Friday, May 22, 2015


Between 1634 and 1636 Giambattista Basile wrote the first collection of short stories entirely devoted to childhood, "Lo Cunto de li Cunti overo Lo trattenemiento de' peccerille" (= trattenemiento de peccerille" (The tale of tales, or how to entertain kids) in the Neapolitan language, published posthumously thanks to the author's sister, Adriana Basile, a famous singer.  
The Cunto has been the source of inspiration for the literary genre of the fairy-tale in European literature. Some of the most famous fairy tales - Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots - are the result of reductions or adjustments from Basile's tales. Benedetto Croce said of this important work: "Italy has in Lo Cunto de li Cunti by Basile, the oldest, richest and most artistic of all the books of folk tales".
"Lo Cunto" is a collection of tales of folk origin, written in Neapolitan dialect, and inserted in a frame along the lines of the Decameron. The narrative is divided into five days (hence the other title of Pentamerone), each including ten fairy tales.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


If you read or listen to the weather forecast here in Italy you’re quite likely to come across expressions such as: vento di libeccio (wind coming from South West) or vento di tramontana (wind coming from the North). 
The reason for this is that we still use the traditional names taken from the Medieval rosa dei venti (wind rose), on which each of the four cardinal points and their four subdivisions is named after a wind. Historically, the use of la rosa dei venti (wind rose) precedes the compass, and has been a common tool for sea travelling since the times of la Repubblica Amalfitana (Amalfi’s Republic) before the Twelfth century. 

Friday, May 8, 2015


The plaster casts of the men, women, children, and animals of Pompeii were primarily made in the mid-1800s. The building they were originally housed in suffered extensive damage in World War II, and they are now located in several places around the city.
The Antiquarium, near the Forum, once held most of the plaster casts.The Garden of the Fugitives holds the largest number of victims found in one place, where 13 people sought refuge in a fruit orchard. Nine sets of remains were found at the House of Mysteries, where the roof collapsed, trapping them inside.
One plaster cast can be seen inside the Caupona Pherusa tavern.
The Stabian Thermal baths and the Macellum (fish market) both house two plaster casts, and the Horrea (granary) and Olitorium (market) holds several more, including a pig, and what may be the most famous cast of all, of a small dog in a collar, writhing on its back.