Sunday, February 28, 2016

Padua (Padova) Street Art

We set out from Bergamo early Saturday morning for Padua (Padova) and returned Sunday night. We were only Padua for a day and a half, so this is hardly a thorough sampling of all the street art there. However, we were impressed with what we saw. Padua is a city of porticoes, and perhaps, the porticoes being a natural choice for a canvas of only of a certain size, lead to more intimate pieces that viewers can get close to.

Alessio-B: Peace and boy with watering can.
Alessio-B Street Art PaduaAlessio-B Street Art Padua

Kenny Random: Boy sitting and silhouette of a man.
Kenny Random Street Art Padua

A creature holding it’s head and a ballerina.


Ball of confusion and Euro/Heart.
Padova Street Art - Ball of confusion Padova Street Art - Euro - Heart

Profile of a man and a masked girl with a club.
Padova Street Art - Profile of a man Padova Street Art - masked girl with a club

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Bergamo Street Art - More Faces on Walls

Left: A collage of different faces seen on walls around Bergamo in February 2016. Right: An embracing couple stenciled on via Astino, quite unexpected in that part of town (street view).A collage of of different faces seen on walls around Bergamo in February 2016An embracing couple stencil on via Astino, quite unexpected in that part of town

Odd faces around Bergamo.



João Samina's murals at Edonè are impressive.
João Samina's murals at Edonè are impressiveJoão Samina's murals at Edonè are impressive

Left: If you take the TEB (tram from Bergamo to Albino) or just walk along the tracks, you’ll see a lot of graffiti and street art. Right: An interesting piece on via Evaristo Baschenis (street view).
If you take the TEB (tram from Bergamo to Albino) or just walk along the tracks, you’ll see a lot of artAn interesting piece on via Evaristo Baschenis

Bergamo Street Art Stencils II

Collage of 13 stencils found around Bergamo city center.Bergamo Street Art Stencils Collage

The post Bergamo Street Art Stencils features nine stencils found around the city center. Here are 13 more. These (mostly) political-themed stencils seem to pop up overnight. Some are legible, others are difficult to read because we don’t understand the context.

Are we just spreading the message by publishing these photos? Maybe. I'm curious about the people who create these, their message, and the chosen medium of walls.


Ciao Carlos, Dove vado, evado (“Where I go, I escape”), Fuck authority, Tumbling house.

Let me smoke, Lotta … (“Fight….”), Pregare … lavoro (“Pray … work”), Sopra la gente, lo stato campa, sotto lo stato, la gente crepa (“Over the people, the state stays alive. Under the state, the people die.”)
Let me smoke stencilLotta stencilPregare … lavoro Sopra la gente, lo stato campa, sotto lo stato, la gente crepa

No al debito (“No to debit”). No austerity.
No al debito No austerity

No alla guerra (“No to war”). [Fancy horned animal]. Senza casa non ci sto! (“Homeless, I can’t take this!”)
No alla guerra Senza casa non ci sto!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson IV

Street Sign Language Lesson 3 < Street Sign Language Lesson 4 > Street Sign Language Lesson 5

We started classes this week at the University of Bergamo CIS – Italian for Foreigners and were immediately humbled by how good the other students are. We are going to have buckle down and get serious! With that in the back of our minds, we wandered down to Piazza La Carrara looking to kill a few hours before our next class. We popped back into the Accademia La Carrara and used the opportunity to work on our language skills reading the information for different works of art. (You might ask: how economical is it to go into a museum to practice reading? We have the Abbonamento Musei Lombardia Milano, which provides for free entry into most museums in Lombardy, 14 in Bergamo and the surrounding province, including La Carrara.) So this installment of street sign language lessons takes place inside La Carrara and concerns five paintings.

