Isola San Giulio View. Church bell tower on the left.



Graffiti at Isola San Giulio, Lago Orta

Admittedly, unashamedly, Lago Orta in the lake region of Italy is one of my  favorite haunts. Isola San Giulio, located in the shadow of Madonna del Sasso high above the lake and just off shore of the village of Orto San Giulio, is a treasure.

It is not only the Way of Silence and the Way of Meditation which wend their way through the narrow lanes of the island that make this such a unique and memorable place; it is also the secrets of monks inside the Basilica di San Giulio which add intrigue and even some humor to the quiet meditative interior of the church.

Study the graffiti etched in to the frescoes on columns in the church and surprises await. Amidst the clutter of too many modern scars are Latin notes made by monks in centuries past.

“The weather is cold today.”
“Brother Paul is asleep.”
“I am bored.”
“The weather is cold today.”

It is as if the monks, bored, cold, jealous or otherwise distracted took advantage of early morning or evening services in the dark, shadowed corners of the basilica to add a note of discontent or criticism; no worries that the surface used were 15th or early 16th Century frescoes by artists of their day.


Graffiti scarred frescoes – Basilica di San Giulio

When you next visit the lake region, please take some time to visit this intriguing island in one of the least known lakes in Italy.


Isola San Giulio: Information about the lake area, hours for various visits and other helpful details.

Navigazione Lago d’Orta: Timetables and information about ferry schedules on Lake Orta.


Easter in Rome is one of the busiest times of the year.

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Interior, St. Peter’s Basilica

Keep in mind that if you are planning to be in Italy, in general, around Easter, that this is a very important holiday. Almost every museum, event venue and archaeological site is closed Good Friday through Easter Monday. The holiday weeks preceding and following the Easter weekend also are a challenge for tourism due to changing hours at those locations as well.

Here, for your use and reference, is a list of events currently planned in the city

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy (Holy) Thursday Mass 09:30AM St. Peter’s Basilica (Smaller crowd with better chance of closer proximity to the Pope) (Tickets Required)

Second Papal Mass of the day:  5:30pm, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Basilica of Saint John Lateran

Friday, April 14, 2017:

Good Friday procession from Colosseum to Palatine Hill

Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica 5:00PM (Tickets Required)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (Tickets Required)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square with the Pope – 10:15AM (Tickets Required)

“Urbi et Orbi” Blessing at 12:00PM Noon in St. Peter’s Square (No Tickets Required)

Vatican Web Site Calendar and other information.

Audience or Mass with the Pope: Information

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Crowd in St. Peter’s Square, Easter Celebration

For those of you who will be traveling in Florence in late March, please make note of the following world cultural conference to be held in the city. Hotel rooms are at a premium, if you can find them (!) and the city will be extremely busy.

An unprecedented culture-focused meeting of the seven major economies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States—will take place in the Tuscan capital on March 30-31. Discussions will center on the protection of cultural heritage, as announced by Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. Mayor Dario Nardella called the cultural summit “a recognition of the role that Florence plays in the world, and an important opportunity to demonstrate the best of Italian and Florentine culture at the international level.

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The program for the exhibit available from Casa Editrice Sillabe

The great treasure of the arts in Florence is shared in yet another unforgettable program at the Medici Riccardi Palace.

Artifacts and memories from the Flood of 1966, La Bellezza Salvata,  are shared in this exceptional show. From now until March 26, 2017, visitors can walk through the exhibition which showcases the commitment to “saving beauty” in the aftermath of that flood.

It was not only Cimabue’s Crucifix, Vasari’s Last Supper or the removal of oil damage to Taddeo Gaddi’s Last Supper that were restored.  As you stroll through the exhibit you are reminded of the tremendous work, which continues even to this day, involved in the restoration of the city’s nearly numberless and invaluable trove of artistic treasure.

This marvelous exhibit was inaugurated by the President of Tuscany (Enrico Rossi) and the Councillor delegate of the Metropolitan City of Florence, Benedetta Albanian. The exhibit is curated by Cristina Acidini e Elena Capretti.


Via Camillo Cavour, 3,

50129 Firenze, Italy


CLOSED Wednesday

Thursday – Tuesday 8:30AM – 7:00PM

Palazzo Medici Riccardi. "Firenze 1966 – 2016. La bellezza salvata"



Technology and gorgeous art come together once again in the de-consecrated church of Santa Stefano al Ponte in Florence. The church, located just steps from the northern edge of the Ponte Vecchio, is a fabulous location for the exhibit.

The Klimt Experience brings over 700 images, projected by 30 laser systems, in an intimate exploration of the artist’s work.

From The Kiss to Portrait of Adele Bach-Bauer, recently the subject of the book and film, Woman in Gold, the opportunity to see so much of Klimt’s work, even if only in very high quality photographs is a rare one. Gustav was a symbolist painter, a leader in the Viennese secession movement. He is known for his use of multiples types media to include gold leaf.

The Kiss, Gustav Klimt, The Klimt Experience


Period Clothing at the Klimt Experience

Period clothing along with other information about the artist and his time are shared as part of the show.

This is an interesting opportunity to learn more about a great late 19th Century, early 20th Century artist in the city of Renaissance art!

Tickets cost 13 euro for adults, 8 euro for children from 6 to 12, 10 euro for over 65s, students and COOP members.

Chiesa di Santa Stefano al Ponte

Piazza di Santo Stefano, 5

50122 Florence

Web Site

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, an enfant terrible and genius of the later Renaissance, is the subject of this fascinating exhibit at the Borghese Gallery in Rome.

