Sunday, December 30, 2012

GODS, GRAVES AND SCHOLARS


In the year 1738 Maria Amalia Christine, daughter of Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, married Charles of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, and moved to Naples. The lively young Queen, who was of artistic bent, explored the spacious precincts of her palace gardens and discovered there a wealth of statuary and other carved works. Some of these had been found accidentally before the last eruption of Vesuvius, and others were dug up later on the initiative of a certain General d’Elbœuf.
Delighted by the beauty of these antiquities, she begged her royal husband to let her look for new pieces. The King gave in because Vesuvius had been quiet for a year and a half since the great outbreak of May 1737.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OUT OF THE ASHES

For 250 years, scholars have struggled to unroll and read a collection of 1,800 carbonized and crumbling papyrus scrolls found in the wealthy Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. 
In the 21st century, promising new multi-spectral imaging technologies - enlisted by the National Library in Naples and Brigham Young University - reveal text that has not been seen for 2,000 years. 
Out of the Ashes includes rare footage inside the partially excavated Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, where the scrolls were all found in the 18th century. Hundreds of works of fine sculpture were also unearthed at the villa, which was owned by Julius Caesar's father-in-law. The program also includes a description of the J. Paul Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif., which was based on the floor-plan drawings of the original Villa of the Papyri.
Ironically, the destructive force of the volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum preserved this collection of papyri; the library probably would have deteriorated if it hadn't been carbonized and sealed under volcanic material.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

THE GLADIATOR FROM CAPUA

Caroline Lawrence's vivid - and sometimes disturbing - descriptions really bring to life the savage bloodshed of the Inaugural Games. The three remaining friends witness bloody beast combats, a bloodbath renamed as a beast hunt featuring barely armed beast hunters, a grisly parade of informers, and public executions re-enacting horrible deaths from myths.
This is my favourite Roman Mysteries book because the descriptions are very rich in detail and it tells you exactly what it was like to live in Ancient Roman times. I think that other people should read it because it really draws you in and even by the end of just the first book you feel like you know the characters very well. Another reason I like this book is because they have a lot of information in them. There are maps and diagrams at the front depending on the location and what the book is based around. For example, at the front of "The Gladiator from Capua" there is cross-section of the Colosseum, maps of Rome, and the complicated seating plan for the amphitheatre according to rank.
To summarize, therefore, it is very readable but still very deep in texture and is a colourful and satisfying read.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CLOSE TO PARADISE

When I win the lottery . . . I’ll take Close to Paradise, by Robert Fisher, with me to go house-hunting around the Bay of Naples. A picture book with plenty of text also, its main title is correct, but the subtitle isn’t quite accurate—it really is just as much if not more about the residences and their residents/caretakers, past and present, as about the gardens themselves.Fisher starts us off just north of Naples on this tour of houses and gardens, which are in the “Italian language with an English accent.” The English are responsible for many of these spots from about the mid-nineteenth century on, having discovered them on grand tours. But, of course, the stars of the book are the photos, where I’m struck by the presence of the human hand—ancient, medieval, and modern—in the most enchanting pictures. Plants, trees, and flowers are great and all, but we should remember that gardens are really the work of humans. The English, especially, had a penchant for lawns, which some of us know take a lot of work and plenty of water. Yet, nature does provide the canvas . . . and some pretty good views. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

THE ART OF THE CASTRATI


The age of the castratos was one of the most dazzling and remarkable in European music history. Seldom has there ever been such a complete fusion of sensuousness and splendour, form and content, poetry and music, and, above all, such a perfection of vocal virtuosity, as was achieved in the glory days of the Baroque era. 
Until now, however, there has been no comprehensive presentation of the art of the castratos in music, word and image. In our attempt to portray this musical phenomenon as fully as possible, Naples and its inestimably rich musical culture have served as our model. Thanks to its historical, demographic and cultural situation, this city developed towards the end of the seventeenth century into the centre of the Western musical world -the true capital of European music, as it were -and its influence extended well into the eighteenth century.
The pivotal character in this story is the Neapolitan composer, composition teacher, vocal pedagogue and impresario Nicola Porpora {1686-1768}, who quickly attained a reputation as the foremost voice trainer of the eighteenth century -"premier maitre de chant de l'univers" (George Sand). Porpora achieved renown through his singing pupils: Farinelli, Caffarelli, Salimbeni, Appiani and Porporino, an illustrious quintet which includes the most famous castratos of all time. Besides these singers, Porpora also taught the great opera librettist Pietro Metastasio and, to a certain degree, the composers Johann Adolf Hasse and Joseph Haydn.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

