Sunday, 27 November 2016

Lina Sastri, the gold of Naples

Lina Sastri, one of the greatest Italian actress, has performed yesterday at the Mercadante theather, in Altamura.

Io mi chiamo Lina Sastri titles her show.

Accompanied by great musicians, Lina Sastri revisits her long professional carrier, alternating songs to thoughts and memories.

Born in Neaples, she was very young when she begun acting for the Eduardo De Filippo's acting company, who actually soon recognised her talent.

"Acting is a vocation, you are called to do that. In other words, you cannot do anything else than that" Lina states.

"Every time I played Filomena Marturano, a tear came out of my eyes" Lina recalls "And I remember Edoardo disapproving that by saying that the audience would get distracted by my tears. So, Edoardo used to recommend me to work on transmitting such a feeling to the audience and make them crying. I have not succeeded yet in doing that" Lina confesses. 

After theatre, cinema knocked on my door. My first movie was Il prefetto di ferro shot by Pasquale Squittieri. Then, I acted for Nanny Moretti in Ecce Bombo

However the "red carpet" arrived with the Nanny Loy's cult movie Mi manda Picone in which I starred with Giancarlo Giannini, a great actor. 

Lina has a fantastic voice. 

She sings songs not only of the classical Neapolitan repertoire, but also few Pino Daniele's ones such as Chi tene o'mare and Napul'e.

She adores the sea, and what it implies.

"I don't distinguish people in southern and northern, but in those who live on the sea and in the upcountry". 

"People mixing up and cultural contamination generates very interesting things" Lina says.

She seems inviting us on getting rid of fears concerning the massive immigration of people escaping war and starvation. Because as she says "the sea doesn't have barrier nor borders"

Please let me spend few words on the Mercadante theatre, and its  role in propelling the cultural life of Altamura.

Refurbished a couple of years ago after decades of decadence, this wonderful theatre, as stressed by Lina Sastri, hosts great events on weekly basis.

You are highly invited to experience such elegant, tiny theatre. 


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Journey to Tuscany

Michele, my beloved cousin, lives in Pisa since almost 20 years. 

He is a lovely person, married, with two pretty daughters.

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit him in Tuscany. I spent two days in Florence too, where we've been hosted by Katia, a good friend of Lucia.

It was a major pleasure for me to spend with Michele some time together, creating with him a sort of complicity, exchanging each other memories of our family. 

As my chief at work says "life is too short". I agree 100% with him.

Michele lives in the countryside, few miles from Pisa.

Michele takes us to visit Pisa, this fantastic city, famous all around the world because of piazza dei Miracoli, where like a flower, it's set the Torre di Pisa (pictured).

"When I first arrived in Pisa, almost 20 years ago, foggiano (born in Foggia, Apulia), was synonymous of being rough" My cousin says.

He continues "Once, I went in a shop in Pisa to buy a shirt. After having dressed one of them, I asked the shop assistant how it looked like. She replied: It makes you looking foggiano. But I'm foggiano, I addressed her. She turned purple, of course".

I burst laughing, and kept laughing for a while. Actually, I still do it when I recall such story.

This was due to the shock caused at the time by the immigration flow in Tuscany from Foggia, as my cousin soon after explained.

Pisa is really cool, I have to say.

With Genova, Amalfi and Venice, Pisa was one of the four Repubbliche marinare which dominated the Mediterranean sea in the Middle Age.

Michele leads us to see the Keith Haring's murales, called Tuttomondo.

This murales was painted on the wall of a church. 

It took Keith four days to complete it. The paint was donated to the New Yorker artist by a local company.

Early in the 80ies, Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat expressed themselves by painting all around the "big apple", covering public spaces of their paintings, mostly the underground.

Tuttomondo, the murales in Pisa was painted in 1989. Keith would have died few months later of AIDS.

His messages of love, hope and peace are nowadays perpetuated by the Keith Haring Foundation .

Michele and Anna, his wife, bring us to visit Lucca, very close to Pisa.

Lucca is a well preserved Medieval town.

What really strikes me is viewing the Roman theatre being incorporated by Medieval urbanisation (pictured).

The day is sunny.

This gentleman takes the opportunity of being cheered up by the sun in the afternoon.

A slow walk within the walls of Lucca is something I definitely recommend of .

You'll discovery so many interesting places and corners, like the one nearby the conservatory.  

On Monday, we leave Michele and his fantastic family, heading to Florence, capital of Renaissance.

Florence is undoubtedly an open air museum, as we have realised by just getting out the train station.

I have seen so many tourists around here. 

