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Like scrappy, bebopping Pied Pipers, Perugia’s popular street band Funk Off gets this party started with a nightly parade that snakes through Orvieto’s narrow and ancient cobblestone alleyways. Music lovers, young and old, scamper and skip behind these energetic hipsters as their infectious beat draws more and more followers along the route. The bluesy procession ends with an impromptu jam session in the Piazza della Repubblica, where you’ll find you can’t help but tap your feet, move your body and smile: It’s Umbria Jazz Winter and “baby, it’s cold outside”.

IMG_1412The international flavor and welcoming spirit amidst the holiday lights and chilly, frigid temperatures creates a unique atmosphere that makes this festival something special. For five nights, starting from December 28 to January 1, Jazz fans flock from all over Italy and beyond to partake in the music and brotherhood for which this festival has become world renowned.

IMG_1595The old year goes out with a bang! Capodanno is celebrated with concerts and spontaneous jam sessions all over town. Ring in the New Year with fireworks and lots of reveling in the streets. On New Year’s Day arrive at the famous Duomo early to secure your spot for the first Mass of the year. Inside this majestic Cathedral you’ll witness something you don’t see every day; hymns sung at a Roman Catholic “Mass for Peace and Gospel” by Dr. Bobby Jones and the Nashville Gospel Super Choir. Hold onto your seats because this joint will be jumpin’!

For more information about the festival go to: http://www.umbriajazz.com

SEE YOUTUBE VIDEO OF FUNK OFF HERE:

by Toni DeBella

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How often do I get to say this sentence?  

“Last night I went to a party in a castle.”

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IMG_1356The event was hosted by the amazing talent and Caravaggio lookalike, ceramic artist Marino Moretti. Inside his studio, located in a partially restored 9th-century castle in the town of Viceno, people gathered for a pre-holiday brindisi (toast). I tagged along with my friend, textile conservator and dealer, Igor Honkanen and was pleasantly surprised to see other friends who were in attendance. I was the new girl in town – well not really.

Two guys were hunched over in intense conversation in front of theIMG_1346 fire, and Igor split off to talk to some other people, so I wandered around the hall in awe of all the colorful pottery surrounding us. Marino’s lovely wife Marilyn was such a gracious hostess and the couple’s handsome teenage son acted as the bartender.  I was trying to play it cool, but the phrase kept repeating in my head, “I am in a castle, I am in a castle, I am in a castle”. 

IMG_1840As for Marino’s works, they are quite particular. His pieces fall mostly in the category of Majolica ceramics, but what I really want to say is that they’re in a class by themselves.

Majolica is a traditional way of tin-glazing pottery that dates back to the 13th century.  The technique uses vibrant colors and often depicts historical figues and tells legends through figures and scenes. Moretti’s creations come in earthenware, terracotta and porcelain.  Since the 1970s, Marino has gathered quite a large and loyal following.

Tonight the main room was filled with his whimsicalIMG_1350 pottery displayed in groupings of vases, bowls and platters. In the corner were spindly garden sculptures. Handpainted tiles of yellow, blue, green and red hung like Renaissance calling cards. Happy medieval figures danced around the outside of bowls and ancient fish swam across platters. Even a crazy man was biting his own tail; it’s serious art that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  

I found my way into the potter’s workshop where small cups and vases were perched on simple wooden shelving. I took a deep breath before attempting to pick up a tiny espresso cup with a medieval man’s head on it. I lifted it gingerly, careful not to bump it against the other cups or drop it. It seemed so precious and delicate. I admired it and felt how light it was in my hand. If I owned this cup, I don’t think I could bear to drink coffee out of it!  It might be just a little cup and saucer to some people, but to me it’s a fine work of art.

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Marino Moretti Studio d’Arte, via del Castello Vecchio, 12-05014 Viceno (TR), 0763 361663 – 320 2651654

For more information go to www.marinomoretti.it or email: info@marinomoretti.it

by Toni DeBella

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