AMALFI BLUE

Here in this place my story begins. Here, where the azure sea meets the blue sky,­ my heart beats in time with the lapping of the waves. 
"Amalfi Blue, lost & found in the south of Italy," is a story of self discovery. Author Lisa Fantino lost her heart and soul along the magical Amalfi Coast and found herself along the way. It's a true story of love and lust, men and women, friendships and family, death and re-birth, set in some of the most beautiful locations in Europe. Toss in kidnapping, intrigue, hot salsa nights and sex and you've got passion, Italian style.  Join Lisa as she shares what it takes to live la vita bella.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CASTRUM LUCULLANUM


“Castrum Lucullanum” was a fortress near the city of Naples. It is famous because the last western Roman emperor (“Romulus Augustulus”) was in exile there in 476. Inside the fortress, there were churches, monasteries, houses and empty lands. It survived until 902, when it was destroyed by Naples’ citizens (as a result of the the Muslim invasions). After this period, the “castrum” was not completely abandoned: a lot of sources from the 10th to the 12th centuries report that it was utilized as a storehouse for the nearby port of Naples. A lot of merchants from various cities (also from Pisa) were interested in buying a part of “castrum Lucullanum”.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

KOITES

If you enjoy light-hearted stories with a touch of humor and satire, then Koites: An Ancient Myth About How Modern Day Sex Relationships Came to Be by Kyllie Pinker will provide you hours of entertaining fun. The author sweeps us into a fable about a place named Licentia and a time long ago where desirable women sported bushy legs and hairy arm pits and men shaved themselves hairless clean-shaven; where coupling rituals were strictly controlled and women had the power to chose a mate best suited.
"I wrote Koites as a comedic backstory to Ovid’s famous myth about Actaeon and Diana.
When I was a kid, I had a love for ancient Greek and Roman mythology. My readings made me want to travel extensively to the ancient ruins: Ephesus, Athens, and Delphi, for example. I also lived in Naples, Italy for three years and spent a great deal of time roaming the ancient ruins there, including Pompeii and the Phlegraean Fields. The grand temples of the goddesses especially inspired my imagination, so I really wanted to write a story set in mythical ancient times."

Friday, August 10, 2012

THE CASE OF THE STOLEN STARTER

Naples has a side that few visitors get to see. Tom Downey and Neil Gower's graphic novella takes you on a hunt for one of its treasures–the perfect slice of pizza–and on a delectable tour of other insider spots. 
The uniqueness of Neapolitan pizza comes from its ingredients—tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil of Vesuvius, cheese made locally and served as soon as it's ready, crust formed from a storied starter. Most bars in Naples are really cafés, which is too bad because it means there are fewer places to sample the memorable wines of Campania. 
Perched between Naples and Ischia, Procida is utterly different from its popular neighbors in the Bay of Naples. Even in high season, it manages to maintain a local feel. During off-peak times, you may be the only non-native wandering among the tightly packed pastel buildings in the port of Corricella, a stunning little Mediterranean harbor.                                                                                                                                                                      

Sunday, July 29, 2012

L'OLIMPIADE

There are plenty of great composers whose short lives make us wonder, wistfully, about the great music that might have resulted had they lived even a few months longer. Mozart, who died at 35, is one obvious example. Another is Schubert, whose life ended just short of his 32nd birthday.
Both of those men began composing in childhood, and were stunningly prolific, leaving behind large bodies of music despite their early deaths. There were others who started later and died earlier, and whose music, though remarkable, has been far less prominent. One of those is Giovanni Battista Pergolesi.
Pergolesi was born in 1710 and was sent to study music at a Naples conservatory sometime in his early to mid teens. Aside from a few student compositions his earliest surviving score — a cantata — dates from 1731.
Five years later, he was dead, at age 26.
L'Olimpiade premiered in Rome early in 1735. Its libretto is by Pietro Metastasio, one of the most prolific librettists in history. L'Olimpiade was among his most popular stories — eventually, more than 50 composers made settings of it. Pergolesi's version was among the earliest, and for a time at least, it was the most famous of them all.

