Gourmet Fair

The Magic and Mystery of Apulia

Griffin tile mosaic at the 11th century Bitonto Cathedral, but dating from the previous early Christian church at the same location. ©Photo Paolo Azzela. Courtesy Italian Cultural Institute. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Paris, France — Abundant amphoras, those containers from Antiquity, a medieval mosaic depicting a griffin, a classical Greek wine jug configured with the intriguing head of a woman, zoomorphic rhytona, conical containers from Antiquity for libations, these, too, depicting griffins and other fantastical animals are just some of the treasures of the Apulia or Puglia region of Italy on display at the Italian Cultural Institute in Paris. The show reveals the wealth of this region of Italy located on the heel of the boot and bursting with treasures from Antiquity, medieval marvels and olive orchards. The exhibition, entitled Apulia, Mysteries of the Puglia between the Land, Stones and the Sea, has received the support of the region’s seven major museums and benefits from loans of their exceptional objects.

A graceful oinochoe or wine vessel featuring the head of a woman, object from the classical period of Greek sculpture. ©Musée archéologique national de Canosa di Puglia. Courtesy Italian Cultural Institute. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Apulia, which was first colonized by Mycenaean Greeks, is one of the richest archaeological regions in Italy. Some 20 exceptional archeological pieces, dating from the 4th to the 5th centuries B.C., are on display from Antiquity when the region was referred to as Magna Græcia. Among the pieces on view are the red vases from the celebrated Jatta de Ruvo di Puglia collection including one representing the story of Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus in Greek mythology, the zoomorphic rhytons, much sought after by wealthy 19th century collectors are on display as well. The objects underscore the refinement of this civilization and its day to day life and the importance of ancestor worship.

Multicolored clay statuette of what appears to be an angel-like figure holding a lyre. ©Musée Archéologique National de Canosa di Puglia.Courtesy Italian Cultural Institute. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Meanwhile the medieval section of the show which covers the 8th to the 13th centuries offers a discovery of the stone work, notably in churches from this period. Through a video installation the visitor can discover the region’s cave churches hidden behind luxuriant ravines, which are still not very well known, carved into the walls of rock and completely covered with Byzantine frescos. The curator of the exhibition, Francesca Marocchino, called upon the talents of leading photographers to photograph the medieval rural churches, cathedrals, sculptures and mosaics of the region.

A griffin sculpture on the front portal of the Bitonto Cathedral in Apulia. ©Photo Paolo Azzela.Courtesy Italian Cultural Institute. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

In the cultural institute’s stunning garden, contemporary sculptures have been installed as well as a wall evoking the stone walls that wind and wend through the region’s olive orchards and that have existed for millennia. Of note is the recurrence of the griffin in objects and works from both Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The fantastical creatures with the body of a lion and the head and wings of the eagle symbolically ruled over two realms, the air and the earth.

A beautifully executed amphora of Lycurgue Nereidi, 420 B.C ©Musée archéologique Jatta. Courtesy Italian Cultural Institute. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The Italian Cultural Institute, located in a beautiful private mansion, promotes the language and culture of Italy through events, exhibitions, language classes, conferences and an extensive library.
Apulia exhibition until September 28th. Admission is free.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette
Institut Culturel Italien
50 Rue de Varenne
75007 Paris
Tel: + 33 (0)1 85 14 62 50www.iicparigi.esteri.it

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