La Rocca

July 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

For the last two weekends we have visited our friends Michael Cartwright and Shona Nunan who live in Bagna di Lucca. They are both Artist’s who we have known from our student days. Nine years ago they relocated to Italy,   they followed their passion and live a life they love, its is great to be with them.

Bagni di Lucca also happens to be close by to “Rocca” where our dear (Melbourne friends) Aldo and Naomi Pierini originally came from. Actually Aldo from Rocca and Naomi from Borgo a Mozzano, un paese vicino. I think everybody who gets to know Aldo and Naomi falls in love with them!  Aldo is well known for his amazing wood carving and gilding.

On impulse I called Aldo ands said guess where I am?… I’m looking down upon the “fiume” river Lima in Bagni dig Lucca. Aldo told me he had not been well recently, but I could feel his excitement when he realised where I was,  close to where he was born.

He said I’ll call my “parenti”family in Rocca, you can go and meet with them. So the next day we set of to find “Rocca”. Dating back to the Middle ages  the village is built on a rocky outcropping, with the remains of an ancient fort atop the highest spot. We asked one of the locals and  were directed to Iliana Pierini house Aldo’s niece, we were invited in and shown out on to a terrace, it was hot and sweltering afternoon made pleasant by a breeze that came up from the valley below. We met with more of  Aldo’s delightful “Parenti” and drank wine with our Macedonia and gelato, later on we were taken on a walk around the village. In my heart I felt Aldo and Naomi where with me, my eyes contemplated their ancient and beloved birthplace. I am really glad we came.

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The Ancient Church of Chiesa di S.Maria Assunta “Rocca”Image

With Vincenzo atop the “Rocca” where once stood one of the communication towers [apparently in an earthquake the whole tower toppled down into the valley below] that date back to Roman times when news was sent across the mountains from tower to tower by what must be the precursor to morse code, using fire instead of radio bleeps.

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The bright beautiful splashes of colour that are carnations, found everywhere in Italy like the people themselves, hardy and frugal. ImageImage

The Rustic bell tower of the Church “Chiesa di S.Maria Assunta”.

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With Aldo’s parenti on the terrace overlooking the valley below a tuscan paradise, still wild and untamed.

Iliana told us these carved frames with photos of his parents, and base relief were some of Aldo’s first wood carvings.

Cave di Carrara

July 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The other day Alessandro who is the Grandson of our great friends Joe and Ivorna said to us to come up to the “Cave” (quarry) where he works Cave 89 way up above Fantiscritti, Cinzia and I decided we’d go up and have a look at the quality of the stone coming out of this quarry. To get there you make your way to Fanticscritti ( image coming when I find it) and then you keep climbing and its all in first gear! It is an awesome experience. The road up the mountain gets steeper and steeper, from the drivers seat it began to feel like I was driving on a giant dragons tail, a glance to the side reveals drops of hundred of meters!  To be honest I really began to shit myself! The dust, the savaged landscape, the huge trucks swinging around bends with drops of a hundred meters or more, it is “impressionante”!

We found our way into the quarry and found Alessandro who introduced us to Simone the Capo Cave, who spoke in the slow and deliberate manner of the Cavatore “Carririn”, measured solid like the mountains from which they draw their living from. These men move nonchalantly around the mountains, and it is an environment that to most people would find terrifying! It still is a dangerous job, when people get hurt it is often really bad, so a certain fatalism has been born into these two legged mountain goats. With my feet firmly planted on the marble backbone of these huge outcrops the Apuane Mountains, I felt a surge of emotion I relish being here…I feel part of something raw and powerful, Carrara is a place of tough bastards! As we bid our farewells Simone grabbed a bottle of Aqua Minerale out the back of his 4WD and gave it to us, it was what he had at hand, he wanted to give us something. Every day we experience generosity, acts of kindness that make being in Italy amazing!

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With Simone “Capo Cave” young man who runs the quarry. Looking at these images they do not convey how steep the roads are, you really should make a trip yourself here one day!ImageImage

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“Lanterne Del Desiderio”

July 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last night “Vitamina” organised and cooked for about twenty people as he loves to do, and I was on my second plate of spaghetti al frutti di mare, chunk of bread in hand mopping up the last of the “sugo” when our  attention was drawn to lights gently ascending into the night sky from the area over “centro storico” [the historic centre]. I left the table telling my friends I would soon be back and went into Piazza Alberica to see what was going on. It was the night of the “Lanterne del Desiderio” when you light a lantern and make a wish. Piazza Alberica was full with with Carrarini… out in force, music pounding away,  families and their children, young adults dancing, a marvellous event to have been part of. I’ll upgrade my blog and post a video I took.

