I duck out from all the shouting and enter the first wing on the right, where I find the Collezione Farnese, originally located in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, this collection of ancient sculptures put together first by Pope Paolo III and later by his descendants.
Last time I was in Naples, I fell in love with the panoramic view over the city from Castello Sant’Elmo on the Vomero hill. So, when I heard about a jazz rag’n blues concert organized by Campania Grand Tour to be held at the castle as a tribute to Enrico Caruso, I knew I had to be there. The concert was inside the former prison of the castle, now the Napoli Novecento museum, which houses a collection of works by local artists from the last century.
‘Listen’, ‘Pss’, ‘Grr’. So many voices are coming out from the funnels hung on the ceiling that I can’t hear mine. Suddenly, everything is quiet for a few seconds, but even the silence –at this point- gets me muddled. Then, again, more voices are calling to me: ‘Look’, ‘Ehi’, ‘Pss’, ‘Woof’. Calls, bleary sounds, background noises that were scattered through the days of those people who used to live inside this very building, the psychiatric hospital of Santa Maria della Pietà in Rome.
The thing about Skopje’s museums is that not only do they constitute a door through which you can enter Macedonian arts, history or culture, but they are also housed inside beautiful locations. From an ancient, multi-domed hammam or the old railway station torn down by the earthquake in 1963, to the glassy, late-modernist architecture at the top of the Kale Fortress’ panoramic hill, Skopje’s museums are fascinating in more than one way.
The People’s Republic of Bulgaria was the official name of the Bulgarian socialist republic that existed from 1946 to 1990. The Bulgarian Communist Party was ruling the country and the prime minister was Georgi Dimitrov until 1949, then Valko Chervenkov and Todor Zhivkov after him. I found the Bulgarian socialist past an excellent ‘fil-rouge’ to dig into Sofia’s architecture, art and monuments, from the city centre to the Museum of Socialist Art and the several areas in the outskirts built according to the standards of socialist architecture to accommodate the multitude of people who came from the countryside to work in the new factories that the Party wanted.