The intent of this mostra is to better understand the work of Caravaggio in still life (natura morta) with “The Hartford Master”, a supposed and mysterious young painter who was believed to have been related to the 16th Century Roman School.


Still Life with Flowers and Basket of Fruit Caravaggio – 1601

The show was created to address a long standing controversy about some of the still life paintings in the Borghese Collection. Many attributions to some “Master of Hartford” are now posited to have been painted early in Caravaggio’s career. For the first time, forty of Caravaggio’s masterpieces are displayed with in depth essay-like approaches to the comparisons of work, style, type of paint and approach to the art.

Who was the Hartford Master and is it true that the works attributed to him are actually early works by Caravaggio? The show presents interesting and intellectually challenging approaches in answer to that question.

Works like Bacco Malato (Self Portrait as Bacchus) – below – are contrasted with works that Caravaggio painted in both the latter 1600’s with those of the early 1700’s.

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Bacco Malato, Caravaggio


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Hartford Master (attribution), Basket of Fruit

Also, a treasure of Caravaggio’s work, Basket of Fruit, on loan for the first time from the Ambrosiana in Milan, is showcased in the exhibit.

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Basket of Fruit, Caravaggio – On exhibit loan from the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milano

If you are in Florence or Naples/Amalfi Coast-or Rome-you can easily visit this exhibit in a day. Please see notes about ticketing below.

I have included a *.pdf file about the exhibit. Just click on the document cover below to download the English version and read at your leisure. Fascinating.

In a word? Go! This is a rare opportunity to view such a collection in one place – and you can hardly have a more gorgeous venue than the Galleria Borghese.

Exhibit concludes on February 19, 2017.


Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

NOTE: You MUST purchase your tickets prior to arriving at the Villa Borghese. Only pre paid voucher holders will be issued tickets for your visit.


Eurostar Italia trains run frequently  between these two cities and Rome. The trip between Florence and Rome is one hour and fifteen minutes, between Naples and Rome one hour and twenty minutes. You can take an early train, visit the Borghese – and other sites if you wish – and be back in either city in time for dinner. You can use the English version of the TrenItalia web site to check train time and pricing.

TrenItalia Web Site

Her name is, indeed, a ‘tongue twister’; Artemisia Gentileschi. (1593 – 1656)

An incredible exhibit featuring a large and rare collection of her work opened on November 30, 2016 at the Palazzo Braschi in Rome titled, “Artemisia Gentileschi and Her Times.”

Thirty masterpieces by this recently rediscovered female painter have been brought together for the first time. The collection shares a unique perspective on the her time and  life story.

She is an artist we study during my Art and History of Renaissance Italy classes. A woman apart; strong, defiant, driven and immensely talented.

Not only was it unusual for a woman to be recognized as worthy of note during the Renaissance, this particular artist took on the male establishment of Rome and won.

Her father, Orazio Gentileschi, was a painter of note in Rome. Agostino Tassi was one of Orazio’s compatriots, along with Caravaggio. In the course of their close artistic associations, Tassi raped Artemisia.

Not one to shy from the wrong done her, she charged Tassi with sexual assault. After seven long and difficult months, Artemisia won her case. The emotional toll on her was deep. Following the resolution of the case, I believe that some of her work exhibits a visual retaliation for Tassi’s attack.


Self Portrait as a Lute Player ca. 1617

There are three known self portraits of Artemisia. The one above was completed shortly after her marriage to a Florentine painter, Peter Antonio Stiattesi. I have wondered if the shape of her fingers, particularly those on the left hand, show the effect of sibille. These were a torture device used during the case against Tassi; metal rings were placed around her fingers and increasingly tightened during court proceedings to encourage truth in testimony.

A Florentine by birth, Stiattesi and his bride moved to Florence where she worked for a number of years, most notably commissioned by Grand Duke Cosimo II.

Judith and Holofernes?

The biblical story of Judith taking the life of the Assyrian general Holofernes, in particular, was a subject of her intense interest. She completed two works about this strong woman; Judith Beheading Holofernes (1612-Called “The Naples“) and Judith Slaying Holofernes (1620). The paintings depict the biblical story of Judith who, after secreting herself and her maidservant into the enemy camp, tempts the Assyrian King Holofernes with sexual favors, gets him drunk and then beheads him. Judith returns with the severed head of the king and the Jewish forces win the day.

Dark? Absolutely. Emotional? Clearly. I visualize Artemisia in her studio venting every ounce of her anger at her male dominated society on these canvases. Muscle tension, the force of the sword, the intensity of both Judith’s and her handmaiden’s faces during the brutal act all communicate anger, control, focus and approaching victory.

The breadth and scope of Artemisia’s work goes well beyond these two masterpieces. Over thirty canvases grace this incredible exhibit at the Braschi in Rome.

When you are next in Rome, and before the conclusion of the exhibit on May 7,2017,  please take time to visit and study the work of an immensely talented artist.


Artemisia Gentileschi and Her Times (in Italian only)

Palazzo Braschi – Museo di Roma

Piazza di S. Pantaleo, 10

00186 Roma, Italy

Hours: Sunday – Saturday 9:00AM – 7:00PM

Tel: +39 06 0608


A sample of other works by Artemisia Gentileschi:

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Madonna col Bambino   1610

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Susanna and the Elders  1610

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Allegory of Inclination  1615

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Jael and Sisera   1620

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Esther and Ahasuerus   1630

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