Insta-Bergamo

Happy new year! 🙂

I didn’t post so much lately, but I went back to Italy to celebrate Christmas with my family and friends, and, as I took a walk in the old part of Bergamo, known as Cittá alta, I took some pictures and spammed Instagram 😛
I want to share them to show how beautiful Cittá alta is. I met many tourists that drove straight from Bergamo airport to Milano or Garda lake, overseeing this beautiful medieval jewel. I know that I’m not impartial, but the few that listened to me and spent some time there, didn’t regret it 🙂

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Bergamo

I took this pics in Bergamo.
I like the one with the French couple taking a picture. There’s noting special about it, but I really like it 🙂 In the background you can see the Medieval part of Bergamo.

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Italy’s independence in postwar photography

An article by Rena Silverman published on Lens, a The New York Times’ blog.

The Italian photographer Ugo Zovetti was known for his sense of realism. In a 1958 photograph, he captured a group of four street musicians, all wearing signs around their necks that declare, “BLIND.” It’s reminiscent of Paul Strand’s “Blind Woman,” a 1969 photo that shows the subject’s affected eye and evokes sympathy. The blind men in Zovetti’s image, in contrast, are simply playing on the street.

A picture like that reminds us of Neo-Realism (Neorealismo), the important Italian film movement from the same era, which is evident in “Mid-Century Postwar Italian Photography,” currently on exhibit at the Keith De Lellis Gallery in Manhattan.

“There are parallels between Italian photography and film, whether you are just looking at the subject matter or the way the photographs themselves look,” said Beth Iskander, vice president and senior specialist of photographs at Sotheby’s, who cited Vittorio De Sica’s “The Bicycle Thief” (1948) as an example. “All of these had to do with Italy’s sense of place in the world. Poverty and jobless, and the importance of the land.”

Unlike its prewar isolation, Italy’s chaotic postwar climate allowed for creative independence. For photography, this meant there were no formal schools, but important amateur photo clubs that started to form in the late 1940s, like La Bussola, La Gondola and La FIAF (Federazione Italiana Associazioni Fotografiche).

“The common basis for us young people at that time who chose photography as a means of expression was the desire to break with the past aesthetics and to propose a new point of view,” said Nino Migliori, who has two photographs in the show.

Looking at the exhibition, it is impossible to ignore the similarities among the 34 silver-gelatin prints, even if they are by 27 artists. They share a striking sense of graphic experimentation, where many frames are filled with vast white space and mere specks of sharp, black figures.

Gianni Ranati’s “Il Palloncino Rosso” (“The Red Balloon”) is a vertical photograph with over 95 percent white sky. Three small dark figures stare up from the bottom of the frame at a grayish balloon, which is seconds from floating up past the edge of the moment. Meanwhile, Vittorio Ronconi’s “Bonaccia” (“Dead Calm”) is a high-contrast print, almost completely white, except for a small black ship just to the right of the center and what looks like a buoy to its left.

Others are just as technical in composition, but without the white space. The show’s poster is a photograph of St. Mark’s Square in Venice by Gianni Berengo Gardin. Shot from above, this is a scene of two ant-size figures walking single file, traversing the frame in pouring rain. The first figure leans into an umbrella. A moiré of rainwater coats the ground. It is a dreary, beautiful scene full of off-whites, grays and blacks. It is sharp in focus, but soft in tone.

The photograph was taken in 1959 before Mr. Berengo Gardin called himself a professional photographer. He would later be exposed to the works of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans because of an uncle who had worked at the International Center of Photography in New York. Upon hearing about his nephew’s growing fascination with photography, the uncle asked Cornell Capa, then the director of the I.C.P., to send some photo books to Italy.

Now in his mid-80s, Mr. Berengo Gardin has many books, a World Press Photo award and a Lucie Award under his belt.

Other images in the De Lellis exhibition maintain a similar scale of small figure to large space, but have a greater emphasis on the land. Guido Fumo’s “Paesaggio” (“Landscape”) shows a few shades of farmland with four tiny, scattered sheep. Only after looking for a few moments will you spy a small person at the frame’s bottom.

