Sunday, April 13, 2014

Eccentric American Expats: The Great Beauties of Caprarola

Gladys Deacon portrait by Boldini 

the original Pentagon building
Palazzo Farnese, Caprarola
design by Justin Bradshaw 

Palazzo Farnese perched on its hillside  with views extending  over the Lazio countryside to Rome, is one of Italy’s  most  magnificent Renaissance palace  complexes, once home to  the powerful  Farnese family.

Loggia with Hercules fountain, Palazzo Farnese 
In the early  1900s it was also  home to an eccentric group of   American expats : Florence Baldwin and her daughters.   The eldest daughter, Gladys, was one of the most famous beauties of the first half of the century and went on to become  the Duchess of Marlborough.   
staircase Palazzo Farnese
photo  of F. Pignatale 

Sala del Mappamondo, Palazzo Farnese
photo of F. Pignatale 
The fascinating story of Gladys and her family will be the subject of an illustrated talk  (in English and Italian) along with English biographer  and historian  Hugo Vickers   who will be visiting from London. 

invito  per   April  25th 

Sala Giove of Palazzo Farnese,  “Le Grandi Bellezze  di Caprarola” 
Please share on Facebook, Twitter. Hope to see you there! Caprarola  is a short drive from Rome and  the 25th  of April is a holiday here in Italy.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Exploring Rome's Eataly and Civita Castellana

One of the positive things about  publishing and  promoting  books in Italy  is being invited to unusual venues and   exploring nearby towns. 

 one of several restaurants  in Eataly 

Alessandra producer of olive oil in Bassano in Teverina (VT) 

colorful honey  
fresh mozzarella 

modern, functional super food store 
wine and oil sectors 
This week  we spent a day at Rome’s Eataly,  located in a hangar-like building that used to be the  unpleasant Air Terminal  at Ostiense. 

all this attention for the  amatriciana pasta
meeting of cooks, Fulvio and Antonello Colonna 


After the press conference  presented by  TV personality  Maria Concetta Mattei,  cook Antonella Colonna  whipped up his version of  bucatini all’amatriciana and exchanged cookbooks with Fulvio.

Monte Soratte and  new construction 

Yesterday instead  we traveled  east 40 kms  from home to present Fulvio’s “Olio e Ricordi in Cucina” at  the Libroteca  bookshop in Civita Castellana. 

Since  there was a half hour before the official event, there was time to  explore the  city’s  Duomo famous for its Cosmatesque pavement  and crypt.

Duomo, Civita Castellana 

Duomo interior 

Roman bits adorn the facade 

each  of the columns has a different capital 

After the book presentation, carefully set up by the bookshop owner,  Tusciagnam  organized a wine tasting with a sommellier and nibbles. 
wine tasting 

in Mastro Cencio's cavelike workshop

No one should stop in Civita Castellana without visiting the ceramics workshop of Mastro Cencio, and the 16th century fortress  where the museum is located.
modern plates 

and traditional ceramics 

Fortress of Sangallo 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Roman palazzo and town hall book presentations

entrance conference room, Fondazione Besso 
Rome’s Fondazione Besso, located in  a 19th century Art Nouveau palazzo in the heart of busy downtown Rome, was the prestigious venue for  this week’s first  presentation of Etruria Storie e Segreti.  
Luca Pesante, Cristina Carosi , MJ, Francesco Aliperti, Francesca Ceci 

The Foundation’s  magnificent libraries and study rooms are  dedicated  to research on  Dante  and  Roman  history, making it the perfect  venue for the book presentation.  Francesca Ceci, Cristina Carosi and Luca Pesante  joined me at the conference table to  speak about  my newest  book, in Italian.  
at the speakers' table 

at Feltrinelli bookshop where the book can be purchased  

Later in the week it was  Francesca’s turn to give a talk at the Scuderie of Palazzo Chigi Albani in Soriano nel Cimino. 
entrance Scuderie  Palazzo Chigi Albani
It was a chance to meet other history scholars and admire the former stables of one of Northern Lazio’s princely buildings which has been beautifully restored. 

Soriano's  castle  

Stephan Steingraber, Francesca Ceci, Paolo Giannini 

Yesterday ‘s venue  was a simple hall in the town of  Canale Monterano  in the province of Rome, amidst  rolling green hills of the nature reserve.  This time we were guests of  Cristina Carosi, curator of  Etruria Storie e Segreti Italian text and Daniele Natili,  who told the audience about the book. 

