Count Pier Francesco Orsini (Google auto-translate) was a man much given to melancholy. The premature death of his wife, Giulia Farnese, and other troubles contributing to the decay of the once proud Orsini dynasty, darkened his outlook on life. Like the world-hating Jacques in Shakespeare's As You Like It, he seems to have come to regard the world around him with a somewhat self-advertising disgust. Orsini retreated noisily from the world of human affairs into nature, albeit a nature much improved by art (Google books preview). Those improvements came in the form of larger-than-life sculptures, some sculpted in the bedrock, which populated Sacro Bosco ("Sacred Grove"), colloquially called Parco dei Mostri ("Park of the Monsters"). [more inside]
- 100 Years of Fashion in 2 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Fashion in 3 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Swimwear in 3 Minutes (women's)
- 100 Years of Fitness in 100 Seconds
- 100 Years of Female Dance
- 100 Years of Music
- AFI's 100 Years ... (youtube playlist from American Film Institute)
- 100 Years of Black Beauty
- 100 Years of History in 2 Minutes
Forty years ago an Italian restauranteur, called Bruno, decided he liked welding and started making playground equipment for his customers' kids to play on. Today the entirely human powered - and rather scary - theme park of Ai Pioppi is the result. Reviewer Tom Scott escaped with a little more than grazed knees. [more inside]
Galaxy of Terror, Mutant (NSFW), Contamination and the joy of cheap alien knockoffs. Prefer the sequel? Here's Aliens remade under the name "Terminator 2". Sadly one take on the franchise that will not be seeing the light of day is Alien Identity, a fan film recently shut down by a cease and desist from Fox. Meanwhile the Neil Blomkamp Alien film continues to incubate.
Sam Borden on calcio storico, Florentine historic football
With two teams of 27 players placed in a sand pit and told, essentially, to do whatever is necessary to get a ball into the other team’s end zone, the sport is a strange mix of American football, rugby and street fighting. Watching it live, a more direct comparison might be to the children’s game Red Rover, but with punching and tattoos.
In 1914 Le Corbusier designed, but never built, an open-plan slab concrete house he caled Dom-Ino, combining domus and innovation. One was built to match the plans at the Vienna Biennial in 2014, but you can see the dom-ino philosophy in the skeletons of buildings all over: The Radical Le Corbusier Design That Shaped Italy [more inside]
Hundreds Feared Dead After Boat Filled With Migrants Capsizes in Mediterranean [New York Times]
"For the past several years, Europe has been confronted with hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving illegally from Africa and the Middle East, many of them fleeing war and poverty. Italy has been in the vanguard of rescue efforts, with its Navy and Coast Guard ships rescuing more than 130,000 people last year in a widely praised program known as Mare Nostrum."[more inside]
In 2000, Luciano Faggiano wanted to open a trattoria in Lecce, in the "boot-heel" of Italy. He bought what looked to be a modern building, but he had to open the floors in 2001 to find a leaking sewer pipes that were causing continuous humidity problems. He didn't find pipes, but a subterranean world tracing back before the birth of Jesus: a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and even etchings from the Knights Templar. Instead of opening a restaurant, his family has a museum, which is also available to virtually tour on Google Maps.
The unveiling of a new sporting venue is, in and of itself, not terribly out of the ordinary. In fact, there have been numerous new stadium projects proposed for Rome over the years, though none have made it past the mock-up stage. There is a sense on this day, however, that something is different. It is because of the two suited figures sitting at the center of the room, businessmen known throughout Rome simply as gli Americani — the Americans.
12 short poems is all that remains of the work of Nossis, one of the most beloved of the Ancient Greek poets. Exactly when she lived is uncertain, but it's certain that she was from Locri, which was on the "toe" of Italy. You can read about what archaeologists have found out about the ancient city on the website Locri Epizephyrii, Welcome To Magna Graecia. Scholars have tried to use Nossis' poetry to explain the particulars of life in Locri, looking for support for claims that noble status descended matrilineally. Marilyn B. Skinner looks at the status of women and explores the "unusual aspects of religious practice at Locri" in her essay Nossis and Women's Cult at Locri. You can read different translations of some of Nossis' poems, three by Skinner and two by Diane Rayor.
But we’re gonna try something new today: the energy and vitality of Nutella! And as always, we’re gonna use a condom, but this time it’s gonna be mango-flavored.
119 years ago, today, the unthinkable happened, as far as the Europeans were concerned. The Ethiopian army trounced the Italians in the Battle of Adwa. Headlines such as ‘Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Defeats Invading Italians’; ’80,000 Ethiopians Destroy 20,000 Italians at the Battle of Adwa’; ‘Italian Premier Crispi Resigns’; and ‘Abyssinia and Italy Sign Peace Treaty.’ peppered the European press. Adwa was placed on the world map and remained a historic story because of Ethiopia’s decisive victory against the Italian army on March 1st 1896 (Yekatit 23, 1888 according to the Ethiopian calendar).
