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Francesco Clemente’s Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017

In Italy, you can’t help but experience modernity within the context of the past. What is new is quite literally enveloped in what came before. But isn’t that what it should always be like? During my Washington, DC days, I was struck by a quotation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that is carved at the base of a statue outside the National Archives. “What is past is prologue,” it reads. In a place like the Amalfi Coast, protected as it is thanks to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the visual landscape is a narrative that has continued unbroken from the past.

In a place with centuries of history such as the Villa Rufolo in Ravello, it’s possible to walk through its history, starting practically at the prologue in the 12th century and continuing to today. It is within this historic surrounding that a thoroughly modern exhibit has been placed this summer. As part of this year’s Ravello Festival, the show Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is a site-specific installation created by Neapolitan born artist Francesco Clemente in one of the Villa Rufolo’s atmospheric spots.

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The exhibit is situated in the courtyard and what was once a chapel at the Villa Rufolo. It’s a quiet and reflective setting – perfect for art exhibitions. The courtyard is flanked by two rows of bright red flags painted with symbols at once captivating and dark. A clenched fist holds colorful flowers. A sickle, broken at its base, cuts into a bleeding heart. Two strange creatures embrace. Images with an intensity that evokes a struggle.

Stepping inside the chapel, the narrative continues with a large tent entirely hand painted in tempura. The exhibition notes point out that it’s the type of tent characterized by Asian nomad shepherds. A tent as shelter, a tent as a symbol of changing places. This exhibition is themed around the idea of walls and migration – timely topics in today’s political climate around the world. Clemente has been working with the idea of tents since his ENCAMPMENT series that started about 5 years ago.

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This is a tent you can walk into, explore and experience. I happened to be there at a moment when there were no other visitors and it was a fascinating visual experience. There are ancient symbols, animals and faces that reminded me of Picasso’s Rose Period. The colors are vividly warm and I found myself creating my own narratives as I wandered around inside.

What stories do you see?

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Peering out from inside the tent, you can see the walls lined with a series of watercolors by Clemente that are on display for the first time.

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Getting up close to these watercolors, it was possible to see the incredible texture and labor that went into their design. Just look at the design in the concentric circles and the red border below. The works were full of intricate details that are exotic and traditional, playing on the theme different cultures blending together.

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Leaving the chapel, the harsh red flags reveal softer pastel color scheme with messages embroidered in gold thread. As they say, there are two sides to every story, and these flags fluttering in a summer breeze were reminders of that.

One tie-died flag caught my eye in particular. It says, “Il piu moderno qui è anche il piu’ arcaico.” That translates to: “The most modern here is also the most archaic.” Framed by the arched entrance to the chapel courtyard, it perfectly captured the setting of this contemporary art exhibit in the 12th-century ruins of the Villa Rufolo.

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It was also the catalyst for my reflections on this exhibition. If what is past is prologue, we carry not only who we were in the past with us as we move forward in life, but we also carry with us our family, back to our remotest ancestors in far flung parts of the world we have yet to even imagine. We carry that with us as we go forward, sometimes moving countries, meeting new people, making new families. We are ancient and modern all at once, just like the landscapes we move through.

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Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is on display at the Villa Rufolo through the end of September. Entrance to the exhibit is included when you purchase your ticket for the Villa Rufolo. More details available at www.villarufolo.com.

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

Italy Roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Modern – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTrav

At Home in Tuscany

Bleeding Espresso

Brigolante

Italy ExplainedWhere to See Modern & Contemporary Art in Italy

Girl in Florence

Italofile

 

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Ravello Festival 2017 Schedule and Tickets

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Photo by Roberto Vuilleumier and used courtesy of the Ravello Festival

 

Every year I eagerly await the announcement of the Ravello Festival program, which runs from July to September in the City of Music. The Ravello Festival 2017 schedule has finally been announced! This year’s program kicks off on July 1st with Adam Fischer conducting the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in a performance of works by Wagner – representing the roots of the Ravello Festival and Wagner’s connection with Ravello.

On July 2nd the festival changes gears dramatically from the historic inspiration of the festival to a night of contemporary dance, music and performance with noted Italian artist Francesco Clemente. This is sure to be an intriguing artistic evening in Ravello! There will also be an exhibit of Clemente’s work on display at the Villa Rufolo from July 2nd – September 30th.

Keeping with tradition, this year’s Ravello Festival presents a mix of performances in genres ranging from classical to opera, jazz and contemporary Italian and international musicians. Dance lovers will find some excellent shows to choose from, including the Stars of the American Ballet and Les Italiens de l’Opéra de Paris.

Highlights of this year’s program are Dianne Reeves on July 5th, Philip Glass on July 14th, the Wayne Shorter Quartet on July 16th, Antonello Venditti on August 4th and the traditional Concert at Dawn on August 11th.

