The Devil’s Bridge

The bridge at Borgo a Mozzano, called “The Devil’s Bridge” or the “Maddalena Bridge” is certainly the most beautiful bridge in the province of Lucca, and one of the most suggestive in Italy. Many legends were born from its myterious construction and its singular design, with one large arch flanked by three smaller ones, inspired the works of many artists. The bridge’s slimming profile, which continues to strike its admirers, must have been even more impressive in the past before a dam was built, in the years after the Second World War, which raised the level of the water in the surrounding area.

Over 90 meters long, this evocative work presents the classic“ humpback ”structure, which the asymmetrical arches make unique in the world: its major arch, in a central position, reaches a height of over 18 meters. A convex shape, almost cuspid, which makes it a perfectly preserved engineering masterpiece.

According to legend, the bridge was built by Saint Julian who, unable to complete it hard project, asked the Devil for help, offering him in return the soul of the first living being who would have crossed the finished bridge. Once the bridge was finished, Saint Julian threw a piece of bread onto the bridge, luring a dog to cross it, cheating the Devil.

There is little historical information about the building of the bridge. Nicolau Tegrimi, in the biography of Castruccio Castracani, attributes the bridge to Matilde di Canossa (1046-1125) and mentions a restoration made by Castruccio Castracani (1281-1328.) According to the hypothesis of Massimo Betti, during the Castruccio government the minor arches were constructed in stone, replacing previous structure in wood. This would explain the difference between the major arch and the minor ones.

In the 16th century the Hermitage of Maddalena was built on the left bank, providing a name for the bridge. In the following centuries the right bank was built up with factories. In 1889 the structure of the bridge, on the Borgo a Mozzano side, was modified to allow the passage of the train line which runs from Lucca to Aulla. A part of the bridge was demolished and a ramp was built over the train tracks.

www.visittuscany.com

Terme di Saturnia – Tuscany

The thermal waters at Saturnia are an enchanting and enticing stop while exploring Tuscany and the Maremma. Take advantage of the free entrance to the hot water springs called “Cascate di Mulino“, located less than 6 km outside of the town of Saturnia and 3 km from the Terme di Saturnia Resort.

The long underground journey of Saturnia’s water starts from the slopes of Mount Amiata. The water flows for 40 years along its underground course, slowly filtering through micro cracks in the rock, to re-emerge in the Natural Hot Spring at the center of the 5-star Resort. From the Resort, the water continues to flow through the Hot Spring Pools and then for a few kilometres through the meadows of Saturnia before reaching the iconic Waterfalls.

Mythology would have it that Saturn, the god of peace and abundance, lost his patience one day on seeing the constant warfare of men. So, he took a thunderbolt and hurled it into the crater of a volcano, causing a river of hot sulphurous water to gush forth and flow through valleys, mountains and plains, to envelop all men and things so that their spirits were finally quietened. This was the start of a golden age dedicated to Saturn, a happy period, illuminated by the beauty of women and the strength of men, converted to agriculture, hunting and love. The legend was set in the heart of the Tuscan Maremma, at Saturnia, where the spring water still gushes out at a constant temperature of 37,5°C.

Legend apart, which attributes to Saturnia the status of the most ancient Italic city, what we do know for certain is that it already existed in Etruscan times, when it was known as Aurinia, later to be named Saturnia by the Romans. The centuries of Christianity and the Middle Ages were dark years for the Baths, considered in fact to be places of lust and perdition.

Then the Baths were fought over by the local Feudal landowners, the Aldobrandeschi, the Santa Fiora and those of Sovana. From then on, there was a succession of disputes and owners until 1454, when the Baths were completely renewed as part of a great land reclamation scheme and flourished once again thanks to colonies from Piacenza, Romagna and Lombardy who applied for and obtained a permit for the Saturnia Baths. The thermal baths of Saturnia were still flourishing under the Great Duchy of Cosimo II of Florence and were considered to be an extraordinary cure for skin diseases on the threshold of the 1700s

In 1865, the Baths were acquired by the Ciacci Family, who reclaimed the site, rationalized the Baths and restored the buildings to create favourable conditions for the foundation of a real spa facility. In the course of the 20th century, it was then Gaspero Ciacci’s turn to make a further step forward in valorising the thermal springs: it was he in fact who, in 1919, had the first hotel built, now a 5 star Resort, member of The Leading Hotels of the World and of Starhotels Collezione.

