Paris has been coming at me so fast and furiously for the past 10 days or so that I am struggling to stay on top of my thousands of photos and stories as I engage with this incredible city. Yesterday I attended a showing at the Atleliers des Luminieres, Fonderie du Chemin-Vert. Wow. Pretty cool!
So, have you heard about these immersive art and music extravaganzas? The one in Paris uses the same format already devised and shown in the Carrières de Lumières at the old quarries in Les Baux de Provence. (In 2011, the town of Les Baux-de-Provence entrusted Culturespaces with the management of its famous quarry as part of a public services contract. Named “Carrières de Lumières,” it is a fantastic laboratory of creativity: Culturespaces has developed the innovative concept known as AMIEX® [Art & Music Immersive Experience]). There are similar shows done in an old church in Florence, Italy as well.
The digital exhibitions are made up of thousands of images of digitized works of art, broadcast in very high resolution via fiber optics, and set in motion to the rhythm of music. It takes 140 projectors and a careful orchestration of sound to create an exhibition.
Not everyone in the art world has welcomed this sort of “millennial” approach to the arts; but Culturespaces argue that the target audience for these immersive exhibitions is not connoisseurs of the art world, but rather families and young people who are not used to visiting museums. The Atelier’s first year statistics seem to show the exhibitions are reaching their target: in first year of operation, the Atelier des Lumières welcomed more than one million visitors, 12% of whom were under 25 years of age.
When Perugia-born clothing designer Luisa Spagnoli first invented the hazelnut-centred chocolate in 1922, she called it a cazzotto because it resembled a fist. The name didn’t ring right to Giovanni Buitoni, managing director of the Perugina chocolate factory and Spagnoli’s younger lover—Buitoni was 14 years her junior.
The idea of asking a shop assistant for a “punch” just didn’t resonate with the entrepreneur, who was also on the board of directors of the famous pasta brand. Buitoni commissioned futurist artist Federico Seneca to design the packaging and concept, hence the silver wrapping and the tiny slip of paper printed with a quotation about love we still unfurl today.
The box depicting two lovers locked in an embrace was inspired by Venetian Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss (1859), on display in Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera. All these factors proved a winning recipe; a 1927 advertisement claimed, “In only five years, Perugina has sold 100 million Baci”.
Francesco Hayez’s “The Kiss” (1859)
For Spagnoli and Buitoni, business was never solely about making money (he was also the mayor of Perugia between 1930 and 1934). The pair looked after their employees in a time when corporate social responsibility was practically inexistent: terraced housing and a swimming pool were built near the workplace; dances, football matches and social occasions were regular occurrences; and a nursery was opened at the Fontiveggi factory during the First World War, so that female employees could bring their children to work while the men were away at war.
In 1939, the chocolates set sail to the States, opening a shop to rave reviews in New York’s Fifth Avenue. Luisa Spagnoli did not live to see the overseas success of her chocolates. In 1935, at age 58, the businesswoman passed away in Paris with throat cancer, Buitoni steadfastly by her side.
The enterprise continues to go from strength to strength. In 2018, Baci Perugina were rebranded. Gone are the entwined lovers, replaced with a scattering of gold and white stars topped with a contemporary logo. Limited Edition, Extra Dark 70% and Milk are minor variations on the original dark chocolate recipe. Looking down from the firmament, Luisa Spagnoli and Giovanni Buitoni, who went on marry the opera singer Letizia Cairone two years after Luisa’s death, surely would be proud to see the product of their love sweetly primed for the future.
Think of Carnevale in Italy and you are sure to think first of Venice. I know I do!
But the season is alive throughout the peninsula and the small ones have a charm that Venice, for all its glory, lacks.
Yesterday I had my first taste of a smaller, home-grown version of the Carnevale parade in the lovely little artsy town of Pietrasanta. This small town is part of Versilia on the coast of northern Tuscany, about 20 miles north of Pisa and 15 miles south of Carrara. Only 2 miles from the coast, you can quickly reach the beach of Marina di Pietrasanta and the fashionable Forte dei Marmi. But those two places are best reserved for a warmer time of year.
The Carnevale in Pietrasanta is composed of locals, young and old, and devoid of pretension.
That’s what I liked most about it!
Of course it didn’t hurt that it was a beautiful, almost spring-like day with cerulean skies and puffy white clouds.
Now, here’s the thing: I don’t know what I was expecting, but the Pietrasanta parade was made up of about 6 major floats with companies of participants associated with each float. The floats ranged in subject matter from the Moulin Rouge, to Dr. Spock, to Michael Jackson’s Killer.
To me, it felt more like a Halloween parade than a celebration of a religious matter.
But, it was unabashed, and I loved it for that. It reminded me of my home town, way across the pond in the prairie states of the US.
A fun time was had by all!
ROME – Most of the tourists who have tossed coins over their shoulder into Rome’s Trevi Fountain over the past 20 years probably did not know that they were helping the city’s poor. But the Rome city government has said no more.
Beginning April 1, the city said, the coins will no longer be delivered to the Rome diocesan Caritas for funding homeless shelters, soup kitchens and parish-based services to families in difficulty.
Instead, the city plans to use the money to help with the upkeep of monuments and to fund grants to “social projects,” which are yet to be defined. It also will hire workers to sort and count the coins, something that Caritas volunteers did for free.
In 2018, the international collection of coins added up to about 1.5 million euros or about $1.7 million.
Interviewed Jan. 12 by Vatican News, Father Benoni Ambarus, director of Caritas Rome, said, “The first thing I want to say is thank you to the millions of tourists who created a sea of solidarity with their coins.”
The priest was still hoping something would change before the change dried up in April. After all, the city council voted in October 2017 to start keeping the money in city coffers, but after a public outcry, the agreement with Caritas was extended to April 2018 and again to Dec. 31, 2018.