Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Italians upset by La Scala’s decision to kick off season with German composer Wagner and not local hero Verdi – News – Classical – The Independent

December 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Richard Wagner‘s Lohengrin kicks off La Scala‘s season on Friday with the renowned Milanese theatre under fire for choosing the German maestro over local hero Giuseppe Verdi on the biggest night of the year for the world of opera.

With opera lovers around the globe preparing to celebrate the 200th birthday of both composers, born a few months apart in 1813, La Scala has been accused of being unpatriotic at a time when Italy battles a recession some blame on austerity policies driven by Germany.

“La Scala puts Verdi in a corner, preferring the German,” wrote il Giornale newspaper owned by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s family and known for its vitriolic attacks on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Corriere della Sera said there was unease in the orchestra pit over the choice of Wagner in Verdi’s musical home and talked of “a blow to national pride in a moment of crisis.”

La Scala general manager Stephane Lissner, a Frenchman, has dismissed the controversy as ridiculous.

“There are more serious problems than this Wagner-Verdi derby,” he told reporters this week, pointing out that the theatre will stage six works by Wagner against eight by Verdi in the 2012/13 season.

via Italians upset by La Scala’s decision to kick off season with German composer Wagner and not local hero Verdi – News – Classical – The Independent.


Am I a dork for wanting to wear a beret? – The Globe and Mail

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

The question

Can I wear a beret? It’s a classic black Spanish one. I’m not in the army.

The answer

A Roz Chast cartoon in a recent issue of the New Yorker shows a guy wearing a Basque beret (the most common style) in the street. Nobody is really looking at him, but he is thinking angrily to himself, “I’m allowed to wear a beret! Plenty of people all over the world wear a beret!”

The thing is, of course, they don’t: Only the very oldest of old men in the smallest of towns in France and Italy still do; the rest of the beret purchasers are either planning a fancy-dress costume (a “painter,” usually, with white smock and palette and floppy bow) or hoping to join the Guardian Angels. There is also a small contingent of elderly professors (political science, philosophy, classics) who emulate Jean-Paul Sartre and Che Guevara in pictures from their youth; they’re sweet, in their buttoned trench coats, but you don’t want to look like them.

via Am I a dork for wanting to wear a beret? – The Globe and Mail.

BBC News – Mussolini’s bunker: Il Duce’s futile search for safety

The extensive air-raid shelter that Benito Mussolini had built under his home gives a flavour of the fears that must have haunted the Italian dictator’s final days.

The Via Nomentana is an avenue like many others in Rome. Taxis and motorbikes hurtle along it in the summer heat but, half-way down, through a set of iron gates, lies another world – the cool and the calm of the gardens of the Villa Torlonia.

A lawn, shaded by palm trees, rises up a slope and a path lined with flowers leads to the villa itself – grand and imposing. For 18 years, this was the home of Benito Mussolini, his wife and their children.

In this beautiful place, Italy’s dictator, Il Duce, lived out his rise and fall.

The villa is a museum now and, as you wander through its marble halls, it is easy to see that – for a time – life here for the Mussolinis was very good indeed.

The ballroom is lit by low-hanging chandeliers and above them, on the ceiling, painted angels go gliding through the heavens.

Mussolini’s bedroom is still much as he would remember it. You can almost see him throwing open the tall green shutters on a summer night, letting in any breeze that might emerge from the trees beyond the balcony.

Black-and-white photographs show how Mussolini spent his days at the villa.

Out on the fine white gravel of the driveway, you see him pictured as a swordsman, practising his fencing – Il Duce’s stocky frame presenting a rather large target for his coach.

In one photo, he is on a white horse, easily clearing a jump on a riding track in the grounds.

Another shows the dictator on the tennis court wearing a cap to protect his bald head from the sun. But he is much more smartly dressed when we see him welcoming to his home an Arab diplomatic delegation.

via BBC News – Mussolini’s bunker: Il Duce’s futile search for safety.

Strange Random Safety Quote:

“Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.” ― Lemony Snicket

Taking Gondoliering Lessons in Venice, Italy –

ROWING A GONDOLA sounds very simple.

You stand facing the front of the boat, one foot parallel to the oarlock that juts from its hull and the other set back a bit for stability. Then you push the shaft of the oar forward, moving the narrow blade back through the water. When your arm is as outstretched as it can get, rotate the shaft, lift the oar out of the water and swing it forward for another stroke.

But as I learned during my first lesson, it is far easier said than done.

