Monday, June 11, 2018

Padua to visit the Scrovegni Chapel

Part of the massive fresco "The Last Judgment"


Most visitors race from Firenze to Venice without considering a stop at any of the wonderful cities that can easily be visited during this trip.  Travelers, unlike tourists, seek experiences that may not be on the top 10 list of a tourist guides.  Padua offers a number of experiences that should be added to your travel list even if you only spend a few hours in the city:   the city market, restaurants, cafes, churches and a pedestrian shopping street.   Padua also has a massive weekly market with products for locals not the tourist market!

Padua city center is a short walk from the train station.   The station was a wonderful surprise for a traveler.    It includes a full service tourist office, several restaurants and a grocery store in addition to the usual station services.


On a June trip Home to Italy I saw a post on author  Susan Van Allen's face book page mentioning the new hours/tours available at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.   Since I was staying only 40 minutes away, I booked a visit.








According to giottodibonone.com, "Italian artist Giotto di Bondone (c. 1267–January 8, 1337), better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence.   He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to the Italian Renaissance."    Years ago, as an exchange student in Firenze, our class often visited some of his original work when studying the Renaissance artists.


Enrico degli  Scrovegni, a banker in Padua in the 1300's, built the chapel as part of the family palace complex.   Scrovegni commissioned Giotto to decorate the interior of the chapel.  The theme of fresco cycle is the life of the Virgin Mary.  




Taking photos from 5 feet off the ground do not do this amazing array of paintings any justice.  And visiting in the afternoon limits the natural light available.  note:  photos were allowed but NO flash
The colors are far more vibrant and the expressions on the faces in the paintings are very lifelike.

There was far too much to see and appreciate in this short time period.  


The chapel walls and ceiling are covered with frescoes created centuries ago, but are as alive with color as if they were in the 1300's.









  …………….…..
VISITING THE CHAPEL

The chapel is one of the buildings in the large green park area.  It is set apart from the visitors center/gift shop and the exceptional museum that was included in my ticket.   Suggestion:  arrive early so you can check in, line up for a mandatory bag checking and review the many tour guides available for purchase.


In the gift shop you can rent an audio map with and interactive wand, 2 Euros on my recent visit.      An amazing feature that describes each of the paintings.    Be sure to review the descriptions before you enter the chapel, there will not be sufficient time while you are in the chapel to do more that gaze and perhaps take photos.




The chapel is separate from the main buildings, a short walk to the meeting point.  BE ON TIME.  If you miss your assigned ticket time you will not be admitted.    The doors lock to begin the mandatory 'atmosphere stabilization' process.    There are staff to answer questions but it was not clear what time to line up or where to find the start of the tour.


The waiting room that is air locked for 15 minutes before your visit

Each tour group waits in a comfortable room for 15 minutes prior to visiting the chapel.   The climate-controlled air locked vault is used to stabilize the temperature between the chapel and the exterior.   You do not feel any change in temperature or air pressure while you watch the video presentation.    The excellent video with English subtitles is very quick paced giving an overview of the paintings we would see in a few minutes.

My group was only 3 people but we found a large tour group in the chapel who had purchased an 'extended visit' of 40 minutes.   This was unfortunate because the tour guide was loud and the group reluctant to move away from the paintings so it can be more difficult to peacefully view this incredible site, depending on the group.






Art experts spend decades studying the work of Giotto so my 15 minutes was more of an attempt to see as much before the signal to leave was announced.   Wikipedia has a wonderful review of the panels giving me background for the photos I was able to capture.






Fortitude


Visiting the Scrovegni Chapel reminds me of a visit to the Sistine Chapel for the first time:  too much to see and absorb in a single visit.




On the lower portion of the side walls you find depictions of the 'vices' and 'virtues'.   There is little color in these painting but the vivid message they offer is clear.  I particularly enjoyed the woman with the snake in her mouth:   envy


Prudence


Envy


Injustice

Infidelity

I did not allow enough time to visit the amazing museum that is also in this location.   It was almost empty and you could have viewed every item up close and without distraction.   The manager of the ticket office strongly suggested I at least see the wood cross attributed to Giotto so I race walked through the 2 floors to reach this room.




