Lunch at the Trattoria Clarice in Ancona

This unassuming little restaurant exemplifies the Italian talent for making something out of nothing, i.e. turning an alleyway between two blocks of flats into a charming little spot in which to eat your lunch.

A glimpse of sky

A glimpse of sky

The tall buildings somehow emphasise the brilliant Italian blue sky which you can just see between them.

We first spotted the Clarice when walking up the Corso Mazzini from the sea. In those days,  by the time we had got out of the airport, it was too late for lunch. Lots of places were shut, and although I Tigli, our then favourite in Corinaldo, our home town,  would have served us, they were shut on Monday. As we wandered disconsolately around Ancona in the heat, we spotted this sign.

Trattoria Clarice. The surroundings didn't look very prepossessing.

Trattoria Clarice. The surroundings didn’t look very prepossessing.

We turned down the little alley behind the sign, found the trattoria and asked doubtfully “Servite pranzo (Are you serving lunch)? ” “Come no (Of course)!” the waiter replied and we sat down. By that time they didn’t have a lot left, but the seafood spaghetti was fine. NB If you don’t like dried chilli flakes, have something else, or ask for “senza peperoncini”.

The Chelsea Fan noticed a framed newspaper cutting about football on the wall inside and on enquiry was told that the place had been founded by the present proprietor’s grandfather, who played for a famous Italian team – he can’t now remember which. When I tried to check this on the Web I couldn’t find anything about a footballer, but I pass it on anyway. I also found two different stories about the restaurant’s history. However, it is definitely over 60 years old and situated in the former Jewish ghetto.

We last ate there in May, after our trip to Sirolo with Angela. By the time we left Sirolo it was quite late, and we were glad to know that we’d be able to eat at Clarice’s.

I thought the little fountain on the wall of the watering-hole opposite, the Liberty Cocktail Lounge, was particularly charming. Actually the Cocktail Lounge looks quite charming too, but it’s always about to close when we arrive.

Fountain on the wall of the Liberty Cocktail Lounge

I wonder what those drinks taste like?

I was impressed by the attractive way the tagliere was served. It tasted good too.

Tagliere at the Trattoria Clarice

I had already started on the olives.

As usual in May, they were serving fresh raw broad beans (fave), delicious when they’re young and tender. At a guess I’d identify the salumi, clockwise from left, as prosciutto, lonza, ciauscolo (spreadable cross between salami and paté), salami of some kind and salami Fabriano, the local salami from the town of Fabriano. The cheese is probably a more mature pecorino on the left, and a pecorino fresco on the right.

This was our starter, after which I had a seafood pasta dish and the Chelsea Fan had an excellent steak. Coffee to finish.

After this we thought we’d see if there were any exhibitions on at the Mole Vanvitelliana, aka the Lazzaretto, a cultural centre,

Mole Vanvitelliana

Mole Vanvitelliana.By Ludushka (Own work)

but in these days of austerity there didn’t seem to be anything. In many ways Ancona is an attractive historic city, but somehow the shopping centre is lacking pleasant places to sit and relax or stroll, though it has improved since some of the main thoroughfares were pedestrianised.  You can always go to the Passetto,

Passetto (2)

Passetto by Claudio.stanco (Own work)

 with its war memorial and sea view, but that is not convenient for the shopping centre. So we decided to go home.

 

 

Posted in Ancona, Where to eat | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

News from the court of Urbino and Giovanni Santi

The latest from the court of Urbino is that the 14 uomini illustri are back! It’s their first visit to their true home since 1633.

14 portraits of illustrious men, from Duke Federico’s studiolo, have been returned temporarily from the Louvre to the Palazzo Ducale and reunited with the other 14, which have been in the Palazzo Ducale since 1952, accompanied by rather depressing black and white photographs of the portraits of their erstwhile companions.