I wasn’t technically in a gondola but a four-person sandolo, a similarly flat-bottomed boat that is thicker in the middle and therefore more stable. My instructor, Paolo Marchetti, and I were in Venice’s lagoon, which seemed to extend around us for miles. Through the mist, I could just make out the domes of the Basilica di San Marco. On the other side, perhaps a half mile away, were the pale walls of the cemetery on Isola San Michele. Occasionally, a boat chugged past us.

All was romance and tranquillity—except for me. Every time a wave struck the boat, I crouched down for fear of tipping into the lagoon. The current tugged relentlessly at my oar, causing me to hug it so it wouldn’t be yanked from my grasp.

“You row the oar!” Mr. Marchetti yelled from the other side of the boat.

“What?” I shouted. It had begun to rain, fogging my glasses so I could hardly see.

“You row the oar,” he repeated, with an existential ring. “The oar doesn’t row you.”

The 70-year-old Venice native crossed the boat and adjusted my grip so my hand rested on top of the shaft instead of strangling it lower down. The new position would enable me to roll my oar out of the water without fighting the current, he explained: “Like throttling a Vespa.”

Perhaps nothing symbolizes Venice more than the slender black boats that ply its waterways and the gondoliers who propel them. While a gondola ride does involve being floated through narrow canals, past ancient palazzos and under historic bridges, it is also a thoroughly clichéd activity that inevitably includes a gondolier gabbing on his cellphone and periodic traffic jams with other tourist-laden boats.

via Taking Gondoliering Lessons in Venice, Italy –

Strange Random Venice Quote:

“Is it worth while to observe that there are no Venetian blinds in Venice?” – William Dean Howells




Must-Buy Wines From Campania Include $18 Hefty Red, Fizzy White – Bloomberg

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment
Amalfi Coast

Image by The Consortium via Flickr

Nostalgia and local pride always play a part in the love of regional wines, whether from the Loire Valley or the banks of the Rhine. So it’s hard not to be in thrall to a wine that you’d drink on the island of Capri overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Yet until recently I would be hard put to defend the overall quality of the wines my ancestors drank in Campania, the region of Capri, Naples and the Amalfi Coast.

Prior to my great grandparents’ emigration to America in 1888, they hadn’t a clue what kind of wines they were drinking back in the Old Country, where no one had ever tried to classify one grape from another.

In those days, as in most of Italy, most grapes were self propagating, a condition called “promiscuous cultivation,” and the vines had to compete with other plants for water and nutrients, thereby producing wines of little character. Oxidation was considered characteristic; wine was sold almost exclusively from huge, old, oak barrels.

Even after Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture established its denomination of wine origins in 1963, it was a frustrating job to delineate the distinctions among dozens of Campanian grapes like greco, fiano, falanghina, biancolella and coda di volpe (tail of the wolf).

via Must Buy Wines From Campania Include $18 Hefty Red, Fizzy White – Bloomberg.

Strange Random Wine Quote (Fact, in fact):

When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in volcanic lava in A.D. 79, it also buried more than 200 wine bars.

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The 15 coolest offices in the world « Blog of Francesco Mugnai

Great post from Italian designer Francesco Mugnai, who rates his top 15 coolest offices in the world. Among them, Google’s UK Office (pictured here), Pixar, Facebook and Universal Music Publishing.

Definitely one to pass on to your boss with a note like “I think we can learn from these people”!

The 15 coolest offices in the world « Blog of Francesco Mugnai.

Strange Random Office Quote:

Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so. – Douglas Adams

BBC News – Police called to Russian circus as spectators fume

January 12, 2011 1 comment

Image via Wikipedia

A new year show put on by a touring circus in the Belarusian city of Vitebsk was so awful that police were called in, local media report. Spectators suspected the Russian performers of being drunk as artistes repeatedly fell off bicycles and jugglers dropped their props. Exotic beasts, including two species apparently plucked from the realms of fantasy, did not show up. The circus said later the missing animals had been stopped by customs. The director of Vitebsk’s palace of sport, where the circus was performing, told Belarusian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that the tickets would be refunded. Igor Kalmuk added that his lawyers were working to recover the money from the circus, which reportedly left Vitebsk soon after being interviewed by police. A Belarussian police spokesman said an investigation was under way into whether a crime had been committed.

via BBC News – Police called to Russian circus as spectators fume.

Strange Random Circus Quote:

Every country gets the circus it deserves. Spain gets bullfights. Italy gets the Catholic Church. America gets Hollywood. – Erica Jong

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