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July 10 2013

« La folie, la divination de l'argent, la barbarie capitaliste, la méconnaissance de tout... »

« La folie, la divination de l’argent, la barbarie capitaliste, la méconnaissance de tout... »
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“La folie, la divination de l’argent, la barbarie capitaliste, la méconnaissance de tout...

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July 13 2011

10 of the best museums and galleries in Rome

Our Rome correspondent John Hooper takes the art beat of the capital - Renaissance palaces, Mussolini's cinema studio and daring contemporary galleries

• As featured in our Rome city guide

Maxxi, the National Museum of Art from the 21st century

At least as impressive as the still-modest collection it houses is the Maxxi building itself, designed by the Anglo-Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid. Covering more than 27,000 sq metres, Italy's first national museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art is a curving, jutting structure of glass, steel and concrete. Visitors find their way from collection to collection through a labyrinth of bridges and ramps. Opened in 2010, the Maxxi is located north of the centre, in the Flaminio neighbourhood, on the site of a former military barracks. Its permanent collection includes works by the Neapolitan painter, Francesco Clemente, and the British sculptor Anish Kapoor. It was recently enriched by the donation of 58 works from the collection of the late Milanese art dealer and historian, Claudia Gian Ferrari.
Via Guido Reni 4A, +39 06 399 67350, fondazionemaxxi.it/en. Open Tue-Wed-Fri-Sun 11am-7pm, Thur and Sat 11am-10pm. Adults €11, concessions €8, under-14s free

Macro: Museo díArte Contemporaneo di Roma

The Macro on Via Nizza, which opened last December, is the newer and bigger of two spaces that make up Rome's municipal contemporary art museum. The other is in trendy-grungy Testaccio. Nestled among 19th-century apartment buildings, the main part of the museum was fashioned by the French architect, Odile Decq from a disused Peroni beer plant. Among other things, it houses an archive of the works of the postmodern painter and collagist Mario Schifano. Macro aims to be more active, daring and fun than the Maxxi: the lavatories have mirrored walls and translucent plastic sinks that flash different neon/UV colours as you use them. In the car park, you can see the remains of an ancient Roman house unearthed during the restoration.
Via Nizza 38, Piazza Orazio Giustiniani 4, +39 06 6710 70400,macro.roma.museum. Macro open Tue-Sun 11am-10pm, Testaccio Tue-Sun 4pm-midnight. Adults €10 combined ticket, concessions €8, under-18s free

Palazzo Altemps

Just across from the Piazza Navona, this Renaissance palace acquired its unlikely name when it was bought by an Austrian-born cardinal in the 16th century. Taken over by the state in 1982 and not opened as a museum until 1997, it remains one of the capital's best-kept secrets. Inside is an entrancing collection of classical sculptures. They include the so-called Ludovisi Ares, a Roman copy of a 4th-century BCE Greek original, and the Ludovisi Gaul, part of the same group as the better-known Dying Gaul in the Capitoline Museums. But for sheer technical virtuosity the most astonishing exhibit is a 3rd-century sarcophagus, carved from a single block of stone, showing the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths. From the same Renaissance collection as the others, it is known as the Grande Ludovisi.
Piazza di Sant'Apollinare 48, +39 06 399 67600, archeorm.arti.beniculturali.it/en. Open Tue-Sun 9am-7.45pm. Adults €7, concessions €3.50, free for EU citizens ages 18 to 24 and under-17s

CineCittà Studios

Mussolini founded Cinecittà because of his belief in the power of cinema. The studio and set complex, on the road that leads from central Rome to Ciampino airport, was bombed by the Allies in the second world war before rising to global fame in the 1950s when it was used to make the first in a string of budget-busting classical epics that included Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. CineCittà was also where Federico Fellini shot most of his films. The 40-hectare site is still claimed to be continental Europe's largest film and TV production facility. But its heyday has long gone. Among the few internationally distributed movies to be shot there in recent years was Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. Guided tours are available for groups of at least 20 people.
Via Tuscolana 1055, +39 06 583 34360, cinecittastudios.it. Tours must be booked in advance by calling Mon-Fri 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm

Auditorium Parco della Musica

Along with the Maxxi and Macro, the Auditorium is the tangible embodiment of Rome's recent cultural renaissance. The architect Renzo Piano called his building a "factory of culture". The three concert halls, which stage not only concerts but also ballet and theatre productions, each hold between 700 and 2,800 people. The imposing foyer, which links them, is an exhibition space. In addition, there is the Cavea, an open-air theatre reminiscent of a classical amphitheatre; an art gallery, and an archaeological museum that displays artefacts found during the construction including an oil press from the 6th century BC. Guided tours are available, but note that an English-language tour (tickets €9) must be booked in advance.
Viale Pietro de Coubertin 30, +39 06 802 41281, auditorium.com