The story of these portraits is typical of the despoliation of Federico’s collections after Montefeltro came under direct papal rule in 1631. In 1633 the papal legate Cardinal Antonio Barberini helped himself to the 28 portraits. 14 of them underwent numerous vicissitudes until Napoleon III bought them in 1861 and sent them to the Louvre, where they have remained. The Italian state bought the other 14 in 1934 and eventually returned them to the Palazzo Ducale.

Scientific examinations of the paintings and a comparison with Justus’s “Communion of the Apostles” has shown that the portraits are the work of Justus and another artist, conjectured to be Pedro Berruguete.  For me, their interest is in  what the portraits tell us about Federico, bearing in mind that this was a private room which reflected his personal taste. Here is the Renaissance man, student as well as warrior, learned in pagan and Christian culture, respecting “philosophers, poets and all the doctors of the Church both Greek and Latin”, as Vespasiano da Bisticci, Federico’s bookseller, put it in his biography of the Duke.

Aristotle by Justus of Ghent (Joos van Wassenhove) and Pedro Berruguete. C

Aristotle by Justus of Ghent (Joos van Wassenhove) and/or Pedro Berruguete.

King Solomon by Justus of Ghent and/or Pedro Berruguete. Urbino, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche.

King Solomon by Justus of Ghent and/or Pedro Berruguete. Urbino, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche.

Among the portraits is the one of King Solomon (above), whom presumably Federico  wanted to emulate. I like to imagine him reading Solomon’s prayer on his accession, when God said “Ask what I shall give thee”. Solomon responded: “And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king … and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in … Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad…”(1 Kings 3 vv 7-9). 

Federico also included portraits of men who had been important in his life.

Vittorino Feltre by Justus of Ghent and/or Pedro Berruguete

Vittorino Feltre by Justus of Ghent and/or Pedro Berruguete. Paris, Louvre.

For two years Federico had been a boy hostage at the Gonzaga court of Mantua, where he studied under Feltre, humanist and tutor to the Gonzaga children.

For a virtual visit to the studiolo, go to my fellow blogger Accurimbono’s blog, where you will find a link to the virtual gallery which he has compiled of the intarsie (trompe-l’oeil wood inlays) and the portraits of illustrious men.

Included in the exhibition organised to celebrate the return of the uomini illustri is this portrait of Federico’s son Guidubaldo, who has also temporarily returned to his true home from the Colonna Gallery in Rome. (The Colonna family inherited half of the Barberini estate.)

Guidubaldo di Montefeltro by Bartolomeo della Gatta 1448-1502.jpg

Guidubaldo di Montefeltro by Bartolomeo della Gatta 1448-1502.

What has dear old Mr Santi to do with the uomini illustri, and what news do we have of him?  His news is that he has painted a picture you didn’t know about, which is included in the current exhibition alongside the studiolo. In other words, the exhibition curators have taken the opportunity to hang a work which has been re-attributed to Giovanni Santi. The suggestion is that it is a copy by Santi of part of Justus’ larger work, The Communion of the Apostles.If this attribution is correct, it was a shame Santi wasted his time copying from an artist who was no better than him.

Christ giving communion to St Peter attr. Giovanni Santi

Christ giving communion to St Peter attr. Giovanni Santi

In any case, a good number of his paintings are on display in the Palazzo Ducale and I had already decided to visit the gallery and have a look at them even before I knew about the studiolo exhibition.

St James, St Jude and St Philip by Giovanni Santi

St James, St Jude and St Philip by Giovanni Santi .Thanks to the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali.

St John and St Matthew by Giovanni Santi

St John and St Matthew by Giovanni Santi.Thanks to the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali.

These pictures were at one time in Urbino’s Duomo. Agnese Vastano in Rafaello e Urbino, the catalogue of the eponymous 2009 exhibition (Electa, 2009), points out Piero della Francesca’s influence in the shell-shaped niches behind the saints, surmounted by scallop-shells, a reference to the so-called Brera altarpiece, or Pala Montefeltro,

Piero della Francesca:

Piero della Francesca: Pala Montefeltro

which used to hang in San Bernardino degli Zoccolanti, the Montefeltro mausoleum, until Napoleon had the painting removed.

