Cold snap in Rome

It looked like a warm early spring and most Romans have put away their winter clothes. Yet now we have a cold snap, and many are looking pale, chilled and unhappy. But Roman “cold” is rather relative. Cold snaps I read about in many international blogposts involve storms, hurricanes and more often than not, taking out the snow shovels just to manage getting out of the house.

I just saw great pictures of the coast somewhere up in Newfoundland where it’s really cold, with a huge, gorgeous iceberg flowing by.

That’s not exactly what we have here. Here we had perfect sunshine on a clear blue sky today, though a coldish (6°C) wind’s blowing moderately hard, and in some places in Rome you find your windshield frozen over mornings when you’re already late for work. That’s just about it. Besides, in the sun, it warms up to about 15°C around lunchtime, then evening temperatures drop again. You snow-shovel people are probably laughing.

The point is, complaining about the weather is a typical Roman pastime, which is absurd when you think we’re one of the European capitals with the reputation for having the most clement weather of all. True, though it’s also an exaggeration that leads tourists to flock here all-year-long expecting to bask in the sunshine in T-shirts and shorts. Which, apart from being uncouth when visiting art-filled churches, is often unwise: many catch their deaths of a cold.

Locals’ weather complaints also involve serious week-long study of upcoming weekends and feeling victimized whenever it’s forecast to get even just a bit cloudy.  Weekend rain rates as a tragedy. In fact, Romans typically tend to start off the year with a calendar to study the logistics of all the possible “official” long weekend holidays, together with long-range weather forecasts.

2017 is a pretty good year:  we just had a three-day Easter break, this next weekend will probably see many people going off for a good four days as Tuesday’s a national holiday and Monday is considered an automatic no-work “bridge” (“ponte”, the Italian word for it). The weekend after that will stretch too, as Italy celebrates International Workers’ Day on a Monday.

Lots of bridges, so life is good despite … the cold.

photos: 14thcountry.com  : bridge; http://www.cbc.ca/news :  iceberg; http://www.freepik.com : calendar

Posted in Blogging, Cultural, Environment, Humour, Italy | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Football, fountains and blossoms

Rome tends to chaos, but it’s beautiful. Early spring has sneaked up on us overnight this year, and the trees aligned along many streets in the city are in full white, pink and fuscsia bloom.

Footbal is very much part of the city life. It’s the lingua franca of the early morning required stop for a quick cappuccino at the local bar, especially on Mondays. I learned early on that a knowledge of the weekend games is a godsend to navigate the social small-talk fug of Monday blues.

So it wasn’t such a surprise that the municipal anti-establishment junta finally capitulated and decided that the Roma AS football club would be allowed to build its own stadium in the city. The party are staunchly anti-cement and anti-any-new-development projects and had stubbornly nixed the whole idea from day one. They were brought to their political senses last month when the whole Roma cheering section engaged in heated chants and insults against them during a match, and the Roma radio station started attacking their party.

Dan Meis Roma stadium project

A good three quarters of the powerful taxi lobby runs on Roma radio frequency, and the drivers were incensed that Ms Mayor – who supported their anti-Über seven-day strike – was denying them a stadium.

So thanks to football, we have at least one new city project creeping forward, which should create some very needed  new jobs.

More positive football news. We get invaded from time to time by hordes of drunken fans from other countries (getting drunk is not part of mainstream Italian culture), and in 2015 the fans of a Dutch club went on a rampage. They fought police for hours in the historical center, destroyed storefronts and smashed hundreds of bottles on a number of priceless monuments, including the beautiful Barcaccia fountain in Piazza di Spagna.

Viale Tiziano Bernini fountain

Bernini Fontana delle Api

Now the good news: a Dutch group of individuals and associations set up a special fund and recently donated the sum of € 100,000 to the city of Rome to try to make amends for the disgrace. The Barcaccia had already been repaired, but the symbolism is strong and welcome anyway. The city will use the funds to restore two other Bernini fountains, one that sits in the center of Piazza Barberini – the fountain of the “Bees”, and the other in the central verdant section of viale Tiziano, in a mainly residential quarter of the city.

Spring is looking good.

Photos: blossoms: 14thcountry.com; cappuccino: en.wikipedia.com; Roma AS stadium project : http://www.meisstudio.com; Viale Tiziano Bernini fountain: http://www.roma2oggi.it; Bernini Fontana delle Api: http://www.arte.it  

Posted in Blogging, Cultural, Environment, Italy | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Bloggers meet in Piazza Farnese

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Unlike this picture, it was a grey and windy day … and I met blogging-friends in person for the very first time. Dona and Peter are enthusiastic foodies, seasoned hikers, curious travelers who have been to many countries, and out-of-the-way places too.

