Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fun Italian names and delightful false friends

I love Italian names, first and last, they're so expressive.

This morning, a last name, new to me, caught my attention:...More......


It comes from "gaudio"--happiness--that is derived from "gaudere," the Latin verb for "to be happy."

What a great name! "Nomen omen," Italians say, that is, the opposite of "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet": "the name, in and of itself, is a prediction."

"Gaudio" appears in a pat phrase still used a lot: "Mal comune mezzo gaudio"...i.e., if someone else also has your bad experience, too, you can be halfway happy. Notice the note of spite. It's not quite the same as, but is the Italian equivalent of, "misery loves company".

These subtle differences between languages are so intriguing, so telling about the underlying mentalities. So fascinating.

Don't go sprinkling your Italian conversation with "gaudio,"'s very old-fashioned, the rough equivalent of speaking like Shakespeare in Brooklyn, or Poughkeepsie ("Pace," as the Italians say, "peace" / "apologies" to the worthy residents of these assuredly lovely communities.)

Be careful, too, of what we language teachers call "false friends," words in two different languages that look similar, but mean something completely different.

You can be "gaudioso" without being "gaudy."


PHOTO: My snap taken in the metro stop at Rho-Pera for the new Fiera, dated December 9, 2013, 5:30 P.M., for your personal non-commercial viewing pleasure.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Striking out in April

Forewarned is forearmed. Here are the strikes planned for April (as of today!), according to the Ministry of Transportation:...More......

--08 April: Meridiana Fly, 4 hours, from 12:00 noon to 4 P.M.

--08 April: local public transportation, 4 hours, TBA

--12 April: Trenitalia, 8 hours, 9:01 A.M. (yes, 9:01) to 5 P.M.

--19 April: Airports, 4 hours, 12 noon to 4 P.M.

--19 April: Alitalia Cityliner, 24 hours

--22 April: trains, at least one shift from 9 P.M. April 22 'til 8:59 P.M. (yes, 8:59) of April 23.

Italy, the Strike-meister,...strikes, again!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

When life hands you lemons...

...take pictures!

Friday there was a national strike of local public transportation. Of course,...More......

...I had a late evening course to follow that was supposed to finish at 10 P.M. But, not to be totally grumpy, it wasn't raining and the temps weren't bitter, so, armed with my camera, I snapped my way to work with a lovely blue and sunny winter sky and, skipping out a bit early, then home in the dark.

First stop was Piazza della Scala. Why are pictures of other people taking pictures so much fun!? (O.K., so it isn't Ansel Adams, but I'm still working my way toward black-and-white photography.)

Known today as the Armani building, this simple building, a lovely balance between modernism and a touch of traditional decoration in the form of a relief, was planned in the Novecento style as a multi-purpose building by Enrico Agostino Griffini in 1937-38, but only built right after WWII in 1947-48. The dark glass upper floor was added by Armani around 2010, and is a good example of a well-integrated addition, in my opinion.

Front and...

...back of the monument by Aldo Rossi (1990) dedicated to Milan's first post-WWII mayor and later President of the Republic, Sandro Pertini. The monument was recently cleaned, and the stone's natural tones have come out, creating a delightful and mystifying variegated surface where once there was just chalky white. With its original tones, the monument, rather large for the small piazza Croce Rossa, seems less overwhelming, and fits better into the space. ("Faces in Places" fans will appreciate the back view, in particular).

A few tourists enjoy the lovely courtyard of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum where I work in the afternoon.

Work and the class over, it was time to walk the long road home. Though a few trams and busses did pass in both directions, nothing was helpful for me, so with the company of the camera I began my trudge by snapping this shot of the AEM (electrical company) building in Corso di Porta Vittoria, 4. It has long fascinated me, and I have searched for info on it. In your honor, I got lucky! The official website of the Region of Lombardy has information cards on a lot of the region's cultural patrimony. Here's the info (in Italian) for this building by Antonio Cassi Ramelli, 1947-1948, a post-WWII reconstruction of a 15th century building (once home to the Pio Albergo Trivulzio) severely damaged during the bombing raids. I find the recessed glass and metal cage of the door an absolutely enchanting and fascinating space.

Weird light on the Piazza della Fontana fountain designed by the famous Giuseppe Piermarini and executed in 1782 by his favorite sculptor, Giuseppe Franchi (the first responsible for the design of La Scala and the relief in the building's pediment, the second responsible also for the execution of the opera house's relief).

The apse, the oldest part of the Duomo, begun in 1386.

