Monday, November 30, 2009


Nero would feast from noon until midnight. He would dine in public places, in the Naumachia, in the Campus Martius (which, incidentally, included the Stagnum Agrippae), in the Circus Maximus. Dancing girls and prostitutes from all over thecity served at these parties. Whenever he floated down the Tiber to Ostia, or sailed along the gulf of Baiae (in the Bay of Naples), inns with taverns (deversoriae tabernae) were prepared along the banks and coasts; these were remarkable for their gourmandizing and for being kept by matrons who would imitate hostesses and urge Nero to put ashore.
(...) He took particular delight in eating while aboard ship, on
the Naumachia, on the Stagnum, during expeditions down the Tiber and in the Bay of Naples. He liked ersatz inns to be set up on the shores, both artificial and real, which he passed. He liked to see Roman matrons running them—indeed, when they played the role of innkeepers for him they were assuming a social role not far from that of the prostitutes whom he also liked to have around. And he enjoyed lavish parties hosted by other men.
Elaborate feasting, sexual license, and messing about in boats make an arresting combination. Repeatedly indulged, it was not a passing whim,for Nero, always the showman with an artistic plan and an eye to his public, had another purpose. With these theatrical banquets he was deliberately recreating at Rome the notorious maritime delights associated with one place in the western Roman empire above all: Baiae, the pleasure capital of Italy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Italian shoe designer, Salvatore Ferragamo, has been credited with inventing the first stiletto in the 1950s. The shoe was a croc-embossed pump designed for the late Marilyn Monroe and that coveted heel might be considered a kitten heel compared to todays high flying styles.
[...] Born in 1898 in Bonito, near Avellino, Salvatore Ferragamo was the eleventh child in a family of 14 children. Ferragamo made his first pair of shoes for his sister at the age of nine for her confirmation. Young Salvatore decided that he had found his calling. He always had a passion for shoes. He studied shoemaking in Naples for a year then Ferragamo opened a small store in his parent’s home. In 1914, he emigrated to America, to live with one his brothers, a cowboy boot factory worker.
Ferragamo worked briefly with his brother at the factory, then moved to California - first Santa Barbara then Hollywood. It was here that Ferragamo found success, initially opening a shop for repair and made-to-measure shoes - prized items among celebrities during that time, leading to a life long hobby of designing footwear for the cinema. However, his thriving reputation as ‘Shoemaker to the Stars’ only partially satisfied him. He could not fathom why his shoes pleased the eye yet hurt the foot, so he proceeded to study anatomy at the University of Southern California.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Paestum was once celebrated by the poets for its roses. Virgil speaks of the biferi rosaria Paesti, and Ovid sings of the tepidi rosaria Paesti, the rose-garden of the twice-blossoming, the sultry Paestum.
[...] The misterious origins of Paestum's roses are lost in time: thought by some to be of a local species, others believe they were an acclimatised variety imported from the Orient. What is certain is that they flowered twice a year and their scent was unrivalled.
Famous for its perfumes, Paestum was also a centre of religious worship, where resins burned on temple altars scenting the air from afar.