For 3,000 years this spring water has gushed uninterruptedly from the centre of the earth, inside a crater at a temperature of 37,5 °C. The continuous flow of 500 liters per second allows the water to maintain its beneficial characteristics without the need for any external manipulation, with a complete renewal every 4 hours. 

2.790 grams of mineral salts are dissolved in each litre of water, together with a considerable quantity of gas, hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide. The water of Terme di Saturnia is sulphurous (14 mg per liter of hydrogen sulphide), carbon (462 cc per liter of free carbon dioxide), sulphate (contains sulfate ions in a prevalent quantity), bicarbonate-alkaline-earthy (contains bicarbonate, calcium and magnesium ions in quantity significant).

The presence of spring plankton which is clearly visible during immersion, is the natural evidence of the power of Terme di Saturnia. An organic-mineral substance of a gelatinous consistency and a variable colour, which forms in the water when the latter comes into contact with air, it is an exclusive and precious active ingredient which has extraordinary normalizing and moisturizing properties when used to treat the skin.

from: termedisaturnia.it, discoverytuscany.com

Genova “the Superba” and its beautiful lighthouse

Genoa (Italian, Genova) is a historical port city in northern Italy, the capital of the Region of Liguria.

Genoa, nicknamed “the Superba” by Francesco Petrarca, may be less known by major tourist operators, but its splendor is often hidden inside the narrow streets of the historical center, called “vicoli” or “caruggi”.

Genoa is a sort of decayed glorious port town, whose decay, however, is what makes it so interesting and pretty. The facades of grand palaces are hidden in scruffy, yet enticing alleyways, and there are really curious treats for anyone in virtually every alley. The city is your “typical” Italian one – quite sunny (during summer), with Mediterranean-looking houses topped by grey slate roofs, filled to the brim with outdoor cafes and bars, with lots of tiny and quirky alleyways, elegant designer shops, and restaurants. Today, also, the old port has been renovated, and currently contains some funky avant-garde modern architecture, a delightful marina, and several seaside bars and shops. The city is a good base to explore the Italian Riviera and world famous places like Portofino and the Cinque Terre.

The Lighthouse of Genoa (commonly known as Lanterna and from here the Derby of Genova, Genoa vs Sampdoria is called Derby della Lanterna) besides being an important aid to night navigation in the vicinity, the tower serves as a symbol and a landmark for the City of Genoa. Built of masonry, at 76 m (249 ft) it is the world’s fifth tallest lighthouse and the second tallest “traditional” one. Between 1543 and the construction of the lighthouse on Ile Vierge (France, 1902), it was the tallest lighthouse in the world. When measured as a whole with the natural rock on which it stands, as it is commonly perceived and represented, its height is 117 m (383 ft), which would make it the second tallest lighthouse in the world, the tallest in Europe, and the tallest traditional lighthouse.

The Lighthouse of Genoa is synonymous with history, but also with a mysterious legend.

The latter depicts how the tower builder (his name is unknown) was thrown into the sea from its top by the Genoese and the reasons for the crazy gesture seem to be essentially two.

The first, of a more romantic nature, can be summed up as follows: the inhabitants of the city, struck by the aesthetic and strategic perfection of the tower, decided to eliminate the architect to prevent him from proposing a similar work elsewhere, while the rawer version speaks of a murder linked to economic reasons (the Genoese, in a few simple words, did not want to pay the bill).

  • The Lighthouse has been in operation for more than 8 centuries and is currently the official lighthouse of the Port of Genoa.
  • It is used as an airport lighthouse (it is the only one still operating in our beautiful country) and regulates, as such, all air and sea traffic.
  • Its light is visible up to 50 km away.
  • The Lighthouse is a square-based tower and is entirely made of natural stone. The summit is reached by an internal staircase consisting of 365 steps, but only the first 172 are accessible to the public (the summit is not, in fact, open for visitors because it is under military control).

from: discovergenoa.com, wikitravel.com

pics: IG @bottarogabriele + web

 

Venice banned cruise ships to save the city

Venice has banned cruise ships from entering the historic city center after a decades-long battle. The Mayor of Venice had previously asked Unesco to put the city on a “blacklist” following a cruise ship crash in June 2019.

during the 65th Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2008 in Venice, Italy.

