Saturday, November 30, 2013

UNESCO and Viterbo's Santa Rosa Festival

This weekend  I attended an evening  with the promoters of the  UNESCO  project  held inside the Museum of  Viterbo's   cathedral or Duomo. 
Walking through San Pellegrino quarter  I noticed the Christmas lights were already  ablaze, adding a lovely blue hue to the  ancient peperino  stone walls and buildings.

  Roman candles lit the entrance of 
the Museum of the Duomo creating a  romantic aura. As I walked to the conference room  my iPad camera caught a few special objects along the way. 

entering the Museo del Colle del Duomo 

a capital  from medieval column , Museo del Duomo 
Diana of Ephesus statue in the Museo del Duomo

Santa Rosa,  Museo del Duomo, Viterbo 

Poems were read, the Bishop spoke and those present  wished the committee safe travels to Baku in Azherbijan where, on December  5th , the decision of the commission will be made  during the UNESCO  sites  annual meeting.   
 In the past 5 years  Italian nominees  accepted  include  lute making in Cremona, Sardinian pastoral songs and the  Mediterranean diet.
Porters of S. Rosa (photo F. Pignatale) 
Few outside of Viterbo  know that back in  2010 the city  joined  forces with the towns of Nola, Sassari and Palmi  (Gubbio declined, wanting to do it on their own ) to enter the competition hoping  to  have their  shoulder borne processional structures declared  as objects of intangible heritage by  UNESCO.

Partnering with Viterbo’s Macchina di Santa Rosa in the competition are:
-The "Gigli di Nola"  a  procession of eight obelisks made of wood and papier mâché  in honor of Sant Paolino, representing  the boat which brought the Saint to land.
the Macchina turns a corner (photo F. Pignatale) 
-The "Varia di Palmi", a complex processional structure carried in honor of Our Lady of the Holy Letter.
-The "Candelieri" in Sassari, Sardinia, wooden obelisks which make a  choreographic performance dedicated to the Virgin.

Each celebration  promotes  intense cultural activity that allows citizens to get in touch with all the nuances of the intangible heritage.  Children also are involved in the transmission activities and  in the case of Viterbo’s mini macchine,  carry  smaller processional structures on their shoulders.


On the contrary, the well known Venice Carnival and Palio di Siena both  failed to meet the  UNESCO’s strict  guidelines.
Stay tuned for the verdict  to be given on December  5th.  
A positive  verdict  will give lustre to the  centuries-old  festival and hopefully  increase tourism in this ancient, medieval city. 
See  also   this post to learn more about the festival.  
See how to become a porter of Santa Rosa   here:  interview with the  President  Massimo Mecarini. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vetralla - crows of Norchia

This video  shows what happens every evening as the jackdaws fly towards the setting sun to roost for the night at   the hidden Etruscan site of Norchia,  in the Vetralla countryside.
Comments  are welcome. Share with your friends!
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends !
Mary Jane

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Making Videos

Now  that I have an  iPad   its time  to learn how to  make videos  and eventually 
to insert them into the blog and website 
Here are  the first  two  attempts.  

Let me know  how they look  and if you have any questions. 
One  shows the sunset  and the other  the lovely swimming pool in nearby Viterbo.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Vintage Clothing in Italy

Have you too  noticed  a boom in vintage  clothing  among  your  young fashion conscious  friends ?
Some say it is due to the  “crisi”  but I think that it is also caused by the fact that   well made  clothing  is now hard to find at decent prices. Most shops carry only clothes made in Pakistan, China or Turkey and top Italian brand name clothing is  priced over the top for most budgets.

  In Rome’s  Monti and Campo dei Fiori areas  vintage shops are as common as  pizza al taglio shops and Florence  has  several along the Arno river.  Instead of Rome’s  infamous  Porta Portese flea market, check out the  dedicated   open air markets for vintage clothing  held on weekends in Rome and other cities.

One of  the best... Borghetto Flaminio.
Max Mara  cashmere spring coat
Things change rapidly in this field so  I'm counting on my readers based in Rome, Milan, Florence and other  Italian cities to  chime in with addresses of  their  favorite shops for vintage  bargains.
cute 2 and 3 piece outfits for 20-30 euro

Update  October  12, 2014 
Unfortunately  the  vintage  shop   tucked   between the mechanic and a discount  supermarket here has closed, but  there are other possibilities for finding vintage  in our town. 

Check out the shoes and boots (size  37/ US 6)  that are available at 20/30 euro. There are also a pair of brand new Church  loafers and  pumps by Rossetti .   Soon they will be on ebay, but until then you can stop by  (here in Vetralla) and  get lst dibs. 

suede boots 

A classic woman's  jacket can be had for less than 50euro and  there are men's lodens and sheepskin coats from Rome's exclusive Davide Cenci shop that  will keep you warm for many winters  at less than 100 euro. 
brand new Church loafers

stylish Italian shoes-never worn 

mink   and suede jacket 

Furs  are not worn much in Italy's warmer winters but if you live in a colder clime here are some that can  be had for  less than 300 euro. 
Feel free to contact  me if you want to stop by and browse. Leave a comments or tell us about your favorite vintage shops and the bargains you have found. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Teaching History in Italy

Villa Giulia, Etruscan Museum in Rome 
Rome is definitely  one of the best place to be a history student….or teacher.
Many years ago when teaching at international schools in Rome, 

vintage  photo with students 

the history books supplied from the USA practically ignored the Etruscans and Romans thus an ad hoc curriculum was created. Rome was our campus, our library, our textbook: Rome's Villa Giulia museum and Tarquinia and Cerveteri’s museums and necropoli  became extensions of the classroom for on site learning.
Etruscan bucchero  - reproduction by Mastro Cencio 
At Villa Giulia the  kids sat on the floor and spread  themselves out with notebooks, pens and pencils  to sketch artifacts  and fill in study sheets about the Etruscan civilization. 

The stern guards  were quite taken aback  then, but nowadays  this up close and familiar  way of  learning at  a museum is considered acceptable.

Palazzo Vitelleschi, Tarquinia's Etruscan Museum

For  Tarquinia  the best plan was to start on the  top floor of the museum  and work down to the entrance, skipping the “boring” rooms where   hundreds of black and red figure vases  were set in glass cases, including an entire room of  vases decorated with very graphic  erotic scenes.   

erotic vases  at Tarquinia Museum
Teaching youngsters about Roman civilization  involved difficult choices: should we go to  Castle Sant’Angelo, Ostia Antica or the Museum of Roman Civilization in EUR? 
model of the Flavian ampitheatre  Museum of Roman Civilization, EUR

 Lucky students who  visit the Colosseum, Pompeii and  Herculaneum at 10-15 years of age understand history in a deeper way and remember  it for the rest of their lives. A  fascination for  the past developed as a youngster occasionally becomes a life choice, a former student, now history professor at  Oxford, has told me.  
cut away of Castle Sant'Angelo 

The best season for visits to Etruscan, Roman and medieval sites  in the Italian countryside  is  the winter  while the vipers are still hibernating and the sun’s rays are lenient. 
Cerveteri, one of  the top 10   Etruscan sites 
Independent travelers, students and teachers can find  more  practical tips for visiting  Etruscan sites in central Italy in the   several books  I have published. 

the painted tombs of Tarquinia
Happy exploring!
rock hewn tombs of Norchia (ph. J.F.Sims)

 Doric  facade, Norchia 

little known Etruscan necropolis of Norchia, Vetralla

Have you visited  any of the above places as a student or independent traveler?