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The Basilica of Our Lady is among Rome's oldest places of worship, and the one that perhaps gives the most vivid impression of a grand medieval church. It dates from around 340 AD and is thought to been the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary. In the nave are two rows of columns – 22 in all – that were taken from ancient Roman sites. The basilica was rebuilt in the 12th century by Pope Innocent II and, at the end of the 13th century, Pietro Cavallini embellished the apse with six mosaic panels of scenes from the life of Mary. Together with a gilded octagonal ceiling painting by the Baroque master Domenichino, they give the basilica a memorable glow.
Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, +39 06 581 4802

Museo Nazionale dell'Alto Medioevo

Looking for traces of the "dark ages", perhaps the last place you would start is the EUR district, built as a showcase for Fascist architecture. Yet it is there, in a less visited museum, that you can gaze on evidence that the period that followed the fall of the western empire was not as dark than is often thought: finely decorated weapons; extraordinarily intricate tapestries; glamorous earrings and necklaces. Other exhibits include an ancient metal dog chain. But the most stunning dates from late antiquity: an entire hall, taken from an aristocratic villa in Ostia, adorned with designs created using a technique known as opus sectile in which coloured marble is cut and inlaid. The most spectacular show tigers and lions catching prey.
Viale Lincoln 3, +39 06 542 28199, archeoroma.beniculturali.it. Open Tue-Sun 9am-2pm. Adults €2, concessions €1

Sant'Ignazio

The church of illusions. It was built between 1626 and 1650 and dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola. The first giant trick is Andrea Pozzo's trompe l'oeil ceiling fresco which uses foreshortening to create an astoundingly realistic vision of the founder of the Society of Jesus soaring towards paradise to be welcomed by Christ (no, the Jesuits never were modest). A disk in the floor marks the ideal spot from which to experience the illusion. Further down the nave, another marker signals the best vantage point for a second bit of trickery. The Jesuits ran out of cash for the dome, so in 1685 Pozzo supplied them with a canvas depiction of what it might have looked like. Destroyed in 1891, the canvas was subsequently replaced.
Via del Caravita, 8A. Open daily, 7.30am-12.30pm, 3pm-7pm

Ostia Antica

Visitors to Rome who try packing in a trip to Pompeii often leave disappointed by the neglect and disorganisation they find there. Ostia Antica, less than 30km from Rome and reachable by train, offers an altogether more civilised (and arguably more instructive) experience. This, after all, was the port city of the capital of Europe's greatest empire. Scattered among the umbrella pines that now dot the site are a splendid amphitheatre which is still used for concerts, and the remains of schools, baths, temples and latrines, as well as Europe's oldest synagogue. Ostia Antica also boasts some unusually well-preserved mosaics and frescoes.
Via dei Romagnoli 717, ostia-antica.org. Open Tue-Sun 8.30am to 7.30pm. Adults €6.50, 18-25s €3.25, over 64s and under-18s free

Galleria Lorcan O'Neill

For those who yearn for a reminder of Hackney in the middle of Rome. If there was one event that confirmed the Eternal City was ready to be part of the contemporary world, then it was the opening in 2003 of this gallery in a Trastevere backstreet. The lanky O'Neill, who had been a friend to many of the YBAs, launched himself into Rome almost five years ahead of the legendary Larry Gagosian, who has a gallery at Via Francesco Crispi 16. O'Neill has used his Britart connections to put on exhibitions by Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood and Rachel Whiteread. He has also shown venerable non-Brits including Anselm Kiefer and provided a space for talented young Italians like Luigi Ontani and Pietro Ruffo.
Via degli Orti d'Alibert 1E, +39 06 688 92980, lorcanoneill.com. Open Mon-Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 2pm-8pm


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The Rome photo blogger - in pictures

Romephotoblog.com is the labour of love of Rome local Jessica Stewart, who has been snapping the city for three years. She's selected some of her favourite images for us



July 12 2011

Franco Angeli's Photographic Dream - review

The Deposition - long-lost artistic result of a drunken night with Jack Kerouac – among the highlights of exhibition at Museo dei Fori Imperiali, Rome

Jack Kerouac and Franco Angeli painted a pietà one drunken night. The painting, called The Deposition, is all that remains of the few days American writer Kerouac (1922-1969) and Italian painter Angeli (1935-1988) spent together in Rome in the autumn of 1966. Angeli was a member of the so-called Piazza del Popolo school of artists who liked to frequent the bars in that district of Rome. Now, the painted (and signed) Deposition is on show along with Angeli's personal photographs entitled Il sogno fotografico di Franco Angeli 1967-1975, at the Museum of Imperial Forums in Rome .

