Category: Art

Livin’ large at Reggia di Caserta, Royal Palace of Caserta

Reggia di Caserta, as seen from the gardens

Reggia di Caserta, as seen from the gardens.  Yes that thing all the way back near the horizon

The Royal Palace of Caserta, Reggia di Caserta, is a marvelous place.  It was begun in 1752 by Charles VII of Naples with his architect Luigi Vanvitelli.  The Bourbon King wanted a new royal court that was protected from sea attacks.  Modeled mostly after Versailles, but also the Royal Palace in Madrid and the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, Caserta reflects a mixture of Late Baroque and early Neoclassism on a large scale. Not all the rooms are open to the public but the ones that are clearly convey the palace’s splendor.

The park and English garden behind the palace are tremendous in size.  When we finished touring the palace we headed towards the park.  Looking at how far the fountains were from the palace we decided to rent bikes to make a quicker tour.  Whoever came up with the idea of renting bicycles to tourists is brilliant.  If I was wearing a period dress I could have been in a deleted scene from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.   


Walter De Maria lived on my street

Walter de Maria's abode, 421 East 6th Street

Walter de Maria’s abode, 421 East 6th Street.  Courtesy Katharine Marks for The New York Times.  

I’ve lived in the East Village for nearly ten years.  Recently I found out that the creative type living in the strange building on my street was Walter De Maria.  Once or twice I saw a man going into the building but that was it.  No hullabaloo or nonsense over there.

Mr. De Maria died last summer and his home plus the vacant lot to the left is for sale.  Do you have $25 million and need a housekeeper/cook?  Adopt me!  Do not judge this book by its cover because it’s amazing inside.

There’s a slideshow here, and the original article from The New York Times.



A religious afternoon in Naples

Cloister of Santa Chiara

Cloister of Santa Chiara

The morning had been devoted to the worship of beautiful things and after lunch we visited the Church and Cloister of Santa Chiara and marveled at Cristo Velato, The Veiled Christ in the the Chapel of Sansevero.  My favorite part of Santa Chiara was the majolica cloister and courtyard.  I probably wouldn’t make it in this convent long.  I would be too wrapped up in the vivid colors, scenes and designs instead of focusing on my appointed mission.  I’m more a Fraulein Maria than the Mother Abbess.   More

Capodimonte Museum, Naples

Guido Reni, Atalanta and Ippomene.  c. 1625

Guido Reni, Atalanta and Ippomene. c. 1625

The same day we visited the National Archaeological Museum we went up the hills of Naples to the Capodimonte Museum.  We were on the hunt for a Caravaggio but also to see another gem of a museum.  I was so excited when we came upon the Guido Reni painting of Atalanta and Ippomene.  Why?  Because it is the cover illustration for Richard E. Spear’s book on Reni, The Divine Guido: Religion, Sex, Money and Art in the World of Guido Reni and Spear taught at my alma mater Oberlin.  Hurrah!  I was never aware of where the painting lived and to discover it just hanging on the wall was thrilling.

The whole museum is filled with great paintings and drawings.  If you have any interest in Michelangelo, Raphael, Masaccio, Botticelli, Perugino, Mantegna, Bellini, Jacopo de’Barberi, El Greco, Il Parmigianino, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Carracci, Goya, Francois Gerard, Angelika Kauffman, Elisabeth Vigee le Brun or Matteo di Giovanni, then you must visit Capodimonte.  Thank goodness for the royals, rich families and papacy for commissioning and buying art. More

Gimme ancient Greek Sandals

Love the Greek footwear

Love the Greek footwear, National Archaeological Museum of Naples

When you look at a massive marble statue you wonder how the artist conceived it.  How many sketches of a model in different poses were made?  Was a there a clay model?  How much polishing was required to get the marble just so? The question on my mind?  Are those sandals real or made up and why hasn’t any contemporary shoe designer made them yet?

These sculptures tower over you.  You look up trying to catch the subtleties and your eyes wander down and around ending at the feet.  The feet could have been bare, simple, strong Greek feet, but no there are these fantastic sandals.

More fabulous Greek footwear, National Archaeological Museum of Naples

More fabulous Greek footwear, National Archaeological Museum of Naples

Yes there are gladiator sandals today but nothing with this level of embellishment.  Naturally if sandals like these were real they would cost more than I could spend.   I’ll just watch “300” instead and admire the uh, sandals there.  Mmmhmmm.


National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Farnese Hercules, c. 3rd century

Hercules from Baths of Caracalla, c. 3rd century CE

Oh hello.  Is winter over yet?  Is it time to come out of hibernation?  Here we are.  Let’s do this Naples thing!  Our first official day in Naples was spent at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.  It houses artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum and several Roman antiquities.  Being able to see bronzes and mosaics rescued from Pompeii before visiting there emphasized its glory once we got there later in the trip.  As we walked through the rooms of the museum reveling in the collection it was clear that this was the most important archaeological museum in Italy.  The Egyptian collection was not open since it was August and according to Cadillac only Americans work hard.  No matter. More

Naples in August

Via dei Tribunali, Naples

Via dei Tribunali, Naples

Let’s forget about the cold weather and remember the time a few months ago when I went to Naples, Italy for the first time.  This past Summer vacation was spent in Naples (5 days), then a small Aeolian island called Panarea (8 days), a few days (3) in Positano and finally 2 days in Rome to eat at a couple of favorites and see a fantastic exhibition of Luigi Ghirri photographs.  Panarea was my favorite part.  I love vacations but Panarea was better than anything I could have imagined.