According to Ms. Iskander, these scenes where a figure is flanked by road or farm are hallmarks of Italian photography, particularly that which came before the mid-1970s.

“The land is important to Italians. They seek substance from it,” she said. “There is a real sense of place with these images.”

Even the street scenes in the exhibition — though captured with a tighter lens — show a sense of place. Bicycles whirling through the frame, past the point of exposure, leave only the setting in focus. But there are also snapshots of everyday Italian culture: photographs of street musicians, people going to work, children and nuns, lovers at night, cars, canals and marching bands.

Short-lived but highly influential, this postwar movement was somewhat of a reaction against fascism and the associated aesthetic values. Artists wanted to move away from heroic propaganda and ideology and instead focus more on the reality of the situation — in this case, a reconstruction period of social, political and industrial change.

One of Mr. Miglioro’s photographs, “Venezia,” is a square cut into vertical thirds. There is a wall on the left, a canal in the middle and a group of stacked posters advertising Kranebet liquor and Persil laundry detergent on the right. He took this image in Venice near Ponto del Lovo, where he often traveled with other artists to visit Peggy Guggenheim’s house.

“This photograph reveals my taste, likings and ideas,” Mr. Migliori said from his studio in Bologna, the city where he was born. “I liked this view where you can appreciate the commonplace of the Venice canals together with walls scraped by the passage of time and those discordant posters on the right. It shows everything far from the stereotypic views of that famous town.”

Mr. Migliori is in his late 80s, but he still photographs actively. “I have a lot of projects to realize,” he said. “I need at least 30 years or more!”

“Mid-Century Postwar Italian Photography” is on exhibit at the Keith De Lellis Gallery in Manhattan and will up until May 17.

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Santa Maria del Fiore

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I remember, when I studied the architecture of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, I thought “woooooow, I want to see it!”. I did see it and I can tell you, it was absolutely love at the first sight!!! It’s one of my favourite churches, architectonically speaking 🙂
National Geographic wrote a nice article about Brunelleschi’s dome. There’s a video as well, that describes how Brunelleschi (maybe) built it. If you like History of Art and Architecture, this dome is just a dream 🙂

Brunelleschi’s dome – Nat Geo

Everything about Mozzarella

Mozzarella: Everything about Mozzarella.

Mozzarella from A to Z, from Fine Dining Lovers:

Admit it, mozzarella is one of those things about Italy you just can’t resist, now your opportunity to find out everything about the delish cheese.

By Gabriele De Palma
Aversa
The Campano town of Aversa, near Caserta, has been a fundamental center for mozzarella since the time of Norman domination. This is still where the majority of buffalo mozzarella is produced.

Burrata
Very similar to mozzarella, burrata is made in the Puglia region. It’s a creamy whey cut by hand into threads, enclosed in mozzarella.

Consortium
The Consortium for the Protection of the Buffalo Cheese of Campania is the association that oversees the quality of buffalo mozzarella.

Dioxin
In March of 2008, the New York Times exposed the danger of dioxin contamination in mozzarella, caused by environmental pollution. Proven true, many countries blocked the importation. Italian authorities immediately revoked the contaminated products from the market and began a strict method of checks. The mozzarella industry quickly returned to its prior excellence.

Eggplant
One of the most beloved dishes in Italian cuisine is Eggplant Parmigiana: slices of eggplant are covered with mozzarella, tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, then baked in the oven.

Irresistible
Fiordilatte – Is a variant of mozzarella obtained from cow’s milk, coming from the regions of Puglia and Campania. Perfect for fillings and frying.

Goat
Goat’s milk mozzarella is made in very few dairies. As goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, many producers have begun increasing quantities. Called “caprotella” (capra the Italian word for goat), it’s light but also very flavorful.

Hand
Traditionally, mozzarella is cut by hand. In fact, it’s name comes from the verb “mozzare”, which means “to chop”. The technique is carried out by holding the cheese between the index and the thumb, and ripping off one section at a time.

Italy
Mozzarella is now produced in many countries, thanks to Italians who have emigrated abroad. The best in the world, however, is still made in Southern Italy, where it’s been made for centuries. Juncus – In the past, mozzarella used to be conserved in reeds and leaves and stored in rattan baskets.

Kusturica
In 2011, the famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica produced the film Mozzarella Stories directed by the young Italian director, Edoardo De Angelis.

Light
Mozzarella is rather high in calories. One hundred grams contains about 288 calories (for buffalo mozzarella), or 260 for the fiordilatte variant. Many producers make a “light” version weighing in at 170 calories per 100 grams.

Movie
Buffalo mozzarella is mentioned by the beloved film actor Totò in the film Miseria e Nobiltà by Mario Mattioli and To Rome With Love by Woody Allen.

Normans
According to some studies, mozzarella originated in Campania – not from the local people, but from the Normans who invaded Southern Italy in the 11th Century.

Oaxaca cheese
Dominican friars imported the mozzarella-making technique to the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Because they had no buffalo’s milk, they used normal dairy cow milk. While not the same, Oaxaca cheese is a distant cousin of mozzarella.

Pizza
Many restaurants use a mozzarella variant that contains less fat and water than traditional mozzarella, as it ensures easier cooking and a less soggy crust.

Quality
The quality of mozzarella is certified in Italy and Europe, according to many different standards and parameters that vary according to type of cheese and its origin. It’s also a product safeguarded by UNESCO.

Raw
Despite being used in many recipes where it undergoes cooking, the best way to enjoy a premium mozzarella is raw – garnished with just a drizzle of oil.

Sheep
In Sardegna, it’s common to find mozzarella made from sheep’s milk. Treccia – Mozzarella is commonly found in the shape of a treccia, or “braid”, in which the two ends of the cheese are woven together to form one long piece. Mozzarella in this shape can weigh up to 3 kg. U

Unapt
Mozzarella is sometimes used to describe someone unsuited for a task.

Venafro
There is just one place outside of the Campania region that can carry the DOP (of protected origin) label on Campana Buffalo mozzarella. It’s Venafro, a small village in the Molise region.

Water Buffalo
The most prized mozzarella comes from buffalo mozzarella milk. It was the Normans who brought these animals to the Campania region.

XVI century
The term “mozzarella” came into official use thanks to Bartolomeo Scappi, one of the most celebrated chefs of his time, who used the word in a recipe book in 1570.

Yesterday
In order to be enjoyed at its peak, mozzarella should be eaten the day it’s made – or at the latest, the day after. This is way for many centuries, it was only found in the regions that produce it.

Zizzona
In the Italian comedy Benvenuti al Sud the leading actor Claudio Bisio, invents a kind of mozzarella, which he calls the “Zizzona di Battipaglia”, which allegedly weighs an incredible 5 kg. After the film’s success, in 2012, the trademark Zizzona di Battipaglia was registered, for a brand that produces 800 g mozzarellas in the shape of a breast. In Italian, “zizza”, is a slang word for breasts.

A trip to Girona?

Congratulations to El Celler de Can Roca, that has been crowned Best Restaurant of the World 2013!

NOMA came second this year, which is not bad at all, but I can imagine, that it’s also frustrating when you are trying to improve yourself all the time.

Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy) came third. I hope it’ll improve again next year!:) I wouldn’t mind an Italian restaurant to be the best!:) It is on my “I want to eat there once” list. It’s not so far away from my hometown in Italy, and my husband is a cook, so I have plenty of good excuses to plan a visit to Osteria Francescana.

But I love Spanish food as well,  so I wouldn’t mind a trip to Girona!:)

 

Goodbye Rita Levi Montalcini

Great scientist and a great woman.

Addio Rita Levi Montalcini. Veramente una grande scienziata e una grande donna.

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