Equally striking were two carvings outside the exhibit, very arresting:


















                                                                   Viewing some of the museum without any other visitors.







Additional information

Information on purchasing tickets is available on the online ticket system:  http://www.cappelladegliscrovegni.it/index.php/en/
Purchase your tickets in advance.  You can pick up the tickets in the  ticket office/entrance prior to your entry time.


The addition of evening tours offers a different way to view the chapel.  http://www.giottosottolestelle.it/index_EN.html#home

And animated tours with actors re creating the scenes in the paintings, available in Italian.  http://www.visiteanimate.it/visite/giotto-sotto-le-stelle

Even a guided tour is available, when booked in advance, according to the web site instructions.    Fees and restrictions on the web site.

Friday, April 27, 2018



Just saw this online.  I have heard locals in Venice talk for years about the problems with tourist and particularly the ones that come for the day or on a monster ship.   Now they have one solution, perhaps......


from Conde Nast Traveler
From April 28 to May 1, one of the biggest Italian holiday weekends of the year, tourists will be restricted from visiting popular landmarks like the Piazzale Roma and the Santiago Calatrava-designed Constitution Bridge. Unless you show a residential or commuter Venezia Unica pass at checkpoints, you're not getting through.




Tourists heading to Rialto or Piazza San Marco will be required to follow alternative routes, and can no longer walk the Strada Nuova, Venice's most famous boulevard. You and your car will be turned away at the lagoon if you don't have a pre-reserved parking spot in the city, and even the ferries will be adjusted, dropping passengers off at Fondamente Nuove, on the city's north side, rather than right in the middle of the action at Riva degli Schiavoni. Though these new policies and checkpoints are only in place for the weekend, Venice's mayor Luigi Brugnaro has also hinted that they could be periodically extended through the summer, Corriere della Sera, a Milanese newspaper, reports.
It's all part of Venice's self-preservation plan, to stave off the destructive effects of the 30 million tourists that visit each year. "We cannot prevent access to the city, and we do not want [to], but we must regulate the flow of tourists," Brugnaro said Thursday. The new restrictions are part of the city's "urgent measures to guarantee public safety, security and liveability," according to the mayor, and are likely a result of the thousands of tourists who descended on the city for Easter, when wait times for vaporetto water buses between Canal Grande, Santa Chiara, and San Marco were more than an hour.
photos from Hometoitaly.com blog

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Rome: Paint and Sketch in a Roman Park with artist Kelly Medford

Rome:  Art in the Park with Kelly Medford





Several years ago I spent 2 days following Kelly while she painted in Rome.   She was gracious to allow me to shadow her while she completed a project of painting a picture every day!  see post at  Rome Italy through the eyes of a talented American artist.








I had an opportunity to join one of Kelly's sketching tours, Sketching in Rome tours while in Rome
to do several travel reviews.  Thinking this would be novel way to experience part of Rome I joined an enthusiastic group one very hot afternoon in the Villa Borghese gardens.

Kelly gathered the group and introduced herself and had each of us do the same.  This particular group was all women, all ages and everyone very accomplished professionals!   

As I found out later they were also surprising 'artists'. 




Kelly has created a wonderful art package for each participant.   This is a compact pouch that has everything you need to sketch and paint:  paints, water brush, pencil, ink pen and book of paper.





The notebook has several types of paper suitable for sketching or water color paints.


One pad offers sketching paper, watercolor paper of different textures.


Our first mini lesson was how to close our eyes and draw
an item we had selected.   This was harder than it sounded....




Our group watching a demonstration 

Our lesson for water color painting ................






If you have visited Rome before or perhaps just need an alternative to all the wonderful monuments, museums, churches, Sketching Rome Tours is a great afternoon alternative.   

As a solo traveler you will find a sketching Rome tours solo friendly and should find a friendly, social group.  

Each year Kelly offers wonderful painting adventures in locations out of Rome.  A perfect way to experience another city/country and expand your painting skills. 

Include this in your next trip Home to Italy.  
 
