past

All posts tagged past

LAKE ALBANO

Published June 29, 2014 by Tony

- ROMAN ARCHITECTURES -

Lake Albano

The lake Albano is located in the Castelli Romani, on the Alban Hills in Rome, and with its depth of 170 meters is one of the deepest crater lakes.
A lovely stretch of water, dominated by the papal residence, located about three hundred meters above the sea level and that reaches a maximum width of 3500 meters and with a perimeter of  9800 meters.
During the terminal phase of the volcanic activity of the Latium’s volcanoes, the encounter between the masses of magma and the groundwater favored the formation of numerous lakes, such as Lake Albano and Lake Nemi that are the only ones left to date.
From thousands of years, the eruptive activity is still in a quiescent state, but it is still possible to record volcanic phenomena albeit modest, and emanations of carbon dioxide from the bottom of the lake, that cross the water in the form of bubbles.
Apart from its beauty in the setting of buildings and woods, this lake is remembered for the colossal work of hydraulic engineering of the so called  “emissary”, which Romans built in 397 BC using techniques still unknown. The reason for this emissary is mainly due to avoid the flooding of the lake that could destroy the Emperors’ villas.
Instead, according to the historian Livy, this work of hydraulic engineering, particularly interesting for those times, would have been originated by a prophecy of the Delphic oracle:

At the time when the Romans besieged the inhabitants of Veii [in the days when the star Sirius was rising] in the season when the waters of the lakes are lowered, as is the case for all rivers except the Nile, and in a period when there is no rain or other causes perceptible to humans, the lake located on the Alban Hills, where the mother city of Rome rises up, had such a growth of waters to flood a large portion of the surrounding region, destroying many farms, cutting through the mountain and pouring a large river in the plains below.  At first, Romans believed that a god was angry, and voted to propitiate gods and minor deities of the region, and then they asked to the soothsayers what they thought about this, but since they did not have anything to say, Romans decided to consult the oracle Delphi.
In the meantime, thanks to the Veii’s Etruscan soothsayers, the Romans who had besieged Veii, gained knowledge that, according to ancient prophecies, the victory of the Romans against Veii became feasible only when the lake’s water had channeled and used to irrigate the fields. After a short time, a messenger returned from Delphi with a similar response, a thing that pushed the Senate to dig canals to drive the overflowing warm waters of the lake.
Dion.Hal, Romanae Antiquities, XII, 10-12

And so it was; in no time the water reached the sea, at first thru a gallery of about 2500 meters, that appeared near the Via Appia in the locality “Quarto Mole” (below Castel Gandolfo), and then with another funnel that reached “Tor di Valle”, and from there into Tiber river. It has been a complicated manual labor of about 180 cm in height and 120 cm in width, with tunnels and vents that still could be useful in the event of a flooding.

emissary entranceLake Albano’s emissary, which ran until 1980, when ill water level began to drop 1 meter every 3 years.

Emissary

EASTER TRADITIONS

Published March 30, 2013 by Tony

MEMORIES OF A TIME
THE CASATIELLO

Easter time.
In addition to doing my best wishes to you all, I take this opportunity to tell you some memories that in these days come to my mind.
At that time I was a toddler and often on Friday our grandmother picked me up to let me spend a few days at her home.
The grandmother “mmaculatina“, as people called her (Immaculate, God rest her soul), in those days did not go to work, and aware I liked being with her, came to our house to take me, and sometimes took my sister too. She loved her grandchildren, and on that time I was the youngest grandson, and although she was living with our grandfather, between work and commitments she spent little time at home. It had been years that the granddad was already retired, having made the postman became sick with bronchitis and arthritis, and alone spent all his days at home. He had his own bed with a bedside table on which a glass of wine and his radio never had to be missing. A man of few words who spent his days walking slowly in the house, sitting on the bed, sipping wine, smoking and listening to 1920: My grandma when youngopera on the radio.