"There was a mystery about this painting," explained Carlo Ripa di Meana, curator of the exhibition. "Some people had heard about it but nobody knew where it was." His wife, Marina, who had a stormy love affair with Angeli in the late 1960s and early 1970s, added, "Franco talked about it occasionally to his friend Schifano, who thought it hilarious that Kerouac and Franco could have painted something together when neither spoke a word of the other's language."

Not much is known about Kerouac's visit to Italy. He came to Milan in the autumn of 1966 at the invitation of his publisher, Mondadori, for the Italian translation of Big Sur, which had been published in the US in 1962. The Beat Generation hero was bored stiff and spent his time drowning beer and brandy chasers with the meticulous care of someone fully aware of his vices and determined to push them to their limits.

He went on to Rome, where one evening he was thrown out of the Taddei Bar on Via del Balbunio, just a few steps away from the Piazza del Popolo. Was he with Angeli – whose angelic features were already ravaged by drug abuse? Or was it Angeli who picked him up off the pavement? In any event, Angeli took him back to his studio.

The following day, Angeli took Kerouac to see the two Caravaggio paintings in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo. "Franco had three passions," remembered Marina Ripa di Meana, "Caravaggio, stewed lamb (like all Romans) and cocaine. Whenever he met anyone he dragged them off to see Caravaggio paintings, by force if necessary." That same evening the two new friends got to work.

Deposition remained in the painter's studio until he sold it in 1968 to the actor Gian Maria Volonte. Then the painting disappeared. It was finally located in the apartment of Volonte's former partner, Armenia Balducci, who lent it to the exhibition.

So 45 years after it was painted, Kerouac and Angeli's Deposition has been found. The Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, devoted a long article to the subject, stressing the "deep Catholic sensibilities of the American writer, who devoted his life to an endless religious quest".

Kerouac, who died in 1969 from alcohol-related causes, hardly mentioned his trip to Italy, but in a letter to his agent, Sterling Lord, he wrote, "Apart from visiting the Vatican, singing poorly in a Rome night-club and painting a pietà with the Italian artist Franco Angeli in his studio, I don't see the sense of having gone to Italy at all." That's not so bad really, when you think about it.

This article originally appeared in Le Monde


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April 30 2010

Italy in summer: insiders' guide

From alfresco cafe culture with the Milanese, gelato with the Romans and all-night revelling with the Genovese, our experts give the lowdown on local life

Alfresco partying, Milan

Milan's fashion pack really comes out in force during summertime, when those in Gucci sundresses and D&G shades sip on espressos while people-watching over sun-soaked piazzas. Cafe culture is big business here, and there are alfresco eats aplenty: the new outpost of California Bakery (Piazza Sant'Eustorgio 4) offers a mouthwatering menu and a beautiful outdoor backdrop.

Milan's bar scene also spills outside in summer (though many shut up shop in August); the Roïalto roof garden (Via Piero della Francesca 55) is the place to soak up the sun, while the Diana Garden terrace (Viale Piave 42) is the place to be seen. Corso Garibaldi has a string of hip bars – try the Radetzky Café at 105. Temporary venues also pop up each summer, although Bar Bianco (Viale Enrico Ibsen 4), a cocktail bar in Parco Sempione with a live DJ, is a trusted favourite.

When it comes to outdoor clubs, the best are Café Solaire (Gate 7, Circonvallazione Idroscalo, Segrate, +39 02 3406 756096) near Milan's artificial lake by Linate airport, and Karma (Via Fabio Massimo 36, +39 0256 94755) – here you can party under the stars and rub bronzed shoulders with the rich, famous and fabulous. The Milan Film Festival in September finishes off a fun summer in the city.
Townhouse 31 (+39 0270 156, doubles from €199) is an understated townhouse with a courtyard bar
Nick Clarke, writer for Hg2, luxury city guide series

