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Nicolao Valiensi brings ordinary life to a breathless standstill

Nicolao Valiensi brings ordinary life to a breathless standstill

Impermanence Dance Theatre in Barga

In August 2007, the brilliant Dusseldorf musician and composer Nicolao Valiensi brought ordinary life to a breathless standstill in Piazza Angelio with “l’Anima dei Luoghi.” His theme was cultural ferment and its limitless possibilities, in an age that is more often obsessed with cultural boundaries and conflict. Last night the Garfagnana born Valiensi did it […]

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Barga, San Rocco and the Black Death

Barga, San Rocco and the Black Death

As Barga celebrates its annual mid-August festa di San Rocco with dining and dancing under the stars and a lively outdoor market, it is also marking the inconceivable carnage of the Black Death – in which the Serchio Valley almost certainly played a critical role.

In the lengthy annals of European trauma, ranging from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the Second World War, probably none had greater impact on the collective memory than the Black Death. In the brief span of four years, beginning in 1348, the deadliest epidemic in recorded history carried off up to 60 percent […]

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Date set for “The Duomo of Barga paintings” exhibition

The exhibition at the Civic Museum in Barga Vecchia opens on the 13th July 2013 and will remain open until the end of August 2013.

All winter there has been a continuous trickle of images coming out of Keane’s studio in Barga Vecchia and being published on various social networks. Finally these paintings can now be seen in their entirety and in a context that makes perfect sense as they can be viewed just a few scant metres away from […]

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Putting quake fears in context

Putting quake fears in context

Yesterday was the first day since January in which the region experienced no aftershocks of any readable dimensions. Maybe today would be a good day to put some of the earthquake fears into context. A some readers have already noticed, the last article concerning seismic events was no longer titled an “earthquake” but instead was […]

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Music in Tuscany: music conquers all on a summer’s eve

Music in Tuscany: music conquers all on a summer’s eve

At 10pm last night, a pall of suffocating heat hung in the nearly airless Carradini lecture hall at the Istituto Superiore d’Istruzione. A fair part of the audience was made up of fidgety pre-adolescents, on holiday in Barga with their families. The omens were not good – and they didn’t even take into account a […]

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A Trial Tests Sicily’s Dark Soul

A Trial Tests Sicily’s Dark Soul

Ceremonies in Italy have been marking 20 years since the murder of anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone. Prime Minister Mario Monti joined thousands gathered in Palermo, Falcone’s birthplace, capital of the autonomous region of Sicily, and the centre of his fight against organised crime. The anniversary comes less than a week after a bomb attack on […]

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The American dream has emigrated to Europe

The American dream has emigrated to Europe

To anyone who grew up in the Cold War, the rhetoric of the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential candidates is strangely familiar. The United States, they warn, is threatened by an alien ideology.  What’s startling is that the bogeyman this time around is not resurgent and increasingly hostile Russia, but Western Europe – Washington’s closest and […]

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The unfinished legacy of 2010

The unfinished legacy of 2010

Take a close and objective look at the angry demonstrators now gathered on Wall Street, and at similar protest encampments from San Francisco to Madrid. What you see is not simply a vast expression of rage at the crisis enveloping the world of democracy. The demonstrations also frame a fundamental contradiction – a profound source […]

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The Walls of Barga – exhibition by Keane

The Walls of Barga – exhibition by Keane

Barga, its fondest promoters love to say, is a “classic example of a Tuscan hilltown.” But what exactly defines the classic appearance of Barga – or for that matter, Tuscany? The answer, says an exhibition in the entrance hall of Palazzo Pancrazi, home of Barga’s municipal government, is not a fixed aesthetic vocabulary grounded in […]

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In Saudi Arabia, a new era for women

In Saudi Arabia, a new era for women

When King Abdullah’s speech was released by the Saudi Press Service on Sunday, my first reaction was stunned amazement. The second was to think of Dr. Aisha, a physician I’d met in Riyadh eight years ago. “Women will be allowed to participate in the Shoura Council as members from the next session onwards,” the ageing […]

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Fifteen Lire’s worth of mystery in Piazza Salvi

Fifteen Lire’s worth of mystery in Piazza Salvi

Vestiges of a turbulent passage in Italian history may have come to light on Monday (September 26), in the form of three silver coins unearthed beneath the venerable pavimenti of Piazza Salvo Salvi. How they made their way to Barga, and were eventually covered by paving stones, is unknown. The coins were turned up by […]

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The Model for Palestine 2011 – Israel in 1949

The Model for Palestine 2011 – Israel in 1949

Global stability is held hostage to years of savage terrorism and de facto war in a small corner of the Middle East. The crisis leads to a tense vote before the United Nations, over whether a new member-state should be recognized in the region, with a formal mandate to defend its interests and negotiate viable […]