Friday, April 15, 2011


In the summer of 1969, Aristotle Onassis's yacht Christina pulled into Capri's Marina Grande, where the Greek shipowner and his new bride, Jacqueline Onassis, disembarked and hailed one of the Tyrrhenian island's famous, brightly painted stretch taxis, a specially modified seven-seat Fiat convertible.
Those Fiat taxis and their drivers had already come to symbolize Capri's welcoming culture.
The first taxis on Capri—mostly Fiats and all convertibles—appeared before World War II. By the 1950's, they'd become an emblem of the island, and the drivers were as well known as their cars (visitors from Sophia Loren to Princess Margaret to Brigitte Bardot all had their favorites). In the seventies, however, the onerous task of finding replacement parts started to kill off the red, blue, and pink elephants.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


The School Ship “Amerigo Vespucci” was built and fitted out in the Royal Shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia according to a design by Lt. Colonel of the Naval Engineers Francesco Rotundi. Laid down on 12 May 1930, launched on 22 February 1931, the ship was commissioned as School Ship the next 6 June, joining her sister ship Cristoforo Colombo.
In July of the same year she started her first training cruise in North Europe. Afterwards, she was extensively refitted in the years 1951, 1958, 1964, 1971, 1984, 1990, 1997 and in the year 2000 when the spaces for the female personnel were created.
The Amerigo Vespucci is the oldest ship in commission in the Italian Navy and her Leonardesque motto is “Non chi comincia ma quel che persevera”. From a technical-structural point of view, the Vespucci is a sailing ship with auxiliary power plant. As concerns the sail rigging, she is a square-rigged ship, with three masts, firesail, main and mizzen (all equipped with yards and square sails) plus the bowsprit, in every respect, the fourth mast. The ship has also fore-and-aft sails, jibs on the bowsprit, stays between the masts and the spanker.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


First performed at the Paris Opéra in 1828, La Muette de Portici was an opera-ballet with music by Daniel Auber, choreography by Jean-Louis Aumer, a singing hero (the fisherman Masaniello), and a dancing heroine (the mute Fenella). The work, set in Naples during a seventeenth-century revolt against the Spaniards, capitalized on the Romantic era's fascination with local color, evident in the treatment of Fenella's costume. Many French works of the Romantic period had Italian settings and featured classicized versions of Italian folk dances. [...]
The history of grand opéra begins with La muette de Portici. The characteristics of the genre include a new degree of magnificence in the sets and sensationally dramatic technical stage effects, the culmination of each act in a large tableau and ingeniously staged crowd scenes. The opera provided new opportunities for the director, librettist, set designer and costume designer to work together, and they made a careful study of the historical background of the Neapolitan revolt. The climax of the final scene with the eruption of Vesuvius was a sensation, and its influence was felt in grand opéra from Meyerbeer and his contemporaries to Wagner's Götterdämmerung. The work's connection with the Belgian revolution of 22 August 1830 made it a general symbol of revolutionary ideas.