Peace and people-watching, Florence

A hop and a skip over the tourist trap Ponte Vecchio, hiding in the cute-as-a-bug's-ear neighbourhood of San Niccolò, lies the peace of the Bardini Gardens (Via dei Bardi). Rising in stepped terraces towards the ancient city walls, these simple and lovely manicured gardens offer a grandstand view of Florence across the Arno, and the €7 entrance charge also gets you free admission to the neighbouring Boboli Gardens, the Pitti Palace costume museum and the Medici Treasury. When you totter out of the Pitti Palace you can rest your toots at a lovely little wine bar Pitti Gola e Cantina (Piazza de Pitti 16). Just opposite the palace, this elegant little prime people-watching perch – with its tiny streetside terrace – serves tasty fare in addition to a cheeky Tuscan sip list. Perfetto.
J and J Hotel (doubles from €130) near the Duomo has stylish white rooms
Grant Thatcher, founder, Luxe Guides

Ice-cream and cocktails, Rome

When in Rome in the summer, do as the Romans do and head out into a sun-soaked space such as the Spanish Steps or the Piazza di Trevi, or indeed pound the pavement of Via dei Condotti in search of something suitably filigree to slip into. The creamiest gelaterie of the city-based crop are Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40) and San Crispino (Via della Panetteria 42). For lunch, there's nowhere quite as trendy as Trastevere: bookstore-cum-café Bibli (Via dei Fienaroli 28, +39 0658 14534) serves excellent food in a quaint covered garden. If it's a terrace with a view you're after, Caffè Capitolino (Capitoline Museums, Piazza del Campidoglio 19, +39 0669 190564) has panoramic views of the city and, on a clear day, the Alban Hills.

On sticky summer nights, it's all about quaffing negroni cocktails on hotel rooftops or lingering till late on trendy terraces. For the former, take the elevator to the 7th Heaven Bar at the Aleph Hotel (Via di San Basilio 15), while the latter can be enjoyed at Joia (Via Galvani 20). And if that isn't enough summer goings-on, the Estate Romana Festival between June and September – with more than 150 music, sporting and film events – ensures that there is always something outdoorsy to do. NC

Shakespeare and Zeffirelli operas Verona

Verona in summer means the arena (Via Roma 7), the enormous Roman amphitheatre which is home to one of Italy's best opera seasons, from mid-June to the end of August. This year, the arena pays tribute to Italian director Franco Zeffirelli by staging his versions of five much-loved operas: Aida, Carmen, Il Trovatore, Madame Butterfly and a new production of Turandot. But the city is also offering a packed calendar of events at other venues, with jazz concerts at the Roman theatre (Palazzo Barbieri, +39 0458 066485), ballet (among others, Romeo and Juliet) also at the Roman theatre, and Shakespeare plays (in Italian) at several venues around town. And of course Verona itself is always worth a visit, with the beautiful, bustling Piazza delle Erbe, the views from Castel San Pietro and pretty Piazza del Mercato Vecchio, which often hosts street performances.
Hotel Verona (+39 0455 95944, doubels from €88) has plain but pleasant modern rooms
Carla Passino, editor, Italymag.co.uk

Art and picnics, Rome

Notwithstanding its collection of awe-inspiring masterpieces by Canova, Bernini, Raphael and Titian, the Galleria Borghese (Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5, +39 0685 48577), is all the more divine for its splendid location in the sylvan parkland that is Villa Borghese. The recipe for the perfect day is simple. A day or two before, book your timed-entry tickets for the galleria, then reserve your cestino of goodies at Gina (Via San Sebastianello 7, +39 0667 80251) situated just by the Spanish Steps – their lovely rentable wicker picnic hampers come complete with everything you need including checkered tablecloth, glasses, plates, fresh sandwiches, fruit, wine and even a thermosflask of coffee – how neat is that. On the day, stop by Gina en route and you can leave your hamper at the cloakroom check-in while you ooh and ahh. Not a picnic person? No problem. Within the park is the grandiose Casina Valadier (Piazza Bucarest, Villa Borghese, +39 0669 922090). A leisurely alfresco lunch under the trees of this palazzo's dappled terrace is perfect for those who prefer something a little less rustico. Taste and culture. Gioia! GT

Heated battles and cool jazz, Genoa

Genoa is staging thousands of events this summer to celebrate its role as one of the Mediterranean's most important cities. There will be art, with an exhibition of Caravaggio's landscapes at Villa del Principe until 26 September (Piazza del Principe, +39 0102 55509, dopart.it/genova), poetry, with an international festival at the Palazzo Ducale (Piazza Matteotti 9, +39 0105 574000, palazzoducale.genova.it) from 10 to 20 June, historic re-enactments, including a regatta on 2 June, where vessels from Italy's four ancient maritime republics – Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi and Venice – do battle with one another, and religious processions (in honour of the city's patron San Giovanni, on 24 June). But most of all there will be music. The rhythms of the Mediterranean world will take centre stage all summer at Genoa's old harbour, Porto Antico, filling it with sounds from Europe and Africa.