So it was rather bizarre that meeting up in the heart of Rome turned out to be more difficult than expected:  knowing they were nearby, I texted them to meet in Piazza Farnese, one of the historical center’s largest, impossible-to-miss squares, where the sparse crowds make it easy to see each other. GPSs are often hard to follow in the labyrinth of narrow, crooked streets, but they got lost simply because some passersby gave them the wrong indications.

Rome center

Rome center

Indeed, in Rome, stay wary when asking locals how to get anywhere. If you’re really lucky they’ll they send you off in the right direction. But don’t count on it: they would never admit to not knowing a place, especially if it sounds like somewhere famous they “should” know, in which case just flipping a coin would be better than asking them. Besides, many Romans get a kick out of sending tourists off on wild-goose chases. The humour of it escapes me, but we all know that sense of humour is culture-specific.

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Anyway, we did finally meet up on a grey and windy afternoon. I’d seen their picture on some of their posts, and they just had to look out for my pink wollen scarf and pussy-hat-light (no ears).

By then, it was almost sundown and we only had time to wander through some of the ancient streets flanked by artisan’s workshops and tiny boutiques . Which was probably best for them, as I’m not your star tourist guide: like most long-time slightly blasé inhabitants of this city, we’re so used to all the art and sights we don’t bother much about the history… unless someone visits.

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The subsequent conversation in a discreet street level restaurant terrace – around a bottle of chilled Pinot Grigio –  was a delight. It felt like meeting old friends.

You follow someone’s blog* for a couple of years, and find out so much about them, how they think and see the world. On one hand it’s a only a partial form of knowing each other, but on the other, if it’s a life blog, you catch the essence of what they’re about, and the details you don’t know are areas to discover and surprise you in the future, as you develop your newly-found connection further. And maybe in some other part of the world.

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All roads lead to Rome. So sooner or later, I might get a chance to meet some other special blogger-friends from distant shores. Be sure you let me know when you do come to Roma Caput Mundi!

 Livingtheqlife is a rich blog based on photos, travels and food, plus personal notes, anecdotes and comments that bring it all to life. The posts are always a pleasure to read. Do check them out!

Photos: Piazza Farnese: Wikimedia Commons; central Rome map:mappery.com; white wine: bbc.co.uk/food/white_wine;bloggers: 14thcountry.com

Posted in Blogging, Cultural, Italy, Humour | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Potatoes and peas lost in translation

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This is not about food, it’s about language.

Potatoes are served as a side dish just about anywhere in Italy, but they’re not typically part of the vaunted regional cuisines. Pasta, rice and polenta are more like it.

Last week’s municipal kerfuffle had me stymied, when I read that all of Ms Mayor’s local and national supporters had reacted with “distaste”, “disbelief”, “shock”, “horror” to the subtitle of an article that proclaimed she was a “Patata Bollente”.

A Hot Potato?

Her party took over the government of Rome last summer, and the least you can say is that the Municipality has been flailing around ever since in its incompetence, inner squabbles, formal accusations of corruption, assessors being named and dropped and so on, while strike-happy sectors continue to baffle tourists and disrupt their holidays. I’ve lost track. Like most Romans, I’ve lost interest in the unending series of mini-scandals and am simply resigned to another few years of plummeting city management. As long as they keep picking up the garbage more or less regularly and public transportation doesn’t totally collapse, we’ll just have to all look forward to having to buy a 4×4 in the near future, given the speed at which the expanses of dangerous potholes are spawning all over town.

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However, it’s hard to miss some of the glaring headlines: her right-hand man is sitting in jail, the assessor in charge of urbanization resigned after criticizing her for days, and it surfaced that she’s the beneficiary of three life insurance policies of another of her aides, whose Municipal salary she had upped threefold. Funnily enough, his name’s Romeo. Ha!

Her mismanagement of the capital is undeniably a huge embarrassment to her inexperienced party: their only claim to existence is that they’re here to clean up corruption. Therefore, in English as in standard Italian, one could very safely say that she’s a “Hot Potato” for her party.

(mashed potatoes: not really relevant)

(mashed potatoes: not really relevant)

So why was the country up in arms? Not just her staunch supporters in steadfast denial, but all her in-house enemies too, her political adversaries and their parties all over the political spectrum, feminist associations, the offices of Speaker of the House and President of the Senate … and others I might have overlooked.

