Category Archive 'Italy'
31 Dec 2015

Amusing Non-Art

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In 2005, a group of artists in Italy built a giant 200-foot-long plushie rabbit in the countryside, and just left it there. It’s been there ever since.

28 Apr 2015

Italy Versus Europe

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Hat tip to Baroness Dominique De Benckendorff.

24 Mar 2015

Italians Wore the Best Helmets

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A Milanese burgonet, bearing the visage of a dragon. Musée de l’Armée, Paris.

Hat tip to Belacqui.

01 Feb 2015

Message in a Cartridge

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Some Italian metal detectors found a coded message inside a WWII cartridge somewhere in Southern Tuscany. Gizmodo has the story.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Mar 2014

Italian Laws Getting Passed

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I don’t know if it’s true, but some people say that the Italian parliament currently passes legislation just so that its members can watch Maria Elena Boschi sign it. Maria Elena Boschi is an Italian lawyer, politician, and current Minister of Constitutional Reforms.


Pshaw! Commenter Col. Goff provides a link demonstrating that the picture is a Photoshopped humor item, which has recently gone viral.

28 Feb 2014

The Sword in the Stone

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The always-rewarding Madame Scherzo yesterday published this Tumblr image which, in the manner of Tumblr images commonly was totally unidentified.

I am afflicted with an excess of curiosity, and began searching, finding out eventually that this is a photograph of unknown source of the ruined Abbey of San Galgano. More photos here.

St. Galgano

St. Galgano and his Abbey, it turns out, have one heck of a story.

Galgano Guidotti was born in 1148, the son of a minor noble, and one of those punk, no-good young knights constantly looking for trouble and worldly pleasures. One day when he least expected it, Archangel Michael appeared before him and showed him the way to salvation, and kindly provided him with directions as well. Next day, Sir Galgano announced that he was going to become a hermit and took up residence in a cave. His friends and relatives ridiculed him, and Dionisia, his mother, bade him to wear his expensive nobleman’s clothes and at least pay a last visit to his fiancée. On his way there, his horse reared, throwing Galgano. Spitting road dust, he suddenly felt as if he was being lifted to his feet by an invisible force, and a seraphic voice and a will he was unable to resist led him to Monte Siepi, a rugged hill close to his home town of Chiusdino.

The voice bade him to stand still and look at the top of the hill; Galgano saw a round temple with Jesus and Mary surrounded by the Apostles. The voice told him to climb the hill, and while doing so, the vision faded. When he reached the top the voice spoke again, inviting him to renounce his loose, easy living. Galgano replied that it was easier said than done, about as easy as splitting a rock with a sword. To prove his point, he drew his blade and thrust at the rocky ground. With an ease that would impress even cinderblock-splitting sword dealers at Renaissance fairs, the sword penetrated the living bedrock to the hilt. Galgano got the message, and took up permanent residence on that hill as a humble hermit. He led a life in poverty, visited by the occasional peasant looking for a blessing. He befriended wild animals, and once, when the Devil sent an assassin in the guise of a monk, the wild wolves living with Galgano attacked the killer and, according to legend, “gnawed his bones.”

Galgano Guidotti died in 1181, at the age of 33 years, and was canonized four years later. His funeral was a major event, attended by bishops and three Cistercian abbots, including one who had got lost while on his way to Rome. The next year, the Bishop of Volterra gave Monte Siepi to the Cistercian monks, aware that they would build a shrine to Galgano’s memory. They began building in 1185, erecting a round chapel that became known as the Cappella di Monte Siepi, on the hill above the main abbey, with the sword forming the centerpiece.

The Cappella offers a breathtaking view of the Abbey, the neighboring buildings and the beautiful surrounding countryside. Galgano’s body was for some reason lost after the funeral, although his head, which is said to have grown golden curls for many years following his death, was placed in one side chapel, and the chewed bones of the arms of the assassin in another. Saint Galgano’s head is preserved as a relic in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Siena, while the skeletal arms are still in place. The crowds of pilgrims were so numerous that the Cistercians were authorized to build another monastery named after the Saint a short distance away. It was to be one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Italy, and one of the Cistercians’ two largest Italian foundations. The monastery soon became both powerful and respected. Monks from San Galgano were appointed to high offices throughout Tuscany. In the 14th century, a Gothic side chapel was added to the original Romanesque Cappella, and in the 18th century a rectory was added. The side chapel has the remains of some frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, including a faint picture of Galgano offering the sword in the stone to Saint Michael. The Abbey was sacked by the (in)famous English mercenary captain Sir John Hawkwood and his White Company, and by 1397 the abbot was its only inhabitant. The Abbey deteriorated over the centuries, becoming the impressive ruins seen today.

Galgano’s sword in the stone.

10 Feb 2014

“Nasschneelawine” in the South Tyrol

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Nas = “wet — Schnee = “snow” — Lawine = “avalanche”

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

30 Jan 2014

Gravity is Not Your Friend in the South Tyrol

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If you live in Tramin/Termino in the South Tyrol, you had better beware of falling rocks.

Gizmodo has more pictures.

06 Dec 2013

Italian Cavalry School 1906

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Italian Cavalry School at Tor di Quinto near Rome 1906

That rider is Federico Caprilli.

Hat tip to Ratak Mondosico.

14 Jun 2013

“Through Ezra Pound’s Eyes”


South Tyrol, Dolomites, photo by Luigi Masella

Through Ezra Pound’s eyes

Beaten from flesh into light
Hath swallowed the fire-ball
Attraverso le foglie
His rod hath made god in my belly
Sic loquitur nupta
Cantat sic nupta
Dark shoulders have stirred the lightning
A girl’s arms have nested the fire,
Not I but the handmaid kindled
Cantat sic nupta
I have eaten the flame.

Ezra Pound, Cantos XXXIX

Via Vanderleun.

07 Feb 2013

Parking Problem in Naples

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Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

01 Mar 2011

Orvieto’s Corpus Domini Procession

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Our friend Bird Dog from Maggie’s Farm linked the video below, featuring the 2004 annual procession in the Umbrian city of Orvieto celebrating the 1263 Miracle of Bolseno, in which a communion host produced blood during the moment of consecration of the mass, affirming the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

The procession carries the corporal of Bolseno (the small cloth on which the host rested during the consecration) through the city of Orvieto on the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, the date on which the Catholic Church celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

The feast day was created in 1264 by Pope Urban IV, reputedly on the basis of the inspiration of the miracle of Bolseno.

In any event, the procession is a remarkable spectable and a marvelous survival of an ancient European tradition. What an extraordinary number of groups and organizations Orvieto seems to possess!

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