'I am a woman. I do not like war. But I would rather die than accepting your deal."attributed to Empress Taitu Bitul*, Wife of Menelik II [more inside]
"In creating a work that portrays real internal struggle and transformation, Caravaggio converted painting. [more inside]
Mamuthones move slowly, with heavy steps, as if they were chained. Their backs are curved under the weight of the bells, under the coarse vests, under the grimacing masks. Rhythmically, they shake their right shoulder, the left foot advances, bells clang in unison. Issohadores move with agile, deft steps, surrounding the darker figures as if they were hoarding them, guiding them, then confronting them.
Isabella Rossellini's daughter Elettra has a witty, attractive food/recipe blog where she shares a customizable pasta dish her grandfather, the iconic director Roberto Rossellini, used to make.
Giuseppe Gioachino Belli was a 19th Century poet who lived in Rome and wrote sonnets in the Romanesco dialect spoken by the poor of his native city. An accountant by trade, he wrote from the perspective of working class Romans living in the theocratic Papal States, and has been referred to as the voice of Rome. Translating his work has caused translators some difficulty, with many opting for equivalent dialects, such as Peter Dale who used working class speech of his native Melbourne as a model. Anthony Burgess made his Belli Mancunian, while Mike Stocks rendered Belli into something closer to standard English. Collections of translated sonnets by Belli can be read on Andrea Pollett's Virtual Roma website and on Maurizio Mosetti's site about Belli.
"If we start from the guts, we go back to our origin. It is the butchers, in the end, that bring our food back to the rusticness of the tribe." Italian butcher Dario Cecchini, guts a pig, and discusses the tradition and art of butchering and the importance of being "responsible carnivores...thankful for the gift." Cecchini is the "Dante-quoting butcher" featured in Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. And here's another video with a similar message, but a different piece of meat, more details about his village as a "tiny little gastronomic republic" and instructions on how to use every piece of the pig "in the best way."
Toiletpaper Magazine was founded by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari. Their work - some contemporary nod to Surreal and Postmodern art - is oddly familiar, yet not quite like anything I’ve ever seen before. As visually stimulating as a publication can get these days, Toiletpaper hooks you, knocks your socks off, keeps you guessing. [more inside]
Planned cities are not a new idea (Palmanova, Italy, 1593). From Washington, D.C. (1791), to Canberra, Australia (1911), to Brasilia, Brazil (1957), planned cities have long been an urban dream (from space), perhaps most frequently applied to national capitals. But they don't always work out as planned. [more inside]
PIZZA: The Brooklyn Story - Scott Wiener (from Scott's Pizza Tours) gives a lecture weaving together the history of Italian immigrants, Pizza and Brooklyn.
SPACE.com has reported that a prototype of the ISSpresso, an espresso machine heading to the International Space Station (ISS) next year, was recently displayed at the 65th International Astronautical Congress 2014. [more inside]
'It’s hard to describe what Fernet Branca tastes like; it mostly tastes like Fernet Branca.' Fernet Branca is a kind of fernet, themselves a classifcation of amaro, bitter Italian digestifs. The Fernet Hot House: Don't Let Hipsters Ruin It For You [more inside]
The Aftershocks Seven of Italy’s top scientists were convicted of manslaughter after a catastrophic earthquake. What the hell happened in L’Aquila?
In the records of human conflicts, there are at least three Chicken Wars. Two left little mark on the world at large, and the third resulted in some strange work-arounds for heavy tariffs. The first was Wojna kokosza, the Chicken or Hen War of 1537, when an anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rokosz (rebellion) by the Polish nobility resulted in near-extinction of local "kokosz" (an egg laying hen), but little else. The second was an odd spin-off of the more serious War of the Quarduple Alliance that lasted from 1717 to 1720. Though most of the activity happened in Europe, there were some battles in North America. The Texas manifestation was the capture of some chickens by French forces from a Spanish mission, and a costly overreaction by Spanish religious and military men. The third Chicken War was a duel of tariffs during the Cold War, with the only lasting casualty being the availability of foreign-made light trucks in the United States. [more inside]
"Ancora Tu" is an Italian phrase roughly translating to "You Again". It's also the name of a classic 1976 pop song by Lucio Battisti and Mogol. [more inside]
Stupendo! Meraviglioso! Spettacolare! Stunning synchronized motorcycling! Rome Police Hold Anniversary-1953
Mario: animated short An animation of a chilling Italian children's (?) song, created by painting frames on glass! [via mefi projects]
Daylight Firework Compilation from around the world, a very different display. If rain or hurricanes are putting a damper on your Independence Day pyrotechnics, check out Sergio Paolelli, Festival San Trifone - Adelfia 2013 for a spectacular 25 minute daylight show with a breathtaking finale. Also from Adelfia 2013, a grounds-eye view of the wild Batteria Sanseverese.
Giochi dell'Oca - A large (2,265) collection of The Game of the Goose circa 1550 to 2014. Some of them with detail e.g. Games of the Pilgrim's progress - Going to Sunday School - Tower of Babel and The New Game of Human Life.
Francesco Maglia: The Umbrella Maker Of Milan — The Maglia family have been partners with the rain since 1854, when they began producing umbrellas in Milan. Here's our portrait of Francesco Maglia.
