Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Colonial casa filled with mythical creatures

jacobo and maria angeles

Above collaboration: Photograph by Fernando Armenghol enhanced with oil and gouache by Jacobo and Maria Angeles of San Martin Ticaljete, Oaxaca

The façade of Casa de Montejo on Merida’s Plaza Grande is striking with its sculpted conquistadors armed with halberd axes dwarfing figures below representing those they conquered. The mansion dates from 1540 and was built on land Spain awarded to Francisco de Montejo (1479-1553) for his role in subjugating the Yucatan. The prominent residence was remodeled multiple times through the centuries and was purchased and restored by Citibanamex in 1981. The main portion of the casa is a cultural museum, with the bank tucking its operations tastefully off the back patio. Continue reading “Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Colonial casa filled with mythical creatures”

Biannual Roundup: What you’re looking at gets a makeover

street art malaga spain pulpo wine

Street art encountered in Malaga, Spain

Only a decade or so old, but WordPress kept dropping hints that my blog format was outdated and becoming obsolete. The time was approaching that it would no longer function on the platform.

So here it is: the first post with a new look in a format I am trying to master. I promise not to include any of the curse words that my slip out of my mouth as I try to make heads and tails of it.

It happens to be that time of the year, halfway through, for that exciting list of what posts you have clicked on most during the past 12 months. My book has not dropped off the list yet, and I am grateful for that and that you continue to let the blog play boulevardier even though the writer actually is in a state of corona-hibernation.

Click here to read the rest of this post and view more photos

Postcard from Naples, Italy: Glamming up the royal residence

While Pope Sixtus V (1521-1590) kept architect Domenico Fontana (1543-1607) well occupied around the Vatican and Rome, he managed to take on a project for the Viceroy in Naples. The excuse for the construction of the palace was an impending visit by King Philip III of Spain (confusingly known as Philip II in his role as King of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia) (1578-1621). But, alas, when the king did not make it to Naples as planned, rather than let it go to waste, the Viceroy himself move into the grand new quarters.

A new royal arrived in town in 1734, King Charles III of Spain (adding to the confusion, prior to becoming King of Spain in 1759, he was known as Charles VII of Naples and Charles V of Sicily) (1716-1788). By the time King Charles arrived, the palace was empty of residents and devoid of furniture. While waiting for suitable decorating, the new arrivals temporarily were forced to furnish it with contents bought from the pawnshop and private citizens.

King Charles III immediately put architects and artists to work. With his marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony (1724-1760), decorating assumed a sense of urgency. To take care of royal needs, a porcelain factory was founded, which later became known as Capodimonte porcelain. Receiving an abundant supply of art from his mother, Elizabeth Farnese (1692-1766), the Queen of Spain, Charles was able to transfer it from family palaces in Parma and Rome to Naples. One palace, however, is hardly enough to accommodate royal needs, so two more were built which the blog will visit later.

His son, Ferdinand I as King of the Two Sicilies (Ferdinand IV as King of Naples or Ferdinand III and King of Sicily) (1751-1825), begin to take beautifying the palace to even higher levels. Arranged by his father, King Charles, Ferdinand’s proxy marriage to 16-year-old Maria Carolina of Austria (1752-1814) spurred further gilding and flocking throughout. The grand hall was remodeled to serve as a court theatre.

By the time his grandson, Ferdinand II (1810-1859), became King of the Two Sicilies, the whole palace was viewed as in need of a major renovation. This was partially due to a fire in 1837 and partially to accommodate modern services and systems for lighting, water-delivery, sewage and so forth.

Finally in 1888, King Umberto I of Italy (of the House of Savoy) (1844-1900) altered the façade of the building addressing the grand Piazza del Plebiscito. Large statues of major rulers of Naples were commissioned for the new niches.

Addicted to writing with access to two computer screens displaying a multitude of resources, I was most impressed by an early innovative predecessor – sort of a ferris wheel for books to aid research from multiple tomes at one’s desk.