 

 

Great day with Paul and Amanda

July 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

We picked Paul and Amanda Sumner up from Aeroporto di Pisa late in the evening and then drove to Pietrasanta, by the time we parked and walked into Piazza it was getting towards 11.00 pm, the night was warm and humid. This is the summer holiday period and Pietrasanta is buzzing with people, at the moment there are six monumental bronze sculptures by Fernando Botero in the piazza, “la bondanza” of his forms.. huge ample generous and affirming statements…I wanted to show Paul and Amanda this at night,  magical grazie a’ maestro Botero!  The Commune of Pietrsanta is honouring Botero with an exhibition of sculptures and drawings on his 80th Birthday and 35 years of years of “ativita”as a sculptor living and working in the city.

We had something to eat at the “Gatto Nero” just outside the city walls, after a little while all tired satiated and happy we autostraded back to Carrara agreeing to meet for an early breakfast and start to the day. Coffee and brioches we consumed perched on the roof top garden, all glass and spectacular views…the Apuane Mountains the quarries of Carrara. We started with a drive up the winding road to Campo Cecina the highest point, at the top Amanda exclaimed  WOW! what a place!  And it is incredible sight, these rugged mountains and their treasure of marble. It was hot in the valley but at the summit it was fresh, the moisture laden air became clouds licking over the plateau area below the pinnacle of Mt Sagro. On our descent we narrowly avoided jousting with a one of the huge trucks speeding to a quarry to reload another junk of the mountain. Into the Ravaccione and the magnificent epic devastation wrought by man on these noble mountains, giant steps cut and unbelievable quantities of rubble, Michelangelo himself trudged these parts! We went to Studio SGF where I am carving works for my show with Paul, a quick walk to Piazza Alberica the Doumo of Carrara [mentioned in 1035 AD], Piazza D’Armi the Academia and then lunch at Nerina’s. After back to Pietrasanta drinks with friends Michael Cartwright and Shona Nunan reading the sign where Michelangelo signed contract to supply marble for the San Lorenzo facade. We relaxed sipping on orange coloured Spritz Aperol’s before sprinting back to the Aeroporto di Pisa all leaning in the background terracotta roof Piazza die Miracoli out car side window.. appointment at Paris flight and goodbye to Paul and Amanda! Drove back to Carrara light headed, a full full day!

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View from Campo Cecina

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Carrara and Pietrasanta

July 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Getting out of Roma was like being in a Fellini move, we hired a car and ventured out into the morning melee, finally got onto the Viale Circolazione, which was choking with traffic, there had been an accident somewhere, behind us we could hear the shrill sound of an ambulance. In the rear view I could see it advancing slowly muscling its way through an impossibly packed road. Still it got past us somehow, the traffic began to move in its wake and finally we could got onto the A1 bound north for Toscana.

Four baking hours on the freeway later we arrived in Carrara and checked into Hotel Michelangelo and after freshening up made our towards the “Via del Caffaggio” where our dear friends the Ambrosini Family live, they are like family for us. We never tell them when we are coming we just arrive. How I can express what it has been for me to have had the privilege of being with them…very simply it is laughter and “mangiare” a gentle craziness. At the long wood table there is always Giorgio’s cousin Angelo [mad as a cut snake] he’s looking pretty mummified these days, due most probably to his hard drinking younger days, but not withstanding physical ailments lives his life with a joyous abandon.

Below “Il Caffaggio” have lived for long periods of time  in this part of Carrara.

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Giorgio’s wife Evorna after lunch, she’s just feed stack of sausages to Maja a neighbours dog!

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Duomo di Pietrasanta, I love this pulpit a virtuoso work by various Sculptors over different periods dating from the 1500’s

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Piazza Alberica in the evening

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Teatro Animosi Carrara, stones throw from where we are staying

Arrived Roma

July 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

Got into Roma around 9.00 in the evening checked into our Hotel showered and then set off for Augusto’s trattoria in Trastevere. I first went there decades ago when I was  student at the Academia Di Belli Arte. Sat  down and within minutes bread wine mineral water are slapped down on the paper covered circa 1950’s laminex table we are sitting at. A mature waitress wanders over to take our order she is chewing on a piece of bread, its hot and sweaty, we want the speciality “Coniglio alla cacciatora”, we hear in our heart Augusto’s sadly departed voice, he had a hairlip and spoke with that muffled inflection. He never cared a damn how he sounded, the way he would say Coniglio just cracked me up… I am sure he lives in the memory of the countless numbers who have made their way to this place, generous earthy warm and funny. The food is of the earth fresh, hearty, honest and great value. Simplicity, humility, beauty. goodness…. Italia Italia Italia!!! My heart sings with joy  being here, I add my voice to the millions whose souls have been rehabilitated in the arms of Italy, it makes you feel good about what it is to be human. And by the way the Coniglio is delicious!

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Augusto’s is hardly visible its underneath the vine growing over the front, i’ve been going back to this place for over thirty years!Image

I lived in Piazza di Renzi on the corner  in 1976 for 4 months and ate every day at Augusto’s, it was cheap then and remains inexpensive today.ImageWalking back from Trastevere over the Tevere, hot sticky bella RomaImageStayed at a hotel just around the corner from the Pantheon, awe inspiring Roman Architecture, testament to a people of bold vision.ImagePiazza delle Minervra Bernini is everywhere….!!!

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