 
2018 schedule from Kelly's web page:
 
Rome will be offering urban sketching workshops throughout 2018 with loads of different topics and teachers. I will be teaching capturing the light of Rome through watercolor in September. This is a great opportunity to get out and sketch the streets of Rome!
See the full program and join in
https://drive.google.com/…/10AXDyay0S6O_2jX0CJ0w94VKNd…/view

Contact Sketching Rome Tours:

info@sketchingrometours.com                                                        
FB  Sketching Rome Tours
Twitter:  @SketchRomeTours
Online reservations at:  www.sketchingrometours.com




Sunday, December 17, 2017

Opera dei Pupi: an Italian tradition you can still find in Sicily











    Hundreds of eyes followed me as I explored the Museum di Pupi  (Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum) in Palermo Italy.

An army of soldiers away the next battle

In 2008 The Unesco intangible heritage list of cultural traditions in danger of extinction, included the Opera dei Pupi, Sicilian puppet theatre.  Always searching for anything in Italy not listed in a tour book, Italian puppets of Sicily were on my list of must sees on my first trip to Sicily.

 
 
There are several locations in Sicily where the ancient craft is practiced: telling well-known stories with hand made puppets.  
 


The Kind and Queen stand with their guards

The Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum building at Piazzetta Antonio Pasqualino, 5, Palermo has been re-purposed to a wonderful open space where the history of puppetry from many countries is celebrated with video examples of performances and original puppets.


But the heart of this museum features Italian pupi!   And they are everywhere.    Sorted by categories, just waiting to be called on stage, are soldiers, knights, monks, working people, animals and a few creatures that could easily slip into a horror movie!     You are able to walk among the racks of figures dressed in historic clothing  and they seem to follow you with their large eyes and ready to reach out and touch you.  


As you pass by or under one of the many hanging racks the pupi sway and their wooden feet or hands make a clicking sound that may make you walk a little faster. 


There is a full sized theater in the museum where shows are performed for school children and visitors.  I had to take a look behind the scenes to understand how a few handlers could manage a full production.   The space is very small with narrow boards running behind the stage on several levels.  Try to plan a visit when there is a live show to appreciate this art of storytelling.  



 

On the main floor there are theater/puppet based items and books.  Unfortunately there was nothing in English on the history of puppets so of course I turned to the Internet.   There are a wide assortment of puppets.1

The history of Sicilian puppets is extensive.   Puppet performances in the open squares of towns and villages or near or in the local church, entertained and educated the locals.  

Sicilian puppets are string puppets that have a central rod and strings attached to a control bar.   Sicilian puppets vary in size, much larger than hand puppets.  They are handmade of wood, painted and dressed in the characters period clothing.   The swords and armor is fashioned from metal, embellished with crests and designs.   Sicilian marionettes vary in size, in “Catania they are nearly twice the size of those used in Palermo” while Naples puppets are a meter tall.3

"A major component of the Opera dei Pupi is the sword fights, jousts and battles."  "The skill of the performer is shown in the action of the puppet as well as the improvised dialogue for the repeated themes of each performance." 2   

Puppet theatres were usually family run operations.   The skills of creating puppets and performing were handed down from one generation to another.   As other entertainment venues became popular, the number of puppet theaters diminished.  The Museo Internazionale delle Marionette works to preserve the long tradition of Sicilian pupi theater.  

There are several locations in Sicily that continue the historic practice of pupi: studios that create puppets, where collectors or travelers can find a hand crafted puppet to take home.   With advanced planning you can attend a traditional puppet show that recounts one of the historic stories with the famous characters:  Goffredo, Rinaldo and Orlando or Agricane.   A knowledge of the history of Sicily would be helpful when attending a performance. 
 
For centuries stories have been shared with the audience through the skills of Italian puppeteers.    Did you watch a performance at a local festa in your town?

 
www.facebook.com/museoantonio.pasqualino, 1.  https://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Puppet, 2. Sicilian Puppet Theatre-Opera dei Pupi/Italy, 3.  Lifeinitaly.com/tourism/sicily/sicily-puppet-theatre.asp
Email: mimap@museomarionettepale 
www.museodellemarionettepalermo.it
Facebook:  Museo Internazale Delle Marionette Antonio Pasqualino
References
  https://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Puppet offers an extensive list of the different types of puppets from around the world.
Sicilian Puppet Theatre-Opera dei Pupi/Italy 
3.  http://www.historicgermany.travel/buy-products/best-value-packages