Category Archives: Art/Fashion

Another Mystery about the Mona Lisa?

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

Florence. December, 1913. The Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre in 1911, turns up in an antiquarian’s shop on via Borgognissanti in Florence. Discover the true facts about the theft and the man who pulled it off in a new documentary film: The Missing Piece, The Truth About the Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa.

Screening October 6 and October 8 at The Mill Valley Film Festival. Tickets HERE

New Italian Art Calendar
by Mario Fusco

Italian Art Calendar Cover Page

Italian Art Calendar Cover Page

Your 2013 Italian Art Calendar is now available on Zazzle. Lovingly assembled by the artist herself, Angelica Di Chiara, this calendar consists of a series of iconic images of Italy, each image a reproduction of an original work. The spirit of Italy, its architecture and its landscapes, are yours every day of the year in this lovely calendar.

View and purchase the calendar at

Angelica di Chiara, award-winning Italian-born painter, resides in Redwood City, California. Her work can be seen at several venues in the Bay Area and on


Vino Italiano

Castello di Gradara

Castello di Gradara


‘Paint the Town’ – Redwood City Art Festival
by Mario Fusco

Sunday, September 9, 10 – 4:00 p.m.
On Courthouse Square, Broadway, Redwood City

Italian artist Angelica di Chiara, will be participating and exhibiting her Italian-inspired art.

Redwood City Art Festival Press Release


See Angelica’s art at



Art Classes offered at IEI
by Mario Fusco

IEI is proud to announce the launch of Beginners Acrylic Painting workshops led by Italian-born artist Angelica di Chiara. Angelica is a native of the city of Brindisi, Italy, who has lived in the United States since 1984. She specializes in Italian landscapes and cityscapes, and her preferred medium is acrylic paint.

Angelica matured as an artist in Spokane, Washington, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010. She is the recipient of several prizes, and was nominated for the Spokane’s Artist of the Year Award for two consecutive years. She has a special affinity for Venetian scenes, and two of her works have been selected for the covers of two detective novels by Timothy Holmes, set in Venice. She has exhibited at many galleries and venues, including the Stanford Art Spaces Exhibit at Stanford University in 2011. She also has several years’ experience teaching her craft to adults and young people.

Many of Angelica’ works adorn the walls of Italian restaurants on the Peninsula, including Donato’s Enoteca in Redwood City. Elsewhere, her works can be seen at the Great American Frame and Gallery in Palo Alto, Flegel’s Home Furnishing & Design in Menlo Park, and at Avenue Gallery in Spokane, WA. To view more complete collections you may visit or

Angelica’s workshops in Italian acrylic art will be offered in morning and evening sessions on an occasional basis. Attendance will be limited to ensure that each student receives individualised attention. Detailed schedule and venue information will be available on our website, via Facebook announcements, or through our Meetups. Anyone interested in a workshop is encouraged to contact IEI early to secure a spot in the class

The Italian Art Society
by Mario Fusco

Outdoor cafe' scene in Venice - an acrylic original

Cafe' Tintoretto

An organization actively promoting the study of italian art is the Italian Art Society (IAS), a scholarly group with members from several universities in the US and Europe. Launched in 1986 in Kalamazoo (!), the Society is now affiliated with the College Art association, the Renaissance Society of America, the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, and the Society of Architectural Historians.

The IAS organizes lectures and conferences on Italian art, publishes newsletter three times a year, and awards travel grants to scholars in the pursuit of their studies. They also offer assistance in obtaining outside funding for Italian art and art history studies. Their membership includes established professors and researchers in the field, undergraduate and graduate students, and people who are simply passionate about the subject.

Some IAS upcoming events are:

IAS/KRESS LECTURES, to be held in the spring of 2012 in Venice, Italy
Milan, Italy, June 11–14, 2012,
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, June 21–23, 2012.

For more information about the Italian Art Society please go to

An example of original acrylic by Italian-born artist Angelica di Chiara is shown below. The Venetian ambience is beautifully pictured in this nostalgic outdoor scene. Find it on our sister site for $495, or buy it here for the reduced price of $395 plus tax and a $20 shipping fee!

Tintoretto, venetian cafe' outdoor scene

Tintoretto in Venice

Leonardo again – and the Bank of America?
by Mario Fusco

Banks are not well-loved, these days, for reasons that are familiar to all of us. But here’s a story that shows that even banks may on occasion exhibit a social conscience and an artistic sensibility. The article below is a fragment (in free translation) from a longer article which has appeared on the Corriere della Sera, the newspaper of Milano.

The Codex Trivulzianus, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest manuscripts, part of the collection of the Biblioteca del Castello Sforzesco in Milano, will be restored. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project will finance the restoration. This will not be the Art Conservation project’s only enterprise: 20 works of art and artifacts of great cultural and historic value, gathered from 19 countries, have been selected for restoration.

