Saturday, September 12, 2009

Isola d'Ischia

Ischia is a volcanic island at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, just across the island of Capri...
and it will have the honor of my presence in a few days!

The island is famous for its natural volcanic activity, its thermal hot springs, and its volcanic mud.
Negombo Park, a wellness center, near Lacco Ameno, where thermal water, Mediterranean vegetation and sea water combined cure and revitalize (so I hope...)
The Bay of San Montano is a small, protected cove. The beach is the blondest and most finely grained on an island predominantly made up of darker, volcanic soil.
Site of one of the earliest Greek colonies in the west, Lacco Ameno was once a key trading point between the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations - that of Pithecusa.
You may have seen already some scenery from Ischia since parts of the film The Talented Mr Ripley were filmed on the island.
A key personality in the economic development of Lacco Ameno was Angelo Rizzoli ( Milan 1889-1970). Orphaned at a young age and raised in poverty, Rizzoli rose to prosperity. He apprenticed in the printer trade and later became an entrepreneur in his twenties and a film producer later on ("La Dolce Vita" and many more famous movies). In 1949 he began publishing books and soon created an Italian publishing empire. One-time resident of Villa Arbusto, his influence brought a variety of stars and public figures to the island after the Second World War.
Fish abounds in the Mediterranean sea and many specialties of the region are my favorites, one of them "Pesce all'acqua pazza" or fish in crazy water! Easy to make and delicious but it needs the right kind of fish.
A specialty of Naples if not THE most famous specialty? But of course...La Pizzaaaa
Vegetables and fruits, due to the long exposure to sun have a special taste.
Lemons of Ischia are famous for their sweetness, their skin is used to produce "Limoncello" liqueur but lemons are also part of several recipes for desserts (even lemon and chocolate truffles).
At times at home I even venture to make the famous "Pastiera napoletana" a cake with a lengthy preparation which is a must in Naples to celebrate Easter. Among other ingredients: Ricotta, lemon zest, presoaked grain, many eggs and it must be prepared a few days in advance to allow ingredients' flavors to blend.
One last small Naples it is still in use to go to a Coffee place and after having ordered a drink pay also for another one (being coffee, tea or something else). "Caffé Pagato" declares the person at the cashier and that means someone else, with less money or no money will find a free coffee for him later on.
Just that makes me love Naples and its culture!
I can't wait...

Text and images sources: Wikipedia and Ischia website

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Museo Salvatore Ferragamo

An interesting Museum in the historic Fini-Speroni palace in Florence, Ferragamo's headquarters, tells the story of the founder Salvatore Ferragamo and shows his legendary creations.
"Opened in 1995 by Wanda Ferragamo and her family, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum was designed to show the public the history of the brand’s founder and his creations – footwear viewed by museums and experts worldwide as no less than works of art".


Since he was a kid he loved shoes and played with cardboard and scissors in his modest house near Naples. Being part of a 14 children family he very early had to stop playing and started working as one of the humblest job's figure at the time: " il ciabattino" (repairing shoes). At 13 years of age he opened a tiny store in his family's house working with 5 more children around shoes. In 1914 he embarked on the "Stampalia" with his brothers to follow the "American dream".
His name rapidly became famous in the world of Cinematography and many important actors and actresses like Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Rodolfo Valentino, fell in love with those shoes made by hand and smoothly embracing their feet, created with the most extravagant materials, oriental silk, feathers, brocade.   He returned to Italy and opened his own store in Florence in 1927.

Ferragamo with Joan Crawford in his store on Hollywood Boulevard, 1928

with Sophia Loren, 1950's

with Audrey Hepburn in Florence, 1950's

Since the beginning he wanted to make a statement and shoes became a primary element of fashion, not just of secondary importance as before. He was definitely a precursor of time! But style was not the only thing he was interested in, comfort was always his priority (he had study anatomy at the University of South California, while there).
Going back to the Museum...Since there are about 10,000 shoe's models in the collection they are exhibited in biennial rotations following different themes.
This year is the time of "COLOR" and the use of it in Ferragamo's fashion accessories since the 30's.
Strong, bold colors breaking the tradition of blacks, browns or whites: emerald greens, sunny yellows, intense blues and, his favorite color, ruby red, symbol of energy and life.

Note the Cubist inspiration of the shoe on the right.
1938 Chinoiserie (which will be trendy even today)


Sandal 1938 Upper in black silk and gold kid. Wedge heel in cork covered by mosaic of gilded glass. The model was created for Carmen Miranda

Invisible sandal, 1947 Upper formed of a single nylon thread and green kid.F-shaped wedge heel in wood covered with green kid.

Sandal made of black silk with a silk sock either black, red or gold. The model was called "Kimo" and created in 1951 !!! How contemporary can it be..

Sandal, 1955 Upper in black satin. Brass cage heel.

"Viatica" is the shoe created for Marilyn Monroe in the Billy Wilder's movie
 "Someone like it hot" 1959.

Court shoe, 1958-59 Upper in brown crocodile.Stiletto heel. The model was created for
Marilyn Monroe.


Boot, 1964-65 Zebra upper with leather sole

Sandal in synthetic raffia, 1967
Sandal created for Charlotte Rampling in 2001


 2001 Sandal in black satin with ‘Gancino’ ornament studded with diamonds, created for the event 'White Tie and Ball' for the Elton John AIDS Foundation


Another image of the Museum with the medieval coffered ceiling.

A beautiful book about the history of Palazzo Spini Feroni and its Museum, which today acts as the headquarters for Salvatore Ferragamo. The book has numerous illustrations and explains the artistic works contained within the building. (Milan, 1995)

Images from Ferragamo website and from Ufficio stampa Salvatore Ferragamo
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