The northern Italian destination attracts an estimated 20 million tourists each year, with tens of thousands arriving by cruise ship. Fewer than 30,000 tourists who come to visit the world-famous city during the day stay the night – less than half of the 60,000 who flock to Venice every day.

Critics have long said waves created by cruise ships on the canal erode the foundations of the city, which regularly suffers from flooding. Others have also complained that they detract from the beauty of Venice’s historic sites and bring in too many tourists.

But the June 2019 accident, in which the MSC Opera – a 275m (900ft) long ship – collided with a dock and a small tourist boat in the city’s Giudecca canal, galvanised protesters to call for a definitive ban. The Giudecca, which passes close to the popular St Mark’s Square, is one of Venice’s major waterways.

In the voice recording, the captain of the 275m-long (900ft) ship is heard describing what had been done in an attempt to bring the vessel to a standstill after losing control.

“We put the tugboats in position to widen the gap [between the boat and the deck],” he says, adding that at some point cables attached to the tugboats had broken.

The head of the tugboat association involved in guiding the ship into its berth, Davide Calderan, confirmed the engine failure and said the captain had reported it “immediately”.

“The engine was blocked, but with its thrust on, because the speed was increasing,” he said.

from: bbc.com, this-is-italy.com

 

The “dolphin” island and its sirens

Li Galli islands, the three rocky and lonely islands (Gallo Lungo, Castelluccio and Rotonda) located between Capri and Positano, mirror themselves in the limpid sea facing the pearl of the Amalfi coast. According to old legends, they were inhabited by the sirenes who seduced sailors with their melodious voice: they lost control of their ships that inevitably crashed on the rocks of the islands (this is a clear transposition in a mythological key of the dangers during the navigation).

In the Odyssey, Homer tells us that Odysseus blocked his men’s ears with beeswax, and made them tie him to the foot of the mast so he could not be drawn away by the lure of the Sirens’ song.

Already Strabo, a Greek geographer of the I century b.C., identified this three small islands as the Sirens’ seat, calling them “Sirenai” or “Sirenussai“. In 1131 they were called “Guallo” and in 1225 Federico II Swabian donate this archipelago to the monastery of Positano (“tres Sirenas quae dicitur Gallus“).

The place name brings to mind the ancient Greek iconography, which represented the sirens as a bird with human face and not as a being half human and half fish as the Medieval tradition suggests us.

The main island Gallo Lungo also called the Dolphin’s Island

Originally the site of an ancient Roman anchorage, in the Middle Ages the islands became medieval fiefdoms of emperor Frederick II.

In 1919, the Russian choreographer and dancer Leonide Massine purchased Gallo Lungo; he converted the old Aragonese Tower into a residence with a dance studio and an open-air theater. His architect friend Le Corbusier helped him build a villa on the site of the original Roman structure. After Massine’s death, the islands were purchased in 1988 by Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who spent the last years of his life there. 

It’s no mystery that Nureyev was obsessed with dreams of grandeur and lavishness. He changed the decor, turning it into a Maharajah sumptuous palace. Bright blue and brown Turkish mosaics were pasted on the walls, the floors covered in precious Kilim carpets and the rooms adorned with Anatolian bronze statues. Nureyev even built a helipad to ease his frequent travels. Covered in thick vegetation, that’s the main means of transportation for guests today.

Too bad Nureyev had little time to enjoy his “golden” mansion and to see his dream come true: the opening of a ballet school on the island. In 1992, dying of AIDS, he set sail once and for all from the beloved archipelago.

Legend has it that before leaving the isle he kissed the ground, conscious that he would never again return. Four months later he died in Paris.

But Nureyev’s legacy, despite all its fascination, is nothing compared to the luxury — and exclusiveness — of staying on Li Galli today. Even if it’s just for one night.