It was an old building where, on different floors, a long balcony gave access to homes, inside the building those balconies turned all around the perimeter of the apartment blocks. The houses were not very large, entering directly to the first room, usually the living room, where the granddad had created his personal corner. On the right there was a small kitchen with a small window that looked out on the perimetral balcony, and where there was a very small bathroom formed simply from toilet and a sink. Beyond the living room was my grandma’s bedroom, that had a small balcony overlooking the street below. We slept in the same double-bed with grandma and I still remember her laughter when she told relatives how I sometimes fell asleep touching her breast and resting my head on his chest. I loved my grandmother and it was only the need in maternal instincts of a kid who, like me, had evidently not received enough cuddles from his mum. The grandma “Immacolatina” was good, cheerful and friendly, as well as a holy woman and had dedicated her life to work in the factory where she had become the “teacher,” as called her there, to wit the supervisor. Her relationship with the granddad were not excellent, having been from long more a nurse than a wife, and she was glad to have us at home to chat and pass the time.

As usual, Friday is the day when all Neapolitans dedicated to the preparation of the “casatiello“, also called “tortano“, the typical Neapolitan rustic pie (Neapolitan Lard Bread). And the grandma prepared it Friday afternoon to let it rise all day and then in the night took it at the bakery for baking. In those years it was customary to let casatiello bake by bakers because not everyone had a powerful ovens as bakeries where the cooking was done in an optimal way. There was no area or neighborhood that did not have some baker nearby. Anyone who would have walked in the alleys of Naples, during Friday and Holy Saturday, felt the almost stagnant scent of “casatielli” which were cooked at homes or by bakers. How can we forget that smell?
Odor that became all one with those feast days Grandma & Iand represented them as well. For this in Naples, even today, Easter is to say casatiello and vice versa.

At that time, due to the enormous work to be done between Thursday and Saturday, bakers worked continuously day and night. For this you could go to one of them at any time of the day or night, and deliver your casatiello or withdraw it.
The baker from whom my grandma went, was a few blocks from the house, the huge old wooden front door was always open for the occasion, placed on the ground and stacked up one above the other, hundreds of aluminum “ruoto” (round baking pan). They were the casatielli waiting for bakery.
Truly spectacular!
At that time, not everybody had the pan with the hole in the middle, which gives casatiello the classic donut shape, and so, most of the containers had a wineglass or a cup (glass or metal) at the center, around which the pasta was then grown encasing it.

Crossed the entrance hall, people arrived at the courtyard where on both the sides were stacked firewood for the ovens, shovels, sacks, buckets and other objects. In addition to the smell of casatielli, so strong here to become pungent, you also felt the scent of flour that you found everywhere, on the ground, on walls, on objects, everything was whitewashed with a pinch of flour!
Entered in the furnaces room, the heat became almost unbearable. Everywhere there were shelves made by long wooden boards, one above the other, on which side by side the casatielli already cooked were placed.
Here, the casatiello was not more as white as those encountered at the entrance, but the color of the rind of bread in its various gold shades.  A variety of sizes and shapes, those with the eggs above visible under two small strips of pasta in the shape of X, those without eggs or those where the eggs were just popping out below the golden crust. You could not but be enchanted to see those scenes, and especially for a kid like me.

People came and went, with those who were giving their casatiello and those who were going to pick up it, and all workers each with its own task. On that occasion there were more people at work and one of them went to the grandma and after taking two plates of aluminum from a huge basket, gave one to her and attacked the other with thin wire to the container’s handle. The baker asked if the casatiello had already risen and then placed it onto the others waiting for cooking. Probably, somewhere else there were those which were in need of further rise before being baked.

On those aluminum plates was imprinted a number which from then on would have marked our “casatiello.” After cooking the casatielli were placed on those planks in a coarse numerical order, according to the number that had been tied close, so to trace it when the owner would come back for it. In fact, to take the casatiello you had to give back your plate, and the baker began to turn around the wooden shelves to look for it. Hundreds and hundreds casatielli. You paid, wrapped the container in a cloth, and went back home happy with your casatiello ready to be eaten.
Things of other times, when everything was simpler and folksy!

casatiello

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Giorgio Sommer

Published October 13, 2012 by Tony

GIORGIO SOMMER
NAPLES IMAGES & CULTURE


In a previous post dedicated to the German photographer Wilhelm von Plüschow, I also had set out to talk about another famous German photographer, Giorgio Sommer,  who gave so much to Naples, about its culture and natural beauty.  What you will read below has been taken from Wikipedia.org site.