From an art perspective, the climax of this journey is the visit at Galleria degli Uffizi.

We'll be spending at Galleria a whole afternoon, admiring the paintings collection made up by the Medici family along centuries.

Caravaggio, Piero della Francesca, Tiziano, Canaletto, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli are just some of the artists exposed there.

Once in the life, you must come to Tuscany.

By the way, concerning Michelangelo Merisi, also called Caravaggio, the National Gallery in London is currently hosting an exhibition called Beyond Caravaggio dedicated to this revolutionary artist.

It will be on till the 15th January 2017.  

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Botromagno, the art of making wine

“Dear Sir, I'd be pleased to interview you in regard of your activity of wine making...”. 

10 days ago I’ve e-mailed to Botromagno, a cantina located in Gravina in Puglia (Murgia). 

A couple of days later, I get the reply “Hi Antonio, I'm currently in London. I'll call you back once in Italy. Beniamino”.

Beniamino is the owner of Botromagno. We arrange an appointment on the 5th of Saturday morning.

Equipped with my camera, I arrive there in advance.

So, I have chance to talk with Matteo De Rosa, the enologist of Botromagno.

Bear in mind that Gravina in Puglia is famous all around the world because of Verdeca, a fantastic sweet white wine.

“Verdeca dates back to the Middle Age (1200). This wine comes from the combination of Greco, Malvasia and Bianco d'Alessano.” Matteo says.

He continues “In 1973 we applied to obtain the DOC for our Verdeca wine. However, we got the certification only in 1983. Additionally, we had to change its name from Verdeca to Gravina. Since 5 years, we only combine Greco and Malvasia as the Bianco d'Alessano is almost disappeared here in Gravina”.

The enologist seems to me very competent, so I take the opportunity to question him more "I'd like to know your opinion about how the Apulian wines are performing so far. I mean, are they appreciated in Italy as well as abroad?” I enquiry.

“Well, since 20/25 years ago, the Apulian wines were mainly bought by Northern Italy wine makers to adjust their own wines. Since then, things have radically changed.” Matteo De Rosa says.

Indeed, in the last two decades a new wave of Apulian wine entrepreneurs, with the right mindset, have worked hard to promoting their wine by attending international markets.

Meantime Beniamino is arrived. We shake our hands. He takes me in his factory, meanwhile he narrates me his story.

“Since 2009, the Italian wine market has been gradually shrinking due to the ongoing crisis. So, we have been forced to sell abroad an increasing number of bottles” Beniamino says.

“Before the crisis there were so many buyers on worldwide basis. Most of them managed a business on small scale, for clients who wished to find out more about cultura enoica

Nowadays, few buyers have remained. They are tremendously sensitive to the price.” Beniamino adds.

Competition in the wine market is getting higher and higher.
“Concerning the new markets such as India and China, things are not easy from a wine-business perspective. First of all, richness is not well distributed in those countries, despite their galloping GDP. Secondly, such countries have a strong food identity. So, it won't be easy to combine our wines with their food” Beniamino states.

Talking about the Italian wines, our strengthen is the tremendous variety of vines, which represents an unicum in the world.

In fact there're 1000 different kind of vitigni (vine variety), 600 of them certified, 300 which are being evaluated and 100 brought to life again.

None like Italy has such richness in terms of vine variety. And Apulia may rightly be considered as a typical example of such fantastic kaleidoscope.

"Would you like to see my nicest vineyard?" Beniamino asks. "Yes, I'd love to" I reply.

He drives me with his car on the bottom of the hill called Botromagno, where the ancient Silvium (now Gravina) was located. 

At the bottom of that hill there is his vineyard.

Wine making is carried out over here since the 8th century BC, as testified by archaelogical evidences.

In fact, via Appia passed by Silvium. As result of this, a busy trading of vine plants coming from the Hellenistic world took place here. 

“We in Apulia should develop more and more the wine-tourism” Beniamino suggests. I fully get his precious tips.

It’s 12 o’clock. Time just flies away.

“Thanks Beniamino, your narration was really interesting. Your inputs very much appreciated. I’m going to write the article and send you the link by e-mail.” I say.

“Thanks” He says. “Hold on a moment” he adds. He fetches a bottle of rosè and hands it over me. “This is for you. It’s made by a Nero di Troia vineyard old 50 years”. Beniamino says. I have dedicated to Lucia, my daughter. 

Beniamino, this rosè is marvellous. Blessing Lucia

Ps. has just launched a wine contest #Raccontaciiltuovino Please, narrate your story/wine with pics, words etc..