So earlier today Luis Suarez, striker for the Uruguay side, bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during their respective teams' final group play match for the World Cup. This is not the first time he's done this--in fact, folks were taking bets that Suarez would bite someone during World Cup play. Biting is a major taboo in sports, and sure enough, Suarez is now facing a ban of up to 24 games by FIFA. Indeed, Suarez has a history of violent behavior and racist statements, even when you leave aside the biting incidents. And yet, despite all this, Suarez is generally regarded as one of the best soccer players in the world today. So it's fitting that, just before this year's World Cup began, ESPN published an essay by Wright Thompson (previously) on the many myths and contradictions that surround Luis Suarez.
How relevant is Machiavelli's manual The Prince in contemporary Politics ? This Documentary finds out.
Gorgeous castle, abandoned for 20 years. And, interestingly, it's a variation on a Calendar House, with 365 rooms--one for every day of the year. No idea what they did about leap years. Tent, maybe?
The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
In 1929, Italian artist (author of The Futurist manifesto) Filippo Tommaso Marinetti opened a restaurant, La Taverna del Santo Palato [Tavern of the Holy Palate] in Turin. In 1930/31, Marinetti went on a polemical crusade against pasta, decrying it as holding the Italian people back. In 1932, he wrote La Cuicina Futurista [The Futurist Cookbook]. Part manifesto, part cookbook, all promotional, it contained a host of sensational delights, like "Chicken Fiat": chicken roasted with steel ball bearings, on a bed of whipped cream, as well as desciptions of banquets, and a recounting of his success against pasta. [more inside]
How the north ended up on top of the map is an article by Nick Danforth, author/curator of (The/Mid) Afternoon Map blog, detailing how the north-up orientation came to be the default orientation, looking beyond Eurocentrism to Byzantine monks and Majorcan Jews who set the path for modern cartography. If you want more information, you might enjoy the Wikipedia article on the history of cartography, or you can really dig deep with the three-volume text, The History of Cartography, which is available in full from the University of Chicago Press online, split into individual PDFs for each chapter. [more inside]
Where the road ends Recently at The Atlantic offices, we decided to take a simulated road trip using Google Street View, stopping only where we could go no further. Our virtual travels took us from the fields of Italy to the fjords of Norway and the tip of South Africa. We had such a great time at the edges of the world, we made a video out of it. (From the folks at the Atlantic news site)
Melting glaciers in northern Italy reveal corpses of WW1 soldiers In the decades that followed the armistice, the world warmed up and the glaciers began to retreat, revealing the debris of the White War. The material that, beginning in the 1990s, began to flood out of the mountains was remarkably well preserved.
"If there is an assassination planned for the meal, then it is seemliest that the assassin should be seated next to he who is to become the subject of his craft" - Leonardo da Vinci: head of the kitchen, designer of horse-pulled nut-crushers, inventor of napkins, and assassination etiquette expert.
In September, Italian archaeologists removed a slab door in Tarquinia and entered an untouched, newly discovered Etruscan tomb (Slideshow: Entry to Tomb, Pictures of Contents) There was much excitement to find the intact tomb of a high-status man - a warrior, a prince, a man of importance, with a lance, grave goods, and the remains of his wife. Or so it was trumpeted by the discovering team and the media. A month later … the figure on the wider slab with the lance turns out to be the female, and the man was on the other slab. Whoops! Judith Weingarten writes about the assumptions made before and after the osteological analysis (and Part II). [more inside]
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
The UK has opened its first social supermarket as a means of combatting food poverty.* [more inside]
Silvio Berlusconi ousted from Italian parliament after tax fraud conviction.
Slideshow of his ups and downs. Wiki. Previously on mefi. [more inside]
Slideshow of his ups and downs. Wiki. Previously on mefi. [more inside]
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
Immigrant boat headed to Italy, capsizes, more than 200 people in the water. A little more than a week after a boat sinking that killed over 300 people, the Italian navy has reported another boat is sinking. As refugees flow into the EU, looking for asylum, countries are torn between saving lives and stymieing the flow of people pouring into countries already under strain from austerity. [more inside]
"But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's layers. In formal treatises, he compared the psyche to an ancient city, with many layers of architecture built one on top of another, each replacing the last, but with the old structures still present underneath. In private writings he phrased this more personally, that he was terrified of ever visiting Rome because he was terrified of the idea of all the layers and layers and layers of destroyed structures hidden under the surface, at the same time present and absent, visible and invisible. He was, in a very deep way, absolutely right." [more inside]
"We’ve suspected for some time that the French and German governments’ refusal to take part in the Iraq war had something to do with their access to independent overhead imagery satellites. Briefly, France and Germany did (with the HELIOS and SAR Lupe programs respectively), and didn’t take part at all. Spain and Italy had some access to French imagery and had advanced plans to get their own. They made a limited commitment. The UK, Australia, Denmark, and the ROK relied on the United States and were, in a phrase that should be better known outside Australia, all the way with LBJ." -- Alex Harrowell explains how the absence of independent satellite intelligence may have helped the UK into the War on Iraq [more inside]