Le ultime ore di Gaetano Donizetti – “The last hours of Gaetano Donizetti”
Donizetti sits in the chair descending into madness caused by syphilis.The information for this odd painting by Ponziano Loverini [1891] translates the title as “The last moments of Gaetano Donizetti’s life” as if to imply he wasn't in this state for very long. The terms of interest in this sad scene are abbandonarsi (“collapsed”), sguardo (“gaze”), follia (“madness”), and agonia (“agony). Not a pretty ending.
Le ultime ore di Gaetano Donizetti – “The last hours of Gaetano Donizetti”Le ultime ore di Gaetano Donizetti – “The last hours of Gaetano Donizetti”

Ritratto dell contessa Anastasia Spini – “Portrait of Countess Anastasia Spini” (more info)
This portrait by Piccio (Giovanni Carnovali) [circa 1840] shows the countess sitting on a poltroncina (“armchair”) and holding tobacco da fiuto (“snuff”). She also sports a sguardo (gaze), but perhaps a little different from Donizetti’s.
Ritratto dell contessa Anastasia Spini – “Portrait of Contess Anastasia Spini”Ritratto dell contessa Anastasia Spini – “Portrait of Contess Anastasia Spini”

Strumenti musicali – “Musical instruments” (more info)
It would be fun to write descriptions for works of art. Take this painting by Evaristo Baschenis [1660 – 1670] where the following words are used: lo scorrere (“passage” as in time), ineluttabile (“inescapable”), and scandito (time is "marked by” the settling of dust on the instruments).
Strumenti musicali – “Musical instruments”Strumenti musicali – “Musical instruments”

Ritratto di giovane – “Potrait of a young man” (more info)
The description of Lorenzo Lotto’s [circa 1500] portrait of a young man uses volto (“face”) and the fun phrase riccioli color rame (“coppery-colored curls”). Why not colore rame? Colore is masculine and with masculine nouns and infinitives you can drop the final e.  Note that giovane refers to a young man. To refer to a young woman, it would be giovane donna.
Ritratto di giovane – “Potrait of a young man”Ritratto di giovane – “Potrait of a young man”

David con la testa di Golia – “David with Goliath’s head” (more info)
The description of this painting by Antonio Balestra [circa 1718 – 1720] features the interesting words accavallate (“crossed” legs of David), insanguinato (“bloody”), fanciulle (“young girls”), and our old friend sguardo but this time qualified by languido (“languid”).David con la testa di Golia – “David with Goliath’s head”David con la testa di Golia – “David with Goliath’s head”

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Short Hike in Clusone

Left: View from Rifugio San Lucio toward the Presolana mountain range.Right: Clusone clocktower - Torre dell'orologio.
View from Rifugio San Lucio toward the Presolana mountain range.Clusone clocktower - Torre dell'orologio

Clusone is a curious town about 35 km northeast of Bergamo, in the Val Seriana, where you can see one heck of an impressive clock, get a lesson in the universality of death, and then take a hike. On this sunny Saturday, we walked through the old town to see the Palazzo Fogaccia and the fantastical Torre dell'orologio, the main church of Santa Maria Assunta, and the danse macabre mural outside of the Oratorio dei Disciplini, and then headed to the hills for lunch at a rifugio.

We hardly saw everything the town has to offer, but wevwere struck by the things we did see. First, there is the Fanzago planetary clock (Orologio planetario Fanzago) built in 1538 and still functioning today on Palazzo Fogaccia. It has been wound by hand for over 450 years each day!

After puzzling over the clock, we moved on to the main church, with a terrace that provides a beautiful view facing south. Often church interiors don’t engage us for more than a few minutes, but the interior of Santa Maria Assunta impressed us with its simple layout and well-appointed side altars. One altar we thought particularly interesting was the Altare dei morti which features a skeleton reclining with a scythe and hourglass. His boney hand holds a piece of paper that reads hodie mihi, cras tibi (“today it’s me, tomorrow will be you”), done in pietre dura. Nearby, outside the church, the Oratorio mural Il trionfo della morte is another reminder about the universality of death. Okay, enough of this death stuff because we’ve got a lunch reservation at the Rifugio San Lucio and a 4 km walk to get there.

