Piazzale di Porta Pia, Rome

The Capture of Rome on September 20, 1870, was the final event of the long process of Italian unification, known as the Risorgimento. It marked both the final defeat of the Papal States under Pope Pius IX and the unification of the Italian peninsula under King Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy.

The capture of Rome ended the approximate 1,116-year reign (AD 754 to 1870) of the Papal States under the Holy See and is today widely memorialized throughout Italy with the Via XX Settembre street name in virtually every considerable town. Rome has a major thoroughfare named Via XX Settembre of course, and so does Florence.  I happen to live on the Florence street.

Of course it was important for this important event to be memorialized in Rome and the Piazzale di Porta Pia was the result.

Just outside the Porta Pia stands the Monumento al Bersagliere, erected in 1932 by Publio Morbiducci on a commission from Mussolini.  Moreover, the building between the two arches facades of the Porta Pia, the internal and external facades of the gate, houses the Historical Museum of the Bersaglieri, with the monumental tomb of Enrico Toti. The Bersaglieri (means sharpshooter in English) are a speciality of the Italian Army’s infantry corps.

A marble monument from 1920 and a commemorative column commemorate the event. Even today the signs of the fighting are visible on part of the Aurelian walls and on the door itself. In front of the external door, in eternal memory of the liberation of the city from the Austrian troops during the First World War, in 1932 a monument to the bersagliere was placed by the sculptor Publio Morbiducci.


Between the two facades that make up the door, connected by small buildings originally having a defensive function, there is a small courtyard which now houses the Historical Museum of the Bersaglieri, inaugurated on 18 September 1932 , which preserves memorabilia and memories related to the institution and the evolution of the Bersaglieri body.
In the courtyard of the Museum there are bronze busts of the most illustrious representatives of the Corps, including that of Enrico Toti , hero of the Risorgimento. In the Hall of Honor, among the various precious memorabilia, there is the original Proposition, a handwriting written by La Marmora to obtain the constitution of the Corps from King Carlo Alberto. The ground floor houses the Shrinededicated to the over one hundred thousand fallen for the homeland. At the center of the room is the saber that La Marmora wielded on 8 April 1848 in Goito. In the rooms on the first floor, memorabilia are exhibited, such as uniforms, firearms and side arms, documents and memories relating to the campaigns of the Risorgimento, from 1848 to 1866. The upper floor is dedicated to the colonial campaigns , from the first landing of the bersaglieri to Massaua, on February 5, 1885, to conquer East Africa in 1936. The lower floor is dedicated to the 1st World War with plaques, photographs, department pennants, celebratory statues, portraits and medals of commanders and simple bersaglieri, Italian weapons and Austrian. To the 2nd World Warthe ground floor where the memorabilia and objects relating to the numerous operational theaters in which the bersaglieri fought are dedicated and dedicated.


The Bargello is re-opened

It’s been a long wait, but today I got a ticket and visited the museum.  It was like going home.  And, the crowds were normal, like pre-Covid levels.  That was a bit comforting as well.

Today I took an idiosyncratic group of photos, and skipped taking pictures of the usual suspects that I love so much (Donatello, Desiderio da Settignano et al).  So, enjoy this random group.

















And now, I get a bit more serious with great artwork:






















The Ara Pacis, Rome

One of the loveliest, and smallest, museums I like to visit in Rome is the Ara Pacis. On my recent visit to Rome, I enjoyed this almost empty museum.



















My video below captures the interior of the monument, just before a guard told me I couldn’t make a video.




































Wolves in Florence

Artist Liu Ruowang has a new installation in Florence, as seen below in the Piazza del Palazzo Pitti.










These metal wolves are meant “to protect” both Piazza Pitti and Santissima Annunziata. The monumental installation, named “The wolves on the way,” is possible thanks to the collaboration between the Municipality of Florence and the Uffizi Galleries and will be on view from 13 July and until 2 November. The work reflects on the excesses of progress in contemporary society, and are on view in Florence, symbol of the Renaissance, in dialogue with two masterpieces of urban architecture, Palazzo Pitti and the Spedale degli Innocenti.

Liu Ruowang’s wants you to reflect on man’s predatory attitude towards nature. The threatening pack of wolves composed of a hundred iron castings, each weighing 280 kg, which seems to attack an unseen warrior. It is an allegory of nature’s response to the ravages and predatory behavior of man towards the environment. And it is, at the same time, a reflection on the values ​​of civilization, on the great uncertainty in which we live today – made even more evident by the dramatic effects of covid-19 – and on the actual risks of an irreversible annihilation of the environment.

Organized thanks to Matteo Lorenzelli, owner of the Milanese Lorenzelli Arte gallery, the exhibition aims to establish a physical, intellectual and even playful link with citizenship, stimulating curiosity and participation, so as to bring a wider audience than those who usually attend exhibitions and museums.

