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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Happy New Year to my readers!

 Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark In 2013, Cultural Cocktail Hour traveled through Andalusia, Umbria, Chianti, and Tuscany. Wishing my readers around the globe a very HAPPY NEW YEAR replete with Many Blessings, Cultural Adventures, and Creative Inspiration! Best Wishes, Leticia Marie Sanchez, Editor-in-Chief, C.C.H.  

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Cultural Cocktail Hour in Manhattan!

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Cultural Cocktail Hour is in Manhattan this week! What is the recipe for the perfect Cultural Cocktail in New York City this week? Photography, Left. Museum Mile Fifth Avenue, New York © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez       #1 Lock eyes with Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring now on view at the Frick. (She’ll win the stare-down, no contest)   #2. Hie thee to the Jewish Museum to see Chagall: Love, War and Exile- for a different side to Chagall: profound and haunting. An exploration of loss both personal (his wife Bella) and global (the Holocaust) through his unique iconographical use of the Crucifixion as a secular symbol to personify suffering.     #3. Enjoy the Double, Double, Toil and Trouble at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre production of Macbeth starring Ethan Hawke! (Check back on Cultural Cocktail Hour

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Stendhal Syndrome in Florence

by Leticia Marie Sanchez Visiting Florence in 1817, the French novelist Stendhal found himself overwhelmed inside Santa Croce. The proximity to Giotto frescoes and Michelangelo’s tomb drove him to a state of delicious delirium. “I was in a sort of ecstasy…Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty … I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations … Everything spoke so vividly to my soul… I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call ‘nerves.’” Florentine psychiatrist Dr. Graziella Magherini coined the term Stendhal Syndrome in 1989. Through her work at the Santa Maria Nuova hospital, she has recorded more than 106 cases of patients exhibiting an intense reaction to art with symptoms ranging from rapid heartbeat and dizziness to extreme cases of hallucinations. Stendhal was not alone. Dr. Iain Bamforth claims that Marcel Proust suffered from the

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Seek and You Shall Find..at the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Photography and text © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Photo, Left: Giorgio Vasari, The battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Inside the Palazzo Vecchio, one can stroll through the Salone dei Cinquecento. This imposing hall for the five hundred members of Florence’s Grand Council can inspire Stendhal-like syndrome in those who view the daunting, dazing Vasari frescoes lining its walls. One can only imagine the moment a visiting ambassador stepped into the hall for the first time. The look in the ambassador’s eyes as he absorbed the massive, vivid scenes of Siena being conquered, of Pisa attacked by Florentine troops, bodies trampled by muscular horses. Do not cross us, the images seem to warn.  Surrounded by such immense intensity, the ambassador suddenly feels very small. Perhaps, he wishes that his boots were an inch taller, or

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Moonwalking at the Piccolomini Library, Siena

Photography and text © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Scruffy tennis shoes tread on crescents more than five centuries old. Half-moons fade under the weight of so many soles. Has no one thought of plexiglass? The 16th century ceramic crescents on which tourists so casually trample represent the emblem of a powerful Sienese family, the Piccolomini. The Piccolomini Library honors 15th century humanist and scholar, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, also known as Pope Pius II. The ceiling and walls, with their luscious scarlets and blues, remain vibrant as ever, shockingly, when one discovers that they have neither been cleaned nor retouched. Bernardino di Betto, more commonly known as Pinturicchio, created the glorious frescoes depicting the life of Pope Pius II. If you walk closely enough, you will observe glittering textures of gold emanating from the robes, collars, and belts of

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St. Francis and the Cappuccino

Photography and text © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Okay, so this photo isn’t a cappuccino. But an espresso macchiato from Badia a Coltibuono, Gaiole In Chianti (where I had the most scrumptious Aubergine Terrine on the planet, but I digress…) After years of living as a fashionista playboy, St. Francis took a vow of poverty. Of celibacy. Of Abstinence. He even poured ashes on his food so as not to taste its flavor. But did you know that the Franciscan saint unwittingly influenced the frothy concoction imbibed by so many coffee lovers today? The Capuchin order of friars emerged in the 16th century as a reformist group devoted to following the original ideals of Saint Francis. The Capuchin hood, or Cappuccino, symbolized this spartan order of hermits. Legend has it that the coffee derives its name

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Assisi, Night and Day, August 2013 by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez  Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Greetings from Umbria!

Photography and text © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Greetings from Umbria! Artists including Cimabue, Giotto, Perugino, Fillipo Lippi, and Piero della Francesca spent time in this verdant oasis. How could they not be inspired? Even the crickets in Umbria are creative types, performing a rigorous daily and nightly symphony. Insomniacs needing a quick fix in the US actually pay to hear this chirping sound on their Sound Soothing machine.  Leave the sound soothers at home. The Crickets and everything else in Umbria (the divine Bufala mozzarella, for instance!) are all real. All natural. Alleluia.  

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Cultural Cocktail Hour heads to Umbria

Cultural Cocktail Hour heads this summer to Umbria, which is known as Il cuore verde d’Italia‘, “The Green Heart of Italy.” Check back in September for photography from Umbria, including the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi, seen in the photo at the left. In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt of a prayer attributed to Saint Francis. “Make me an instrument of your peace Where there is hatred, let me sow love Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy.” Similarly, Cultural Cocktail Hour believes that the highest goal of art and culture is to illuminate, inspire create joy, and forge human understanding.  Wishing my readers a glorious summer!

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Stradivarius violins and Madrid’s Palacio Real

By Leticia Marie Sanchez All Spain Photography © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark One of the largest collections of Stradivarius violins in the world can be found in…Madrid. Madrid’s Palacio Real houses a collection of antique instruments by Antonio Stradivari that includes two violins, two cellos, and a viola. Four of the five instruments were commissioned at the same time, and this collection dubbed “the Spanish Quartet” is valued at more than 100 million euros. During the eighteenth-century, Madrid boasted more than fifty Stradivarius violins and a royal court of internationally acclaimed musicians including Italian composer Luigi Boccherini. King Carlos IV had a passion for the violin, an instrument that he studied as a young man in Italy. Alas, His Majesty’s musical enthusiasm did not translate into execution. Boccherini found the king’s technique rather

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