as the "Generi-berry Croissant," a croissant stuffed with the most generic red fruity-ish filling imaginable. But to be fully honest, they sometimes had a chocolate equivelant that was rather delicious.
Probably my favorite part of the trip was the FOOD!! Oh my, did I eat some excellent food last week, with the exception of the first night (Weds). We were dying of hunger and went to the first restaurant that looked decent after being turned away from a sold out showing of the new Harry Potter and found ourselves in the Bar Washington eating tortellini that tasted like it was made by Chef Boyardee himself, all for a whopping 10 euors a plate. To compensate, we attempted to try some gelato but were severely disappointed by the low quality in the gelateria we chose. Not a great start to a Roman Holiday, that's for sure.
Thursday was VERY hot and we spent the early morning visiting the Galleria Borghese (2nd time for me, 1st time for him). I wanted to spend more time with a personal favorite painting of mine that I had more or less been hurried past during my first visit, Raphael's La Fornarina. That is one amazing painting, and reproductions do not do it justice in any way. It is supposedly a painting of Raphael's mistress--one he uses as a model for many of his Madonnas. If you are interested in historical fiction, the book The Ruby Ring by Diane Haeger is an interesting read.
La Fornarina by Raphael, 1518-20
The highlight of Friday's excursions included an originally disappointing attempt at a fancy date night. We had read in a guide book of a nice restaurant near the Vatican that we decided to try out. It was near my favorite gelato place, which was a plus! So we got dressed up and took a shady taxi (one of those ones that's really just some guy with a car who hustles you on the street and ends up being cheaper than a legitimate taxi but could also drive you into the middle of nowhere and harvest your organs for sale on the black market) and were dropped off at the correct address only to find it had recently been converted into a cheap Mexican restaurant instead. Overdressed and not in the mood for an Italian's attempt at enchiladas, we wandered (in heels, mind you) to find another restaurant and stumbled upon my gelato place...which was already closed. An excellent evening quickly turned into a miserable disaster.
After a change into the flip flops I brilliantly brought along and a few stops on the Metro, we made our way to the area around the Fontana di Trevi and picked a random restaurant whose menu looked good. And suddenly the night became a fantastic success! We decided to splurge on the chateaubriand for two garnished with vegetables and potatoes, with red wine to follow the complimentary champagne and some of the most delicious bread ever! Too stuffed for dessert, we ended with the complimentary limoncello and decided to walk back to our hotel and enjoy the night air and stumble on random monuments along the way. This was one of my favorite nights in Rome!
Being my usual feisty self
Good heavens! What a silly thing it ended up being! This "experience" was much like a low budget attempt at the Star Tours ride at Disneyland, only focusing on Rome's history. We were secured in the same kind of moving seats, only there were 3 screens and they weren't large enough or convincing enough to create the illusion that we were actually flying over Rome or fighting gladiators. It instead created a very real motion sickness in many of the tourists. The movements also were not necessarily in sync with the screen, and I think this whole 5-D claim had something to do with the wind and rain and rats attacking our feets (fans, water from the ceiling, and air shooting at our ankles) and I'm sure would have been more effective if they had been timed correctly. Some were very delayed to the point of not making any sense because you forgot what they were supposed to represent. But overall it was a cute idea and young children would probably really like it.
After our interesting adventure on the Time Elevator, Todd and I decided we had to make up for it with as giant of a gelato as we could find! We found an excellent and crowded gelateria that definitely overcharged significantly, but oh man, was it delicious! And fancily presented as well! I thought it sort of looked like a unicorn, with the colors and the cones, etc.
Sunday we met up with Lauren who had been in Rome as well with her dog Tulip and we headed back to Amelia. I had to show Todd our favorite restaurant in Amelia, Porcelli, and of course Tropicana which I can now safely say has the best gelato I have found in all of my Italian travels. And I have eaten a LOT of gelato. Usually at least once a day! :-) I was thinking I should maybe write a book rating all of the gelatos and recommending flavors and venues.
