We The Italians | Italian art: Sicilian Philology

Italian art: Sicilian Philology

Italian art: Sicilian Philology

  • WTI Magazine #133 Nov 14, 2020
  • 112

The Telamon of the Temple of Zeus in the Archaeological Park of Akragas, Agrigento has a length of at least twelve meters, as to say 40 feet. And from the end of 2020 the works will begin to restore it in vertical position as it originally was. A colossal architectural element that will be reconstructed with original finds that supported the entablature of the temple, the size of this giant, which made up only a small part of the sacred building, will give an idea of the magnificence of the architecture of the time.

Every Telamon was 7.65 meters (25 feet) high to which the trabeation and the platform must be added up to twelve meters (40 feet): they were the largest of antiquity in Sicily and among the largest of the entire Greek art. It will be the best way to celebrate the new year and the 2600 years since the founding of the city of Akragas. Agrigento celebrates the greatness of the ancient city with a recovery of its memory, through which it revives its sense of belonging to a territory that is the cradle of Western civilization. The attractiveness of the archaeological area and the city will undoubtedly be enhanced.

There are many ancient and abandoned villages in Sicily. Each one has its own intrinsic charm, some are really fascinating for their decadence and about others we could say that it is a shame not to be able to relive them as they once were. This is why the Sicilian Region decided to start the recovery of one of these villages: Borgo Bonsignore in Ribera, in the Agrigento area. The works, which will allow the restoration of the original structure, also include the creation of a cultural space where the history and life of the village will be told, through ancient films of the Istituto Luce and period photographs, inaugurated in 1940.

The urban structure consists of a set of buildings arranged around a single square, partially closed by porticos and dominated by the tower of the littorio, on which there are also the church with the rectory, the medical dispensary, the school, the offices of the reclamation agency and the podestà, the trattoria, the post office and the Carabinieri barracks. The church has decorations with colored glass and frescoes by the futurist painter Alfonso Amorelli, originally from Sambuca di Sicilia, while the terracotta tiles that decorate the trattoria and the school are the work of the artist Salvatore Alberghina. The architecture of the rural villages reflects the complexity of the Italian architectural landscape of the Thirties, in which the demands of the most rigorous European rationalism coexisted, with the so-called "Novecento" style that pursued a reinterpretation of tradition.

In Palermo an odyssey of art closes where it began five centuries ago. A church, an altar and a painting: these are the three protagonists of a puzzle where the missing pieces are now all back in place. The altar by Antonello Gagini was rebuilt in the Anzalone Chapel of Spasimo and was inaugurated on July 9. It will once again house, even if in copy, the large painting by Raffaello made for the church in Palermo: a reproduction identical to the original "Spasimo di Sicilia", made for the occasion.

It is the crowning achievement of a long and complicated research that lasted 34 years, stubbornly conducted by Marie Antoinette Spadaro, architect and art historian, who after having identified and catalogued the fifty pieces of the altar preserved at Villa San Cataldo, in Bagheria, managed to put the puzzle back together.

A return to the origins, then, for the altar by Gagini, made in 1517 in the large church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo, built by the jurist Jacopo Basilicò and dedicated to his wife, particularly devoted to the Madonna. Now, almost two years after the beginning of the reconstruction and restoration work, conducted by the Historical City Office of the Municipality of Palermo, the altar is finally ready and is reunited, in its original location, with the work it contained. They have been separated for more than three hundred years.