Well, I found out that “patatina” – little potato –  is the euphemism used when talking to little children to describe what has of late been bandied around in world headlines as the part of a woman’s anatomy that you can grab if you move in certain circles.

So it turns out the headline had meanings and sub-meanings. Considering Romeo and all, I thought it was a bit osé yet pretty witty. But my Italian friends say the fact I’m still laughing is very un-politically correct. 

Which goes to prove that if you’re not mother-tongue, you can be quite fluent in a language and still miss out on some of its subtleties and no-no’s.

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Side-note: in Italian, the potato’s male counterpart for little boys is “little pea”. I knew that one, as male anatomies are mentioned with much less modesty – if not outright hubris. But I’d never figured out the imagery. A friend helpfully explained that you were meant to visualize the pea-pod and not the tiny veggie. Ah, mystery solved.

Anyway, how interesting that in the end, everything seems to revolve around food in Italy. 

Posted in Blogging, Humour, Italy, Languages | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Turin to rewind in the Year of the Rooster

img_20161228_163414Happy New Year!

Chinese New Year, that is. Any opportunity’s a good opportunity to start the year all over again, after a month of January that’s offered most of us a rather bleak – if not dark – view of the future.  Chinese Year of the Rooster as a new opportunity to rewind on optimism, sense of purpose and possibly as-yet poorly defined personal targets.

Anyway, to clear out mentally, I’ve decided to go escapist today, back to a short holiday in Turin a month ago.

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Turin in the north of Italy is an elegant city. Its early Roman origins and history as the seat of the House of Savoy explain the neat grid of boulevards and streets that run at perfect right-angles in the city center. We all expect NYC and other modern cities to look somewhat like that, but it’s rather unexpected in Italy, where most people visualize narrow cobbled streets and bends winding around traffic-challenging ancient ruins. Turin is different, it’s well-run, boasts a lot of Neo-Classical architecture, and a great many inner parks and squares with Continental-type flora.

In winter it can come off as grey and borderline staid, but then you discover corners of very original façades, roofs and Rococo toppings worthy of more exuberant climes. If you’re lucky, it’ll be crisp and sunny, with the surrounding snow-capped Alps sparkling off an impossibly blue sky.

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As a tourist destination, it’s gained a lot of traction in the last few years, thanks to good city planning and targeting of its cultural heritage. The rich offer of museums, exhibitions and cultural events is such that unless you plan to stay more than two-three days, you’ll have to choose and miss out on many things.

In the city itself, a couple of museums are pretty unmissable.

Colourful crafts in Turin shop-window

Colourful crafts in Turin shop-window

The Egyptian Museum is meant to be the largest one outside of Cairo. Its breadth and scope are impressive, but also its impeccable organization on par with any other museum in the world.  Italy has always had a wealth of art and artifacts on show in all corners of the country, but if you visited Italy up to the 1990s, chances are most of what you saw was put forth with barely a title, no explanations and definitely no explanations in any foreign language. This museum was recently refurbished and is now state-of-the-art: it does an excellent educational job on all fronts, with attractive features for all ages.

The Royal Palace of Turin and its surrounding buildings always host a number of exhibits, both historic and modern, including vast collections put together by members of the Ducal dynasty. In terms of European Royal dynasties, it’s considered a minor one, but they intermarried over the centuries with more prestigious ones, and developed a flair for international trends.

"Nest" - contemporary outdoor art

“Nest” – contemporary outdoor art

As for the very many other museums, it depends on your interests. Many are niche (National Museum of Automobiles) some unique (Sports Museum). If you can bear the queues, the Museum of Cinema is in the iconic and futuristic Mole Antonelliana where you can go all the way up its famous spire that dominates the city with a bird’s eye view.

The largest out-of-town venue is the Palace of Venaria, and we were told there were always big crowds there, so we chose to go to the less-visited Palazzina Stupinigi instead. It’s an easy 40 minute public bus ride from the city center. Stupinigi is in the open countryside, and the palace architecture and grounds are delightfully elegant. It was used as a summer residence and royal hunting lodge, and is flanked by an arc of red brick former stables.