Also in the Palazzo Ducale is the Pala Buffi, or Buffi altarpiece from the altar of St Sebastian in the church of St Francis in Urbino.

Giovanni Santi: Buffi altarpiece for the church of San Francesco in Urbino, now in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. Thanks to the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali.

Giovanni Santi: Buffi altarpiece for the church of San Francesco in Urbino, now in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. Thanks to the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali.

I love the Buffi child in the bottom right corner, and the stone elegantly perched on St Sebastian’s halo. The other saints are, from left, St John the Baptist, declaring baby Jesus to be the Lamb of God, St Francis, displaying his stigmata, and St Jerome with a stylus, resting his hand on two books to show that he is a learned sort of chap, a Doctor of the Church and translator of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). Where is Jerome’s lion? If you can see it lurking somewhere, please comment. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Santi’s son Raphael re-used the crown in his Baronci altarpiece, The Coronation of St Nicholas of Tolentino.

This was the last painting we had time for before the gallery closed.

Giovanni Santi: Lamentation over the Dead Christ. Thanks to 1st Art Gallery.

Giovanni Santi: Lamentation over the Dead Christ. Thanks to 1st Art Gallery.

One of the custodians was starting to get a bit worried. He told us that he could see we were serious, and he didn’t want us to miss the rest of the collection, because it was nearly closing time. We thanked him for his kind concern and assured him we’d be back. There’s always something new to see in Urbino!

Posted in Giovanni Santi, History of Art, Museum, Religious art, Renaissance paintings, Urbino | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Englishwoman looks at the work of Mirella Bentivoglio and Nori de’ Nobili at Ripe

We picked up this leaflet at the IAT (Tourist Information Office) in Corinaldo, and thought it looked interesting.

Mirella Bentivoglio exhibition

Mirella Bentivoglio exhibition

Ripe is our neighbouring town; it’s part of the comune of Trecastelli, i.e. the towns of Ripe, Castel Colonna and Monterado, all which have fine Rocche or castles.

Ripe piazza showing the Rocca

Ripe piazza showing the Rocca

We already knew something about Nori de’ Nobili’s work, as her pictures used to be in Corinaldo, but they have been given a fine new home in Ripe

Museo Nori de' Nobili

Museo Nori de’ Nobili

which we tried to visit, but was, of course, chiuso (shut).

Not very convenient

Not very convenient

When I’m in Italy I often think of the old man in “The Return of the King” (vol 3 of JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”) who says gloomily “The way is shut” and then falls dead. (Chapter 3 page 71 of my mother’s Allen and Unwin hardback edition, which I adopted many years ago.) But I digress.

The Museum was certainly open for the inaugurazione and buzzing with life and visitors. Again we were grateful for the local custom of not having a private view, but inviting all and sundry (that’s us) to the launch. As we approached, we saw that reproductions of Bentivoglio’s work were being projected on to the façade of the museum.

Projection of Bentivoglio's work on to Museo Nori de Nobili Ripe Projection of Bentivoglio's work on to Museo Nori de Nobili Ripe Projection of Bentivoglio's work on to Museo Nori de Nobili Ripe Projection of Bentivoglio's work on to Museo Nori de Nobili Projection of Bentivoglio's work on to Museo Nori de Nobili Projection of Bentivoglio's work on to Museo Nori de Nobili

From the projections you can get a good idea of the artist’s work; she is a “visual poet” and uses sculpture as well as 2-D work to create her poems. Many of her works are jokey puns or visualisations, like this one:

The obedient consumer's heart

The obedient [female] consumer’s heart. Thanks to the comune of Trecastelli.

or this one:

Mirella Bentivoglio mask and strings - or are they?

Mirella Bentivoglio mask and strings – or are they? Thanks to the comune of Trecastelli.

The mask is the letter B, the first letter of Bentivoglio, and the strings are “entivoglio”, the remaining letters of her surname.

