|0615 Ragusa Ibla|
0615 (posted on 25.04.2013) - RAGUSA
Can be said that Val di Noto (Province of Noto), a area located in south-eastern Sicily, owes its notoriety to a disaster, the enormous earthquake of 1693. After that, the representative of the king of Spain, the ruler of the time, received the permission to redesign the damaged towns based on rational and scenographic town plans. So these new towns were redesigned according to renaissance and baroque town planning, with streets crossing each other or starting from a central square, in what came to be known as the Sicilian Baroque style. In 2002, UNESCO inscribed eight of these towns on the World Heritage List as "representing the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe". One of this city is Ragusa, formed from two distinct areas, the lower and older town of Ragusa Ibla, and the higher Ragusa Superiore (Upper Town), separated by the Valle dei Ponti, a deep ravine crossed by four bridges. Ragusa Ibla hosts a wide array of Baroque architecture, including nine major churches and seven major palazzi.
|0685 Catania - Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Agatha|
and Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics
Another city is Catania, located between Messina and Syracuse, at the foot of the Mount Etna. Founded in the 8th century BC by the Greeks, it has had a long and eventful history, and has been buried by lava of seventeen times. In the 14th century and in the Renaissance period it was one of Italy's most important and flourishing cultural, artistic, and political centers. Originally constructed in 1078-1093, Catania Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Agatha, has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Today, traces of the original Norman edifice include part of the transept, the two towers and the three semicircular apses, composed of large lava stones, most of them recovered from imperial Roman buildings.
|2924 Catania - Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Agatha|
and the elephant with the egyptian obelisk (1)
The current appearance of the cathedral dates from the work in 1711 of Gian Battista Vaccarini. It has three levels with Corinthian columns in granite, perhaps taken from the Roman Theatre of the city. All the orders are decorated with marble statues of Saint Agatha over the gate, Saint Euplius on the right and Saint Birillus on the left. The main door, in wood, has 32 sculpted plaques with episodes of the life and martyrdom of Saint Agatha, papal coats of arms and symbols of Christianity. In the right of the postcard 0685 can be seen the Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics, a very complex structure built by the architect Alonzo Benedict, connected to the Cathedral through a step above the Porta Uzeda.
|2929 Catania - Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Agatha|
and the elephant with the egyptian obelisk (2)
The elephant in Piazza Duomo was sculpted of volcanic stone during the Roman era and stands as an emblem of the city. It supports a transplanted Egyptian obelisk, brought by the Romans some time after circa 30 BC. The monument's nickname in the Sicilian language is "Liotru," a reference to Elidoros, a heretical eighth century apostate and wizard who sought, through magic, to make the elephant walk. Fashioned of typical pinkish red granite from the Aswan quarries, the obelisk bears hieroglyphs identifying the goddess Isis, whose Egyptian cult reached the height of its popularity from 664 to 610 BC, although the style of writing dates the work to an earlier period.
|2937 Catania - Teatro Massimo Bellini and adjoining piazza|
The creation of what was to finally become the Teatro Massimo Bellini took almost two hundred years, beginning with discussions following the 1693 earthquake. The construction of a public theatre was discussed, and a foundation stone was finally laid in 1812. Architect Salvatore Zahra Buda began to prepare a plan for a theatre in the Piazza Nuovaluce, in front of the Santa Maria di Nuovaluce monastery, the location of the present-day theatre. The plan of the Teatro Nuovaluce (New Light Theatre) was a grandiose one in all respects, and was conceived to create one of the most innovative works in Italy.
|2938 Catania - Interior of the Teatro Massimo Bellini|
Named after the local-born composer Vincenzo Bellini, it was inaugurated on 31 May 1890 with a performance of the composer's masterwork, Norma. It seats 1,200. The exterior of the house matches the distinctive Sicilian Baroque style of the neighboring buildings of the late 17th Century. Its marble foyer, the Ridotto, is ornate and stuccoed, and a statue of Bellini is located between the central arches. The beautiful red-plush interior includes the main floor seating and four tiers of boxes. Surrounding them, on the upper level, are unusual arched arcades. The painted ceiling by Ernesto Bellandi depicts scenes from four of Bellini’s most well-known operas.
|1251 Caltagirone - Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte|
1251 (posted on 27.09.2014) - CALTAGIRONE
Caltagirone, located about 70km southwest of Catania, has been long famous for the production of pottery, particularly maiolica and terra-cotta wares. Virtually all buildings in the old town are decorated with ceramic tiles, shops spill their delightfully crafted wares onto the pavements and the effect is one of multichromatic vivacity. The highlight is undoubtedly the 142 steps of the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte (Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte), built from 1609, that connect the lower town with the older upper town. The peculiarity is that each step is decorated with different hand-decorated ceramics, using styles and figures derived from the millennial tradition of pottery making. At the end of July (24th and 25th), in honour of the town's patron saint, San Giacomo, and in the middle of August, the steps undergo yet another transformation, the "Illuminata". Thousands of candles flicker away creating a truly breathtaking sight.