Monday, June 25, 2012

NAPLES DECLARED

At the beginning of Naples Declared, readers will find a chronology of Naples’ history, starting with an entry for Circa 1800-1600 B.C. and ending with an entry for 2011. The bulk of the book goes on to explain this chronology in more detail, as it pertains to certain sites and attitudes in Naples. While Benjamin Taylor takes his walk around the bay, he details the ways in which the (sometimes confusing) history of Naples has resulted in its very diverse cultural practices, religious practices, architecture, and artwork.
I learned quite a bit while reading Naples Declared, but I know I would have found it much more interesting and much less confusing if I’d done the extra research the first time around.
It is clear that Taylor loves the city of Naples and put a lot of time and effort into the writing of Naples Declared (sixteen years of research and eleven stays in Naples, to be exact). He does write with passion, and in a clear and concise way. Included at the back of the book is Taylor’s list of sources for the historical information contained in Naples Declared, and I think I’ll be looking into some of those books before I read this one again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

BECOMING NEAPOLITAN


In his New Year’s address for 2012 the British Prime Minister sought to rally a demoralized people saddled with debts, recession, and unemployment in the face of a continuing policy of wholesale transfer of assets from public to private, by reminding them of the forthcoming Olympic Games and the Queen’s Jubilee. There was something redolent of early modern Naples in the promise of bread and circuses, the emphasis on display rather than substance, the insistence on a glorious past and (hastily reinvented) tradition, and the conjuring of the allure and excitement of feasts, festivals and pomp to divert and distract, reassure and unify a divided and potentially disaffected citizen body. John Marino’s book argues that, in the face of the dispossession and exploitation of the poor of Naples, the elites mounted fabulous festivals, parties and celebrations, and threw in their lot with the Spanish against the popolo. Indeed court culture emerges as a monstrous seduction of its elites, narcissistic and self-serving. It feels a familiar story; yet Marino tells it by drawing together a rich variety of sources – visual, artistic, ephemeral, hagiographic, ludic, literary, and legal.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

PAESTUM - EDWIN DENBY

Buffalo among fields, an old bus, the sea
Rock hills grow small beyond a somnolent plain
Jacket folded placed near the bole of a tree  
Between a jug stood and a wrapped package lain
In the sweet alyssum and its honey smell
Noon-immobile, grey and ochre-hued like dawning
Of edged stone pocked by sea storms and shells of snails
Poseidon’s hall looms columned; I watch dozing
Merged like opposed wrestlers rear a majestic power
Clasped nape, nipple deep-chested, the crushing roof
Heaved; magnanimous the god rises toward me; prayer
Begins to spread me, trembles unused to proof;
But by sunset fired against a cloudbank of slate
And deserted, the temple burns isolate

Sunday, May 20, 2012

VESUVINUM

Brands have been part of human trading activities for a long time. Starting with the appearance of certified money, the first modern branding traces were seen on "Vesuvinum" wine jars found at Pompeii (dated 79 AD). The “Brand” word itself came from cattle marking through “burning” the animals’ skin to mark the producers’ownership, which then evolved to legal trademarking during the industrial revolution.
Brands have then constantly evolved to deliver valuable customer benefits through a known brand indentity which could be decomposed as its distinctive name, unique visual expression (or look), and character (orvalues).
In the early days, brands incarnated both a promise and a personality like any person would have, and theyactually had a real face behind their name. It was often the founder and owner of the business, and people could relate to that person who transmitted his own values to the brand that was in fact a proxy to himself. Brand had therefore necessarily a social dimension with a sense of proximity.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

LISEL OPPEL

Lisel Oppel (b. 14 October 1897 in Bremen; d. 11 July 1960 in Bremen) was a painter and ceramicist. In the course of many travels that took her far afield of her adopted home town Worpswede, she became a very cosmopolitan artist. Freedom and independence were more important to her than a secure life dictated by convention.
Oppel put up with a number of disadvantages for the sake of her independence. During the National Socialist era, for example, she refused to become a member of the Reich Chamber of Culture and thus relinquished the right to receive coupons for painting utensils. She also courageously took on the challenge of caring for her son without giving up her art. Lisel Oppel spent a number of years in Italy. In a pottery workshop in Vietri sul Mare near Positano, she learned the ceramics craft, which became her second professional mainstay. In the 1950s she also travelled to Spain, Morocco and Egypt to paint.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

THE WINE LINE

Irpinia has played such an important role in Campanian wine production that the rail line linking Avellino and Rocchetta Sant'Antonio was known as "the Wine Line." Completely planted in vines, the province of Avellino features products of international reputation, such as Greco di Tufo, Taurasi and Fiano.
The Fiano di Avellino takes its name from the variety that the Latins called Vitis Apiana. That was because the vine's grapes were so sweet that they proved irresistible to bees ("api").The wine, which was already highly appreciated in the Middle Ages, originated several millennia ago. An order for three "salme" (a measure) of Fiano is entered in the register of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. And Charles d'Anjou must have enjoyed the wine, since he had 16,000 Fiano vines planted in the royal vineyards. The grapes' sugar content is so high that a virtually sweet sparkling wine is made in the area that has many local admirers, although it has not been possible to market it nationally and internationally.
Years of experiment have enabled winemakers to produce a dry Fiano, a wine of great elegance and refinement with an intense odor and a harmonious flavor that features scents of toasted hazelnuts. Perfect as an aperitif, the wine also makes a fine accompaniment for refined dishes based on seafood.

