Cultural Gems from Italy

Cultural Gems from Italy

Just so you know, it's not all about the food. Art and culture have their place in Italy too. Familiarise yourself with these creative geniuses who have made their mark on the cultural landscape.

READ anything by Elena Ferrante, the Naples-born novelist who keeps her identity a secret. Not easy when your work is this sensational. A good place to start is Ferrante's quartet of Neapolitan novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child - an unsentimental portrait of female experience, rivalry and friendship. She has been called one of the most important novelists of our time, and even her translator is acclaimed - The New Yorker's Ann Goldstein.

REVISIT the arresting portraits of Modigliani. The Tuscan painter and sculptor led rather a short and tragic life (1884-1920), but continues to do well for himself after death. In November 2015, his ‘Nu Couche’ sold at Christie’s in New York for US$170.4 million. The second-most expensive painting ever sold was 'painted through an absinthe haze as the first world war raged,' according to Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones. Closer to home, the National Gallery Australia is home to 13 valuable Modiglianis - three on display al momento.

WATCH the films of Federico Fellini, who died in 1993, was most active in the 1950s and 1960s and is still inspiring today's auteurs. Fellini documented his dreams every day for decades and you can tell from watching his movies. Our top picks for a lazy Italophile Sunday are81/2, where a filmmaker retreats to his fantasy world; La Dolce Vita, a week in the life of a harried paparazzo; and La Strada, where a carefree girl is sold to a travelling entertainer. All in all, an absorbing mix of surrealism meets earthy appeal.

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