To get to Clusone from Bergamo, we took the TEB tram to Albino and then a SAB Transport bus further up into the valley. The night before we went, I spent several hours trying to understand the transport systems serving Bergamo. I finally threw up my hands and went on a rant about the byzantine nature of it all. The best advice I can give is if you are unsure of a trip from Bergamo out to places beyond the urban center, then get your tickets the day before. For trains, regional buses, and tram tickets, go to Bergamo central station. For buses within the Bergamo urban area, go to the ATB office in Largo Porto Nuovo, 16. Additionally, you can go to any tabaccheria that sells transport tickets and explain what you want to do and let them figure out which tickets you need. And remember, always get your tickets validated when you board a bus or tram. For the two of us, it cost about € 25 roundtrip Bergamo – Clusone roundtrip.

After a quick look around Clusone’s old center, we headed south from the clock tower toward the Rifugio San Lucio. We reached the rifugio on foot in about two hours, walking south on via S. Lucio. (Transportation may seem opaque to me, but street names in Italy make so much sense.) As via San Lucio starts to climb the hill, there is a parking lot and a sign indicating a steep trail also going to the rifugio if you don’t want to walk the road.

If you take the trail, you’ll see there are two ways up. One way is to follow the signs for “Zuccone” or “Roccolo Zuccone,” which takes you past an area on the hill called Zuccone and a display of whimsical wood sculptures scattered all around. We took the Zuccone path back down, not up. It’s worth taking the path at least one way to see the sculptures.

The San Lucio rifugio is at 1,027 m and on this day, there is a moderate amount of snow around. After a satisfying lunch of foiade and buckwheat tagliatelle with hearty winter sauces and polenta with rabbit or braesola, we walked back down to the city center to investigate the MAT – Museo Arte Tempo – Palazzo Marinoni Barca. If you are interested in time pieces, this small museum, with free entry, is worth a visit. Interesting mechanisms for keeping time are scattered throughout the temporary exhibit space (first floor) and the permanent collection (second floor). On the first floor, there was also a display of photos (scatti) from a local studio, La Bottega Cristalli, covering people and events in Clusone from the 1920s to the 1970s. In the permanent collection, there are works by prominent artists born in Clusone including the painter Giovanni Trussardi Volpi (1875 – 1921) and the sculptor Attilio Nani (1901 – 1959).

During our hike, we saw Bergamasca sheep (originally from the valleys around Bergamo) and Highland cattle (originally from Scotland). The sheep stared at us half-asleep, and the cattle bells rang hypnotically across the valley. The pastoral scenes coupled with everything else we had seen today, memento mori, a planetary clock still working after 450 years, and whimsical wood sculptures scattered throughout the forest, made me forget about my transportation rantings -- at least for now.

Left: Altare dei morti in Clusone Santa Maria Assunta. Right: The mural Il trionfo della morte, Oratorio.
Altare dei morti in Clusone Santa Maria AssuntaThe mural Il trionfo della morte, Oratorio

Left: Bergamasca sheep in Clusone. Right: Highland cattle.Bergamasca sheep in Clusone Highland cattle

Helleborus niger [Ranunculaceae] – Christmas Rose. It might be some time before I tire of photographing these because they are such unexpected splashes of color in the brown of winter.
Helleborus niger [Ranunculaceae] – Christmas RoseHelleborus niger [Ranunculaceae] – Christmas Rose

Time machines and evangelists. Left: Example of timepiece in the MAT – Museo Arte Tempo – Palazzo Marinoni Barca. Right: Statues of two of the four evangelists look south from the main church in Clusone.
Example of timepiece in the MAT – Museo Arte Tempo – Palazzo Marinoni BarcaStatues of two of the four evangelists look south from the main church in Clusone

Left: Signs to the Rifugio San Lucio and an example of one of the many carved mushrooms you see on the “Zuccone” trail. Right: View from the trail up to San Lucio looking back over the valley and north to the Presolana range.
Signs to the Rifugio San Lucio and an example of one of the many carved mushrooms you see on the “Zuccone” trailView from the trail up to San Lucio looking back over the valley and north to the Presolana range