I visited Bologna's modern art museum, known as MAMbo, today. I was interested in work that they are showing from their permanent collection, and I was happy to see some paintings by artists that I know about: Burri, Paladino, Carol Rama, and Boetti. But nothing connected with me emotionally until I wandered into the Morandi exhibit, which is being stored at MAMbo temporarily. I have never been terribly interested in Morandi - paintings of bottles in shades of gray, really?
But Morandi's still lifes have a strange power. The bottles often lean in ways that they should not, and there sometimes are unrealistic shadows behind them. It may be that the pictures do not photograph well. I was moved by them, and a bit unnerved. Morandi seems to have largely ignored the spectacular developments in the art of his lifetime and limited himself to something quiet and understated.
There is an American artist, Albert York, whose work reminds me most of Morandi. I think York is also a wonderful artist, and he is not very well known. Here is a link to an article about York, in case you are interested: paintingperceptions.com/albert-york-r-i-p/
I took a few not-very-good photos of Morandi paintings (below).
Today we went out in the rain to meet Chiara and get tickets to the Verdi Requiem performance with Riccardo Muti in December. There was quite a crowd by the time we got to the building where tickets were being given out, and then there was a long wait; lots of people were commenting on how disorganized it all was. But I was kind of charmed by the experience. Verdi still is popular, and not only among the old. People of all ages were there.
On the way back to our apartment we stopped at a place that sells scores, books on music, and sheet music. We might have stayed longer if we hadn't been hungry. Apparently Ut Orpheus is a publisher as well as a shop; I looked at a piece for viola and piano that they have published.
AND, we watched the US/Iran soccer match on TV. I understand very little about the game, but it was kind of exciting, right?
On Sunday we were invited for a mid-day meal at the home of the parents of my viola teacher, so we went out in the morning looking for a gift to take along with us. We bought some bread (for us) and some pink cyclamens as a present, both at an outdoor market. The bread, made with "lievito madre" (naturally occurring yeast) turned out to be quite tough (which I like) and salt-free, which was probably a mis-communication with the very pleasant person behind the counter. Next we went to a Christmas market with many booths alongside a large building. We sampled some cheese there and decided to come back and buy some later.
Our hosts, Paolo and Chiara, live in a beautiful apartment with a piano, many books, artworks, and lots of light from good-sized windows. All of the rooms were well-organized and nothing was crowded. Chiara served a real Italian meal: antipasto (appetizers and leafy salad), primo (pasta and a vegetable dish of zucchini with dried tomato), and secondo (a meat course of salmon, and roasted cauliflower and fennel). Dessert was persimmon puree with Greek yogurt. The food was excellent, and like the apartment, very well organized. Both Paulo and Chiara speak very good English; both spent significant time in the US during their formative years, and Chiara was a translator for part of her working life. We had a lot in common with our hosts, starting with our age, our love of music, our politics, and general outlook on life.
We returned to the Christmas market and bought some of the cheese that we had sampled; we also bought chestnuts which were roasted as we watched, two kinds of olives, and a block of candy made from egg whites, honey, and pistachios. The cheese is "cacio cavallo" (horse cheese) a 'stretched curd' like mozzarella, but shaped differently and aged. It has been around since 500BC (described by Hippocrates), one of the oldest documented cheeses. It probably came to Apuglia (south-east Italy) from Greece. It is also very tasty.
We stayed at home yesterday, studying our Italian, and ventured out for groceries in the late afternoon. Some food items are amazingly varied and excellent, like pasta and preserved meats, but others are harder to find, especially vegetables. The outdoor fruit and vegetable stands tend to have better produce; on the other hand, we can't pick over the vegetables the way we do at Market Basket - that is frowned upon here. We take what the clerk gives us, with mixed results. The red wine seems to be uniformly great, though.
After a night of insomnia, I was ready to call off our planned expedition up the famous portico that leads to the church of San Luca. We started out anyway, and gradually both of us began to feel stronger. It took an hour to walk from our apartment near the University to the beginning of the portico, and then took about an hour and a half to arrive at the church. Many younger people passed us, as clearly the steps are used for exercise by the fitness crowd. The climb upward seemed endless, and coming down seemed like nothing at all. The church and the views from the top of the hill are well worth seeing. I will post another gallery of our pictures above this. Though tired, and with sore feet and legs, we felt good by the time we got home and made a late lunch.
Nancy's illness proved to be non-Covid and very brief, 24 hours or less. Take that, germs! or viruses! I suppose I shouldn't tempt fate by gloating over N's fast recovery...
Today we took a nice long walk (about 5 km each way) along the Canale Navile, a waterway north and a little west of the center of Bologna. Though the scenery is not spectacular, our lunch at at Trattoria da Sandro al Navile was really great. Nancy had tortellini in brodo di capone, and I had tagliatelle Bolognese. We also drank the greater part of a bottle of Sangiovese red wine, rather light and very good (Spaletti Principe di Ribano). We also had some nice conversation with the waiters, including a young man from Iran, who gave us an extra dessert and as we were leaving gave us a small bottle of balsamic vinegar as a present.
Apologies to our friend who asked us not to brag about the food in Bologna! But the food was really good, especially after a brisk walk.
Instead of posting pictures below, I am posting a slide show from our walk as the next post.
This morning I had a nice long viola lesson with my teacher, Valentina Rebaudengo, who came to our apartment, while Nancy went out to try to address our problems with electrical plugs and adapters. The wall sockets appear to have a) two fat prongs, b) two thinner prongs, or c) three thinner prongs, and they don't all work together well. Our hostess has quite a number of her own adapters just to deal with these differences; throw in our need to convert to US appliances, and sometimes the stack of adapters begins to stick out a long way from the wall. Nancy had a nice chat in Italian with a helpful clerk (learning lots of new terms for plugs, etc), but the issue is not resolved. Meanwhile, I have lots of new music to practice while relaxing my bow arm, following the markings for slurs, keeping my left-hand fingers appropriately curled and my left arm positioned properly, and well, a golf stroke was never quite this complicated. Some day it will feel natural, I trust.
Yesterday was rather chilly and rainy, but we went out for a walk as we always do. The vegetables that we found in the local Conad (grocery store) were not so great, so we were happy to find better veggies at an outdoor stall in Piazza Aldrovandi; Nancy also purchased an Italian novel in a bookstore there.