After Nureyev’s death, the islands were purchased by Giovanni Russo, a Sorrento hotelier who rents the seven-suite villa only for three weeks each season, from May through October. Through the years, many celebrities have checked into this exclusive retreat.

The islands are completely off limits to locals. Wealthy boat owners not rich enough to stay on the island can only moor nearby and gaze.

The property, which rises on the ashes of an ancient Roman site, consists of Nureyev’s three bedroom mansion with stone terrace, the lookout tower which used to be his ballroom and is now another villa, an infinity saltwater pool and a whitewashed chapel where weddings are held. Near the chapel is the so-called “White House” — the honeymoon suite.

The property has been on and off the market for years; the most recent public listing of the three islands dates from 2011 and the asking price was €195M.

Now you can rent the whole place to yourself, if you have money. BIG money, that is. Prices range between 55,000 to 150,000 euros per week. But you can always split the cost with friends — the property can host up to 12 guests.

from: amalficoast.com, italymagazine.com, news.com.au

Lago di Resia and the legend of the bell tower

When the reservoir near the Passo di Resia, where the Adige river has its origins, was constructed for the production of electricity, the villages of Curon (Graun) and parts of Resia (Reschen), as well as the ancient hamlets of Arlung, Piz, Gorf and Stockerhöfe were waterlogged in the summer of 1950. A total of 677 hectares of land were flooded – the inhabitants and the owners of the farmsteads were expropriated forcibly and forced to resettle somewhere else.

This obviously caused discontent among the inhabitants of the place, who even turned to the Pope to avoid its construction. The attempts were in vain and the water invaded houses and cultivated land. Only the church of Old Curon, dating back to the 14th century, was spared in parts. Its steeple, a Historical Monument, can be still seen today. Depending on the water level, the Church Tower in Lake Resia – “Campanile nel Lago di Resia” in Italian – is more or less visible. 

In winter, when the lake freezes, the bell tower is within walking distance. A legend says that on some winter days the bells would still be heard, removed instead from the bell tower on July 18, 1950 (before the formation of the lake).

The German edition of the GEO travel magazine lists it among the “15 places that seem to be straight out of fairy tales”. In summer, the lake is a popular excursion destination and ideal for relaxation and recreation. Numerous water sports enthusiasts meet here, and also the submerged steeple attracts many visitors. And how to reach the Church Tower in the Lake? Lake Resia is located along the Val Venosta main road, directly at the roadside there’s a parking space with a viewing platform. Also a 4-hour walk along the Lake Resia Round Trail leads you past the church tower.

Netflix recently launched a new series which is exactly about this famous bell tower: Curon. Seventeen years after the tragic events that forced her to leave Curon, a woman returns home with her twin children. They soon discover that the town is cursed: when you hear the bells of the old church tower ringing, repressed feelings come back to the surface.

Tropea – The Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea

Tropea is nicknamed the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea and is located on a viewpoint at about 70 metres above sea level. It is the best-known Calabrian resort, with its walls, its towers, its gates, its sandy beach and a charming medieval historical centre. 

Legend has it that Hercules, returning from Spain, stood on the coast of the Gods to establish Tropea, that became one of the ports of Hercules. In truth, Tropea’s history begins in Roman times when, along the coast, the first villages were founded.

Due to its unique position of viewpoint overlooking the sea, Tropea played an important role, in Roman times, under the rule of the Saracens, and especially under the Normans and the Aragonese.

Discovered by illustrious travellers in past centuries, it has experienced a considerable reputation throughout the world due to its extraordinary natural and architectural beauty. In fact, in Tropea it is possible to combine the beauty of the sea with a cultural and artistic itinerary of great interest while taking in its breathtaking landscape. 

The old part of the town is located on a viewpoint overlooking the sea, facing the spectacular island which houses the Chiesa di S.Maria dell’Isola (Church of St Mary of the Island), which is the town’s symbol and is also one Calabria’s most photographed. The santuario Santa Maria dell’Isola (shrine of St Mary of the Island) can be reached by a steep staircase formed in the rock itself of the islet and around the church, it is possible to admire a splendid garden filled with Mediterranean plants, with magnificent views of the sea that offers a very impressive scenic view of the entire coast. In the background, the Aeolian Islands with Stromboli and Vulcano can be glimpsed as well as Sicily with Etna and the vast Tyrrhenian Sea. 