Naples is a beautiful city packed with culture and a long, rich history.  The historic sites and buildings are not as perfectly packaged as Rome.  It is grittier and stranger than Rome.  In the New York Times Travel section Rachel Donadio was “Seduced by Naples.”  I can’t say that I was.  I was intrigued and puzzled but Venice seduced me more than Naples.  Perhaps Naples in the days before Pompeii was destroyed, or when the Bourbons ruled it as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, I may have been seduced. More

Cherry Bombe! A magazine you need in your life

Cherry Bombe, Issue No. 1

Cherry Bombe, Issue No. 1

Back cover of Cherry Bombe

Back cover of Cherry Bombe

I heard about Cherry Bombe and was excited to get my hands on it.  Kerry Diamond, Editorial Director, and Claudia Wu, Creative Director (both worked at Harper’s Bazaar) have a mission: “To celebrate women and food, those who make it, grow it, serve it, sell it, style it, enjoy it and everything in between.  Did we mention most of our contributors are women too? ”

With their first issue, “The Tastemakers Issue” they have succeeded in their mission.  It was $18, but at 8 1/2 x 11 inches, 173 pages, 1 pound, 11 ounces, with beautiful photographs, styling and stories you want to read, it is worth it.  The matte paper stock feels lush making me want to keep it forever instead of recycling it with my other monthly magazines.  If you picked up Lucky Peach or any of the Edible magazines then you’ll know what I mean.

How can you resist supermodel Karlie Kloss on the cover with her bowl of The Perfect 10 Kookie batter that she conjured up with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar?  I haven’t tested the recipe for the kookie yet but I have tasted it (they’re available for purchase at Momofuku) and the dairy, gluten-free, vegan cookie is yummy.

A quick rundown of the table contents reveals known and unknown women and subjects (this is a small selection): Rachel Dutton, Harvard microbiologist who focuses on food; food stylist badass Victoria Granof who made all those Irving Penn food photos amazing; Helen Turner of Helen’s Bar-B-Q in Brownsville, Tennessee; Charlotte Druckman, author of “Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen”; Caitlin Freeman‘s cake tribute to Dries van Noten; “food artist” Jennifer Rubell; Nandini D’Souza’s memories of her Mother’s cooking literally adding spice to Ridgefield, Connecticut; Celia Sack of Omnivore Books.

There is so much jam-packed into this magazine that you should immediately buy it or get a subscription.

I enjoy the work that went into Cherry Bombe.  They ran a Kickstarter campaign which is now over, but I’m glad they got their funding.  Since it seems that art, fashion, food are colliding every day I’m happy to see magazine try to encapsulate that, and move beyond it.


Ranakpur, A quick stop from Udaipur to Jodhpur

Outside of Ranakpur

Outside of Ranakpur

On our drive from Udaipur to Jodhpur we stopped at the early 15th century Jain temple of Ranakpur.  It is a large white marble building, a nice refuge from the sun.  Since millions of people have walked through the temple the marble was a lovely sensory experience on my bare feet.  I love being barefoot.  I’m not about to walk around in unhygienic settings without shoes but when I have the chance to let the toes breathe I love it.

There are over 1,400 unique pillars that support the temple.  If you’re thinking I took pictures of all of them, not quite.  It is an amazing temple though with beautiful carved figures and details everywhere.

You’ll also see me in some turquoise drop crotch pants.  I’m sitting down so you won’t get to see how silly they are.  I don’t know what else to call them but you know what I mean.  Rather than the crotch of the pants being in the normal location at the top of one’s thighs, the crotch is just above the knees.  Justin Bieber has been wearing pants like this lately.  I had seen several people with these pants on and was curious.  Are they more comfortable than regular pants?  Perhaps I should try them.  In Udaipur there was a store that had them ridiculously cheap so I decided why not.  These pants are not for me.  Maybe if it wasn’t 100 degrees with 80% humidity I would have enjoyed them.  Or maybe if the top of my thighs didn’t touch I would experience delight instead of discomfort.  I didn’t throw them away.  They’re in my apartment somewhere as a reminder of a bad idea. More

City Palace of Udaipur

City Palace

City Palace

The City Palace of Udaipur is the largest in Rajasthan.  It is also one of the most well-kept palaces of the region.  I would attribute this to tourism.  There were several beautifully decorated rooms to discover within the labyrinth of the palace.  You get magnificent views of the lake and a trip back in time.

Maharaja Udai Singh II established his city here upon the advice of a holy man who suggested the protection afforded by the forests, lakes and Aravalli Hills would be advantageous for the new capital of Mewar.  Chittor was previously the capital but Akbar destroyed it.  From its beginnings in 1568 until India’s unification in 1947, Udaipur survived many Mughal attacks.  This pride and history that is reflected inside the Palace. More