Monday, November 9, 2009

The second life of Bellomo Gallery

No doubt, Sicily is a true open-air museum with its Greek temples and theatres, Roman and Byzantine mosaics, Medieval-style villages, Baroque-style palazzos and towns, Art-nouveau decorations.

For this, you'll be somehow disappointed if you expect to find a tons of art museums throughout the island as this seems to not to be a priority for our politicians who definitely lack of a far-seeing long-term strategy in terms of cultural politics.

But we do have fine pearls to show and the Bellomo Gallery is one of them. 

Take a walk in Ortigia, the Baroque-style historical centre of Syracuse, get across the scenographic Piazza Duomo, dazzling light and airy, a triumph of limestone prevailing in its monuments, the imposing Cattedrale and the noble palazzos defining the square. This square has been several times the perfect set for famous shootings.
Proceed to the Badia di Santa Lucia, a small church, once a nuns' convent, now hedging in temporarily Caravaggio's Bury of St. Lucy

Finally, head towards Via Capodieci 14. The Gallery of Palazzo Bellomo stands here, brought back to its second life thanks to long works of restoration.

Luigi Messina, its enlightened director, is one of those rare exemplary in Sicily public administration of pleasant and passionate men  who just care about what he does and the way this has to be done. He is so proud of the museum's new life, you cannot be infected by his enthusiasm, energy and own volition.

I can't say what it is more interesting, if the Palazzo itself, a building dating back to XIII-XIV century, being the most comprehensive architectural masterpiece in Syracuse of the age of Frederick II, or the Medieval and modern art collection it offers to amateurs. 

 Antonello da Messina's Annunciation is absolutely the highlight. Its partial restoration has revived that predominant and eye-catching cobalt blue as well as numberless small important details which enriches the painting and mark it out.

But the Gallery offers more. A sequence of refined pictorial collections of the XV century, but also silver and gold pieces, historical clothes, fabrics, ceramics, weapons, carriages.

No bookshop nor cafè at disposal for visitors at the moment. Burocracy in Sicily is slower than everywhere else in the world, we trust sometime in the future the museum will be provided with them. Cultural marketing is a process we still have to metabolize in Sicily.
Its admission fee fixed at Eur 8,00 per person might be maybe too much, I heard people complaining there is no right balance between price and the offer. 

Despite to that, we would like to believe the Bellomo Gallery is meant as a concrete step forward to try to turn our art patrimony from a heritage of the past into a real investment for the future of the territory and its population.

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