Cultural heritage

London, The First Day: Covenant Garden

It may be a little late, but if you didn’t know, last week I went to London. I never planned on going, I have never really wanted to. But I went for my thesis (which will be on the marketing and finances of the British Museum), and found out I actually really liked it! Love is too strong a word for someone who was raised by a politically active, Sinn Fein, Irish American mother, so lets stick with really like.

Covnant Garden Food

Althoughit was cold, I managed quite a bit of exploring, my favorite spot being Covenant Garden by far. I found I loved being in a city that functioned, unlike Rome, but of course after 3 days I did miss my old city.

London Telephone Booth Vespa in London Corner Double Decker Bus in London Golden Eagle overlooking London Eye

The first day was spent learning to understand the tube (why can’t you all just call it the metro, like everyone else) and finding Shake Shack, as our goal with trip was to try all the food we can never get in Italy. The only thing that was disappointing was the 6 pounds for a small burger… go ahead and put that into a conversion, it will make you cry.

Shake Shack then turned into all the amazing food in Covenant Garden, and a walk over to Big Ben, and an attempt at Westminster Abbey.

Big Ben London Big Ben and London Eye Westminster Abbey, London

I was most excited to see Westminster Abbey, as I find it hard to visit any country without going into any church, and well this is the church of London. Unfortunately it costs 20 pounds to see the inside. Yep, 20 pounds… I will convert that for you 30.80 USD, per person, for a church. For a country that gives access to free culture through museums, apparently churches didn’t make that deal. I may be a bit spoiled though, being in Rome, where all churches (and water) is free. The fact that I didn’t get to see this church was probably my biggest regret of the trip, but I am a student and was not about to hand that money over. The outside though is absolutely stunning.

Note on photos: I decided only to bring my 35mm lens and was so happy with the results, I shot entirely in Manual for the first trip ever and I have never been prouder of my photos!

Clouds over Barberini

Clouds over Barberini

(Click to enlarge.)
The clouds breakng over Piazza Barberini. Piazza Barberini is a 16th century square however the fountain shown here, named the Triton Fountain was done by Bernini in 1642.

The square is named Barberini for the Palace of the Barberini family located around the corner.

 

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Italian Christmas Traditions

Italian Christmas Traditions

Since there hasn’t been much to tell you about this semester, I figured I would tell you a bit about Italian Christmas. I haven’t been able to spend a full Christmas here, but hopefully next year!

Even though Rome is the site of the Vatican, there is surprisingly little in the way of Christmas decoration and events, or at least less than one would presume. Nativity’s are set up in every church, with a large one at the Spanish Steps. Christmas trees are decorated by large companies such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi. There is even one in Milan decorated completely with dildos…. Lights are put up, but not as excessive as America, there are a few decorations but I would expect more. It could be that I am not staying with a very Italian family, or it could really be they aren’t as excited as the rest of the world.

Food: At this time, oranges and clementines are the number one fruit. I have heard Oranges used to be a christmas present because they were so rare. Apparently this has stuck on in Italy. But there are no smells of cinnamon, gingerbread, apple or pine. In fact real Christmas trees are rare and expensive. They don’t really bake Christmas cookies, but there is the traditional Italian Christmas Cake: Pannetone. I finally bought one of these, I was worried it would be dry and boring like all other Italian attempts at a cake, but it turned out to be very good! All it is really is a large muffin, in look and taste, you can get fruit or chocolate ones. Of course there is also lots and lots of chocolate, mainly with nuts. Candied nuts and figs are also big at this time, at least in the grocery stores….yet I never see anyone eat them.

Traditions: Now, let me explain why there is a witch as this photo, rather than reindeer or Santa Claus etc. Well, Italians have two Christmas Characters, Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) and Befana, the witch who brings presents.