Canale Monterano, Sala Natili 

Cristina, MJ, Assuntina Antonacci 

with Daniele Natili , our host at Canale Monterano

Next Saturday it is Fulvio Ferri’s turn to present his “evergreen” cookbook Olio e Ricordi in Cucina at the Libroteca bookshop in Civita Castellana. The presentation  will be  followed by  wine tasting  offered by Le Lase  vineyards of Orte.   Why not stop by  at 5:30 p.m.  to meet the author and have a glass of wine with us ?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

High value vacations cruising from Civitavecchia

One of the two Azamara ships: Royal Caribbean's luxury  brand
Royal Caribbean International cruise line announced important  news for Civitavecchia, the port of  Rome, at the  recent press conference held  this week.  The managers of Royal Caribbean International and  the Civitavecchia Port Authority gave out some interesting numbers.
Announcing the  novelties for Civitavecchia 
 The port of Civitavecchia hosted 959 cruise ships in 2013  with 2,538,258 passengers arriving or departing from the docks. These numbers  will soar even higher   in 2014-15 when  several new   Royal Caribbean  ships  will be using  Civitavecchia as their home port.

The Mosaic lounge on Azamara 

Dominic Paul, Vice President of  Royal Caribbean International  announced  that  the company is investing millions of dollars in the construction of new cruise ships and expansion to capture an even higher percent of Italian cruisers. 
Pool deck on Azamara , my favorite of the Royal Caribbean ships

The company’s newest ships Oasis and Allure  (and later Quantum, which will become the world’s biggest cruise ship), will be  based out of Civitavecchia.

Ana Karina Santini  and Lina Mazzucco of Royal Caribbean 

This  investment means  that the hinterland of Civitavecchia will enjoy  a beneficial ripple effect with more jobs at the enlarged cruise terminal, more tourists looking for  pre and post cruise stays and excursions. Repeat cruisers will be especially interested  in visiting new, scenic and historic sites in  Etruria –not just bus or train trips into Rome.

I was happy to present  Mr. Paul with a copy of my book “Etruria Travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy“ as a thank you for having  had me as guest lecturer on many Royal Caribbean ships over the past eight years. Check  out the many cruise enrichment lectures and itineraries here. 

Mary Jane presents  Dominic Paul  with her book 

It is also an invitation to combine a  Mediterranean cruise out of Civitavecchia  with a pre or post cruise holiday in Etruria. Cruisers will find dozens of delightful villages and towns ready to  welcome them just  beyond the hills of Civitavecchia. 
By adding on a pre or post cruise stay in Etruria, they can enjoy full  immersion in local Italian  life style, the food, wine, olive oil and  local  traditions.
For more information about  the area around Civitavecchia see this recent article: The Scenic Route from Rome to Civitavecchia  and find others  by putting the word Civitavecchia in the search box.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day Trips from Viterbo

Genius Loci of Villa Lante, Bagnaia
Living in the layer cake of history  that is  Italy, it is easy to visit  Roman, medieval  and  Renaissance sites  all in the same day.

a corner of  Bagnaia "di dentro" 

With the first real spring weather that is just
 what we did this weekend.  

ticket collector and cats 

While others biked or jogged in the  parks and  roads around  Viterbo, we took  half day trips to some of the area’s special  historical sites.
Chain fountain, Villa Lante

Marco  Zanardi at entrance to Villa Lante 
Saturday afternoon  was dedicated to Villa Lante in Bagnaia where guide Marco Zanardo  explained the Renaissance garden’s history and the philosophy of the cardinals Gambara and Montalto Peretti who created it in the 1500s.

medieval piazza, Bagnaia 
Sunday morning  was dedicated to  Ferento, the Roman city destroyed by the Viterbese  in the 11th century and now  a pastoral  area studded with remnants of  centuries of habitation.
horses graze at entrance to Ferento  
Vincenzo, our archeologist-guide 

 Ferento theatre's  black cat 

Roman building blocks 

mosaics, arches,  brick and mortar 
   I was happy to see that the SYA (School Year Abroad) students  are participating in  a study project at Ferento  along with archeologists of the Università della Tuscia.

Roman road brought back to light by SYA students
  Both these outings were marked by  sunny weather, interesting encounters, well versed guides   and a series of beautiful  cats who  accompanied the humans  who came to visit  their  territory.
Siamese of Bagnaia 

We were happy to meet professional photographer  Maurizio  Di Giovancarlo whose work  will entice you to visit the area.

  Your comments are welcome as well as suggestions for other special places to visit  near Rome, Civitavecchia  and  Viterbo.

For those  in Rome  on Tuesday March  25th, I hope to see  you at  the  presentation  of my latest book
 to be held  at the prestigious library of 
Fondazione Besso, Largo di Torre Argentina,11
 on the first floor.
Time  5 p.m.  
Speakers :  Francesca Ceci, Cristina Carosi, Luca Pesante

Copies of the book are available in Rome at Libreria dei Viaggiatori, Via dei Pellegrino,78 near Campo dei Fiori  and at Anglo American Bookshop, Via della Vite near the Spanish Steps.