Sunday, 23 November 2014

Basilica di Santa Caterina di Alessandria

Yesterday, on Saturday evening, I went to Galatina to see the Basilica of Santa Caterina di Alessandria.

This Basilica is a pure artistic jewel set in hearth of Salento.

To describe the immense beauty of this church, the local Municipality has invited Philippe Daverio, an acclaimed art critic.

Philippe Daverio has become famous since his TV format called Passepartout, in which he travels around Italy and the world talking about art.

Philippe Daverio was invited yesterday to hold a lectio magistralis.

The art critic spoke yesterday in a crowded church.

Actually, I have listened to him outside the church with 200 more people. Fortunately, loud speakers had been set.

"We care for our cultural heritage much more than we did 30 years ago" Philippe started off.

"This Romanic-Gothic church has unique frescos. Artists from the north of Italy, mainly from Tuscany have come to Galatina to fresco the French illuminated manuscripts." 

"Some of those artists were inspired by the Giotto's principles, then applied to the Basilica di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria".

In terms of vastness of Middle-Age frescos, the Basilica di Santa Caterina is second just to the
Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi

The Basilica was commissioned by Raimondo Orsini del Balzo, after having returned from one of his several crusades.

The church has been built up at the end of the 13th century, on a preexisting Byzantine church.

Raimondo Orsini Del Balzo supported the Angevins (French), who ruled the Vatican and the South of Italy.

Philippe Daverio said yesterday: "Europe should be more aware of the importance played by Italy within the Mediterranean scenario. The Basilica di Galatina is just suggesting us that the European foreign policy should be modified."

In other words, Apulia as well as the rest of the Bel paese, has since forever been in touch with the North Africa and the middle East.

Therefore, please let's be aware once for all, that the Apulian cultural heritage belongs not just to Italy, but to the entire world.

By the way, the etymology of Galatina comes from the Greek gala-galactos, which means "milk". This etymology probably originated from the local milk and cheese production. 

I have ended up my Saturday night in Galatina coming accross an old friend of mine, Gianni, and his wife.

Good art to everyone

Should you wish to view more pics, please click here

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Fernando di Leo and his "Milano calibro 9"

Fernando di Leo was an Apulian film maker.

He was born in San Ferdinando di Puglia (1932), north of Apulia.

Fernando belonged to a family of lawyers.

Indeed, he went to Rome to study law.

However, he quit it soon because his true passion was cinema.

Therefore, he attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome.

Di Leo started his career writing scripts for spaghetti westerns.

So, he contributed to write the script of the Sergio Leone’s a fistful of dollars, without getting any credits though.

Additionally, Di Leo wrote the script of for a few dollars more  almost by himself, again with no credits.

After having written other scripts of spaghetti westerns such as Il ritorno di Ringo and Navajo Joe, he begun to work on his own projects.

I believe that Di Leo has achieved his greatest results by making noir cinema.

During the 70ies, in Italy there was so much violence going on.

Political demonstrations often ended up in riots and clashes with the police.

Beside that, the Italian society was rocked by the spreading of Mafia in the north of Italy, mainly in Milan.

Whereas at that time, some politicians and priests used to deny even the presence of mafia in Sicily. 

Fernando Di Leo was a leftist intellectual, who had absorbed a lot from the society of that time.

Then, he was great to dramatize those inputs.

This is one of the reason for which Fernando Di Leo may rightly be considered the finest film maker of Italian noir cinema of 70ies.

The New York Times wrote about Mr. Di Leo: 

"Mr. Di Leo is fascinated by structures of power, carefully describing a hierarchy of authority that ranges from the lowliest mafia foot soldiers, through the midlevel gang bosses and princely godfathers who control them from lushly upholstered offices, to the cops and commissioners who have profitably learned to look the other way, and finally up to the unseen deputies and ministers who sponsor and support the entire system. Italy may be a republic in name, Mr. Di Leo suggests, but the country still functions as a feudal society."

From my point of view, his best film is Milano calibro 9, the first of the so-called trilogia della mafia, with La mala ordina and il Boss.

Milano calibro 9 is based on one of the Giorgio Scerbanenco's novels.

The movie has a fantastic soundtrack composed by Macalov, and perfomed by the Osanna, an Italian rock progressive band.

QuentinTarantino has openly declared that he got inspired by Milano Calibro 9.

The cast of Milano Calibro 9 was awesome: Mario Adorf, Barbara Bouchet, Philippe Leroy and Gastone Moschin.

The sequence where Barbara Bouchet is lap dancing is just amazing.

Milano Calibro 9 sparked controversy because the movie alludes to pork-barrelling and to politicians who make deals with Mafia.

It is a disgrace that Fernando di Leo had been neglected for decades.

He died in 2003.

He stopped to make movies since the beginning of the 80ies, when television has killed the radio stars as well as the cinema stars, paraphrasing a well known song.

The magazine Nocturno, has contributed a lot to reconsider Fernando Di Leo as an absolute outstanding film maker.