Befana comes on the Feast of the Epiphany, being the Night of January 5th. She comes and fills children’s stockings with sweets and presents, unless they have been bad, then coal and sticks. She also sweeps the house as she visits, sweeping away the problems of the past year. Sticking with the Italian mindset, rather than leaving milk and cookies, families leave wine and small food, sometimes figs and dates.

Befana was the old lady who sheltered the Magi on their way to visit Jesus, she declined to go with them, then later changed her mind and tried to find him, as she never could , she continues to search for Baby Jesus leaving gifts for all the children she encounters.
Her name really just comes from the Italian accent on the word Epifania.

And of course she is also connected to Pre Christian beliefs, she is connected to the Festival of Strenia and Iannus, as at the beginning of each new year, Romans gave presents to one another.

Babbo Natale used to be simply the character of christmas, however due to large commercialization, he is beginning to be the one bringing presents, rather than Befana.

The Egyptian Collection in Torino

Some pieces of the Immortali exhibit

Some pieces of the Immortali exhibit

The painted dancer

The painted dancer

One of the Book of the Dead collection

One of the Book of the Dead collection

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One of the the first "mummies" from pre dynastic Egypt.

One of the the first “mummies” from pre dynastic Egypt.

Pieces from the pre-dynastic collection.

Pieces from the pre-dynastic collection.

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The Temple of Elleysia

The Temple of Elleysia

The Egyptian Museum of Torino is presently undergoing reconstruction, to make a larger exhibition space for their extensive collection. At the time to show as much of the collection as possible there is a special exhibition titled Immortali, as well as the stable collections of the pre dynastic artifacts, the tomb of Kha and the statue room. The Immortali exhibition will be on display from 2013 until the new museum space opening in 2015.

Upon arrival to the museum the entrance uses mirrors, and angled architecture to appear as if the visitor is inside a pyramid. There are signs as well as very kind ticket takers to direct visitors on the itineraries path. The new itinerary for the museum’s renovation begins with Immortali exhibit.This is located in the basement, the path then takes the visitor through the mummy storage space, where a few mummies are visible through windows, then upstairs to the Predynastic and Kha collections, and finally across the courtyard to the statue room and temple of Elleysia.

There are plenty of brochures in multiple languages for information on both the Immortali exhibit and the regular collections of the museum. However if any individual forgets to grab these at the entrance, information is everywhere throughout the museum, as well as more places to grab these brochures.

The first information sheet, being that for Immortali discusses the plans for the future museum and what its layout will be.The plan is for the museum to confirm the famous quote by JF Champollion “The road to Memphis and Thebes passe through Turin.”.

The aims of the Immortali exhibit are to share the artifacts of the cult of the afterlife. The ideas around the afterlife changed throughout periods in Ancient Egypt, this exhibit shows how it was respected and how it differed through the ages. THe exhibit presents artifacts and great pieces of art which take the visitor through a ” vast chronological path” which includes the New, Middle and Old Kingdom as well as the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.

Each piece was chosen to show uniqueness of style or material showing a high degree of knowledge and skill as well as ambition of the nobles to tell of their own greatness.

The exhibition most definitely meets its intended aims. It is set up with different display cases and statue center pieces in chronological order. Each case has a large written plaque with in depth but easily read and understandable information about what that particular case shows. For example one case may describe how religion changed during the Middle Kingdom, then how it can be seen through the use of different gods, in different displays.  Another is how funerary practices changed in Roman and Ptolemaic Egypt, with tombs and funerary items to show this.

Each artifact is included with a small card explaining what it depicts, when it came from, when and where it was found, and how it is unique or different from other items of this type.

Though the artifacts seen are similar to those found in most other Egyptian collections from museums around the world, with a few marvelous exceptions such as that of a painted dancer a weaving display, and books of the dead; the Museo Egizio  presents them in such a way that a visitor  even with prior knowledge still walks away with a load of new information. The museum is a much better source even than most books suitible for non academics.

