Monday, April 28, 2014

Living History in Italy

Sala di Giove, Palazzo Farnese  Caprarola  
The regular schedule  of blog posts  was interrupted this week due to some unusual  events.  
 In Rome pageantry, pilgrim crowds and  piles of garbage were generated by  the canonization of two former  popes presided over by  two  living ones. 

 It was a scenario  that no novelist  could have invented  and yet it was   just another chapter in the long, amazing  history of Italy. 

Backed by Renaissance fireplace: Hugo, MJ  and Giorgia

  Here in Tuscia/Etruria, far from the confusion of the Roman canonization,  history came alive when English biographer Hugo Vickers told  the story of Gladys Deacon and her mother Florence Baldwin to a spellbound audience in one of  the magnificent frescoed rooms  of Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola . 

the spiral staircase of Palazzo Farnese 

Hugo signs  a book he wrote, in my library 

discovering Vetralla's English connections 
Henry VIII's monument in Vetralla  (foto G. Zelli )
   Hugo  flew in from London to share his research with us and to delve deeper into the lifestyle of  the eccentric expats who inhabited the palazzo  in the last century. 

at Villa Lante 
 Our morning visit to Villa Lante in nearby Bagnaia was  intriguing   for its fountains and palazzine  were a model  for those of Caprarola.  

Luciano, Hugo, MJ and Giorgia  (foto Sig.ra DiFusco)
At Caprarola we were escorted to see some of the secret corners of the palazzo by  Luciano Passini our host and head of the Caprarola Research  and History Society.  

presentation with a figure from the palazzo's past 

bathroom ceiling  at Palazzo Farnese 
In a tiny  anteroom which once served as bathroom to the Baldwin-Deacon  women, we  discovered the  phrase “Forse che si, forse che no” which Gabriele D’Annunzio  used as  title  for his novel  published in 1910. D'Annunzio  "borrowed" the phrase from a ceiling he saw in Mantova's Palazzo Ducale. 
ceiling of Mantova's Palazzo Ducale 

original  bathroom fixtures dating from  1920s 
During the presentation  we even had a surprise visit from “Gladys” herself, impersonated by Finnish soprano Susanna Ohtonen dressed in perfect  1920s  style
Gladys interpreted by soprano Susanna Ohtonen

 She  invited the audience to the opera La Traviata  which is being  held on Wednesday April 30th in  Tuscania’s Rivellino theatre.  

Susanna Ohtonen and Giulia admiring the frescoed ceiling   (foto Chiara Porcari)
 Opera Extravaganza's  opera evenings  are another aspect of the living history of Italy which should not be missed. 
Info e prevendita OperaExtravaganza  tel. 0761-485247/346-7474907
Info Teatro Il  Rivellino P.zza Basile tel. 0761.4454250 0761-4454217
                                                                          LA TRAVIATA
Opera lirica in tre atti di GIUSEPPE VERDI
Mercoledì 30 APRILE 2014 ORE 21.00

Biglietti prezzo unico 15 euro

Coming up next Saturday, Soriano nel Cimino 

 For another special evening  in one of Etruria's wonderful historic palazzi,  you are cordially invited  to  my next illustrated  presentation on May 3rd in Soriano nel Cimino.

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Your  feedback, questions  are very welcome. See you in Soriano! 

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