Is La Spezia invisible?

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Is La Spezia invisible? Empty Is La Spezia invisible?

Post by la alma on Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:36 pm

I watched Italy Unpacked the other day,and the chef and the art historian were driving through Liguria and part of Tuscany down the west coast (ish). I was really disappointed they didn't sail into Portovenere after the Cinque Terre as it is a fantastic approach. Also, they went on about cities on that coast but made no mention of La Spezia. I know it's only a very small city but it's an important naval port and I've never seen such a superb setting for a port, with the background of the marble mountains. They were supposed to be interested in the less well known parts of Italy so it would have been ideal to mention it. I dont know why they thought the Cinque Terre villages were not well known. You cant usually move for tourists. Did make me long to be back in Italy though. Roll on April.

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Post by Admin on Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:16 am

I saw that too and thought it was an odd thing to say that Cinque Terre is not well known. I did enjoy the program though and not dumbed down like the ridiclous one we watched with Dan Snow on Rome & the Romans the other night.
Not only did they miss La Spezia but the whole of the Western part of Liguria which seeing as the 'Gran Tour' got mentioned a lot seemed a bit lax.
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Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:34 pm

To be fair they are covering a large area and did spend some time going into a lot of detail in some places. Only been to Pisa once (airport many times) and thought it pretty poor, but they pointed out places we would have never spotted. Just seeing some of the wonderful countryside there was enough for us. I would have added "us being stuck here in the UK at the moment", but that would be a little unfair as I'm viewing such beautiful hills here out of the window as I type Smile

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Is La Spezia invisible? Empty Simone's polyptych

Post by JulianaAlice on Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:51 pm

I agree with la alma that the tv programme Italy Unpacked did not get it right regarding the Cinque Terre which they portrayed as a relatively unknown tourist area off the beaten track.  As we know, the Cinque Terre in summer is packed with tourists, especially with American visitors, who are keen to walk the footpaths between the 5 villages.  Large tour companies cannot go there as access is impossible and accommodation is in small bed and breakfast places provided by the villagers themselves in their ancient painted houses crowding the narrow alleyways. 

Their photographic shots of Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli swimming just off Portovenere in no way conveyed that just around the corner was the port, which would have been thronged with holidaymakers keen to sample the fresh fish and pizza.  This truth obviously did not fit in with their theme of undiscovered Italy and food created with herbs freshly picked from the hills above and to recipes handed down through generations.  Their viewpoint is true, but may have been presented better as a juxtaposition of the modern day Cinque Terre and its culinary heritage.

Unfortunately, my recording of this programme cut off at the point they entered Pisa, but my sister tells me they visited the museum of San Matteo, which is located in a 13th century house.

I went there last year and was very happy to be granted free access.

The programme featured the museum's 1319 polyptych which is  the most important and grand of Simone's signed paintings: forty-three busts of apostles, martyrs, bishops and prophets placed in the cusps and under the trefoiled arches of the panels.

Unfortunately at the time of my visit the polyptych was not on display as it was under restoration, and I was bitterly disappointed. 

However, can you believe it?  When we made our way out of the museum and down some side stairs, we passed a workshop with a large display window.  I paused and peeped in.  Unbelievably, there was the polyptch, disassembled and unceremoniously propped up on workbenches amongst restorers' paints and brushes.  Yes, Simone's 14th century work propped up on commonplace workbenches just as it must have been all that time ago when he created it. It was an eerie, thrilling experience, which still haunts me now.  http://www.wga.hu/html_m/s/simone/4altars/3pisa/1pisa.html

I will certainly go back this summer and see this restored work back in place under the spotlights, and remember how I saw it. Pieces of glowing, gold painted wood, left unattended in a darkened workshop.
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Post by la alma on Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:53 am

I too want to visit the museum now I know it exists. And I do hope to visit that amazing pulpit in Pistoia they showed.
Talking about art history, some friends we met in the Val di Vara were so concerned about the lack of written history about the province of La Spezia that they spent a few years researching and taking photos of every church in the province  and eventually produced a beautiful book which is a delight to to use when exploring. I cant remember the exact title as my book is in Italy, but it covers about 600 churches, some of them very remote. If anyone wants more detail I can put them in touch with the authors.

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Post by ghiro on Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:59 pm

OH & I have recently returned from a holiday on distant shores.  As a result we missed the first 2 episodes of the current 'Italy Unpacked' series.  Sad 

TG for BBC iPlayer.   Smile  Smile 

We've now watched episode 1 and intend to also watch episode 2 on 'catch up TV' before episode 3 goes out live at 9:00pm tonight.

I already have my views on the series which I'll share with you tomorrow after I've watched it all (bet you can't wait!!!!).  Wink
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Post by ghiro on Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:14 pm

The next series of Italy Unpacked starts tonight (BBC 2 at 9:00pm GMT).  As they're down south it looks like La Spezia won't get a mention again. Sad
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