Monday, August 23, 2010

Visit Casal Pilozzo

Casal Pilozzo, a property of the Pulcini family located in the village of Monte Porzio Catone, sits atop a marvelous hill just nine and a half miles south of Rome offering beautiful views of the Eternal City.
Considered one of the oldest farms of the Castelli Romani area, the Casale was built on the ruins of an ancient dwelling place thought by many scholars to be the residence of the sister and nephew of Emperor Traiano. Throughout the modern age, it has served as residence to many famous personalities, from the likes of Orson Welles to the families of Filonardi Brandi e Bottai and Tyrone Power.
The subsoil of the Casale features ancient tufa soil grottoes, extending for hundreds of meters, where the wines are stored to mature in natural conditions of stable temperature and humidity. Hidden in the depths of the cellars stands an ancient altar carved in the tufa soil. Some historians believe the cellars to be remnants of a cave-dwelling “protostorico” village.
The Casale stands in the center of the property, surrounded by a magnificent park and 13 hectares of volcanic land now cultivated for vineyards and olive groves. The pride of Casal Pilozzo remains the strictly biological cultivation and selection of wine grapes. Varieties include Malvasia del Lazio, Grechetto Antico, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlote, and Syrah.
The Vineyards and vinification, olive trees, and oil production are all personally controlled by the Pulcini family. This makes the Casal Pilozzo one of the few truly “family-run” operations, demonstrating in practice the very real possibility for creating high-quality products in coexistence with an environmentally friendly philosophy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Incantato Performance Venue: St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City confirmed for PC on May 22

Now if that is not the best way to start "dreaming" about the Providence College Italy Performance Tour 2011, by knowing already that you will be perfoming in the most important Catholic cathedral on May 22 at 5:30 pm.
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is located within the Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is the symbolic "Mother church" of the Catholic Church and is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".
In Catholic tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626.
St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions and for its historical associations. It is associated with the papacy, with the Counter-reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since the days of Ancient Rome, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering brains of the 16th century.
Incidentally there are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica, many located in the Vatican grotto, beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Incantato Destination: Monte Porzio Catone, Italy

Monte Porzio Catone is a municipality of the Province of Rome in the Italian Region of Latium and lies approximately twenty kilometers southeast of Rome in the Alban Hills. In addition to the Church of Saint Gregory the Great, erected in 1666 by Carlo Rainaldi for the Borghese family, ome of the town’s main attractions include the Astronomical Rome Observatory, the Museum of Wine, the City Museum, and the Iseo Alari Community School of Music.
The Astronomical Rome Observatory was built in 1939 and is located two kilometers from the city center. The structure rises from the remains of “Matilda’s Villa,” a first century Roman Villa. Originally built for the purpose of preserving the equipment of the National Observatory in Rome, the rationalist-style Astronomical Rome Observatory now promotes astronomic and scientific studies through educational initiatives and exchanges with schools and universities.
Opened in 2000, the Museum of Wine not only provides visitors with the highest quality wine tastings, but also takes guests through the process of creating wine. A tour of the museum teaches visitors, through the use of photos and demonstrations, the intricate steps of the wine production process. The museum even houses its own exclusive wine cellar.
The Monte Porzio City Museum is housed within a recently restored seventeenth century cathedral within the heart of the city. The museum illustrates the multi-thousand-year history of the city through such exhibitions as archeological findings, medieval papal pottery, and seventeenth century art.
The Iseo Ilari Community School of Music was founded by the Monte Porzio Catone City Administration in 1999. Through not only classes, but also performances and workshops, the school succeeds in encouraging social interaction and acceptance through the dissemination of music and cultural arts. The school, a recognized institution of the Italian Association of Schools of Music, currently offers studies in Classical Tradition and Music Performance.

For more information on Monte Porzio Catone, Italy, please visit:

Incantato Impressions: Rome

Fun Facts about Rome

  • Rome's early history is shrouded in legend. According to Roman tradition, the city was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC.
  • Due to this centrality on many levels, the city has been nicknamed "Caput Mundi" (Latin for "Capital of the World") and "The Eternal City".
  • Its rich artistic heritage and vast amount of ancient, notably architectural and archaeological sites, contribute to the city's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Rome is the third-most-visited tourist destination in the European Union.
  • The city is also an important worldwide hub of the cinematic and filming industry, home to the important and large Cinecittà Studios, which saw the filming of several internationally acclaimed movies as well as television programmes.
  • The Rome metropolitan area has a GDP of €109.4 billion (US$ 149.14), and according to a 2008 study, the city is the world's 35th richest city by purchasing power.
  • The city hosted the 1960 Olympic Games and is also an official candidate for the 2020 Olympic Games.
  • Rome is an important centre for music, and it has an intense musical scene, including several prestigious music conservatories and theatres. It hosts the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (founded in 1585), for which new concert halls have been built in the new Parco della Musica, one of the largest musical venues in the world.
  • A Jewish influence in the italian dishes can be seen, as Jews have lived in Rome since the 1st century BCE. Examples of these include "Saltimbocca alla Romana" - a veal cutlet, Roman-style; topped with raw ham and sage and simmered with white wine and butter - and "Carciofi alla giudia" - artichokes fried in olive oil, typical of Roman Jewish cooking.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tour the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museums are indisputably one of the finest collections of art in the world. Over the centuries, Papal patrons have commissioned renowned works such as the magnificent frescoes of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, and those by Raphael in his stanze. The museums also host some of the most important sculptures from the ancient world, such as the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvedere. Incantato Tours is thrilled to offer the Providence College Choir and friends the opportunity to see these works as they were originally viewed and contemplated by the Popes who created the Museums.
Incantato's visit to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel will be led by a specialized docent/expert
guide and is just open to members of your tour. We also provide headsets to everyone for a truly individual experience. This is an exceptional opportunity for an intimate visit and lecture on the Vatican and its impressive art collection without the press and chaos of the crowds. 
Please note that not all galleries will be accessible to us during this after hours visit. The Pinacoteca and Egyptian collections are not available for viewing after closing hours. The opportunity to view the Belvedere Courtyard is also dependent on the route the Vatican guards allow us to take. We normally spend a significant amount of time (35-40 minutes) inside the Sistine Chapel and divide the rest of our time between the Gallery of Maps, Tapestry Gallery, and Raphael Rooms, including other collections as time and security permits.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