This exhibit is so well presented with such short yet helpful information, provided in both Italian and English (with the possibility of a French guide) that everyone can walk away with a better understanding of Ancient Egypt.

Tours are offered in many languages, and though Immortali has no special events of displays for children the museum has a whole provides children’s events. The most crowd-pleasing being that of a Halloween event.

The Museum was founded in 1824 under Savoy King Carlo Felice, from the collection of Bernardino Drovetti, Napoleons French Consul to Egypt. This original collection housed 5268 items. When Ernesto Schiapperelli was head of the museum, another 25000 objects were added, either through excavation or through auction.  The exhibit of the Tomb of Kha was provided to the museum upon it’s excavation in 1906, it included another 504 items. The Temple of Ellesiya was rescued with the help of the museum from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in 1965. In 1966 Egypt gave the temple to the country of Italy who then put it in the care of the museum.

The Museo Egizio prides themselves on their massive collection ranging over 4000 years. As well as the fact the make this collection and the ancient civilization accessible to everyone. One of their main aims is to present the entire range of Ancient Egyptian history in a clear and interesting way to all.

The Egyptian Museum of Torino succesfully achieves and even goes further than its aims. The museum is fun for those of all ages and levels of Egyptology knowledge *even those with none!). It provides thoughtful information which is easily read and understood. Providing visitors with much on  Ancient Egyptian life throughout the dynasties.

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 8:30am to 7:30pm. If you are in the area it is a must-see. The collection is fascinating and I can promise you will leave with a new interest in Egyptology and at least one artifact resonating with you.

If you are further away I do recommend a trip to Torino to visit not only this museum, but the many other attractions in the city. It might even be best to save a trip until 2015 when the newly renovated museum will be revealed.

 

A second snapshot of Torino

Throughout the arch covered walkways of the cities there were many little vendors, most of which were used and antique books.

Throughout the arch covered walkways of the city there were many little vendors, most of which were used and antique books.

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Statue found outside Gran Madre di Dio

Statue found outside Gran Madre di Dio

View from Gran Madre di Dio.

View from Gran Madre di Dio.

Taking a break before the Molle.

Taking a break before the Molle.

An autumn walk along the River Po.

An autumn walk along the River Po.

Temple of Aesculapius: A Presentation Analysis

This will be an analysis of the presentation and interpretation of the Temple of Aesculapius, located in Villa Borghese. This analysis uses the format of analysis compatible with ICOMOS 2008 Interpretation and Presentation Charter and ICOMOS 1981 Florence Charter criteria and signification. These presentations are normally done through PowerPoint or a poster presentation, hence the short information, if you are more interested please let me know and I can give further explanation

The History of Villa Borghese

The original map of the gardens.

The original map of the gardens. Credit: Taken from a presentation by Prof. Simone Quilicci, AUR 2013

Originally a vineyard, Cardinal Sciopione Borghese obtained permission to turn this area into a lavish villa in 1605. The architects were Flaminio Ponzio and Giovanni Vasanzio. The original features included the Villa itself and the historic gardens, presently found behind the Villa, which is now a museum. The rest of the surrounding land was for horticulture and hunting. The Villa and its land has grown and changed throughout the years. These changes are categorized into 4 phases, however for this analysis phase 2 is as far as will be looked at.

Phase 2: 1776-1800

The map of the second phase of Villa Borghese. Credit: Taken from a presentation by Prof. Simone Quilicci AUR 2013

The map of the second phase of Villa Borghese. Credit: Taken from a presentation by Prof. Simone Quilicci AUR 2013

The Villa and land continued to be owned by the Borghese family, during this era they transformed surrounding gardens into neoclassical, English landscape style. The architect of this phase was Antonio Asprucci, while the landscape remodeler was Jacob More ( also a Romantic era painter).

Focus of Analysis: Temple of Aesculapius 1786

Temple of Aesculapius, Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Temple of Aesculapius, Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Built by Antonio and Mario Asprucci with painter Christopher Unterberger. It was built with the destroyed temple to Aesculapius once found on Tiber Island in mind. It is located on an island in an artificial pond. Originally the surrounding area was rocks and caves, with secretive and serpentine paths, this was changed in 1823 again by the Borghese family and once again when it was first given to the Italian nation.

The Temples Present Condition

The temple is still located in the same spot, and little has been changed directly to the temple. The area around the lake was altered in order to make It more accessible to visitors, this redesign was done in 1823 under the Borghese family.  Minor restoration and alteration to the area was made when the park was under the ownership of the city of Rome. The fence surrounding the island is a newer addition from the original.  It is not possible to enter the temple, or even access the island, which has been helpful in keeping the temple preserved.  It is however possible to take boats around the lake. There is wildlife in the lake, which also live on the island, including: turtles, ducks, swans and other water birds.

The temple stands as an aesthetically pleasing element to the lake, remaining clean and adding to the lake without a visually unpleasing distraction.

Public Use and Facilities within the Area

Surrounding rea of the Temple and lake. Photo is my own.

Surrounding rea of the Temple and lake. Photo is my own.

The road which leads to the temple, has benches as well as trash bins. Photo is my own.

The road which leads to the temple, has benches as well as trash bins. Photo is my own.

Though the island and temple are not accessible the park area surrounding is used often for public leisure time. Activities in this area may include picnics or relaxation, biking, as well as children having playtime. The lake provides boats for visitors to take for a ride around the lake. The boats are for rent and are set times, but they do not require a guide.

In the surrounding park there are small café’s and food carts where visitors may get food. Restrooms are however a bit further. There are benches and a few trash bins in the area.

Statement of Significance:

The Temple of Aesculapius remains a key aspect of the Villa Borghese park, by adding an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming interactive element to the park; It also is a key reflection of the 2nd phase of the park, acting as a perfect example of neoclassicism and English Romantic era landscape. Not only is this important to preserve for the history of the park and Borghese family, but also for all, in order to preserve examples of architecture and design from that period.

Analysis of Presentation to the Public

Though the temple itself is not accessible, it provides a picture perfect backdrop, which many visitors enjoy, it is made into one of the standard images of Villa Borghese Park. By providing open park area surrounding the lake and temple, visitors are free to relax, and enjoy themselves in this area. The lake offers an interactive activity by providing boating activities, this may draw in visitors, who can enjoy a fun activity by the temple. This activity, being that it is similar to activities visitors might have enjoyed in the 18th century, provides a connection through time, allowing present day visitors to imagine what life would have been like for the upper class. Because the sight is so beautiful it may provide a connection to visitors based on inspiration, however it may not demonstrate historical importance directly to them.  This site  does not necessarily  increase public respect or understanding, because unless a visitor has done their research, there is no way to tell that this building is a neoclassical building and when it was built.  Because there is not a clear story behind this temple, it does not help communicate the importance of cultural heritage. However the public does feel a connection to the site and it has become a staple element to the park which if threatened, the public would react.

Further, presently there is a problem which is that the lake has been drained and therefore the temple has been sealed off and surrounded by construction equipment, which could cause damage to this monument.You can read more here:  http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/2002563/villa-borghese-lake-to-be-drained.html

 

A Few more snapshots of Torino

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Waiting for the Tram during a National Strike. They had some class over in Torino

 

 

 

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A road decorated with the city flags, the symbol has always been a bull as the first tribes to live there during Roman period were known as the Taurinii and known for their cattle.

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Funny Story: You can find this exact same building in Heliopolis Cairo, right beside the Presidential Palace.

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Morning meetups in Piazza San Carlo

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One of Torino’s many Natural Food stores/restaurants.

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Juventus Museum

The Juventus Museum is probably one of the best museum presentations in existence. (I should also note Torino as an entire city is better fully presented to the public than any other historic city I have visited.) The museum uses all available space and media to present an emotional and inspiring history of Juventus. If a visitor comes at first indifferent to either football or Juventus, or even if the come with a slight dislike of the team, they will surely leave with a changed mind.