You can book your tickets for the Ravello Festival 2017 at the online Box Office. If there’s a concert that catches your eye, it’s a good idea to book well in advance. Also,  a ticket buying tip: For inclement weather, the concerts can be moved from the Villa Rufolo gardens to the nearby Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer. However, since the space is more limited, only people with tickets in rows A, B, C, D, E, F e G will be allowed in. All other tickets are reimbursed. So if there’s a show you absolutely don’t want to miss, make sure to get a ticket in rows A to G.

Will you be seeing a show at the Ravello Festival this year? I’d love to hear which one!

Ravello Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo

Visit the Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo – Opens April 1st!

Ravello Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo

The Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo Opens as the Torre-Museo on April 1st

If you’ve been to Ravello and visited the Villa Rufolo, you’ve likely stood and enjoyed the view looking up at the Torre Maggiore. This historic tower dates back to the 13th century when the wealthy Rufolo family called the Villa Rufolo home. Behind the scenes a major restoration project has been going on to open the Torre Maggiore to the public by transforming it into a museum and creating a viewing platform at the top. The project is complete and opens to the public on April 1st!

Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo Garden

Can you spot the glass enclosed view platform on the tower?

Last weekend the Villa Rufolo opened the Torre-Museo for a sneak peek viewing by residents on the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been eyeing that viewing platform for some time now. I just new it would have an incredible view! Last Saturday morning was clear and beautiful, so it was the perfect time to visit the Torre-Museo for the first time.

Let me start with the viewing platform on the top, because that’s what really took my breath away. The view from the gardens of Villa Rufolo are justifiably famous. But what climbing to the top of the Torre Maggiore does is give you a bird’s-eye view over the gardens with that incredible sweeping view of the coastline and Bay of Salerno.

Plus, since it’s surrounded by glass on all sides, you get views of Ravello and across the valley to Scala that you wouldn’t see from anywhere else.

Since the inside of the tower has been transformed into a museum and interactive experience, the climb of about 100 steps really goes by quickly. The staircase itself is a fascinating site, twisting and turning like an M.C. Escher design.

Along the way on each level there are architectural pieces, artefacts and explanation about the history of the Rufolo family and the tower.

The lighting is striking and creates and evocative setting for displaying pieces. Along the journey climbing the stairs, there are also light projections and audio recordings to bring the history to life.

At the entrance to the tower there’s a small room displaying artwork showing Ravello, the Amalfi Coast and the Villa Rufolo.

A visit to the Torre-Museo is a great way to start your exploration of the Villa Rufolo. Then you can wander through the beautiful gardens and buildings that you spied from on top of the Torre Maggiore.

The Torre-Museo opens to the public on April 1st, 2017 and entrance to the tower will be included in the price of the Villa Rufolo ticket. Entrance to the tower may be limited to a certain number of people at a time to improve the visitor experience, so if you’d like to go you might want to check if there’s a line when you arrive at Villa Rufolo.

Find out more about opening times and ticket prices at www.villarufolo.com.

Ravello and Spring on the Amalfi Coast

Visiting the Amalfi Coast in the Spring

Ravello and Spring on the Amalfi Coast

What to See & Do on the Amalfi Coast in the Spring

The weather is warming up, birds are singing every morning when I open the window and the almond trees have started to blossom. That means la primavera has arrived on the Amalfi Coast! Everything is a bit brighter this time of year, and I love watching the trees and plants come to life. Spring brings with it the arrival of the tourist season and travelers from around the world start arriving. Those lucky early spring visitors are in for a treat, too! While it’s true that the weather can be a bit more unpredictable in March and April, the rainy weather usually passes quickly. So for those of you getting ready for your upcoming trip, here’s a look at some of my favorite reasons to visit the Amalfi Coast in the Spring!

 

See the Wisteria Blooming

Wisteria in Positano - Spring on the Amalfi Coast

Ahhh … nothing says spring on the Amalfi Coast more than draping vines of sweet scented wisteria! Since the early spring flowers like daffodils and tulips aren’t very common in this area, I look forward all winter to seeing the wisteria blooming. While you can see wisteria all up and down the coast, my two favorite spots on my annual wisteria pilgrimage are Positano and Ravello. In Positano, you can find the wisteria blooming from right down by the beach and along the main street up into town. See more photos of wisteria in Positano here. In Ravello, you won’t want to miss visiting the Villa Cimbrone, which has pergolas full of wisteria. It’s absolutely heavenly when they’re blooming! The wisteria usually blooms from the end of March to beginning of April, depending on the spring weather.

 

Enjoy the Crisp Colors on a Ferry Ride

Amalfi Ferry - Amalfi Coast in the Spring

Usually around Easter time (or earlier if April is late in the spring) the ferries start running on the Amalfi Coast. This is the best way to get around, especially between Amalfi and Positano. The colors in the spring are often crisper than later in the summer when it tends to be more humid. So it’s a great time to get out your camera and enjoy the views of this gorgeous coastline from the sea.