Monday, April 2, 2012

REWARDS OF THE GODDESS

Films produced by Fuji TV — one of Japan's five national TV networks — have regularly hit the top of the box-office charts in the past decade. Now, Fuji TV is celebrating its 50th anniversary with another film starring Oda and with executive producer Chihiro Kameyama at the helm. Titled "Amalfi: Megami no Hoshu" ("Amalfi: Rewards of the Goddess") and directed by TV drama veteran Hiroshi Nishitani, this big-budget thriller is not, like most networked-produced films, based on a popular TV show, best-selling manga or other pretested property. But it does include many elements of Kameyama's past successes, while lacking those that Hollywood considers de rigueur.
First of all, it is set in a location that, like Odaiba, spells "cool" for the target young audience: Italy. And just as the "Odoru" films featured the Rainbow Bridge and other Tokyo landmarks, the action of "Amalfi" unfolds against a backdrop of famous tourist sites: the Coliseum, the Forum, the Spanish Steps and, of course, the magnificently rocky Amalfi Coast — all photographed by cinematographer Hideo Yamamoto with a golden romantic glow. "Amalfi," in fact, was shot in entirely in Bella Italia — a first for a Japanese film.

Monday, March 19, 2012

MERGELLINA E ZEFIRO

Mergellina:
You pleasant breezes,
that play in my breast,
you sapphires of the waves,
that kiss my feet,
tell me what kind of deity
has lit up these shades?
What has gilded the waves of Doris,
what kind of sunrise,
with its most beautiful rays,
has gilded that which was silver?
Zefiro:
Paradise of Flora, leafy bower,
love’s realm, welcoming all delights!
By the shade of your rocks,
Zefiro respectfully folds his wings.
If a divine beauty
comes to stroll on this beach,
happy the shores, daring the sands.
Zefiro:
Thus beautiful in her moist shell
Tethys never emerged
from the depths of the cavern.
In her float that whips the shadows,
the most beautiful dawn
appeared from the East.
Zefiro and Mergellina:
Come on, shine calm waves,
Come on, rejoice tranquil breezes,
now that the tresses of Phyllis
scatter golden rays on these sands.
Recitative, duet:
Neither the sea, nor the sky has
pearls or stars in their hollow spheres,
more shining or more beautiful
than her rosy mouth or her smiling eyes.
Mergellina: 1) From the vermilion
of those lips Cupid extracts nectar.
Zefiro: 2) From those eyes the God of
Gnido [Cupid] shoots his arrows.
Mergellina:
Silence! Zefiro, be silent, so that
the beauty that adorns these rocks
with sweet tones will make
the winds' wings stop and fall asleep.
Zefiro:
What magical pleasing voice
demanded me to halt my flight,
so that even my siren
cannot conquer a heart like Ulysses’?
Zefiro:
Oh turn there, turn the stern
towards the beach, wayward oars!
Because a new siren,
here with different fate,
weaves spells of life, not death.
Mergellina:
In tempering the accents
of the singing sorceress,
she loses her allure.
With innocent allurements
she becomes a tyrant
to an adoring heart.
Recitative, duet:
Mergellina: Zefiro! Do not sigh for the
lightening of that gaze!
Zefiro: Mergellina! Do not burn
for the sound of that night!
Ah! because of the immense delight,
ecstatic with joy,
drunk with awe,
I am numb.
Duet:
Let us to the waves to fish
a beautiful treasure,
so that the blindfolded god
with his fishhook and bait
of golden tresses,
can prey on a heart.
And now that Phyllis appears at these
shores, the sky glimmers, the earth smiles,
and the sea sparkles!

Monday, February 27, 2012

MEDIEVAL NAPLES

Medieval Naples, 400–1400: A Documentary History is the first comprehensive and most complete English-language collection of sources yet to treat the history of the city from late Antiquity to the beginnings of the Renaissance. Sources are drawn from the historical, economic, literary, artistic, religious and cultural life from the fall of Rome through the Byzantine, Lombard, Norman, Hohenstaufen and Angevin periods.
A new Introduction by Ronald G. Musto offers a comprehensive survey of the periods covered in the historical texts, with a discussion of the historiography and of important research and interpretive issues. These include the material development of the medieval city from Late Antiquity through the end of the Angevin period, the condition and use of the available primary sources and archaeological evidence, with particular attention given to the wide variety of recent excavations and of archival materials, the question of the ruralization and recovery of its urban core through the little known Ducal period — with some discussion of the city’s changing population — the question of Naples’ importance as a commercial and political capital, its developing economic and material base, and the question of its relationship to its hinterland on the one hand and to broader Mediterranean contexts on the other. It also surveys the changes in Naples’ grid plan, its walls and fortifications, its port, and its commercial and residential development.