Monday was a lazy day and I took Todd to little Amelian sites, like the Duomo, the park, and to see the view from the top of the hill, and told him a little about the history of Amelia and its walls. My Italian sister Emilia came home from her own trip to Rome that night and made us a fantastic homecooked dinner that I will definitely be recreating on my return to the states. And she had Todd try some of Isa's homemade limoncello, which is by FAR the best limoncello in existence.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Todd left on the 6:25 bus this morning to catch his flight in Rome and head home to San Francisco. I didn't have too much time to be sad though because my class headed out for a day trip to Narni in the morning. We had much fun touring the town and seeing some of the more famous sites, and I will be writing a whole new blog about those adventures very soon! Keep an eye out, but for now, ciao from Amelia!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
We had many honored guest speakers and even handed out some ARCA awards for research and dedication to protecting the arts and cultural heritage, and for helping to stop or reduce art crimes. Award winners included:
Vernon Rapley- Director of Scotland Yard's Arts and Antiquities Unit
Norman Palmer- Professor of Art and Law, King's College, London (unable to attend)
Francesco Rutelli- Former Italian Minister of Culture and Mayor of Rome
Colonnello Luigi Cortellesca- Representative of the Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage
Vernon Rapley was a charming and fun man that I actual had the pleasure of having over to my house for lunch on Sunday. :-) He gave me his card and told me I could contact him at any time with questions, advice, or to set up any kind of introductions I might need. He was wonderful.
Rutelli was outrageously handsome and charming...the kind of leader who must have been very effective politically because he's so smooth and makes everyone fall all over themselves in his precense. He gave a wonderful speech in excellent English!
Colonnello Cortellesca was absolutely hilarious! He didn't speak English, so he had a translator (who used random hand gestures with every word she spoke, whether or not it related to what she was saying, and who apparently left out a lot of the very funny things the Colonnello added). He had everyone laughing and smiling though, and he extended an offer for us to come and see some of the art that had been recovered in the Carabinieri office. An amazing opportunity!! I even stole his hat at the gala afterwards, and started a trend of having everyone get his picture taken with him while wearing the hat! Did you know Armani designs the Carabinieri uniforms? Classy!
We had some other speakers including our teacher Derek Fincham, Arthur Tompkins (a hilarious judge from New Zealand), Bernadine Benson (former component head for Cultural Heritage crimes at the Endangered Species Protection Unit in South Africa), and Virginia Curry (former FBI Art Squad agent).
For the most part, the presentations were very interesting...however, one of these people was completely disappointing and had to be spoken to about being too negative and abrasive towards the students. I will try to not say too many mean things, but if you have seen the new Disney movie Up, you will understand when I say that I feel just like the old man did when he met his hero and the hero turned out to be a major jerk. It definitely put a damper on my weekend.
The conference was generally a good time though other than that, and I got to dress up and play Vanna White and help hand out the awards to the winners while Noah spoke about each one. The gala was delicious, with a fabulous meal in a fancy restaurant with big glass panels on the floor that enable you to see the remains of original Roman roads beneath the floor! I felt like I was going to fall in the whole time! After dinner, Gavino and Gabriella (two friends of Isa and Antonio, my Italian parents) threw a huge party with live music and neverending cocktails and cakes, etc, at their palacial home in Amelia.
The party raged on well into the early morning and I slept for the majority of Sunday, waking up to be lazy with Khoe and Emilia and to head out to a concert by Emilia's friends' band! They are sooo good!!! We sang and danced and had another late night of fun. It's interesting to notice American dancing involves a lot of booty shaking, and Italian dancing is much more jumping and bouncing and frolicking. It was a great time!
Last night I went out again with Emilia and her friends from the band. One of the guys (the one we call "Creepy Guy" because he is 34 and hangs out with 17-20 year olds) makes balloon animals, so we spent the evening trying to figure out how to make balloon crocodiles and elephants and "snake-dogs."
Tomorrow I will leave for Rome at 7:00 AM and will meet Todd at the airport! :-D We have a mini vacation planned in which we will stay in Rome and do all sorts of touristy things like visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Pompeii, and some museums. It sounds like it will be a good time! We will return to Amelia on Sunday and classes were cancelled on Monday, so we will stay in the area and maybe take a short day trip to Orvieto! Expect a lot of excellent pictures and good stories from that!