Francine Prose writes about three quiet – and very different – Roman museums in an article in the New York Times’ travel section. Of the three, the most likely to have a few other visitors is the Galleria Doria Pamphilj on Via del Corso. It is housed in the family’s palazzo and gathers, in a baroque and sumptuous setting, paintings from the Pamphilij collections, including a very familiar Velazquez portrait of Pope Innocent X. Prose points out that even though the collection contains works by masters such as Caravaggio and Titian, one can discover many other artists with whom one is less familiar. Prose goes on to describe the strange and empty Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio in the church of Sacro Cuore which she finds affecting and powerful. Her final stop, in this article is at the Centrale Montemartini. It’s an old electrical power station from the early 20th century which now houses an amazing collection of Greek and Roman statues and mosaics. It’s an Art Deco industrial space with much of its original interior preserved and its juxtaposition with the ancient art is truly brilliant. As a bonus, it really is one place, that even at the height of the summer tourist season, is cool and where one is likely to be almost alone.
Italians are supposed to be voluble, excitable and incapable of talking without using their hands. This last, although a stereotype, seems to be particularly true: neither I nor any of my friends are capable of talking while sitting on our hands. The New York Times dedicates an article, accompanied by a video and an interactive “tutorial,” to Italian hand gestures and body language. Beyond the amusement factor, gestures are readily recognizable forms of non-verbal communication that are used for emphasis and to highlight emotions about the topic of conversation. Italians use gestures not simply as signals but to add inflection to what they are saying. Look at the interactive feature: it’s fun!
The Open Roads Italian cinema event for 2013 will run June 6 through June 12 at Lincoln Center. This year’s movies cover a wide range of styles and subject matter, from romantic comedy to fantasy to drama to satire. Among the dramas are Marco Bellocchio’s take on the malaise of contemporary Italy, Bella addormentata, starring the brilliant Toni Servillo, and Marco Tullio Giordana’s reconstruction of the Piazza Fontana bombing and the subsequent investigations into it. Paolo Virzi’s endearing and quirky comedy Tutti i santi giorni opens the festival on Thursday.
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is presenting a special Valentine’s Day tour, available by reservation, that will also be repeated on February 16th. A brief article in Corriere della Sera explains that the tour presents art works dedicated to the theme of love. Included are Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” various portraits of Medicis and the sculpture of Eros and Psyche. Strangely, so is Artemisia Gentileschi’s extremely gruesome depiction of Judith beheading Holofernes: while hardly romantic, this is supposed to highlight the possible violent side of love. Hmm…