DIGITAL RESTORATION – The Trivulzian Codex, a collection of Leonardo’s drawings and writings, is comprised of 55 folios dated between 1478 and 1490, and it is one of the most significant documents of the Italian Renaissance. It is a unique testimonial to the eclecticism of the Italian artist/inventor: it contains notes, drawings and studies of religious and military architecture (amongst which a sketch for the cupola of the Duomo di Milano), but also analyses of the Italian language and observations on the literature of the time. Using cutting-edge software capable of producing virtual copies of Leonardo’s technical designs, the restoration project will result in a digital version of the manuscript which will remain impervious to the passage of time and will facilitate academic research, while rendering it more accessible to the lay public.

So, kudos to the Bank of America, and never mind the tax writeoffs they will take. They are doing a good thing for all of us.

Codex Trivulzianus

Codex Trivulzianus

Codex Trivulzianus

Leonardo da Vinci
by Mario Fusco

Vitruvian Man

The word “genius” is much bandied about in these days of facile judgments and commercial hype. One can, for example, go to the local Apple store and make an appointment at the “genius bar”, where a personable “genius”, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, just past puberty, will affably assist you with your Apple product. But then there are the undisputed, true geniuses, a very few throughout human history, who are or have been so far off the charts that sometimes they appear to belong to some other race, as far beyond the average human as the average human is beyond reptiles (no offense!)

Such an undisputed genius was the Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci, whose contributions as a scientist and artist truly boggle the mind. A description of the achievements of this Renaissance Italian must perforce include hyperbole, but this time amply justified and probably even short of the mark.

Leonardo lived from 1452 to 1519, was born in a hamlet near Vinci, and apprenticed in Florence in the bottega of Verrocchio. Most of his professional life, however, was spent in Milano, under the sponsorship of that city’s ruling family, the Sforza. A complete characterization of Leonardo’s professional curriculum would include sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, inventor, anatomist, and more.

Everything Italian on one site!

Looking for Italian language instruction? Organizing a trip to Italy? What about finding the greatest Italian restaurant in the Bay Area or that ultimate recipe just like your grandma used to make? Or perhaps you spent too much time watching the game (alas!) with your buddies, and need a little Italian bauble to soothe your lovely wife’s ruffled feathers. All of these things you will find on our website. We have consolidated the contents of a couple of earlier sites to provide you with a seamless Italian experience.

Along with the new commercial elements there remains, on this site, the original focus on art, culture, and history. And we intend to grow: the ultimate aim is to provide all Italophiles of the Bay Area, and beyond, a one-stop electronic storefront that will provide intellectual stimulation alongside material possessions for gracious living. Our sister site,, continues unchanged, though it, too, is slated for some enhancements.

So please come visit often, drop us a line, let us know how you feel. Buy some Italian art once in a while, or an Italian pendant for your sweetheart, or a gorgeous ceramics bowl for your holiday table. But even if you don’t, we hope to hear from you.

Il Teatro San Carlo a Napoli

Teatro San Carlo in Naples, across the street from Galleria Umberto and around the corner from the Royal Palace

Teatro San Carlo

Naples’ San Carlo Theater is the oldest operating theater in Europe.  Built in 1737, it has never missed an operatic season except in the period from May 1874 to December 1876, when, because of a severe economic crisis, financial support disappeared.  The San Carlo was built by King Charles of Bourbon, son of Philip of Spain and Elisabetta Farnese of Parma.  Charles gave rise to a dynasty which quickly shed all vestiges of Spanish influence and became, to all effects, an indigenous dynasty which endured through the turbulent Napoleonic period and came to an end only with the unification of Italy in 1861.  Naples, as the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (so-called for historical reasons), was, during the early Bourbon period, one of the most populous, beautiful, and cultured cities in Europe.

The construction of the Teatro San Carlo was only one aspect of a general urban renovation whose purpose was to give Naples a physical appearance in line with the dignity and the prestige of the capital of a great kingdom.  Within the scope of this general plan, the San Carlo was conceived as a fitting symbol of the royal power and of the dynasty’s support of the musical arts, a passion long inbred in the depths of the Neapolitan psyche.  The San Carlo replaced the old (1621) and small Teatro San Bartolomeo, which was eventually made into a church.




I am obliged to comment on Passione, the film by John Turturro about Naples and Neapolitan songs.  Too many people have mentioned it to me; it cannot go unheeded on this blog.  So, as a native son, what do I think of it?

First off let me be clear about the fact that I have NOT seen the film.  I have only watched some excerpts on youTube, a total of a couple of songs.  My comments therefore are limited to this thin sample and not to the work as a whole.  I suppose that I will see it sometime soon, and I may write a full review then.  But these are the impressions that I gleaned from my experience so far.

Neapolitan songs, the BEST Neapolitan songs (for the poor ones are legion!), are distinguished by a particular pathos, a peculiar blend of fatalism, vivacity, passion, and strength.  They are vigorous without being violent, they are passionate without being sentimental, they are universal without being abstract.  Successful interpreters, Murolo, Carosone, Rondinella, Arbore… have all been able to project this complex pathos, albeit through their different individual styles.  They have all been able to reach beyond the facile impulse of a superficial emotion to the deeper recesses of the souls of the listener, and all this is what has made the Neapolitan song famous all over the world.