“The beaches below the cliff of Tropea are white and contrast in a magical way with a limpid and crystalline sea, with colours that range from turquoise to deep blue.”

The old town centre is rich in churches of various eras and impressive buildings that preserve within them valuable treasures and precious urban furnishings in excellent condition. 

All buildings feature offer eighteenth-century balconies, many of which overlook the sea and imposing portals in the main entrances and built by skilled craftsmen. The village is enclosed in a maze of narrow streets that suddenly open up into wonderful squares that overlook the sea or its green terraces. The cathedral, founded in Norman times and remodelled several times in order to remedy seismic damage, boasts two Gothic portals of great charm and some interesting works in its interior. There are various legends in Calabria that revolve around the building, such as that relating to two unexploded bombs present at the entrance and that bear witness to the protection granted by the Virgin to Tropea. Inside the old town centre we can find the small workshops of, carpenters, smiths, weavers and pottery-makers, together with many small shops managed by farmers of the area that sell typical local products from the countryside, such as olive oil, wine, fresh eggs, and above all, Tropea’s famous red onions, with all its derived products. 

Tropea is also equipped with a modern tourist port, equipped with all comforts and a short distance from the old town centre. The Port of Tropea is one of five ports of Hercules chosen together with other four ports of the Mediterranean, due to the aforementioned legend. The harbor allows to reach Capo Vaticano, Parghelia, Ricadi, Tropea and Zambrone, mandatory stops in an itinerary where the leading star is the transparent sea, framed by white sandy beaches from where visitors can enjoy amazing views.

The shrine is one of Tropea’s icons.

The legend tells that a Madonna of wood arrived at Tropea transported from the Near East and that the mayor of the village wanted to give it a place of honour in a natural niche of the islet. Due to its small size of the niche, a carpenter was asked to saw the legs off the statue, to be able to fit it in the niche. However, a sudden paralysis of arms prevented the craftsman from concluding his work so today the statue rests undisturbed inside its shrine, which is well worth a visit. 

Its clear layout and finely decorated building was built on what was once an island, while today it is connected to the mainland by a strip of beach. Built by the Basilian Fathers, the shrine was a hermitage that became in time a small church dedicated to the Madonna dell’Isola even if the statue on the altar represents the Holy Family. The church was then donated to the Benedictine Fathers and from then belongs to the Abbey of Montecassino. 

The islet is particularly impressive and, on the side, facing the sunset, a picturesque grotto opens up with emerald walls.

Tropea’s sea is unanimously considered among the most beautiful in Italy. This is due to the thick white sand sand which is responsible for its crystal-clear water and intense colours. Tropea’s beaches can be reached through three roads and four staircases that depart from the Duomo di Tropea, Largo Galluppi, Rione village and from the Convent. 

Spiaggia del Cannone is the area’s least visited beach; a small oasis hidden between the marina and the Scoglio di San Leonardo, unknown to the general public and ideal for spending days relaxing by the sea.

Sacred and profane

As in many Calabrian villages, often rites and traditions mix together the sacred and the profane in equal measure, creating events that are both impressive and fascinating. 

“I Tri da Cruci” is an event that celebrates the triumph of the Holy Cross and during it, Tropea is adorned with lights, decorations, stalls, perfumes, flavours and welcomes its visitors to the beat of drums. 

This event is connected to three events closely linked to the history of Tropea’s Community characterised by numerous natural disasters, from raids by Turkish pirates and Saracens and by the war events during the conquest of the south. 

The name of the event is linked to the first event, which recalls the presence of three wooden crosses, situated on a small church with a cylindrical shape, that resembled a small tower. Located in via Umberto I, it was devastated by a hurricane in 1875 and to replace this small church, Tropea’s citizens built a shrine dedicated to the souls of Purgatory, placing the Three Crosses in the nearby church. 