Women will be the focus of Just Like a Woman, a three-day celebration of international music queens, featuring Sinead O'Connor, Morcheeba and Diana Krall, on 8, 12 and 14 July respectively, all at Porto Antico (Via al Ponte Calvi 5, +39 0102 485711). But Genoa's musical programme also has a strong American flavour, with a Guitar Festival paying tribute to Jimi Hendrix (between 16 and 28 July at Porto Antico), an exploration of American music at Villa Bombrini (5-25 July) and Gezmataz's, the city's biggest jazz event, a five-night feast of concerts and workshops with, among others, Ornette Coleman, Vicente Amigo, Paolo Fresu and Stefano Bollani (all at Porto Antico). After a quieter August, the Genoese summer season culminates with the Notte Bianca, an all-night revel, on 11 September.
Palazzo Cicala (+39 0102 518824, doubles from around €190) has airy white rooms, funky bathrooms and period furniture CP

Love and romance, Trieste

Few places are more conducive to romance than Trieste, the grande dame of Italian coastal cities, stretched white and neoclassical along the Adriatic Sea. This spring and summer, Trieste takes the mantle of Italy's romantic capital by displaying Francesco Hayez's 1859 painting Il Bacio (The Kiss), the masterpiece that celebrates the love between a man and a woman (and, as an allegory, between Italians and their soon-to-be-unified homeland) until 15 August. The show will also include three watercolours by the same artist, and will take place against the haunting backdrop of Miramare (Viale Miramare, +39 0402 24143), the wedding cake of a castle built for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, on a small promontory west of the city.

But summer romance is in the air everywhere – take a walk along the promenade at night to see the moon playing on the water, or climb up to the cathedral and castle of San Giusto to admire the panorama over Trieste's red roofs, the harbour and the soft wavelets beyond. And don't forget to walk the path that links the seaside towns of Sistiana and Duino, to take in the magnificent sea views that inspired Bohemian poet Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies.
The Hotel Greif Maria Theresia (+39 040 410115, doubles from around €120 – call for best rates) is a grand affair in the seaside suburb of Barcola CP


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November 15 2009

Kevin McCloud's favourite cathedrals and temples

The designer and television presenter on magnificent domes in Rome, Florence and London

PANTHEON, ROME

This is the mother of all domes. On the outside it's a disastrous building – the joints are pulling and it looks awful. But inside it's a revelation, all coated in marble, and beautifully decorated and panelled. It is also phenomenally powerful; the columns are massive, and the doors are more than 40ft high – at any moment you expect a door to be flung open and a 35ft-high Mercury to stride in. That is the brilliant thing about it – it is not built on a human scale. You feel as though it was designed not as a chapel to the Gods but for the Gods – Pantheon means "all Gods" in Greek, because it was dedicated to all the seven planetary Gods.

DUOMO, FLORENCE

This represents an extraordinary feat of engineering. It was the first cathedral in the world to be built without the use of scaffolding – the drum was too far off the ground for a supporting structure. So Filippo Brunelleschi, who designed it, instead wrapped a combination of huge iron chains around the structure to stop it from bursting. The dome is made up of four million bricks and weighs thousands of tonnes, yet appears to float.

TEMPIETTO, ROME

I love this tiny temple above Rome, in the rectangular little courtyard of San Pietro church. Outside it can't be much more than 12m in height, and what's amazing is that it looks like a mini version of St Paul's Cathedral. Sir Christopher Wren was able to adapt its form almost exactly for St Paul's. It's a poetic little building.

ST PAUL'S, LONDON

The cathedral dominates the skyline, 350 years on from when it was built. This was Britain's first and only classical cathedral and, inside, it is like being in St Peter's, the way it is gilded and decorated. But unlike St Peter's, it is full of light. You feel you could be anywhere in Europe, other than England, when you are inside it. Put simply, it's the finest classical cathedral in the world.

ST PETER'S, ROME

Personally I find this place very over the top. As you walk up the nave there are markings of the lengths of the world's other great cathedrals, and they are all shorter, telling you that St Peter's is the longest. And you have to ask, "So what?" But the dome itself is splendid and is the work of Michelangelo. Within the cathedral there is a 4.5m-high wooden model of the dome, which you can walk under. It was made by Michelangelo and is a very powerful object.

Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour of Europe (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25) is out now

Interview by Nicola Iseard


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