In piazza Bocca della Verità, just opposite the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, is the temple of Hercules Invictus. Built in the second century BC, it is considered one of the foundations of architecture of all time and it is the oldest marble building still preserved to date in Rome. Its location in the old forum of Boario, the place appointed for storage and sorting of salt, is not at all coincidental. The temple in fact stands just where the “demigod", hero of the last kings of Rome and protector of trade, herds and salt, would have stood.
The Short Film
The Italy of small towns and villages, piazzas and fountains; the hidden Italy with its city corners, now protagonist at the 73rd Venice Film Festival. Today, Monday, 5 September 2016, in the area of Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo, at the Lido, Giorgio Pasotti’s film was previewed.
Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome
A limited edition capsule collection to contribute to our appreciation of Italian art.
Italy is a casket of beautiful things.
An unparalleled heritage which belongs to us all.
Let's discover and enjoy it together: this is the aim of the OVS Arts of Italy project,
a limited-edition collection inspired by precious details and unique motifs
taken from a number of Italian art masterpieces.
Because beauty is not only a value, but an experience to be shared.
OVS Arts of Italy is not only a project which creatively combines the languages of art and fashion. Its main aim is to bring the Italian artistic heritage closer to the OVS community through an original story. That's why OVS Art News items have been created: curiosities, anecdotes and ideas for a more in-depth acquaintance with Italian art to enable you to rediscover, enjoy and appreciate the extraordinary beauty under the eyes of us all.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma
9. Russi’s Roman Villa, Ravenna
Even if the mosaic technique dates back to ancient Egypt, it is the Roman period that sees mosaics reach their peak splendour; indeed, the Latin name of this technique, “opus musivum” means “work of the Muses”. During the imperial period, in particular, the techniques became so refined that positions began to be created for technicians with different functions: the pictor imaginarius (responsible for drawing); the tessellarius (who laid floor mosaics); the pictor parietarius (who took care of wall drawings); and the musivarus (who installed the wall mosaics).
Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, Rome
Francesco Borromini, historical exponent of Roman Baroque, in his famous works, often made use of symbolic elements and hidden meanings or mystic numerology. This is the case of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, in Rome, where several numerical references are repeated in an apparently casual manner. For example, there are 111 stars on the marvellous dome, with an obvious reference to the number 3 of the Holy Trinity. There are raised stars in multiples of 3 (12), apostles (12), and the seraphim (6) surrounding the central circle, also consisting of 12 stars.
Mosaico delle Stagioni, Palerno
Il Museo Archeologico A. Salinas di Palermo, divenuto museo nazionale nel 1860 e oggi dedicato al celebre Archeologo Antonio Salinas, possiede una delle più ricche collezioni di arte punica e greca; ma fu soprattutto l'afflusso di materiali provenienti dagli scavi effettuati in gran parte in Sicilia, tra cui i grandi mosaici rinvenuti a Palermo, che determinò la rilevanza e il ruolo centrale del museo, considerato l'istituzione museale più importante e antica dell'isola.
Basílica de San Pedro, Tuscania
In its isolated position on the slopes of San Pietro, in the area in which the heart of Tuscania was founded, before its gradual movement to the mountain, stands the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Together with the basilica of San Pietro, it represents a holy monument of exceptional value, as a complete example of Romanesque architecture. The decorations of the facade, for example, show a variety of derivations and manifold interventions that make it splendidly disordered and asymmetrical.
Palazzo Ducale, Venice
Venice’s Palazzo Ducale was once the palace of the Doge and a series of symbols is linked to this figure, which were exhibited above all during the main public ceremonies: first and foremost, the ducal horn, the special red hat with a slightly pointed shape, worn over a white hood, together with the purple cloak, ceremonial sword, the ducal seat, the parasol and lastly, the eight standards with the Lion of St Mark, and still the emblem of the city in the eyes of the world.
Domus del Mito, Urbino
The sumptuous mosaic of the triclinium of the Domus del Mito, in Sant’Angelo in Vado, as well as being rich in geometric motifs, also features a typical central emblem depicting a fight between fish. This section of the mosaic, which was particularly damaged due to subsidence, has recently been the subject of a sophisticated restoration project. Using the “pulling” technique, the emblem was covered, removed and then repositioned in situ, and today it is possible to admire it in a perfectly flat position.
Roman House, Spoleto
Spoleto is a city with a wealth of history and as well as its Roman remains, it also has a great architectural heritage. One of the most important examples is Palazzo Ancaiani, built in the latter half of the 17th century, by the noble Ancaiani family. To the front, the ground floor is covered in stone and noble floor has ornate windows with a balcony supported by columns. Thanks to the funds raised by the OVS Arts of Italy project, renovation works will be carried out to return the front to its ancient splendour.
