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]
Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist, is an Italophile who could no longer stand by and watch the country he loves so dearly go down the tubes. [more inside]
Though homosexual activities weren't a crime under Italy's fascist regime, there was persecution and blackmail of men of "dubious virility." The hidden threat of homosexual men was so strong that the attempt to criminalize homosexuality failed because to pass such a law would only "publicize" homosexuality (Google books preview). It was in that context that Benito Mussolini declared Italy too masculine for homosexuals to exist, rounded up around 45 men believed to be homosexuals, and sent them into "internal exile" on San Domino, in the Isole Tremiti archepeligo. [more inside]
Ettore Sottsass was an industrial designer who was born in Innsbruck, Austria. Famous for his My Valentine typewriter design and his geometric enamel designs. [more inside]
In 1831, the Mediterranean south of Sicily began to boil and bubble, and before long a volcanic island appeared, in full eruption. The English were the first to lay claim to the new island, naming it Graham Island, for James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty. Then the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies laid claim to the island, removing the Union Jack and naming the island Ferdinandea, after King Ferdinand II. The next nation to claim the island was France, though initial French interest was in the geology of the newly emerged island (Google translation of French text, much from geologist Constant Prévost). France's choice of names was practical, Île Julia, as the island was formed in July. Spain also tried to lay claim to the newly formed island, setting the stage for a grand four-way dispute over its sovereignty, but before a single shot could be fired over its possession, geology rapidly had the last word on the matter. Graham Island/ Ferdinandea/ Île Julia crumbled in on itself and all but disappeared by the end of the year. [more inside]
"Italy is in crisis. I think that's safe to say. Something new is arising out of something old. I don't know whether it's a first breath or a last gasp. James Walston, the professor, thinks all the racial abuse is a sign that Italy has changed, and this is a defiant last stand before a multi-cultural society emerges. Maybe he's right. I don't know." Wright Thompson writes about soccer and racism in Italy.
To document the amazing beauty of the moment, Photographer Brady Dyer had his girlfriend Emma take a 360 panorama at sunset from their rooftop in Florence, Italy, it ended with unexpected sweetness. [slyt | via]
The New Yorker is publishing excerpts from Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985, translated by Martin McLaughlin, on its book blog. (via) [more inside]
Lee Buchheit, fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress
Lee Buchheit, a lawyer at US firm Cleary Gottlieb, has been present at all the major debt crises of the past three decades. His reputation among investors is as a fearsome and aggressive litigator, but finance ministers in distress see him as something of a fairy godmother.[more inside]
Suspended in Void - a lovely collection of Italian ex votos depicting people who survived falls under the watchful eye of the Virgin Mary. Previously: a larger collection of ex votos from various cultures. (Via Heading East)
Enzo Jannacci, a father of Italian rock and roll, jazz musician, actor, writer, comedian, and doctor had a 50+ year career in Italy. He died yesterday of cancer at the age of 77. His biggest hit song, 1968's Ho Vista un Re (I Saw a King), written by the 1997 Nobel Prize winner for Literature Dario Fo and Eugenio Esposito, was banned on RAI TV and radio, due to its subversive lyrics. Jannacci performed and worked until illness forced his retirement in 2011, though still beloved by Italians of all ages.