February 2, 2010

We never got to see the Burri Fontana exhibit yesterday because the museum was closed, but luckily there was a fabulous photography exhibit directly across the street at the Palazza Del La Cultura. Fabrizio Villa is an amazing documentary photographer and his images of the St. Agatha festival are stunning. Images that make you gasp, smile, and stare in wonder. It got us pretty fired up for Friday night and also convinced me that the kids will be staying home with a sitter...enormous crowds, late night, lots of burning candles: probably not a good kid outing (at least not for our first experience of the festival). The exhibit is free and open until February 14th.

The other bonus of the exhibit is its' location. The Palazzo Del La Cultura
is a beautifully restored monastery in the heart of Catania (a block behind the Duomo) that is now an exhibition space/cultural events center. We visited the center a few months ago for a fabulous bug exhibit but there didn't seem to be any English speaking staff members so we weren't sure of the history or even the current uses of the building. In addition to the photo exhibit yesterday we had the good fortune of meeting one of their staff members. She was in the midst of restoring a very old, wooden crucifix and body of Christ. Actually it was kind of an eery discovery. Walking down a hall of arches I saw a woman in a white coat working over a body:I thought I was going to get in trouble for taking photographs, but instead we were escorted into her work space and handed an English explanation of the work in progress. Below is a pic of Christ's arm with a selection of beautiful pigments. It was a wonderful work space filled with light and an interesting assortment of tools. It turns out however that we didn't need the paper. Her English was excellent and in addition to talking about her current project, she also gave us a private tour of the current exhibits and even showed us a corner of the building with a staircase descending into a lower level of the monastery that was believed to be St. Agatha's home.

I love these kinds of days and they seem to happen frequently in Italy. Days when our original plans suddenly vanish and are replaced with adventures we never imagined possible. And we aren't the only ones with interesting Italian discoveries. Check out Blogging from the Boot which has a selection of ex-pat blog entries from 2009. I submitted a couple of mine and was honored to make it to the finalist stage. I didn't realize it was a voting sort of competition so I feel kind of awkward about that, but I have enjoyed reading the mix of experiences and perspective. Take a look. No pressure to vote, but wanted to pass it along.
Francesca said...

What good fortune indeed to be able to see the restoring process! I'm sure it's something that would have been impossible to arrange, had one tried to ahead. I took a look at your link, and was so amazed to find so many expat bloggers in Italy!

Juniper said...

What wonderful light and work space, your right. How nice of the woman to welcome you in and give you a private tour! Really like the arm photo with the bottles of colour lined up in the background.
Hope you enjoy Fridays festival! Off to check out your links.
p.s. I wondered where all the chestnuts are coming from, they grow in Italy- that explains it! Chestnut picking- how cool!

Emily said...

sounds amazing! loved reading this post!

Mom2Isabel said...

What an incredible opportunity.(Love the second picture.)
Almost looks like a movie set.

upatreecupatea said...

I am working on a project for one of my honors classes about St. Agatha! It was so neat to read this, I'll definitely be doing more research about the monastery that they think may have been her home.
- Jo :)

South of Rome said...

Yes, these magic moments always seem to occur in Sicily (and Italy, but lots in Sicily!!) much more so than in DC ;) -- Love the photos!!

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