Italy

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Food History

An Ancient Snack Bar Lined with Elaborate Frescoes Opens in Pompeii

August 11, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images via Pompeii Sites

The ancient thermopolium (aka hot food stand) that archaeologists unearthed in Pompeii late last year opens to the public this week. Showing the extent of the snack bar’s impeccable preservation—much of its structure, equipment, and vibrant decorations remain intact—new photos from the Regio V site offer a rare glimpse into life in the Italian city that was buried by volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

Elaborate, colorful frescoes depicting on-menu fare like chickens and hanging mallards line the L-shaped bar, with an array of large, earthenware vessels scattered around the space. Embedded within the counter are storage wells called dolia that would have held warm dishes and drinks like wine, duck, fava beans, a paella-style dish of pork, goat, bird, fish, and snail, remnants of which were found last year. According to a release from the site, middle- and lower-class residents rarely cooked at home and were the likely patrons of this small spot, which was one of nearly 80 around the city.

Although this thermopolium originally was discovered back in 2019, archaeologists didn’t return to resume excavation until 2020. Starting August 12, visitors are welcome to stop by every day between noon and 7 p.m., and you can watch the video below for a closer look at the relic. (via The History Blog)

 

 

 



Food History

Archaeologists Have Uncovered an Impeccably Preserved Food Stand in Pompeii

December 28, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images via Pompeii sites

Mallard to go, anyone? Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient thermopolium—aka the Roman equivalent of a street food vendor—at the Regio V site in Pompeii. The well-preserved stand is decorated with multiple frescoes featuring a nereid (nymphs of Greek mythology) riding a sea horse, tall jars with two-handles that commonly were used for storage, and some of the formerly available fare, like mallards and chickens. A rendering of a muscular dog adorns another side of the stand with the insult, “Nicia cineadecacator,” scribed nearby. Various food-based remnants were found, as well, including duck bones, fava beans, wine, and a paella-style dish of pork, goat, bird, fish, and snail, alongside cooking dishes, flasks, and storage vessels.

This thermopolium is thought to be one of about eighty in the Italian city, and excavation on the site began in 2019. When archaeologists discovered that the counter was still in-tact, they extended the project to uncover more of the area. Additional findings now include a small dog’s skeleton and two sets of human bones from people who were trapped when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Although the remains were disassembled by scavengers who dug up the site in the 17th Century, there’s evidence that one of the individuals was about 50 years and lying down on a bed when the volcano buried the area.

The site is slated to open to the public in the spring of 2021 and is just one of the impressive discoveries in Pompeii during 2020. Watch the video below, which is in Italian, to see the excavation process. (via designboom)

 

 

 



Photography

Seagulls and Pigeons Photobomb Shots of Rome by Photographer Skander Khlif 

February 2, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Skander Khlif, used with permission

Munich-based photographer Skander Khlif documents public spaces with the Shakespearian mentality that life is theater and we are all actors. The play becomes both comedy and drama in his recent From Rome, With Birds… series. Seagulls and pigeons take center stage as they fly between the camera and scenes of Italian street life.

Either well-timed shots or a curated collection of happy accidents, Khlif’s humorous series presents an alternate view of a city typically visited and photographed for its architecture. Like people passing in front of buildings, the birds are almost oblivious to the beauty they are obstructing. In the artist bio on his site, Khlif shares that his interest in photography began with a school project back in his home city of Tunis. The experience “made him aware of the power that photography has to reveal the beauty in each object,” even Roman birds.

To see more of Khlif’s photography from his travels around the world, check out his Behance portfolio and follow him on Instagram.

 

 



Art History

A 21 Foot-Long Painting of The Last Supper by 16th Century Nun and Artist Plautilla Nelli Has Just Been Painstakingly Restored

October 24, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In the 1500’s self-taught artist and nun Plautilla Nelli created a life-size mural of Jesus and the twelve apostles at the Last Supper. Spanning 21 feet feet, the vibrantly colored painting includes carefully rendered details including wine chalices, salt cellars, wood panelling, and a rhythmically creased tablecloth. In addition to the inanimate objects depicted, Nelli demonstrated impressive facility with human anatomy in her renderings of the religious figures—at the time, women were barred from studying the field of anatomy.

Nelli’s masterpiece stayed for two centuries at her convent, Santa Caterina, and then changed locations a few times before being unstretched, rolled, and put in storage about a hundred years ago. After an initial restoration and then additional damage due to flooding in the 1960’s, The Last Supper has been undergoing restoration for the past four years. Brought back to life by an all-female team of curators, restorers, and scientists at Advancing Women Artists, it is now on permanent display at the Santa Maria Novella Museum in Florence, Italy. (via artnet, Smithsonian Magazine)

 

 



Photography

The Abandoned Grandeur of Crumbling Palaces Showcased in Large Format Photographs by Thomas Jorion

February 11, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Thomas Jorion, "Pappagallo, Italie" (2018), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Esther Woerdehoff Galerie

Thomas Jorion, “Pappagallo, Italie” (2018), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Esther Woerdehoff Galerie

Whereas many photographers seek to capture beautiful ephemeral moments with their camera lens, French photographer Thomas Jorion is drawn to a more eternal timeline. Using an analog 4×5 camera, Jorion focuses on abandoned places: spaces and structures lost to the nature and time. In his photographs, once majestic buildings that are now largely forgotten are given the same careful composition and attention that more currently-engaged spaces might receive. His solo exhibition Veduta at Esther Woerdehoff Galerie in Paris explores the abandoned villas and palaces of Italy through April 6, 2019. You can see more of Jorion’s work on Instagram.

"Cedri, Italie" (2017), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

“Cedri, Italie” (2017), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

"Fondali, Italie" (2017), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

“Fondali, Italie” (2017), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

"Ghepardi, Italie" (2016), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

“Ghepardi, Italie” (2016), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

"Sognare, Switzerland" (2016), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

“Sognare, Switzerland” (2016), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Thomas Jorion

"Fulmine, Italie" (2018), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Esther Woerdehoff Galerie

“Fulmine, Italie” (2018), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Esther Woerdehoff Galerie 

"Pensile, Italie" (2018), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Esther Woerdehoff Galerie

“Pensile, Italie” (2018), Pigment print, American box frame in raw oak, image courtesy of Esther Woerdehoff Galerie

 

 



Photography

A New Infrared View of the Dolomites by Paolo Pettigiani Shows Craggy Landscapes in Cotton Candy Colors

March 26, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

26-year old photographer Paolo Pettigiani (previously) has been taking pictures since age 11, and in the last few years has produced several series of eye-popping infrared images. Pettigiani’s most recent work showcases the Dolomites, a craggy mountain range in the northeastern region of his native Italy.

Infrared photography uses a special film or light sensor that processes the usually not-visible wavelengths of infrared light (specifically near-infrared, as opposed to far-infrared, which is used in thermal imaging.) The resulting images from Pettigiani depict the stands of coniferous trees as watermelon-pink, while surfaces that don’t reflect IR light stay more true to their nature hues. You can see more of the artist’s photographs on his website, as well as on Behance and Instagram. Pettigiani also offers prints of his work via Lumas.