Cathedral of Salerno
The Cathedral of Salerno is the custodian of a secret treasure, considered the holiest part of the church: the crypt, which holds the precious remains of St Matthew, patron saint of Salerno. The tomb can only be seen through a circular opening that is exactly under the main altar of the cathedral above and it consists of a large canopy with a statue of the saint, depicted while he writes the Gospel.
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna
As well as the famous Mausoleum, the city of Ravenna has another extraordinary treasure, especially in the light of its stunning mosaics: the basilica of San Vitale. The oriental influence often found in Ravenna’s architecture, has a dominant role in the external structure and also the decoration of the interior mosaics. And it is due to the artistic and spiritual value of the basilica, which is UNESCO World Heritage Site, that it is the only Italian church to be ranked as one of the world’s top 19 important holy sites.
Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma
In addition to the Mouth of Truth and the extraordinary heritage of floor mosaics, the basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin houses another hidden treasure in its basement: the "Ara Maxima". This is an ancient altar dedicated to Hercules, the first centre of worship to this god built in Rome, which even predates the famous temple of Hercules and which may still be visited in the crypt under the church altar.
Villa romana di Russi, Ravenna
In addition to the Roman Villa of Russi, another extraordinary testimony of Ravenna’s Roman history is the so-called "Domus of stone carpets (domus dei tappeti di pietra)", only discovered in 1993. Located about 3 mt below ground, the domus houses an ancient stately home: divided into fourteen rooms and three courtyards, it is entirely decorated with beautiful geometric and figurative mosaics covering a total area of 700 square metres.
Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, Roma
The famous architect Borromini, who designed the church of Sant' Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome also became famous because of his historic rivalry with Bernini, another great protagonist of Roman Baroque. According to a well-known anecdote, one of the statues of the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, designed by Bernini, appears to protect itself with its hands from the imminent collapse of the church in front, Sant'Agnese in Agone, built by Borromini.
Mosaico delle Stagioni, Palermo
Oltre al più celebre Mosaico delle Stagioni, il Museo Archeologico A. Salinas di Palermo conserva un altro straordinario tesoro: il mosaico pavimentale che raffigura Orfeo circondato dagli animali. Secondo il mito, infatti, Orfeo, figlio di Calliope, fu un grande poeta e cantore, che con la lira ricevuta in dono da Apollo, suo presunto padre, suonava melodie incantevoli che avevano il potere ammaliante di smuovere le montagne, placare le tempeste e quietare le belve più feroci.
Basilica of San Pietro, Tuscany
The hill of San Pietro, on which the spectacular Romanesque basilica of Tuscany stands, was for centuries the strategic heart of the city and has a very ancient history: the first settlements date back to the Bronze Age, during the Etruscan period it was the site of the ancient acropolis, the political and religious hub of the region, and in the Middle Ages it became an important bishopric centre which gave the church of St. Pietro the title of Cathedral.
The continuation of the Scala dei Giganti in the Doge's Palace in Venice, is the Scala d'Oro, so-named because of the stucco and pure gold decorations on the vault, built to separate the private apartments of the Doge from the public spaces. Between the two staircases, a vast system of galleries surrounds the entire building, creating the impression of an inverted architecture in which the lightweight bottom supports the massive part above.
Domus del Mito
The Domus del Mito is so named because of the presence of numerous mosaics depicting mythological scenes. One of these, "The Triumph of Neptune" is located in the vestibule and portrays the figure of the God, accompanied by his wife Amphitrite, holding a trident on a cart pulled by two sea horses. The myth has it that Neptune, fascinated by the grace and beauty of the young nymph, had her captured by a dolphin in order to win her over and make her the Queen of the Sea.
Domus Romana di Spoleto
There are several Roman remains still visible today in the ancient city of Spoletium in addition to the Roman domus, the house attributed to Vespasian Polla, mother of Emperor Vespasian: the Bloody Bridge (il Ponte Sanguinario), the Arch of Drusus and Germanicus placed at the entrance of the forum, the Roman Theatre but most of all the Ponte delle Torri, an ancient aqueduct 82 metres high which is the highest ancient bridge in Europe.
Cattedrale di Salerno
We are accustomed to admiring masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel, with its "Last Judgement" and when looking upwards the beautiful frescoed vault by Michelangelo, but not everyone knows that its floors are also a unique artistic testimony. Like the floor decorations of the Cathedral of Salerno, they also were made with polychrome marble inlays in Cosmatesque style.