Here are photographs of two of her sculptures.

L'ovo di Gubbio

L’ovo di Gubbio, 1976

 

The egg broke on 28 October 2004. Thanks to the website Eugubini nel mondo for the information.

Il libro campo or The field book

Il libro campo or The field book

I leave it to you to decide what they mean.

Bentivoglio is a committed feminist; she organised an all-women exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1978. Hence her work is appropriate for the Museo Nori de’ Nobili, which is “dedicated to the documentation of women’s creativity in the twentieth century”. (Quote from the exhibition leaflet.)

In due course the guests assembled for the speeches. All the women were smartly turned out, as usual.

Speeches at the Bentivoglio exhibition launch.

Speeches at the Bentivoglio exhibition launch.

After the speeches we were invited to partake of the buffet, which consisted of wine, soft drinks and small eats. The bottles of wine were just there and you could help yourself. No-one got drunk.

Buffet at the back of the building at the Bentivoglio launch.

Buffet at the back of the building at the Bentivoglio launch.

The curatrice, Simona Zava, gave a guided tour of the exhibition to those who were interested. I thought this was a good idea and one that English organisers of private views would do well to follow. Certainly her explanations helped one to spot hidden (to me, anyway!) gems within the works.

Guided tour of the Bentivoglio exhibition.

Guided tour of the Bentivoglio exhibition.

At the entrance/exit of the exhibition was a poster with a photograph of the artist herself. As we walked out past Bentivoglio, we felt amazed and impressed that the works of a world-class artist were on show in a small provincial town.

Poster with photograph of Bentivoglio

Poster with photograph of Bentivoglio

Nori de’ Nobili (1902-1968), the permanent collection of whose work is exhibited upstairs, could not be a greater contrast to Bentivoglio. Poor woman, she had a tragic life. Having spent much of her childhood in Brugnetto di Ripe, in 1924, when she was 22, the family moved to Florence, where, accoding to the Museum’s website, she moved in artistic circles, associating with the Macchiaiolo (Florentine artistic movement not dissimilar to the Pointillistes) Ludovico Tommasi, and the “Strapaese” artists Ottone Rosai and Mino Maccari, and developing her own work. Her parents, perhaps concerned about her lifestyle and her lack of interest in marriage to a “suitable” man, suddenly removed her from this environment, which removal upset her so much that she was shut up in a “clinic” in Bologna. She spent the rest of her life locked away in one clinic after another, until she died of cancer in 1968. In these clinics she continued to paint, mostly self-portraits and occasionally paintings of the other inmates. For more detail see the Museum’s website.http://www.museonoridenobili.it/nori-de-nobili/

The young Nori

The young Nori

Three sad self-portraits by Nori

Three sad self-portraits by Nori

Really there’s nothing more to say after that.

Posted in 20th century art, 21st century Art, History of Art, Private Views, Vernici di artisti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dopo tre anni riaprirà la Domus Repubblicana nell’area archeologica di Castelleone

Dopo tre anni riaprirà la Domus Repubblicana nell’area archeologica di Castelleone.

Era ora! About time! See my posts Suasa and Suasa update.

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The Englishwoman visits Sirolo and meets another blogger

My Italian friend and fellow blogger Angela kindly took the Chelsea Fan and me round this modestly charming seaside resort, to the south-east of Monte Conero and in the regional Parco del Conero. Sirolo is also an ancient citadel against pirates and other maritime marauders.

It’s easy when you visit a seaside place to stop at the main square or the promenade, mingle with the crowds, enjoy the view, perhaps have an ice-cream, and move on. Usually you don’t get much sense of the place – just another resort. In Le Marche, if you want to go to the beach, try a place like Sirolo, Senigallia or Fano which has a “centro storico”. That way, you can enjoy strolling round and getting the atmosphere of the place. If your children are with you, make an ice-cream and/or drink the excuse for your wander. You can often find charming, less crowded caffè-bars away from the sea. That said, if you want to swim, Sirolo is on a cliff top high above the beaches, which you scramble down to along steep paths. You can always take the short walk to Numana, where the beaches are more accessible, and explore Sirolo before and after your swim.