Giorgio Sommer (1834–1914) was born in Frankfurt (Germany), and became one of Europe’s most important and prolific photographers of the 19th century. Active from 1857 to 1888, he produced thousands of images of archeological ruins, landscapes, art objects and portraits. After studying business in Frankfurt, Sommer opened his first photography studio, during which time he worked in Switzerland, where he made relief images of mountains for the Swiss government. In 1856 moved his business to Naples and later (1866) formed a partnership with fellow German photographer Edmund who owned a studio in Rome. Operating from their respective Naples and Rome studios, Sommer and Behles became one of the largest and most prolific photography concerns in Italy.
Sommer’s catalog included images from the Vatican Museum, the National Archeological Museum at Naples, the Roman ruins at Pompeii, as well as street and architectural scenes of Naples, Florence, Rome, Capri and Sicily. Most notably, Sommer published his comprehensive album “Dintorni di Napoli” (Near Naples), which contained over one hundred images of everyday scenes in Naples. In April 1872, he documented a very large eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a series of stunning photographs. Sommer and Behles exhibited extensively and earned numerous honors and prizes for their work (London 1862, Paris 1867, Vienna 1873, Nuremberg 1885). At one time, Sommer was appointed official photographer to King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy.
Sommer was involved in every aspect of the photography business. He published his own images that he sold in his studios and to customers across Europe. In later years, he photographed custom images for book illustrations, as well as printing his own albums and postcards. He worked in all the popular formats of his day: carte de visite, stereoview, and large albumen prints (approximately 8×10) which were sold individually and in bound albums.

The images are a lot and I’ve chosen only a few to show to you now. Click to magnify.

730px-G__Sommer_1103  736px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_1171_-_Tempio_di_Venere_a_Diana_Baja  737px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1155_-_Napoli_-_Vesuvio  742px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2123_-_Sorrento  755px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__3830_-_Pozzuoli_-_Panorama  766px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1191-_Amalfi  771px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__103_-_Napoli_-_via_Roma_(Monumento_a_Carlo_Poerio)  780px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__0556_-_Sorrento_-_Marina_coll'Albergo_Tramontano  792px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2501_-_Napoli_-_Eruzione_del_Vesuvio_26_Aprile_1872  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1169_-_Capri_-_Marinella  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2044_Strada_da_Sorrento_ad_Amalfi_Positano_verso_Prajano  396px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__7102_COMO__Il_Duomo_  477px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_1516_-_MUSEO_DI_NAPOLI  741px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1210_-_Pompei_-_Casa_del_Poeta  756px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2066_-_Pesto_-_Tempio_di_Nettuno  759px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2146_-_Capri_-_Grotta_azzurra  765px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1297_-_Pompei_-_Strada_di_Stabia  773px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2012_-_Amalfi_-_Convento_dei_Capuccini_-_Chiostro  800px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__4428_-_Bronzi_-_Museo_di_Napoli_-_Cornell_university_website  G__Sommer_1164  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__3010_-_Pompei_-_Casa_dei_Vettii  761px-Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__1187_-_Napoli  777px-Makkaronifabrik_Neapel Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__11610_-_Napoli_-_Costume  Sommer,_Giorgio_-_Contadini_di_Capri_-_sec__XIX  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2742_-_Scritturale  Sommer,_Giorgio_(1834-1914)_-_n__2796_-_Zampognari     Sommer,_Giorgio_-_Famille_napolitaine  Makkaroniesser

