Monday, August 15, 2011

Ferragosto with Mozart and layer cake of history

 Its Ferragosto,  the  mid-summer holiday  that closes  down most of Italy. 

Unlike many  Italians  we chose  to stay close to home  away from the  beach, the crowds and  the  traffic.

American  musicians   participate in the Ferragosto concert 
H.Kim from Manhattan warms up

musicians before the concert  and Fulvio 's balcony seat 

warming up   in the town hall

Concerts featuring  the Vetralla  town band and an evening of Mozart   by  the Tuscia OperaFestival   were all the entertainment needed. 

A special  lunch in  our neighbor’s garden with a few good friends followed  by a stroll  around   town, camera  in hand,   made for  a perfect  holiday   at home  -“a kilometro zero” .   

Photographers  have discovered  that  doorways  and  cats  are  icons of  picturesque Italy  that   sell  calendars and  postcards.
 But  with cats, as well as doorways, there is more than meets the eye. 
During   our  afternoon walk  I noted dozens of doorways  worthy of  a photo and  also some interesting insight  into  the  town’s  history.

 Our town's old doors and  ancient  walls remind us that  Italy is a layer cake of history  which allows  intimate glimpses into  the past, how  previous  inhabitants lived and what was  important to  them.
terracotta "plumbing" solution of a medieval house

Time  goes slowly  in central Italy's  Etruria  area where  the past  is naturally  recycled and reused .  
Where else  can you see  Roman paving stones  inserted  into 17th century buildings? 

Roman paving stone  basolo inserted  in 17th century wall

And   what about  the  primitive  plumbing  which consisted  of  a terracotta pot inserted  just  beneath the window, making  it  easy to empty  the chamber pots.

Instead of doorbells, there are  gorgeously detailed  bronze batocchi  to decorate the  doors .
door knocker   batocchio   of  18th century 

 Besides the practical use of resounding a hearty knock , they  reflected  contemporary  fashion  and family  status.
different  door knockers reflect a past theft
my front door 
 The sphinx-like heads from this door in Viterbo’s center dates  back to  the Napoleonic  invasion of Egypt, 1798-1801,while the Renaissance- style  bronze  batocchi on my front door reflects their Tuscan provenance.

Egyptian style  batocchi date this door   in Viterbo

The problem  is that  not every solution is  compatible  with  aesthetics.

Renaissance doorway  with   industrial  shutters
Take for example this  magnificent  doorway  decorated  with angels. It  was once  the seat of  a 17th century confraternity before being  converted into a soft drinks factory .  Nowadays  it is  empty and for sale but  the metal industrial shutter definitely  has  destroyed   its charm.

This narrow  alley  holds  another example of  "speaking  walls"  where   blocked up doors and  insertions  show the passage of time.
What a shame that  the electricity  and gas companies had to add their  contributions.


  1. Mary your blog..and esp the door article..I photograph doors at every out my website ..there is a 'doors and windows' link..

  2. Thank you Margaret for your comment. I was inspired by your website's door photos.

  3. Great post Mary Jane. We only have to keep our eyes open to see such interesting things around us. I too love to look at the doorways and knockers around town. Christina

  4. Thanks Christina. I love reading about your special garden ...can you post the exact name here so everyone can visit it ?