Upon entering the museum, you walk along a curved white and black wall to a circled opening. There the various moments in Juve’s history are projected along the wall, while upbeat and motivating music plays in the background. The motivating music plays throughout the entire museum experience. The path then continues to the first attraction: the Trophy Room. 

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This Trophy Room alone would have been enough to inspire a visitor, it is an incredible display. Each trophy is in its own separate case.  Three TV screens are placed along with these cases, The room starts dark, then the TV’s begin a count up from 1897 (the year Juve was founded) to this year, as it passes a year a trophy was earned, the trophy case lights up. By the end all are lit up, and the TV’s play clips of winning these. There then is a random choreography of the lights accompanying the music which plays.

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Upon leaving this room the hall leads a little further before it opens up into a spacious room which is the full museum. On this entrance wall is a map showing all the places in the world Juve has played, and an introduction to the team. This wall includes quotes of famous players and various football celebrities, about Juventus and the team’s mentality (which is winning). This also has three TV’s playing a short film, mainly interviews with players, about what Juventus means.

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In the main room, the history of Juventus is laid out on one wall. The visitor begin at the formation of the team, with the original manuscript written in 1897. Along this edge there are displays of historic memorabilia, and team equipment for each major period throughout history. This wall also includes historic photographs and even more quotes summarizing each phase of Juventus. What was most helpful to any visitor is that there is also short paragraphs which tell of the history of the team. This information is very well-organized, that was understandable even to someone new to the team and football history.This information and stories included information on all Juve’s unfortunate setbacks but more importantly their comebacks.

Along the opposite wall includes a display of the jerseys for every player who appeared more than 300 times with Juve. The record being Alessandro Del Piero with 705 appearances. Past this was an incredible artistic display which uses mirrors and only 6 Tv screens to create the illusion of a giant football covered in TV screens, playing various moments of Juve.

So far Juventus has used written history, photography, personal quotes, historic memorabilia and video to inspire videos.They then use the full room, to add even more of an experience. In the center of the room they use even more media and points of interests to appeal to everyone. There is a display of antique Juventus toys and souvenirs such as cookie jars, teddy bears, tins and signs. These antiques were fun to see as they connected modern visitors to the fans of the past.

To incorporate even more past media connections, there are three stations set up with Radio Shows, Cinema appearances and TV appearances of Juventus through the years. Visitors may put on provided headphones and choose a year to watch or listen to these shows as they like.

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Further there is another modern media display, which is a projection of the coaches, Lippi and Trappatoni, in front of a recreation of the benches. These projections then are connected to a display where visitors can choose a subject and the display will interact with the visitor.

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For the final central display there is the Golden Ball, with displays showing the winners of this trophy throughout time and the option at stations to choose a winner and watch all of his goals with Juve. There are multiple screens so there will never be to long a wait for a visitor to interact with the display.

To conclude the wall with history finishes with the inauguration of the Juventus Stadium, and a brief display of Juventus’ achievements in recent years. However after that visitors enter a closed circular projection room which is outfitted with turf to watch a 6 minute video to sum up the Juventus experience. This video is a montage of Juventus moments, showing the wins, struggles, courage and inspiring times of the team.

The Juventus Museum truly uses every form of media as well as interactive displays to appeal to every type of visitor. It also uses it’s presentation so well that is become as a research library for the team. The presentation enhances the public experience immensely, it also provides an incredible emotional connection to the team.

Even if you have little interest in Juventus the museum is worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. The presentation of the museum is incredible enough that everyone will find something interesting.

More museums should look into Juventus’ display as they can learn much. The museum is only 2 rooms, yet makes the most of it. If more historic museums presented this well we would definitely see and increasing interest in the museums and their collection, along with an increase in attendance.