Animal designs in Palazzina Stupinigi

Animal designs in Palazzina Stupinigi

Oriental art in Palazzina Stupinigi

Oriental art in Palazzina Stupinigi

A closing nod to restaurants. Many Art Nouveau cafés are famous for their chocolates and pastries. Food in Turin and its region is generally excellent, with a strong influence from French cuisine. Winter dishes with sauces were refined, and I also had the best ratatouille in years in a cozy book-lined bar-restaurant that served us even though it was too late for lunch by local standards*.

*El Puig d’Estelles – this is not an advertisement 🙂  

Photos: ©14thcountry.com

Posted in Blogging, Cultural, Food, Italy | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Three Kings or flying back into the past?

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It’s taking me a while to adjust to the idea we’re into a New Year. The best advice I’ve come across is probably from Queen Elisabeth II in her Xmas message to our Brexiting friends:

”…take a deep breath…”.

Very apt. We got off to a decent enough start here in Rome, despite Ms Mayor’s last minute ukase banning all fireworks for the traditional celebrations. The legal wording was dubious so happily it was struck down by a Regional higher court. One of the aims of her diktat was “to protect animals”, with no regard whatsoever for the high percentage of our local multicultural citizenship – including Neapolitans- who know that starting off the year without bothering to  scare off evils spirits is a very bad idea.

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In any case, Roman New Year’s Eve did happen, a bland and much tamer version than in the past. It was downright boring according to most first-hand accounts. Yet the comedian turned head of grassroots party claimed it was a success, and posted a triumphant photo of lovely fireworks next to the Coliseum on Facebook. It was almost immediately debunked as a photo of the previous year’s celebrations – on the very same day he ranted against government sources who want to combat fake information on social websites!

The general mood is glum, with most Romans passively resigned to the blunders, inexperience, immobility and lack of projects of this municipal junta. Not to mention collapsing infrastructure and basic services. “No” is the municipal all-round motto, rather than risk failure by attempting anything. No to our Olympic Games candidature, no to fireworks, no to the AS Roma new stadium complex…

Roman ad humour: "We deal with wrinkles like the Olympics. We cancel them"

Roman ad humour: “We deal with wrinkles like the Olympics. We cancel them”

What’s more worrying is that on a national level, vote-getting populism has inspired the comedian-head of party to veer towards a mix of positions dangerously close to the extremes of the political spectrum: on one hand against immigrants, on the other with anti-EU and pro-Putin declarations. And some are pining to reinstate the labour laws of … 1970. I’m not joking.

Ancient times

Ancient times

The nature of the Universe is change, just not counter-clockwise, so the zeitgeist is disturbing. Whatsmore, you vote for change only when you have a clear idea of where/how to proceed, and know that the skills to do so are there. Too many people would love to simply wind back the clock.

On a positive note, tomorrow January 6 is the Christian celebration of the Three Kings, a timely reminder that our civilization is the product of multiple ethnic and cultural ancestries. The big hitch is that here the Three Kings are totally disregarded, as Italians chose to celebrate the pagan “Befana” instead!

A witch-like old lady on her broom to fly us back into the past?   

photos: ©14thcountry.com

Posted in Blogging, Cultural, Humour, Italy, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Versatile Bloggers

versatile-award

Surprise and delight on hearing Gringa of the Barrio nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Awarda peer blog award. The award in itself makes me smile, as versatile – in mind, interests, tastes –  is something I always admire and look for in others. Besides, I’m honoured and grateful for the gringa’s support, as it comes at a moment in which I could do with a bit of encouragement. In the face of world wars, events and elections, my inspiration has been lagging. To put it bluntly, the world outlook for 2017 is far from rosy, and I was beginning to wonder whether writing a blog made any sense at all.

So I guess in some very small way it does.

So thank you Gringa.

The part about having to write 7 things about yourself is tough as I tend towards privacy.  I’ll go with 7 harmless ones:

  1. I love chocolate cake
  2. I don’t know in which language I dream. I think it relates to places and people.
  3. I’m crazy about skyscrapers and modern architecture.
  4. I love Champagne. Prosecco in a pinch. Never offer me Spumante.
  5. I can’t stand rude children
  6. I’m not – have never been – on Facebook. Statistics proving the ubiquity of false – often preposterous – information being believed and affecting recent elections show I’m sane. Or maybe just saner than most.
  7. To end on a positive note, I love sunrises, sunsets and the shapes of clouds.

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The part about nominating 15 blogs is easier, though I have to leave out many that I enjoy and visit regularly. Some of my longtime favourites I’ve left out because I know they don’t do awards. I’ve included a few blogs I’ve just discovered. Of the 15, some have deep posts, some light ones, others are fun, some are poetic, some are thoughtful, some are inspiring. All are versatile and offer up the colourful diversity of humanity.

  1. Reflections on Existence
  2. Nancy Loderick’s Blog
  3. LivingTheQLife
  4. Suddenly Jamie (@suddenlyjamie)
  5. Poetry is my aeroplane
  6. Letters from Athens
  7. Random Storyteller
  8. Travels and Tomes: one Expat’s Amblings and Ramblings
  9. Jasmine Tea & Jiaoz
  10. The Joys of Joel
  11. El Coleccionista Hipnótico
  12. The World according to Dina
  13. Zip’s Law
  14. Dunelight
  15. Friendly Fairy Tales

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Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
5. Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Creativity, Opinion | Tagged | 12 Comments

Exceptional woman breaks through the glass ceiling

"Self-Portrait as a Lute Player" lent by Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford CT.

“Self-Portrait as a Lute Player” lent by Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford CT.

Last November 10th, I posted “No Country for Exceptional Women”. In the aftermath of recent events, I read many essays and articles claiming that the USA Presidential glass ceiling had at least been seriously “cracked”. I see no sign of it, but did get a pleasant surprise since posting: Artemisia, one of my two “exceptional women”, has arrived on the art scene in Rome to break through her personal glass ceiling with a vengeance.

She did it. 363 years after her death.

I was sitting in my car in the eye of one of our notorious daily traffic jams when a poster on a sidewalk billboard caught my eye. I recognised the full colour and strong lines of one of Artemisia’s famous paintings. Thanks to the gridlock, I read on undisturbed and found out she’s finally getting full-fledged recognition here in Rome, with an exhibit in one of the center’s main Municipal museums, the “Museo di Roma” just off Piazza Navona. The exhibit opened over a week ago, and will run till May 7th 2017.

Unrelated - caught the Changing of the Guard on the way to the exhibit...

Unrelated – caught the Changing of the Guard on the way to the exhibit…

If you visit Rome, and are interested in late Renaissance-Early Baroque Italian 17th century art, don’t miss it. Titled “Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo” – “Artemisia Gentileschi and her times” – it has gathered almost a hundred paintings that comprise both hers and those of many painters who were her contemporaries. It does an excellent job of showing and explaining their exchange of ideas and subjects, the overlap of their styles. The cultural similarities and tastes in fashion are all obvious, and the show places her squarely among the successful artists of her time who commanded high level patronage and commissions. She was the only woman in a totally male-dominated artistic environment, and seems to have held her ground among the best of them.

The exhibit shows a skilled painter whose subjects are often brutal, an … exceptional woman, multi-faceted in both her relationships and interests.

She started her career in Rome, continued it in Florence, moved back to Rome. She lived and worked in Venice too, and Naples – where she eventually died – was one of her favourite cities. She was called to the court of King James 1st in 1638 and worked in London for over a year.

Artemisia Gentileschi quote (you can figure it out)

Artemisia Gentileschi quote (you can figure it out)

Most of the paintings in the exhibit are on loan from museums and collections around the world. So though mainstream History of Art books have often overlooked her role and invariably highlight the works of her lesser male contemporaries, she is appreciated by collectors in many countries, including the USA: I saw that one of her works belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of New York, another to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.

Glass ceilings may just become something of the past. Maybe in another 363 years.

Photos: 14thcountry.com

Posted in Blogging, Creativity, Cultural, Italy, Opinion | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Back to the Middle Ages

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Most tourists come to Italy in search of good food, good wine, and they visit the main cities. They get to see a lot of Roman ruins and Renaissance and Baroque art, but most don’t venture out on their own to more provincial destinations, hilltop villages and castles, nor to the vast plains and craggy mountains of the south. If they did, they’d get to feast on a wide range of Medieval forts and lore. The Italian Middle-Ages aren’t as popular as the Coliseum and Michelangelo et al, but there are dozens of traditional commemorations and events to celebrate Medieval roots all along the length of the Peninsula.

dsc01362In the south-eastern region of Puglia, the town of Orea holds a yearly parade and tournament in early August in honour of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, a historical figure that deserves much more attention than what he usually gets in European history books. He was an astute warrior and statesman, but also an open-minded multi-cultural polyglot, patron of science and the arts, a legal innovator, and an expert falconer in his free time. The parade in Orea is held to commemorate the jousts he promoted in 1225 in advance of his wedding to Yolande of Jerusalem.

dsc01420It’s a joyous and colourful happening, and this year there were some 1,000 or so costumed participants – including school bands and “rioni” dwellers – parading through the historical center. It’s meant to be one of the largest Medieval re-enactments in the country, with a procession of noblemen, damsels, knights, jugglers, fire-eaters, courtesans, pages, snake charmers, armigers, marching bands and flag tossers, horses and camels . The costumes are richly embroidered with original designs. The overall atmosphere of celebration attracts spectators from nearby towns and from the coast, mostly Italian families with children of all ages.