The façade of the Duomo, finally completed in the Neo-Gothic style by Carlo Amati in 1813 (the blue blur was a lucky break: a police car shot by as I was snapping some pics, so I was careful to get it, too.)

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with the barely visible blur of a biker in the right hand corner. This covered street connecting the piazza of the Duomo to the street towards the then new central train station planned for where Piazza della Repubblica now lies was first decided just prior to the successful revolution ousting the Austrians, and was to be called in honor of the reigning Austro-Hungarian emperor, Franz Joseph. The successful Unification of Italy beginning in 1861 (the same year as the architectural competition for the building) gave a whole new meaning to this ambitious project renamed after the new country's first king. The project chosen in 1864 was by Giuseppe Mengoni, who fell to his death in 1877, perhaps not entirely accidentally, from heights in the structure after heavy criticism. The building had been opened in 1867, but the triumphal arch of the façade seen in this picture was only completed a year after his death.

Hopefuls waiting for taxis at the far end of the Duomo's piazza.

The Broletto (Palazzo della Ragione) by night. Perpendicular to the ancient Roman cardo massimo departing from the area of the nearby church, San Sepolcro, this market (open air arches) and town hall (structure above) was constructed by the podestà, a "foreigner" (from another city-state) entrusted with broad powers for a year, Oldrado da Tresseno. The original structure went up to the cornice line, and had a peaked beam-supported roof, replaced by masonry arches under Maria Theresa of Austria in 1771-1773 when the upper floor with oval windows was added. The building continued to function as the city's town hall for a few more years, until the function was moved to an area in the nearby street still called via Broletto. (Why "Broletto"? After all, doesn't that mean, "little garden/orchard"? Yes, it does, and it comes from the habit that arose in the Carolingian epoch of the arch-bishops, in charge of civic government on behalf of the Frankish rulers, of holding civic meetings in the garden of the nearby episcopal palace, partially transformed over the centuries into the royal palace we know today.)

Still more hopefuls at the tram stop in Piazza Cordusio (looking down toward the Sforza Castle). No action, though, so I kept on trudging.

Garibaldi, himself recently restored, watches over the surprisingly quiet night from a piazza near the Sforza Castle. (Artist: Ettore Ximenes, 1895)

Claes Oldenburg's very recently restored "Needle" (1999-2000) in front of the Cadorna train station.

A cruel scene in via Monti for little famished exhausted me, but by then I was almost home.

Thank you Mr. and Ms. Tram Driver. I got almost 2 hours of more exercise than usual. (If dripping sarcasm were honey, we'd be eating baclava.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cosa FAI questa weekend? (What are you FAI-ing this weekend?)

FAI-Fondo Ambiente Italiano owns, cares for and manages many fine examples of cultural patrimony, be they villas and art, or gardens, parks and natural reserves.

Each year for two days, selected properties...More......

...are open to the general public for a small fee (free for members...and even the annual subscription is reasonable...just do it!).

Interested? Me, too, but the English-language version of their web site oddly does not have info about these tours (admittedly, in Italian). Go here, click on the map for the region that interests you, explore, choose, and...


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The papal incoronation...sort of

So, today is Francesco's incoronation as pope. The papal crown, called the tiara or triregnum, hasn't been worn since Paul VI in the mid 20th century, but still figures among the vestments of the pope. So what is it?...More......

Worn with the cope (the open-fronted mantle-like outer garment), this headcovering for popes, that probably diverged from the mitre (the pointed form worn together with the poncho-like chasuble) around 1130*, is for non-liturgical functions.


That is, for functions in which the pope is acting more like an earthly prince, and less like a heavenly one. (That's a pretty rough distinction, but it will do.)

Mitres for performing the Mass, tiaras for receiving foreign dignitaries.

Got it?

It started out with only one crown, then had two, but since the pontificate of that fascinating and authoritarian figure, Boniface VIII, who took the throne in 1295, it now has three. Why three?

Three for the Trinity might come first to mind, but the symbolism** developed along other lines, denoting the three realms of papal power (Universal Pastor, universal ecclesiastical power, terrestrial power...obviously, according to the Catholics; terrestrial power since the victory of Italian over papal forces in 1870-1871 is limited to the small Vatican State and its little snippets, for example, the churches scattered throughout Rome). It also could symbolize the three roles of Christ, of whom Catholics believe the pope is the earthly representative: priest, prophet and king.

The tiara features in centuries of ceremonial protocol for the incoronation and actions of the pope, and even if you're not Catholic, and its symbolism of terrestrial power is limited, today, its history is still fascinating.

Now you know...enjoy!

*The Catholic Encyclopedia online is out-of-print, but is considered by many scholars to be a better version than the one now in print. It is freely available, and a reliable reference source for a lot of things, even those not having to do with Catholicism, though obviously not updated. For example, the works of Braun, the author of this contribution, were and remain absolutely fundamental for the study of liturgical and non-liturgical vestments.

**This is a good and succinct summary; if you're not religious, just skip the Bible verses at the end.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Traffic block days afoot

Watch out! This next Sunday, March 17, you won't be able to use your car in the area of Milan from 10 A.M. 'til 6 P.M.

The news released on...More......

...the city's web site (in Italian) includes fun stuff to do that day with the kids (Palazzo Marino and a "Tram full of surprises") and a reminder that one public transportation ticket is good all day on the busses, trams and metro, while the Mondoinformazione web site (in Italian) goes a step further, and notes that the car-free days in Milan (to combat pollution) have been scheduled (surprisingly wisely) with other activities, such as an upcoming marathon, so, here's the scoop:

March 17: Spring celebrations
April 7: Milan City Marathon
May 12: World bicycle day
June 9: schools and kids Sunday
July 14: Street artist Sunday
September 8: The European week of sustainable mobility
October 13: the 2nd national Walk Day (Deejay-Ten)
November 17: the beginning of the week, "Born to Walk"


Sunday, March 10, 2013

More strikes on the way...sigh

I try not to put up two posts in one day, but this one turned out to be too important: more strikes headed our way. Sigh.

According to the official...More......

...Ministry of Transportation web site (in Italian), as seen just now:

March 14, 9 P.M., to March 15, 9 P.M.: trains.

March 22, noon to 4 P.M.: Alitalia

March 22, local public transportation: local conditions vary. In Milan, though not posted here, the tram, bus and metro strikes usually go from 8:30 A.M. to 3 P.M., then from 6 P.M. to the end of service (usually right after midnight).

March 25, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.: Trenitalia

April 8, local public transportation (again).

Forewarned is forearmed.

I can hardly say my usual, "Enjoy!," can I?

A (Lombard) rose by any other name

How sweet it is to see something in Lombardy spoken well of on a popular and informative web site, Archaeology News: the rock art in Val Camonica...More......

...computerized and animated!

Stretching from the provinces of Bergamo to Brescia in the north-eastern part of the Region of Lombardy, the Val Camonica / Camonica Valley is spoken of here on this official governmental page in English:

While you watch Archaeology New's video, you'll see a four-lobed symbol, known today in Lombardy as the "Rose of the Camunni" (Rosa Camuna), though scholars are still not sure what it really was. It was adopted as the region's symbol: you can see it at the top left of the Region's web page. (Following my policy to post only my own images, this is my rendering of the "rose," with apologies to both the ancient Camunni and the Region's graphic artists.)

This is a good place to share an observation: talking about places in Italy without specifying the region (let alone the province) is so completely decontextualized that whatever is said loses not just a great deal, but an enormously great deal.

What "region" needs to be mentioned, though? Today's? The historic one? They're not always the same thing, so both need to be taken into consideration. The area in question, the Val Camonica, was one of the early "highways" between Italy and northern Europe. The rock art began to be carved already around 7,000 B.C.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Going, going...Constantine

You've only got about a week left, so you'd better hurry!

The "Costantino, 313 d.C." ("Constantine, 313 A.D.") exhibit at Milan's Palazzo Reale in honor of the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan is about to close...More......

...on the 17th of March (if the exhibit period doesn't get extended...ooooo, I just noticed the two 17s. I wonder if they did that on purpose...). This scan of the little brochure should give you enough info to get there.

If you know little about ancient Milan, the de facto capital of the western ancient Roman world from the last part of the 3rd century A.D. to 402 A.D., then this is a great place (with a few caveats...aren't there always?!) to start.

If you already know lots about ancient Milan, it's still worth going, if only to see a few interesting pieces from far flung museums that you're unlikely to frequent.

I'll reserve further comments about the exhibit until after it's over...I don't want to influence you unduly.

So...stay tuned!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

It's that time of the year, again: Milan's Affordable Art Fair, March 7-10

Love art, but don't want to (or can't) spend a passle o' money?

The Affordable Art Fair is for you!


...the 7th to the 10th of March, there will be activities and the possibility to buy art from up and coming (you hope) artists at what the organizers deem reasonable prices.

My advice?

Buy what you like, and want to look at forever, not for investing.

Want more info? In English? (Yeah!) Here it is!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...