Mausoleo di Galla Placidia
"In Ravenna there are many modest works, but the mosaics are of incredible beauty"; this was written in 1903 by Gustav Klimt on a postcard sent to his mother after a trip to the ancient Byzantine city. Among the works of the "Golden Period" by the famous Austrian painter, it is easy to find gold, typical of the artistic heritage of the city, used as a decorative element in addition to the juxtaposition of small elements which precisely recall the tiles of a mosaic.
The coronation of the Doge was held under the imposing statues of Mars and Neptune on the Scala dei Giganti, inside Palazzo Ducale in Venice. However, there was another ancient ceremony which formally bound the prince to his city: the "Marriage of the Sea". Every year, in fact, by dropping a consecrated ring into the waters of the lagoon and with the words "We wed thee, sea, with a token of your true and everlasting dominion” the Doge declared Venice and the sea to be indissolubly united.
As the biographer Suetonius wrote: "... a town on the hill called Vespasia was located six miles from Norcia, along the road to Spoleto, where there are monuments to the Vespasi and buildings erected by them, which are proof of the antiquity and greatness of this family". And it seems, in fact, that the Roman house of Spoleto actually belonged to Vespasia Polla, mother of Emperor Vespasian, the founder of the Flavian dynasty who is still remembered for having begun the construction of the Colosseum.
Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin certainly owes its fame to the legends associated with one of the most visited places in Rome: la Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth); perhaps it is a little less known for its rich heritage of Cosmatesque mosaics. The great marble mask, walled in the portico of the church, was actually a manhole through which rainwater flowed during Roman times, but it is from the Middle Ages that it became known as a "lie-detector" for unfaithful wives.
Chiesa di Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza
It is one of the Baroque works of reference as well as an absolute masterpiece by Borromini. And maybe it is for this reason that so much symbolism has been identified by scholars in the church of S. Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome. The famous lantern placed at the top of the dome, for example, has been associated with Alexandria’s Lighthouse, with the Tower of Babel and with the mountain in Dante's Purgatory because of its spiral shape.
Villa romana di Russi
In ancient Rome, besides the house (domus) and the block of flats (insula), there was another type of dwelling: the villa which could be urbana, that is a country house, or rustica, an actual farm where slaves took care of producing goods both for domestic use and for sale. Rustica villas, such as the one of Russi near Ravenna, have been considered one of the most efficient forms of Rome’s economy.
On Wednesday, 4th May, 2016, Giovanni Allevi will direct the world premiere of his sacred cantata "Sotto lo stesso cielo (Under the same sky)" for choir and orchestra, in a special concert held at the Auditorium of Milan for the launch of the Arts of Italy project, bringing to the stage over 100 musicians. Director and Maestro Giovanni Allevi, Orchestra Sinfonica Italiana, the Coro dell’Opera of Parma. Music by G. Allevi, J.S. Bach, C. Orff.
The figure of Neptune, god of the sea, stands out in the majestic Mosaico delle Stagioni preserved at the Museum A. Salinas of Palermo. His festival, the Neptunalia, was celebrated on 23rd July with water games such as the famous naval battles (naumachie), grand and extremely expensive shows where real naval battles were represented taking place in natural or artificial reservoirs flooded for the occasion. The most famous was the one organised in Rome in 46 BC by Julius Caesar in order to celebrate his triumphs.
Basilica di San Pietro
Thanks to its spectacular setting, in addition to being a place of worship and art, the basilica of St. Pietro in Tuscania has also been the location of some important Italian and international film productions. In 1966, for example, film director Mario Monicelli chose the church for a scene of the famous film L’armata Brancaleone and two years later Franco Zeffirelli set the secret marriage of Romeo and Juliet here.
Domus del Mito
What is a triclinium? It takes its name from the lecti triclinares, the beds on which the hosts lay to eat together with their guests, and it was the room where meals were eaten in ancient Rome. Their dinners were real rituals which lasted hours, sometimes until late at night, and given its importance, the room where they took place was decorated with precious mosaics, such as those of the Domus del Mito near Urbino.
Cathedral of Salerno
Many churches and basilicas of central and southern Italy retain an extraordinary legacy of inlay mosaics, actual "stone carpets", by the same craftsmanship school: we are talking about the Cosmati Masters, the Roman marble workers who operated around the XII century. Their name became known thanks to the "Cosma" signature engraved on their works in various locations.
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
"Night and day, you are the one, only you beneath the moon, under the sun"... Cole Porter made the words of this melody eternal, but maybe not everyone knows that the notes of "Night and Day" were inspired by the magical night atmosphere of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, which bewitched the composer during his honeymoon at the end of the twenties.