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Florestano Vancini : a memoir Hit by a thunderbolt that determined a career and style of life. “In my day, it made a difference whether you were born and raised inside or outside the walls. Ferrara seemed to be a fortified place compared to that limitless countryside, poor and hard-working, and my father was only the Boara postman….” Florestano Vancini, who died on 18 September 2008 last, was physically born inside the walls, on 24 August 1926 in the hospital. However he was raised in Boara, the first village on the road to Copparo, and not “inside” the walled city.
Boldini in Paris The relationship between Boldini and French Impressionism will be explored in this great exhibition. Boldini painted a fascinating picture called Cantante mondana [“Society singer”] in the mid-1880s. It shows a snapshot of the Paris of the late nineteen-hundreds - the life, the cafés and the music halls that the artist patronised along with his friends and fellow-painters like Degas - and as such lay outside the area for which he was renowned, namely portrait painting.
It's all in the blood Impromptu thoughts of a "Dolomite-Po Valley man" My mother was tall and slim, with a consciously understated beauty; on the contrary, my athletic father was well aware of his good looks, tanned by the Cortina sun. She was from a good Ferrara family, had a diploma from the music conservatory and was anything but sporty; he was a ski and ice-hockey champion and mountain climber, from a modest family who were photography pioneers in this remote corner of Italy.
Story of a insolvent bank Luigi Franceschini and the "Piccolo Credito" bank, as remembered by his son. This is a nice “vintage” photograph taken at the San Girolamo Piazza eighty years ago.  It is a  souvenir photo with a certain historical interest: the  three people on  the right were very important characters in the story of  the insolvency of a Ferrara  bank, the  “ Piccolo   Credito ” : my  father,  the lawyer   Luigi   Franceschini,  who  was  the  receiver  appointed  by   the  Court   of   Ferrara ;   to  his  right,
Mystery and blades of grass in Filippo De Pisis The re-emergence of the herbarium collected by the Ferrara painter as a young man. The artistic sensibility of many leading cultural figures was cultivated by collecting grasses, herbs and flowers stalks, to then smoothen them out and press them between sheets of blotting paper:Obviously the great naturalists were enthusiasts, but world-famous thinkers also shared this hobby (Rousseau,Goethe,von Chamisso and Hesse), as well as poets,

The banquet that was never served

Written by  Romano Guzzinati

09-01The wedding banquet for Barbara of Austria and Alfonso II , Duke of Ferrara.

Cristoforo da Messisbugo was an unsurpassed master in the art of court stewardship, and his book on the topic provides a valuable insight into the magnificence of noble feasts in renaissance times. Less well known, but no less important from a historical point of view, was the story written by Giacomo Grana, steward of Cardinal Luigi d’Este. He was entrusted with organising the wedding celebration of the Cardinal’s brother, Alfonso II d’Este, to Barbara of Austria. The year was 1565 and the fate of the dukedom was governed by subtle political games. The lack of legitimate heirs meant that Ferrara could fall into the hands of the Popes. This made it vital for the Duke to form a strong alliance to hold out against the situation and the wedding was the best way to achieve this. What better way to gain an advantage than marrying one of the daughters of Ferdinand I Holy Roman Emperor of Austria? It was decided that Barbara would marry Alfonso II and Johanna would marry Francesco I de Medici, the son of Cosimo I. The marriages were planned to take place together in Trent, which formed part of the Emperor’s territory. However since Alfonso couldn’t get to Trent, the marriage would have to be carried out by proxy, and that would have meant that it was less important than Francesco de Medici’s marriage. Therefore the two betrothed women went to each of their future spouse’s cities: Barbara to Ferrara and Johanna to Florence. The marriage of Alfonso II was celebrated on 5 December 1565 in Ferrara in the current municipal building. Part of the great festivities were to include a banquet organised by Cardinal Luigi d’Este, the brother of the groom, at his residence in the splendid Palazzo dei Diamanti,on 12 December. But then Pope Pius IV died unexpectedly, and for reason, His Excellency had to make all haste to Rome due to the vacant seat, and therefore couldn’t host the aforesaid banquet and feast that I, Giacomo Grana, had proposed and arranged. The description of the banquet preparations was very detailed. Mr. Grana noted that he had purchased all types of fresh-water fish at Lake Garda and Lake Iseo, and sea fish of the best quality from Venice and Schiavonia, including a great quantity of spider crabs, scallops, European lobsters, and all types of clams and date mussels available in that season; ten thousand oysters had also been ordered to prepare as the occasion required. He goes on to say that he procured preserves in Genoa, along with great quantities of fresh artichokes, edible thistles and fresh broad beans and greens and other fruits along with many carnations and roses and other types of flowers to use them as necessary in the hall and at the tables suggesting that either the weather was much milder in those days, or that they even used greenhouses for early produce and flowers. Regarding meat and game, the kitchen was supplied with a great number of chickens and wild birds, deer, rabbits, fallow deer, small boars, hares and large hares and wild rabbits. But a well-stocked larder wasn’t enough to guarantee the success of the dinner: the kitchen had to be able to cope with what was required, so three of them had to be equipped. In addition to the house servants, cooks and pastry chefs and bakers were recruited as well as stewards and cellarmen. Silver plates and round plates and basins and jugs and salt cellars and fruit bowls were procured in addition to the house ware which could be used for the princes’ table. The great hall of the Diamanti palace (which now houses the national picture gallery in the upper floor) was adorned with wooden platforms all around, and tapestries and festoons of vegetables, laurels, cedars, lemons, sweet oranges, roses and carnations to decorate them. Grana also provided all the details on the choreography of the banquet. And finally, the touch of genius! The court and the ladies and gentlemen would retire from the main hall to the other rooms at the end of the banquet so that the tables could be quickly laid once more and the feast could resume and last until the following day. And come morning, they planned to serve a breakfast of preserves, sumptuously served on plates of mostaccioli, a type of hard biscuit made with a flour, honey and candied fruit, so that the participants would be able to say the banquet was so good, that we even ate the plates. What a pity it never happened.


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