 

Go Hiking Among the Flowers

Capri Spring Hiking - Amalfi Coast in the Spring

March and April are both great months for hiking on the Amalfi Coast, especially if you aren’t too fond of the heat. The ginestra (yellow broom flowers you can see in the photo above on Capri) starts blooming around this time, and the yellow flowers create quite a punch of color against the blue background of the sea and sky. Enjoy a hike in the mountains around Amalfi or why not tackle the incredible Pathway of the Gods above Positano? Or, if you’re looking for an stunning view without the hike, take the funicular up to Monte Solaro on Capri for the beautiful view above.

 

Get the Beach (Almost) to Yourself!

April Beach in Amalfi - Spring on the Amalfi Coast

When the sun comes out so do all the beach lovers! While the water might be a bit chilly for some people (including me!) this time of year, it’s definitely not for many people. Even if I don’t venture in very far in the spring, I love this time of year at the beach since it’s so much less crowded than the summer. The water is also incredibly clear and oh so tempting!

 

Easter in Amalfi

Neapolitan Pastiera Amalfi Coast

This year Pasqua (Easter) falls on Sunday, April 16th, which is the unofficial start of the season on the Amalfi Coast. If you’re visiting the area for Easter this year, be sure to arrive in time for Good Friday, which is when you’ll be able to experience the incredibly moving religious processions that take place on that day. One of the most impressive on the coast is in Amalfi, where a large procession takes place after dark. The city shuts off the lights in the piazza and it’s lit only by candles. You can get a glimpse of the procession in this video from a few years back.

While on the Amalfi Coast during Easter, don’t miss the chance to try the traditional Neapolitan pastiera. It’s a tart made with ricotta cheese, cooked wheat, eggs and candied orange peels. You’ll find it at every bakery during the Easter season, but my two favorite spots in Amalfi are Pasticceria Pansa or Pasticceria Leone. If you’re planning a visit to the Amalfi Coast this spring, I hope it’s a sweet one!

 

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala with View of Ravello

Trattoria da Lorenzo | Excellent Seafood Restaurant Overlooking Ravello

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala with View of Ravello

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala

For this month’s Italy Roundtable theme of Flavor, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite restaurants on the Amalfi Coast – Trattoria da Lorenzo. You’ll find it in Scala, just across the valley from Ravello. This restaurant has all the charms of a trattoria—friendly, family-run atmosphere and a lovely, rustic setting—but with a cuisine that you’ll be talking about long after your holiday! Add to that beautiful outdoor dining terrace with a view of Ravello and you can see why it’s one of my top choices for dining on the Amalfi Coast.

Lorenzo gives a hearty and warm greeting when you arrive, and is always on hand to help with menu suggestions and offer the best choices for the day. And since Trattoria da Lorenzo specializes in seafood, it’s a great idea to hear what the freshest options are direct from Lorenzo or his son Luca. Of course, for non seafood lovers, there are always options on hand, too!

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala Wine List

There’s also an excellent wine list, which includes choices from local wineries on the Amalfi Coast in Ravello, Tramonti and Furore. My recommendation would be to start out with their wonderful antipasto mix. Soon your table will be full of little plates full of seafood dishes to try – all cooked in a traditional Amalfi Coast manner. After that there are wonderful pasta and main course dishes with seafood options to choose from … if you still have room! I’ve never managed to get a photo of the delicious pasta dishes we’ve had at Trattoria da Lorenzo. I’m always far too excited to eat them when they arrive.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Seafood Restaurant Near Ravello

One of the charms of Trattoria da Lorenzo is its setting in Scala. If you haven’t explored this quiet little town, it is Ravello’s peaceful next door neighbor. The whole town has a much more rustic, mountain feel compared to Ravello. This is one of the reasons I love it so much. You’ll enjoy this vibe at Trattoria da Lorenzo, which feels like you’re stepping into a home setting from the moment you walk into the garden.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Charming Entrance

There’s a small dining area inside and a larger outdoor terrace at Trattoria da Lorenzo. This is the place for a lovely outdoor dining experience. They’re even well equipped with blankets should the evening be a little chilly.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Rustic Style Building

The restaurant entrance opens to a beautiful garden with a sitting area underneath olive trees. At night the area is lit by white lights in the olive trees, adding the perfect romantic touch! With this great indoor and outdoor setting, Trattoria da Lorenzo is also a great spot if you’re planning a private family gathering, ceremony or event.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Garden with Olive Trees

Trattoria da Lorenzo is open seasonally from Tuesday to Sunday, but it’s always best to call in advance for reservations. Or you can make a reservation online here.

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala

Trattoria da Lorenzo
www.trattoriadalorenzo.com
Via Fra Gerardo Sasso 21
Scala, Italy
Tel: 089 858290

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

italy-blogging-roundtable
This blog post is part of a monthly series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme. You can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Flavor – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

Bleeding EspressoFlavors of Calabria: Amarelli Licorice 

Brigolante – Local Flavor: Best Restaurants in Assisi

Girl in Florence – Barely Bigger Than A Breath, Tiny Spaces That Pack A Punch in Florence

ItalofileFive Favorite Flavors From Ferrara and Modena

Italy Explained7 of Italy’s Weirdest Foods