Shady walk just off the main square in Sirolo

Shady walk just off the main square in Sirolo

As you would expect of a citadel, there are wonderful views – no pirate ships in sight, though.

Sirolo view looking north

Sirolo view looking north

 

Sirolo - view from the walk.

Sirolo – view from the walk.

 

Sirolo - view from the walk looking north-west-ish.

Sirolo – view from the walk looking north-west-ish.

I like this photograph because it gives you an idea of Sirolo’s hinterland.

When we could tear ourselves away from the views, we were lucky enough to have Angela as our guide through the warren of ancient streets which give Sirolo its extra charm.

Quaint glimpse of an old street in Sirolo

Quaint glimpse of an old street in Sirolo

 

Love the colours of these houses.

Love the colours of these houses.

 

 More brightly coloured houses

More brightly coloured houses

 

Street and countryside

Street and countryside

These narrow streets ending with a glimpse of green hills and blue sky are very characteristic of the hill-towns of Le Marche. You find similar effects in San Lorenzo in Campo and Fossombrone.

We remembered that we needed to get some money out of the Bancomat, which fortunately is just by the so-called Gothic arch, a sight which takes you back into Sirolo’s mediaeval past.

Sirolo's Gothic arch

 

Gothic arch from another angle

Gothic arch from another angle

 

 

Information about the arch.

Information about the arch.

According to this plaque, the communal arch, or castle gateway, was built in 1050. Interestingly, the conditions, on which Francesco Urbani was allowed to rent the arch from the comune in 1707, show that the Turks were still considered a threat to the coast: if the Turks should disembark and approach the walls, Urbani was to allow the soldiers to go to the arch to defend the place.

 

The other side of the arch.

The other side of the arch.

Note the flag of the contrada (district). There has probably been, or will soon be, a local festa involving an intra-communal welly-whanging contest – or perhaps something a bit more cultural and highbrow, such as archery or flag-waving.

We then left the old town to visit the former Franciscan friary, where St Francis himself is said to have planted two elms which are still there. Along the line of the old walls  we saw this fine row of ancient buildings

Teatro Cortesi and town gate - or is it?

Teatro Cortesi and town gate – or is it?

including this structure

Ancient and modern

Ancient and modern

and the Teatro Cortesi, one of Le Marche’s famously many charming small theatres. It was being well used by a young musicians’ competition.

Teatro Cortesi

Teatro Cortesi

 

Teatro Cortesi interior

Teatro Cortesi interior

Next door to the Teatro Cortesi, but hidden behind the trees in the picture above, is the Torrione, or big tower.

Torrione

Torrione

 

Torrione from the north

Torrione from the north

This is all that remains of the towers of Sirolo, built by the Conti Cortesi who ruled the city until 1225.

We walked on down Via San Francesco to the Villa Vetta Marina, the site of the Franciscan friary where St Francis planted the elms. On the way there are lots of elegant villas, nestled among the greenery.

Villa on way down from Sirolo centre to Villa Vetta marina

This chapel is attached to the villa.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Back of the chapel

Back of the chapel

We did manage to see St Francis’ elms, though we didn’t get a very good view of them.

St Francis' elms - a partial view!

St Francis’ elms – a partial view!

 

Topiary in front of the Villa Vetta Marina

Topiary in front of the Villa Vetta Marina

By now my regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that it was time for some refreshment! We headed back to a caffè in the piazza, where I had a frullata al melone (frullata can mean smoothie but this was an ice-cream shake).

The caffe' where we stopped for drinks

The caffe’ where we stopped for drinks

Obviously it was still the off-season, because when Angela explained she was in a bit of a hurry, our waitress looked worried and said they had four other tables. For about three staff we didn’t think five tables was excessively busy! But it’s all part of the charm of getting away from it all.