City Facts about Florence

  • Florence is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants.
  • A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages.
  • The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
  • It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci.
  • Florence being historically the first home of Italian fashion is also home to the legendary Italian fashion establishment Salvatore Ferragamo, notable as one of the oldest and most famous Italian fashion houses.
  • Florence has been a setting for numerous works of fiction and movies, including the novels and associated films, such as "Hannibal", "A Room with a View", "Tea with Mussolini" and "Virgin Territory".
  • The city is one of the great wine-growing regions in the world. The Chianti region is just south of the city, and its Sangiovese grapes figure prominently not only in its Chianti Classico wines but also in many of the more recently developed Supertuscan blends.

Explore Tuscany with Incantato Tours

Tuscany is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of 22,990 square kilometres (8,880 sq mi) and a population of about 3.6 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.
Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in history, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums, most of which (such as the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace) are found in Florence, but others in towns and smaller villages. Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino). Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historical center of Florence (1982), the historical center of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical center of San Gimignano (1990), the historical center of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world.

Incantato Impressions: Calvi dell'Umbria

Visit Calvi dell'Umbria

Calvi dell'Umbria is a commune municipality in the Province of Terni in the Italian region Umbria, located about 40 miles south of Perugia and about 12 miles southwest of Terni. The area was inhabited in Roman times but failed to develop as an urban center until the High Middle Ages. Calvi was a fief of the Orsini and then of the Anguillara families. The main attractions are the church of Santa Maria, with an elegant Late Renaissance baptismal font, and the church of Sant'Antonio. The ruins of a convent erected by Saint Francis in the early 13th century can be found in the city.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Italian news: Who owns Michelangelo's "David"?

For 500 years, Michelangelo’s “David” has stood as a symbol of Florentine independence and virtue. However, following a recent report commissioned by the federal government shocked native Florentines by suggesting that Italy—not the city of Florence—was the rightful owner.
As local tempers flared, Florence’s Mayor Matteo Renzi defended the city’s ties to the famous statue.
“The ‘David’ is not an umbrella to be haggled over. It’s a monument in which the city of Florence still sees its identity,” says Renzi. “The sculpture has always and will always belong to Florence.”
Civic pride aside, the dispute over “David” also raises the question of who benefits from Italy’s cultural patrimony. More than one million people visited the Accademia Gallery in 2009 to see “David,” making it the fourth most visited cultural site in the country. Ticket sales exceeded $7 million with the benefits going to the federal Culture Ministry coffers.
Although the question of ownership and related issues surrounding “David” date back to previous administrations, the turning point culminated in early 2010 when the Culture Ministry commissioned a pair of lawyers to analyze official documents. A nine-page document written in dense legalese concludes that “David” belongs to the nation of Italy, the true legal successor of the Florentine Republic, who commissioned the statue in 1501.
Following its completion in 1504, the statue was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and placed in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, which still remains the civic heart of the city. 16th century Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari praised the sculpture by claiming that “whoever has seen this work need not trouble to see any other work executed in sculpture, either now in our own or in other times.” The sculpture remained there until 1873 when it was transferred to the Accademia in the Kingdom of Italy. Following the construction of a base for the massive work in 1877, the city could have advanced ownership rights but, according to the lawyers’ report, did not. Therefore, they say, the city has no grounds for claiming ownership.
The mayor, however, had documents of his own stating that Florence had been the capital of the former Kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1870, and “David” was part of the package deal that the kingdom offered the city when transferring the capital to Rome. Proof of ownership, he said, is in a document dated June 9, 1871, authorizing the transfer of ownership of several buildings to the city, including the Palazzo Vecchio where the statue stood at that time.
In an additional twist, Italian news outlets also reported that Simone Caffaz, the president of the Fine Arts Academy of Carrara, where the marble used for “David” was quarried, believed that Carrara also had the right to make its own claims on Michelangelo’s work.
“If the state and the city actually ever bring this issue to court, it will be terrible publicity for Florence,” fretted Gabriele Toccafondi, a member of Parliament and the local leader of the center-right People of Freedom Party. “People will see this as a sort of commedia all’Italiana.”
On a recent August weekday, dozens of tourists gaped and gawked at “David,” towering in his tribune at the Accademia.
Seeing “David” had definitely been “the highlight of this trip,” said Sorcha O’Keefe, a primary school teacher from Cork, Ireland. But the squabble over “David” made little sense to her. “I can’t see that it would matter who officially owns it, as long as it is there for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
An August 31, 2010 article in the New York Times further discusses the ongoing dispute.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Possible performance venue: Sant'Agnese in Agone, Rome

The Basilica Sant’Agnese in Agone in Rome was constructed in 1652 on the site of Saint Agnes’ martyrdom, now the location of the Piazza Navona. The designs for the Baroque church were commissioned by Pope Innocent X, whose funerary monument now lies within the church. The Pope’s family even had a large palace adjacent to the church. Baroque architect Francesco Borromini ultimately introduced a concave volume in the center of the sanctuary, creating prime acoustics for vocal music. Visitors enjoy the interior’s premier sculptural artwork, accented by the marble relief found in the main altar, as well as Bernini’s famous Fountain of the Four Rivers that lies in front of the church.