Monday, February 13, 2012

MARIA TIPO

Naples - renowned for its musical heritage and its piano school (Thalberg and Vitale, mainly).
So... here's the great Maria Tipo! Magnificent interpreter of the Neapolitan school, born in 1931, maverick, elegant pianist. Of course Tipo is famous for her prize-winning Clementi, Scarlatti, Mozart and Bach discographic efforts. [...]
The pianist and pedagogue, Maria (Luisa) Tipo, gave her first public piano performance at the age of four. Her teacher was her mother, Ersilia Cavallo, herself a pupil of Ferruccio Busoni. She later received master-classes from Alfredo Casella and Guido Agosti. In 1948 she won 2nd prize (no 1st prize was given) at the Geneva International Competition, and returned in 1949 (age 17) to capture its 1st prize. In 1952 she won 3rd prize at the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition in Brussels.
Maria Tipo's success led rapidly to invitations to all the major musical centers. In addition to her career as a concert pianist, Maria Tipo is a dedicaded teacher. Maria Tipo championed the cause of traditional Italian keyboard music.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

WAKING UP IN NAPLES

I think of Howard Hodgkin like the fauve painters because we all appreciate work that is sensual and the application of paint is of course very sensual.
His painting 'Waking up in Naples' is a fascinating painting because we can certainly identify the shoulder of the man, and the blue area which could be water through the window etc. He paints on board, generally speaking and sometimes the board is revealed so the wood grain becomes the shoulder and part of the torso of the man waking up in Naples. He also uses the frame. He looks for frames and they are part of the painting or the image. Usually the paintings are about episodes in his own life and usually they are about sex, so the older boys like to relate to that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

LA PORTA DEL PARCO

La Porta del Parco is part of the biggest urban renewal project in Europe. It will prob­a­bly be the longest too, if it’s ever com­pleted, with chronic delays typ­i­cal of pol­i­tick­ing in Italy, but the less said…
The project con­cerns a 2,000,000 square metre area more or less cor­re­spond­ing to the Bag­noli quar­ter in the west­ern part of Naples, a mag­nif­i­cent part of the Bay with views sweep­ing from Vesu­vius to Capri, from the islet of Nisida to the Posil­lipo. A place of stun­ning nat­ural beauty, but for the heavy indus­try which devel­oped here from the mid 19th cen­tury on. Now the steel­works is no more, the land has been reclaimed, and the ambi­tious regen­er­a­tion plan known as Bag­no­lifu­tura is under way. Fal­ter­ing, but under way.
The core is an enor­mous urban park stretch­ing down to the sea with a voca­tion for tourism, leisure and cul­ture. There’ll be old indus­trial build­ings con­verted to new func­tions, muse­ums, sports and leisure facil­i­ties includ­ing a marina, hous­ing, shops, ser­vices and hotels. The mul­ti­pur­pose com­plex La Porta del Parco, as its name sug­gests, is intended as a link between the city and the new urban park.
Designed by Sil­vio d’Ascia, Naples-born archi­tect of inter­na­tional fame, it is a large pub­lic space on sev­eral lev­els with two main vol­umes in steel and glass, one the domed entrance to a 6,000 square metre spa area (not yet up and run­ning), the other an audi­to­rium seat­ing 300. The whole has a space-station look about it, with the audi­to­rium resem­bling a large, alien body rear­ing up from the depths of its piazza. The rest is, well, piazza, office space, open areas for exhi­bi­tions, and lots of park­ing under­neath.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

SCALA NAPOLETANA

Much of the work Beuys made in his last few years includes objects or themes which suggest death. This sculpture was originally inspired by a ladder the artist found while recovering from illness on the island of Capri in Autumn 1985, which he hung with two stones. When he visited Amalfi at Christmas in the same year, he purchased a ladder (‘Scala Libera’) from a landlord which he used to make this sculpture. Held in suspension, it appears as if the pair of lead weights are preventing this heavy wooden ladder from soaring into the air. This is one of the last sculptures Joseph Beuys made. He died in January 1986.