Friday, April 30, 2010


Although a variant on the theme of Romeo and Juliet can be traced to the literatures of Greece and Rome, it received a unique and modern rendition with Masuccio Salernitano's thirdy-third short story, or, novella--novel, as defined in those days. It was amplified and modernized by Luigi da Porto with his Giulietta and Romeo, given its definitive form by Matteo Bandello, and immortalized by Shakespeare with its great masterpiece.
(...) Masuccio Salernitano, whose real name was Tommaso dei Guardati, was born either in Salerno or Sorrento around 1410 and died in Salerno about 1480, hence the appellative Salernitano.
The provincial capital city of Naples and most of Southern Italy were under the dominion of the Anjou-Valois branch of the French monarchy--a period considered stagnant culturally and politically.
In 1463, Masuccio was appointed secretary to Prince Roberto di Sanseverino of Salerno, a city south of Naples, one which was undergoing a cultural awakanenig in the humanistic tradition of the Renaissance.
(...) His Novellino is made up of fifty short stories (or possibly novelettes), all told or narrated in five days in units of ten. Each story develops a different theme, but all have elements of intense polemics and satire, often retributive against corrupt clergy and vituperatively anti feministic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Nature has been building microscopic cellular solar panels for almost 200 million years. So let's follow her lead, says marine biologist Mario De Stefano of the Second University of Naples in Italy. De Stefano and his collaborators [Antonia Auletta and Carla Langella] have been studying diatoms, microscopic algae, and they believe the organisms' cellular structure could inspire the design of solar panels. This illustration demonstrates the principles of biomimeticism, which involves looking "to natural organisms to see our future," De Stefano says.
(...) Each cell is a flat wedge with a glass-like wall shaped to maximize its surface area and absorb sunlight more efficiently for photosynthesis. Behind the sand grain, the team presents computer drawings of their bio-inspired solar panels, which would stand three meters tall with a span of 50 meters. De Stefano and his collaborators have started building these panels and believe that they could be used to create solar-powered street lamps.

Friday, April 9, 2010


The Piedirosso grape is almost entirely utilized in one sole region of Italy, that whose capital is Naples, and takes its name - which can literally be translated as "red feet" - from the characteristically russet color of its stems when full ripeness has been achieved; the alternative name, used in its dialect form of Per' e Palummo or "dove's foot", expresses the same concept, as the feet of a dove or pigeon appear notably reddish beneath the grayish or whitish plumage of the bird. (...)
Piedirosso has a notable predilection for volcanic soils, which abound in Campania, and has always been most intensively cultivated near Naples, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, on the island of Ischia, and in the volcanic plain near the city known as the Phlegrean fields where, according to the legends of the ancient world, Ulysses was first captured by, then blinded and escaped from, the Cyclopean giant known as Polyphemus, a famous episode in Homer's Odyssey. Blasts of sulfureous air escaping from the sub-soil still characterize this outer suburb of Naples and testify that the latent volcanic activity of the entire metropolitan area has, regrettably, by no means entirely subsided.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


The saltarello was a lively, merry dance first mentioned in Naples during the 13th century.
The music survives, but no early instructions for the actual dance are known.
It was played in a fast triple meter and is named for its peculiar leaping step, after the Italian verb saltare ("to jump").
Although a Neapolitan court dance in origin [Allan W. Atlas, Music at the Aragonese court of Naples], the saltarello became the typical Italian folk dance.
(...) Composer Jesper Kyd also composed a track called "Meditation Begins" for the Assassin's Creed score that is a saltarello-type arrangement with an ominous overtone, a sample of which can be heard at the page for the score.