The project was conceived on the occasion of the celebrations of 50 years of diplomatic relations between the Italian Republic and the People’s Republic of China – the latter represented by Consul General Weng Wengang – and made possible by the collaboration between Eike Schmidt, Director of the Uffizi Galleries and Tommaso Sacchi, Councilor for Culture of the Municipality of Florence, who have made available two of the most symbolic spaces in Florence. Incoming Wolves interact freely with the city’s architecture, with its inhabitants or with those who are just passing through, thus responding to a specific intention of the author, who claims that “to teach love and respect for art to new generations , the best method is to bring art into everyday life, making museums increasingly accessible and beyond. My sculptures, for example, are placed in the squares: thus art also creates a link with public spaces.

It is important to build a culture of the common good .” Before arriving in Florence, Liu Ruowang’s wolves had “invaded” Naples, where they had been positioned in Piazza del Municipio. The installation in the Tuscan capital marks an ideal relationship between the mayors Luigi De Magistris and Dario Nardella, who have shown that they believe in the powerful message of the great work of the Chinese artist.

The director of the Uffizi Galleries Eike Schmidt says: “In Piazza Pitti, the pack of wolves that is about to enter the palace through the central door immediately reminds us of the dark counterattack of nature in the classic ‘The birds’ by Alfred Hitchcock, but calls to our mind also the recent experience of many wild species that returned to our city during the recent lockdown.

It is the metaphor of the relationship between man and nature. With the presence of Liu Ruowang’s wolves in our squares – elegant wolves, with a chiseled crown as in the ancient Chinese bronzes – we will have many months to think about how to contribute to respecting the balance of the planet. ”

Liu Ruowang (1977) is one of the major contemporary Chinese artists. Sculptor and painter, his is an original path placed in the wake of the Chinese tradition, and which amalgamates transversal elements with peculiar aspects of his tradition. Starting from the consideration that the history of man is also the history of his relationship with nature, the Chinese artist draws, on the one hand, from the culture of his country and on the other to the western one, and through references to globalization, represents the multiplication of the various real and virtual identities. The philosophical dimension of Liu Ruowang is also a real denunciation of the risks caused by the loss of human values, mortified by the oppressive system of contemporary life, theater of pain and violence.

“The upcoming Lupi installation is the result of the production of the last decade which must be considered fully the artistic maturity of Liu Ruowang. Behind the monumentality of the installation, moreover, there is an aspect dear to the East as to the West, the central pivot of all Liu Ruowang’s production, namely the ability to polarize the environment and space through a simple and sublime, which adapts the epic tones of the myth to today’s civilization, dominated by scientific and technological progress, increasingly in conflict with the natural order. ”


Santa Maria Vittoria, Rome

No visit to Rome would be complete without a stop at this august church to admire, among many things, the sculpture of Bernini.


I happened upon this favorite church on my recent visit just as mass was wrapping up and I had to surreptitiously take some of these pictures, which accounts for their poor framing. Luckily, my iPhone camera takes good pictures, in terms of color and sharpness, no matter how bad the aim.









What I had not realized on earlier trips is how the artist arranged this chapel as a theater box.  You must remember I spent most of my art history career studying American art, so I hope I can be forgiving for not knowing a lot of details of this great Italian Baroque period.  I am an avid student of the Baroque now, so I am filling in the gaps in my understanding, work by work.














The high altar of the church was later made to imitate Bernini’s spectacular sculptural group.




And, on the other side of the church, directly opposite to Bernini’s chapel, is this companion sculptural arrangement.  Bernini is a tough act to follow.







Before departing, I had a last long look at the amazing ceiling of this lovely church.


The Quattro Fontane, Rome

Yet more (see here, for example) gorgeous watery landmarks in Rome: The Quattro Fontane. Walking through this intersection is never easy, even shortly after Covid has cleared the streets.  But, I did my best.


The Quattro Fontane (the Four Fountains) is an ensemble of Late Renaissance fountains located at oblique angles at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale in Rome. They were commissioned by Pope Sixtus V, built at the direction of Muzio Mattei, and installed between 1588 and 1593.

The figure of one fountain is said to represent the River Tiber, in front of an oak-tree; a she-wolf, the symbol of Rome, was a later addition.

A second fountain represents the River Aniene, a tributary of the Tiber, called Anio in ancient Rome, which provided most Roman aqueducts with water. Pope Sixtus proposed to build a canal to bring the water of the Aniene to Rome.

The other two fountains feature female figures believed to represent the Goddess Diana; the symbol of Chastity; and the Goddess Juno, the symbol of Strength, but it is possible that they may also represent rivers.

The fountains of the Aniene, Tiber, and Juno are the work of Domenico Fontana. The fountain of Diana was designed by the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona.

The later Baroque church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, by Francesco Borromini, is located near the fountains, and takes its name from them.


It would so be nice if you could observe the fountains without risking your life from traffic, but I’ve never yet had that experience, despite visiting the ensemble at least 20 times one my lifetime! I had thought that right after Covid, but, no. Maybe someday…