Like in many of these events, the food was simple but good, including a fair variety of antipasti, excellent cuts of meat and sausages grilled to perfection. The local red wine is a variant of the fruity “Primitivo”. It’s served cold, which is a delight in summer.

dsc01582But the Middle Ages were in fact a dark, war-torn epoch for most of its inhabitants, who lived on average to the age of 35. In the infancy of justice, the powerful crushed the poor into semi-slavery. It was cold, dank and uncomfortable in the castles. Illness, famines and epidemics were rife. Religious mores were often questionable: the trade in false religious items was relatively harmless, except in some of its most gruesome aspects.

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I remember seeing a well-documented film on late medieval periods in which scavengers would strip the dead and dying on battle fields, chop them up and boil the pieces in huge pots to separate the bones subsequently passed off and sold as saints’ relics. The wars, the jousts and knightly heroism that were passed on through history books and fairy tales were in fact very brutal affairs. We’ve chosen to shine a softer light on these times, and have moved to tamer versions of history, often exaggerating as in Disney films and animated cartoons.

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However, the Middle Ages that survive in these local enactments do seem to foster a local sense of culture and roots. So for many communities, if they could be turned into more authentic celebrations, they could serve as a reminder that humanity was far less gentle not all that long ago. We should remember the beast is always just round the corner…

Yet this last year, much of the developed world has gone wildly irrational. As if harking back to darker medieval mores…     

photos: 14thcountry.com

Posted in Blogging, Cultural, Food, Italy, Opinion | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

No Country for Exceptional Women

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Artemisia Gentileschi was considered one of her generation’s most gifted painters, and yet I hadn’t even heard of her before watching a TV documentary last week. I admittedly mastered in Maths at French schools, where  History of Art wasn’t compulsory. But I was introduced to the world of art by a stepmother from generations of artists, who knew all the major NYC and Paris gallery owners by name. So how come I’d never heard of her? Simply because Artemisia was a woman.

Further, even after years in this country, how could I have missed coming across her in some exhibit or museum? The documentary on her was fascinating and delved into her life and works in great detail, so I’ve also been looking her up elsewhere since. Her works are variously described as Baroque or tail end of the Renaissance, and are not really to my taste. The colours and composition are superb, and most of her subjects are extremely expressive, but harsh and violent.

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Indeed, they’re meant to have been cathartic for her, as she’s come down in history asides mainly because she was a victim of rape at the age of 19 and dared confront her rapist in court. And not because she was the first woman accepted into the prestigious Accademia delle Arti del Disegno of Florence.

In the History of “civilization”, there are droves of extraordinarily capable women who were belittled by their contemporaries and neglected and disregarded by future generations. The tenacity, strength and self-possession they had to rely on just to push ahead with their talents and dreams are undeniable. Even today, societies appear to get satisfaction from bringing them low, by criticizing their very qualities –as if determination, talent and intellect in a woman were something bad.

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On a profound level, women are not taken as seriously as men, and the ones who dare rise above the crowd get their very core and even sexual identities questioned if they don’t kowtow to the overall “socially acceptable” pattern of a “second” sex. If they don’t play by the rules, as many successful men are known not to do, they are crucified. They cause otherwise decent intelligent men to regress to subconscious distaste for the upstart: “she’s not nice” (that one warrants a snicker). And a great number of more conforming women “can’t trust her” … for some similar obscure and arcane reasons.

Like many women, I know it can be tough doing what you want to do in a men’s world, but I’ve never considered myself a feminist. My favourite author Doris Lessing refused to be labelled a “feminist”, saying gender differentiation was useless.

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I suspect it even backfired in the USA. The outcome will be explained in dozens of different ways, but I believe there were many irrational reasons too long to list: partly irresponsible media coverage, partly the jobs – which automation won’t bring back anyway -, partly fear of immigrants if not racism, partly hating Wall Street and the Establishment…

… but also because she’s a woman.

 

Photos: https://en.wikipedia.org

Posted in Blogging, Cultural, Elections, Italy, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments