Thursday, October 29, 2009


In Ravello, Escher’s early prints of Italian landscapes come to life.
There one also discovers themes that reappeared later in the consciously geometrical works for which he eventually became world famous: green lizards scurry along stone walls, arches in cloisters recede to infinity, and columns, balconies, and staircases are linked in fantastic architecture.
Apalled by the rise of Fascism, Escher left Italy for Switzerland and Belgium, and then returned, for good, to his native Netherlands. But for the rest of his life, those lizards and that architecture insinuated themselves into his woodcuts and lithographs, as in a dream.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


One of the most extraordinary engineering feats in 18th-century Europe was the construction of the Acquedotto Carolino (the adjectival form in Italian of Carlo in reference to Charles III of Bourbon, monarch of the kingdom of Naples at the time), including the long "bridges" segment of that waterway across the Maddaloni valley about 5 miles from the modern town of Caserta.
The aqueduct is also known as “Vanvitelli’s Aqueduct” in honor of the architect and engineer responsible for its construction, Luigi Vanvitelli.
[...] In the midst of this lonely dell, the traveller is surprised to behold an immense bridge, formed of a triple row of lofty arches, crossing with gigantic strides from one side to the other.
This bridge forms part of the celebrated aqueduct of Caserta; it is near two thousand feet in length, and two hundred in height, and conveys a whole river of the purest water across the valley.
In length, elevation and effect, its surpasses all similar edifices of modern construction, and may, indeed vie with some of the noblest Roman monuments.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


The earliest works devoted entirely to gastronomy date back well into the fourteenth century, with the anonymous Liber de coquina (Cookbook), Libro della cocina (Cookbook), and the Libro per cuoco (Book for the Cook).
The first is attributed to an author thought to have been a member of the Anjevin court of Naples; the second and third to a Tuscan and a Venetian author, respectively.
These works begin to formulate a culture specific to food, a culture expressed in Italian (rather than in Latin), which thus has a wider appeal.

Friday, October 9, 2009


The first tale to have the protagonist named Cinderella is Giambattista Basile’s Cat Cinderella, written in 1634.
This story, unlike most Cinderella’s, gives the name of the girl before she is given the new name Cat Cinderella, and that name is Zezolla.
Fairy tales usually follow a pattern, and that is that they all focus on a “childhood sin,” and why that sin is wrong. Basile, before the tale begins, stresses the fact that Cat Cinderella is a tale of envy.
[...] Basile's last job was at the court of the duke of Acerenza, Galeazzo Pinelli, who named Basile governor of Giugliano (in the province of Naples) in 1631. But it was a short-lived position. After the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1631, a flu epidemic, so severe in its effects that it was compared by many to the plague, hit Naples and the surrounding areas, and Basile was one of its victims. He died on February 23, 1632, and was buried, after an elaborate funeral, in Giugliano's Santa Sofia church.

Friday, October 2, 2009


The recent study published in an American magazine by Professor Louis Ignarro, Nobel prize in Medicine, in cooperation with Giuseppe Cirino, Vincenzo Mirone and Roberta d’Emanuele, lecturers of University of Naples Federico II, shows what a wide literature promised in the past.
Scientists have discovered two enzymes in the cavernous tissue of the male organ which product hydrogen sulphide or H2S, the real cause of men’s erection and vasodilation. Several tests in rats’ erotic reactions have shown it.
The natural Viagra is in a word the same gas that shrouds for millenniums the oldest volcano of the phlegrean coast, the Solfatara, mentioned by Strabo in his Geography and visited by over 130.000 tourists per year ; a stretch of fumaroles and saunas marked by a typical aroma which inebriates or disgusts people. Essence of sulphur, indeed!
[...] Researchers said the study could lead to an alternative to Viagra, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal reported.


Mario Sorrenti, the Naples-born New Yorker [photographer] whose 1993 campaign for Calvin Klein’s Obsession fragrance brought Kate Moss instant celebrity.