We also had a look at two local churches, but unfortunately they were too dark to photograph properly. I did get this shot, which reinforces the unhurried atmosphere of Sirolo.

Prices in lire.

Prices in lire.

Here are a few other attractive corners of Sirolo.

Covered alleyway

Covered alleyway

 

Pathway off Via San Francesco

Pathway off Via San Francesco

B&B The Dragonfly

B&B The Dragonfly

I’m really grateful to Angela for encouraging us to visit Sirolo and taking the time to show us round. Angela writes a blog too and here is the link to it: http://www.originalmarche.com

Posted in Hill towns, Monte Conero, St Francis | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Reconsidering Raphael’s Father By Roderick Conway Morris.

Reconsidering Raphael’s Father.

First published: International Herald Tribune © Roderick Conway Morris 1975-2013

An interesting article about Giovanni Santi. I went to the exhibition too!

Posted in History of Art, Religious art, Renaissance paintings | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Englishwoman visits the crypt of San Biagio at Serra Sant’Abbondio

This is the last stop in our journey along the River Cesano and the Romanesque churches linked by the ancient road which runs alongside the river. We’ve already visited San Gervasio di Bulgaria, San Lorenzo in Campo and San Vito sul Cesano. Have a look at my post on San Vito to see how these churches are, or were, linked.

San Biagio is different from the other sites, because it’s deep in the mountains. You can see how the peace and beauty of the countryside attracted monks to settle here, where they could pray undisturbed by the busy traffic of the lower Cesano valley. The river is hidden in a deep gorge here. A long way down to catch your Friday fish!

The River Cesano hidden by the trees of its gorge below the church of San Biagio.

The River Cesano almost hidden by the trees of its gorge below the church of San Biagio.

Before we got this far, however, we had come a very roundabout way. I assumed that the cemetery of Serra Sant’Abbondio, where the church of San Biagio is located, would be easy to find and so I hadn’t researched it very thoroughly. In fact the church is in the old cemetery, which is not clearly signed – why would it be? We stopped at a caffè outside the walls to buy a drink but really to enquire.

View of Serra Sant'Abbondio from the caffe'

View of Serra Sant’Abbondio from the caffe’

The customers and barmaid could not have been more helpful. It was 15 August, Ferragosto, the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin and a national holiday, but things seemed pretty quiet in Serra. The caffè was not very full or busy and no doubt we were a welcome distraction. First they explained to us that the church was in the old cemetery and how to get there, and then one young man went off to the Pro Loco (local civic association which often provides tourist information) to try and get hold of the key to the church. The Pro Loco had been open all day (bravi! giving up their holiday), but by the time we arrived it had only just closed, and our kind helper came back disappointed. We were frustrated too, as the church is known for its fine Romanesque crypt.

A lesson to me to ring in advance ( 0721 730657) and ask for the key another time. This is what I shall do next time we want to see inside an old church. No doubt I should have contacted the Mondolfo IAT (tourist information centre:  0721 939252) for San Gervasio, and the Pro Loco of San Lorenzo in Campo(0721 776479) for San Lorenzo and San Vito.

Off we went anyway to see the church and cemetery. The scenery was indeed spectacular,

View from the old cemetery of Serra Sant'Abbondio

View from the old cemetery of Serra Sant’Abbondio

and there was a deep sense of peace and holiness in and around the cemetery and the modest little chapel (as it turned out to be) of San Biagio.

Locked entrance to the crypt of San Biagio, Serra Sant'Abbondio. Strait is the gate!

Locked entrance to the crypt of San Biagio. “Strait is the gate!” (Gospel of Matthew chapter 7, verse 14.)

 

The chapel of San Biagio

The chapel of San Biagio

A farewell glimpse of the mountain scenery around Serra Sant'Abbondio

A farewell glimpse of the mountain scenery around Serra Sant’Abbondio.

 

Posted in Cesano Valley, Romanesque Churches, Valcesano | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment