Monday, December 19, 2011


Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano

Milano: Palazzo Marino – George de la Tour exhibition.  For the first time in Italy the "The Nativity" by Georges de la Tour (1593-1652) is on display (until January 8 2012) accompanied by one of the most famous masterpieces by the artist from Lorraine, "St. Joseph the Carpenter". The special event for the traditional Christmas exhibition at Palazzo Marino was organized by Eni with the collaboration of the Municipality of Milano and the Louvre and curated by Valeria Merlini and Daniela Storti.  There is little documentary evidence about the life of the artist, whose training and background remain shrouded in mystery. There is a continuing hypothesis that he may have travelled to Italy where he came into contact with the work of the great Caravaggio, to whom reference is always made in any critical analysis of de la Tour's work. The Nativity was added to the collection of the Louvre in 1926 after being attributed to La Tour by Hermann Voss, the great German art historian who, in 1915, had brought the artist back from the oblivion into which he had fallen.

Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano

George de la Tour: - The Nativity - a detail: The theme of the nocturnal adoration of the shepherds was one that spread out from Italy, starting in the early sixteenth century with Correggio's celebrated Adoration of the Shepherds, held in Dresden and commonly known as The Night. But, in the magical atmosphere of the work of Georges de La Tour, in the intimate and restrained domesticity of the scene, the Franco-Flemish stylistic tradition plays an important role. 

Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano
George de la Tour: St Joseph the Carpenter – a detail.  Also in the perhaps better known work, St Joseph the Carpenter, the warmth of the diffused light from the candle held by the young Jesus, who watches his putative father at work with admiration, is immersed in a night-time scene that was familiar to the Northern European tradition of the period. In the painting, the moving father-son relationship, also allows us to reflect on the iconographic character of the devotion to the Saint, the Son and the Cross, which is reflected in the work the Joseph is leaning over, in the manner of many of the religious texts of the period. Also from a technical perspective the work is perhaps the best example of a body of "candlelit" work by de la Tour. The light, which is hidden from the eyes of the observer by the hand of the Child and is spread across his face, which becomes the true source of the luminosity of a familiar and intimate scene, made transcendent. Visitors will be able to admire these two paintings against a dedicated backdrop, with carefully selected materials, that gives them the appropriate space to be fully appreciated. 

Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano

A donation has been made
Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca
 sul Cancro

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Bright Colors for Gloomy Winter Days.

Photograph courtesy Lisa Corti

Milano: Lisa Corti - Bright colors for gloomy winter days.  Colorful cushions brighten up a room on the gloomiest of winter days and textile designer Lisa Corti is a master at color. The range of furnishings, clothes and articles made by Lisa Corti are well known for their characteristic weightlessness, transparency and wise use of colors and dyes. Mezzeri, quilts, mandala, blankets pillows, curtains, tapestries and tablecloths. The style is very oriental. The design is not only based on taste and elegance, but also on the care given to what is essential for a lifestyle that combines a touch of the Orient to the standards of Western living.

Lisa Corti.  Textile designer Lisa Corti wears her bright colorful clothes.   “Ask me about my work and I will tell you about my passion for color, a love that has roots in far away lands, in my childhood in Africa. Women dressed in color, only one color, moved into the light as if gliding. Mysterious angels in cobalt pink, yellow, green, violet. I have always carried them within me. It seems incredible, yet that cobalt, that pink in the sun are something I thrive on.”  She explains.

Lisa Corti.  Lisa Corti’s sketchbook sits on a table in her home.  Inspiration comes from her various trips to India where she has carried out an in-depth search on the wide range of fabrics and patterns in various areas of the country and creatively transforming her designs, materials and colors in an infinite number of objects and articles intended as house decorations and furnishings

Lisa Corti.  Roses from the garden are also an inspiration for her designs.

Lisa Corti.  Color swatches hang over a painted chest in her design studio.  "When I discovered India. I found the essence once again in the sweet organza, the impalpable glossy colored air and the fragment of a cloud to be touched and used. Pure color that comes to life as substance, it is weightless and runs, cheerful and gentle, stopping at a central point. It winks and cannot be ignored. These are my tapestries.” 

Lisa talks about her inspiration.

 Photograph courtesy Lisa Corti

 Lisa Corti.  Just six of the many colorful patterns Lisa Corti has designed. For the designer, taste and beauty are not only aesthetic objectives, they are also essentials that fill up her daily life, as well as her furnishings and clothing. Geometry is a constant, as are the elements of nature, the intense colors, the transparencies and weightlessness of the fabrics. Lisa invents things that she enjoys; she does not chase after fashion but goes for the sense of color, light and shapes, in the constant search for symmetry between ancient and contemporary Western cultures.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market.  Tucked amongst the Prosecco vineyards the picturesque village of Follina, just north west of Venice, is famous for it’s Cistercian Abbey built in 1150. Not to be missed, is a visit, not only to the Abbazia di Santa Maria di Follina itself, an impressive fusion of Romanesque and Gothic styles but also to its cloisters with elegant columns. For the past seven years every first weekend of December a Christmas market is held in and around the main square, called Colori d’Inverno or winter colors the market opens the festive season.
Above: Better known as La Contessa, local watercolor artist, Francesca Brandolini d’Adda stands in the main Follina square in front of her enlarged watercolor of the Follina square as it used to be in the mid 19th century.

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market.  Marco Milillo is a private investigator in Conegliano and also a landscape and fashion photographer.  Melillo presented his infrared, black and white photos of vineyards. 

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market. Gigi Miracoli with his partners produces biological wine in Venice, Yes Venice, the winery is called La Laguna nel Bicchiere or The Lagoon in a Glass and the wines are derived from an unusual bower-fruit  garden at the Murano Cemetery, and from a vineyard of the 1960s in Giudecca's Cipriani zone. He is also a street artist; he blows bubbles, eats fire and walks on fire, just to name a few of the crazy things he does to amuse.

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market.  Mari is the youngest of the hoteliers Zanon siblings; she runs the La Volta luxury gift shop, which is part of the elegant Relais & Chateaux Villa Abbazia Hotel complex.  La Volta looks onto the main square and in the store you can find elegant gifts, ranging from silver, hand blown glass, candles, pot-pourri, perfumes and naturally at this time of the year Christmas ornaments.

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market.  The indefatigable Maria Gabriella Sorbara Sammartini owns and runs two Magamaison stores, as well as her home, her husband the very talented wood worker, Vettor Sammartini, two dachshunds, Molly and Krauti, and last but not least Berta the cat.  And, she still has the energy to visit clients and run Magamaison the interior decorating showroom/store/laboratory, which sells custom made items for the home. New for Christmas these amusing embroidered linen sacks, which can hold towel sets, Foutas or anything that strikes your fancy. 

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market.  Local chocolatier Oriana Chantal Balliana has a soft spot for heart shaped chocolates; in fact her company is called Q-ori & Chocolato, Q-ori being a play on the word hearts in Italian.   Year round, with her gourmet chocolates she tours the local specialized fairs and recently she has gone to India for a wedding where she made flower and… wait for it…. Heart shaped chocolates, non stop for five days running.

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market.  In the neighboring village of Miane, entrepreneur Ornella Tonet founded the luxury small knitwear workshop Carella with her late sister Carla.  Later the ToneT collection (in the photograph above) was added to the company, it focuses on a total look with strong stylistic contents. The quality Italian knitwear company sells in major markets around the world as well as producing samples and knitwear for third parties.

Follina: Local color - people seen at the Christmas Market.  Self taught florist Francesca Simonetti's shop, L’Idea in Follina is right by the Cistercian abbey, so it is no wonder that she specializes in flower arrangements for churches and weddings.   She conceived and designed the decorations for the Christmas market.  Her style could be described as modern country.
L’Idea: Via Padre Anacleto Milani 2 – Follina (Treviso) – tel: +390438970033

Follina: Local color - the Christmas Market.  The obelisk decorations conceived and designed by Francesca Simonetti of L’Idea flower shop in Follina where scattered around the streets and added a festive tone to the Christmas market.  “I am inspired by what is available,” she explained.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Milano: Armani Hotel

Milano: Armani Hotel Milano.   The Armani Hotel Milano is located in Giorgio Armani’s hometown above the Emporio Armani block on the very central Via Manzoni. The Armani style and philosophy defines every detail of the ninety-five rooms and suites.  Each element has been personally designed by Giorgio Armani and chosen for sculptural, aesthetic as well as sensual qualities, Armani notes, “I have concentrated all my efforts on delivering my personal aesthetic vision within a precisely defined ambience of total comfort.”

Armani Hotel Milano – a detail.    A detail of the second Armani Hotel, (the first is in Dubai), which is housed in the ex Assicurazioni Generali building, it has been “topped” by a stylish glass ‘hat” allowing the visitors to have an amazing 360 degree view of the rooftops and terraces of Milan. The building was designed in 1937 by Enrico Griffini and built with reinforced concrete; the contours of the doors and windows are in marble. The statues of the patron saints of Milan, Venice and Trieste are by Marcello Mascherini.


Armani Hotel Milano - Armani/Lounge. Overlooking the magnificent skyline and terraces of the city.  Armani/lounge offers guests an exclusive yet elegant and relaxing ambience. The Armani/Bamboo Bar with its double ceiling, louvered window wall and back lit onyx features, creates a perfect place to meet friends, discuss business during an informal lunch or simply watch the world go by while enjoying an elegant afternoon tea or a pre dinner aperitivo.

Armani Hotel Milano - Armani/Lounge. From the louvered window in front of the Armani/Bamboo Bar you can see the baroque facede of the Church of San Francesco di Paola on the Via Manzoni.

Armani Hotel Milano - Armani/Restaurant.   The Armani/Restaurant draws on the rich gastronomic traditions of Italy to provide the diners with classic and authentic culinary delights.  The dishes take advantage of fresh produce served amidst an elegant ambience with impeccable and lifestyle service. It features a unique enoteca with an exclusive and wide selection of wines, a private dinning room and a magnificent chefs table located within the kitchen.

Armani Hotel Milano – ground floor lobby.  A big A on the glass window of the downstairs lobby looks onto the busy Via Manzoni.

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