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FEARS OF TODAY

Published September 9, 2012 by Tony

HOW FEARS HAS CHANGED OVER TIME

If someone claimed to have had no fear in his life, I would advise him to go to a doctor and get treatment.
Fear is born with man, also if at the beginning he only was afraid of his God, omnipotent and capricious, then, as the story went on, fear has proliferated inevitably transforming over time. However, the fear often has been a good weapon to stimulate a positive and healthy reaction
The prehistoric man was afraid of wild animals and natural disasters, while other forms of fears, more vague and irrational, came a little later: the fear of the vacuum or of immensity, the fear of falling, for water, fire, etc..
The passage of time and the arrival of new and unforeseen events led to the emergence of new anxieties, such as the fear of diseases, epidemics (plague, leprosy, syphilis, etc.), and about contagion that continually threatened the life of entire neighborhoods.
The development of science and human knowledge has added new fears to the list, such as the fear of flying, of the lift, of the sea, of closed places, of animals, of “nothing” and of the “unexpected” even.
The eldest Italian persons remember well the “black man“, and the fear it represented when they were children.
The black man was an unreal and grim figure created by our ancestors just to frighten children and avoid their whims. Until a few decades ago, children have grown up with the fear that the black man could arrive suddenly and scare them to death. Without ever knowing who he was or what would have done.
If you do not stop crying I call the black man!”
Poor and innocent creatures!
Anyway, fear of the dark is everywhere the main one that has always accompanied children growth, as well as the fear of death is common to most of the elderly.
But my question now is: “What are the fears of modern man?”
Or how fear has changed over time?
If fear is proper to man, no doubt it is also son of the times and circumstances.
To the fear of epidemics of the past centuries, we may associate the fear of AIDS or of avian epidemic had a few years ago, for example. The fear of the black man, instead, may have been replaced by fear of terrorists or of different cultures.
To the ancient fear of God we can associate the fear of the “existential vacuum.”
Today, it is believed in everything and to the opposite of everything, while everything has lost its real value.
The pursuit of material goods and a life lived in comfort, has led to a lack of imagination and a cultural standardization. In today’s society, which changes fast, the roles no longer exist.
New fears, sometimes unjustified, arise and spread over, while those atavistic and irrational ones magnify at the level of widespread panic. There is the fear of crowds, of a different religion, of war and tyranny, as well as the fear of environmental catastrophes, of crime and poverty.
Then there is the fear that comes from fear itself, as the race for power.
“You build a bomb from 2 kilotons and I am forced to make one of four.”
“The society did not give me anything and so I take from others! “
It’s lacking faith in man and in neighbor, thus trust and love.
Man who is afraid of his fellow creature.
The terror and the great disasters which we often have experienced as spectators so far, have marked our souls and feed our fears. Once, the fear of the dark  and of the black man helped growth and awareness, giving certainty and self-confidence.
The fears of today, instead, kill your confidence, sadden and make us weak and asocial.
I feel sorry for future generations, but in this chaos I do not think that there is still, in short, a way of escape.

DEFERRED MATURITY

Published August 31, 2012 by Tony

DELAYED  ADULTHOOD

It’s a matter of fact, thanks to scientific and technological innovations today we are living more and better.
But these changes have helped over the years also some genetic mutation, for example just think of the stature, with the new generations taller than their ancestors, or to the reduction of the fertility, because evolutionarily not the same need to reproduce ourselves as in the past.
But looking more closely to the evolution of the species, I have noticed, as many  experts also say, that with the longer expectation of life and from age to age, it also have been acquired  a lengthening of the time necessary for children to become “mature” or adults.
From long in many countries, the eighteen years of age represent the achievement of legal age, the coming of age linked with maturity, and this should suppose an eventual physic and mental maturity.
In the past, before age 18, a teenager was already considered an adult man, as evidently he  already showed a physical and mental adulthood. Once, for a young man twenty years old, it was normal to be married, having children and already with a professional activity, beyond the need to cut definitively the “umbilical cord”, which kept him still tied to the family.
Today, instead, it’s not unusual for men older than 20 years still act and look like teenagers!
I would venture to say that the 18-years-old of sixty years ago can be compared roughly with the 25-years-old of today, about the look or the manhood, at least.
An evolutionary gap of 6-7 years or the price to pay for a greater longevity?

Formal portrait of a 15 year old New York City boy in 1898 Portrait of a 15 year old boy in early 1900
0000271726-030 John Wayne at 30 years, with Marlene Dietrich
Handsome-Zac-Efron at 25 yo Zac Efron at 25 years
472px-Justin_Bieber_at_Easter_Egg_roll_-_crop Justin Bieber, 18 years old
early_years_0009!BoPO-Ug!2k~$(KGrHqMH-EUEuYESHe3RBLmtyp06 Q~~_3 George Clooney in his 20 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very young couple with children in early sixties