The second event is tied to the heroic deeds of Colonel Gaspare Toraldo and his fellow villagers during the battle of Lepanto, who received all honours due to defeating the Turkish pirates near Capo Stilo. The story told is that the return of the survivors was preceded by a dove sent by soldiers themselves to inform the citizens of the victory of the Cross against the Crescent Moon. 

The third episode recalls the permanent expulsion of Saracens from Tropea and for this event, silhouettes of the boats are made which are loaded with fireworks, hung from one side to the other of Via Borgo. During the festival they are set on fire creating a spectacular display of lights. 

The re-enactment consists in the dance of the “Camiuzzu i Focu”, to mock the ancient enemy to the frenetic rhythm of the “caricatumbula “; the shape of a camel stuffed with fireworks is set in fire, which burns together with the animal’s agonizing dance and which is out out, between barrels and sparks. 

The “festa de i tri da cruci” takes place throughout the day starting from the morning with dances by the “I Giganti “ (giants) throughout the town. The giants are normally represented by a white woman named Mata and a black warrior named Grifone; two tall phantoms of papier-mâché that are carried on the shoulders while dancing to the rhythm of drums. 

In the evening, to conclude, a re-enactment of the battle and the liberation of Tropea takes place, re-enacted by Tropea’s folk music group.

from: turiscalabria.it

Forte Centrale – Colle di Tenda

This Italian fort, called Forte Centrale, was built from 1881 to 1885 and used during both world wars. Is located at the Colle di Tenda in the municipality of Tenda in the upper Val Roia (France), very close to the Italian border and less than two hours drive from Turin. 

Following the passage of almost all the County of Nice to France, excluding the Savoy hunting territories of Mercantour and the upper Roia valley in 1860, the Colle di Tenda was located about twenty kilometers from the border with France on the important road which connects Ventimiglia to Cuneo, also crossed by the Cuneo-Limone-Ventimiglia railway.

Due to this fact the upper Val Roia was partially indefensible from a possible French attack and for this reason in 1881 the Royal Army decided to build the fort. The fort was built in 1881 and lasted until 1885. In 1900 a 3.2 km long cableway was built to connect the fort to the warehouses. 

The fort and surrounding area became French soil after the Paris Peace Treaties in 1947.

2nd of June – Italian Republic Day

Each year on the 2nd of June Italy celebrates the Festa della Repubblica (literally Festival of the Republic or, in English, Republic Day). The day commemorates the institutional referendum held by universal suffrage in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, republic or monarchy, following the Second World War and the fall of Fascism. Italians chose to become a Republic with 12,717,923 votes versus 10,719,284 votes for the monarchy and as a consequence, the male descendants of the House of Savoy were sent into exile. 

The House of Savoy had ruled since Italy’s Unification in 1861, but its final monarch, Umberto II (or Umberto Nicola Tommaso Giovanni Maria di Savoia, in full), only got to be king for a month, earning him the nickname ‘Re di Maggio’ or ‘the May King’ – slightly unfair since he actually ruled from May 9th to June 12th.

Umberto had actually been acting as head of state since 1944; after Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime – to which the monarchy had been closely allied – collapsed, King Victor Emmanuel III transferred his powers to his only son in the hope it would give the monarchy a PR boost. It didn’t work.

For one thing, the constitution now forbids a monarchy, and for another, the House of Savoy family formally renounced their claim to the throne as one of the conditions for the right to return from exile, in 2002. Umberto refused the right to return to his homeland, dying in Geneva in 1983.

So what happened to the others? Prince Victor Emmanuel, his wife, and son returned to Italy in 2003 after Silvio Berlusconi’s party overturned their exile. However, they weren’t exactly welcomed home with open arms.

Every year, a military parade is held in Rome to commemorate the date and is presided over by the President of the Italian Republic in his role as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, with the Prime Minister and other high officers of state attending the ceremony. The first military parade in honor of the new Italian Republic was held in Rome in Via dei Fori Imperiali in 1948. The following year, with Italy’s entry into NATO, ten parades were held simultaneously across the country and in 1950, the parade was featured for the first time in the protocol of official celebrations. 

In March 1977, Italy’s economy wasn’t doing so well, and all its public holidays were thought to be having a negative impact. So to avoid affecting business, Republic Day was moved to the first Sunday in June. It was only changed back to June 2nd in 2001.

The first Sunday of June had a long history as Italy’s national holiday; before Italy became a Republic, this holiday was known as the Feast of the Albertine Statute – the constitution of 1848, which was seen as the foundation of the Kingdom of Italy.

This provides for the ceremonial laying of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vittoriano. The ceremony continues in the afternoon with the opening of the gardens of the Quirinale Palace, seat of the President of the Republic, and with musical performances by the band ensembles of the Italian Army, Italian Navy, Italian Air Force, the “Arma dei Carabinieri”, State Police, the “Guardia di Finanza”, the Penitentiary Police Corps and the State Forestry Corps. On the 2nd of June, Italian embassies hold special celebrations and invite the Heads of State of the host countries while the President of the Italian Republic receives best wishes from all over the world.

Republic Day in Italy is similar to France’s celebration on July 14 (the anniversary of Bastille Day) and July 4 in the U.S. (the day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed).

One of the highlights of the day is the flyover by the Frecce Tricolori. Officially known as the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (National Acrobatic Patrol), the nine Italian Air Force aircraft, in tight formation, fly over the Vittoriano monument trailing green, white, and red smoke — the colors of Italy’s flag.

from: italymagazine.com, thelocal.it, thoughtco.com

Venice – Giant Hands (part 1)

The pictures of the giant hands supporting palazzo Morosini Sagredo, better known as Ca’ Sagredo, a luxury hotel along the Grand Canal, have already become famous all over the world. At the inauguration of the 57th Venice Biennale on May 13 (2017), the artist Lorenzo Quinn with his work of art has gone beyond any expectations.

Two giant hands come out from the water and seem to support the façade of Ca’ Sagredo. ‘Support’ is in fact the title of this enormous sculpture, which seems to hold up the entire building. The idea of this sculpture arouse last year when Lorenzo Quinn was celebrating his 50th birthday in Venice, at Ca’ Sagredo: talking to the director of the hotel, Ms Lorenza Lain, he expressed the desire to create a majestic installation which could represent the fragility of Venice.

Hands, as Lorenzo states, have the power to love and hate, to create and destroy: it depends on human beings, how to use them. The destiny that the artist has chosen for his hands is a destiny of love for our city. But why Venice? Lorenzo Quinn definitely loves this city, so unique with beauty, so rich of works of art: in the middle of the Lagoon, Venice is dangerously threatened by climate changes and decay, by the carelessness of humans, who with their hands can save it or destroy it. As a model for these gigantic hands Quinn used his son Anthony’s hands, thus entrusting them with an even more intimate significance.

Thanks to the use of modern materials, which the artist is always in search for and which he continuously tests in different ways, these hands have been transformed into the symbol of the salvation of Venice. Despite the innovative material, it is quite evident that this sculpture reminds of the classical monumentality of Michelangelo’s works. Lorenzo Quinn in fact gets great inspiration especially from Rodin, Bernini, and above all Michelangelo Buonarroti: so relevant is his admiration for the famous Renaissance sculptor, that in 2011 Lorenzo personally visited the Carrara caves in order to choose a piece of marble for one of his sculptures, exactly like Michelangelo used to do.

The originality of Lorenzo Quinn’s sculpture consists also in its dimensions: these hands are so monumental, that the viewer immediately perceives how fragile Venice is. The message has to reach out to the entire world, and it has to be immediately understandable. Lorenzo has definitely succeeded in his purpose.

Support is the symbol of the beauty and of the fragility of Venice at the same time. Thanks to the fact that its significance can be easily understood, this sculpture then goes beyond the borders of the Venetian Lagoon: it definitely suggests that we should save Universal Beauty, taking care of all the cities that are full of art works, and in general of our planet and of Mother Nature (which is absolutely the best work of art in the world). If we save our planet, we save also all the artistic treasures of our cities.

Quinn’s Hands are about 9 meters (29 ft) high, each of them weighs roughly 2.500 kilograms (5.511 lb), they both rest on four pillars that are inserted ten meters (32 ft) under the canal; they contain a metal structure inside, which grants stability and anchorage.

from: guidedtoursinvenice.com