NAPLES / ITALY

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THE CASTES

Published January 24, 2014 by Tony

 – THE TRUE POWER IN ITALY –

Senza titolo-1

I can not know what lies behind the politics and leadership in other nations, and being Italian I can only talk about Italy, though what I say also may be true for other states.
Italy is a democratic republic or so it is written and should be in practice, but alas, considered what really happens, often it does not.
Although apparently it doesn’t seem so, Italy is only influenced and managed by a few thousand people. People belonging to some castes which over the years have gained power, acting in the shadows.
Although apparently it seems that public power is exercised by the political parties and their leaders, by government and its ministers, the power is actually driven, in a subtle and indirect way, by a super caste. Castes or lobbies composed of Directors-General of the Ministries, presidents and directors of government departments and parastatals, members of authority, and of large economic societies. Over the years some castes are formed, such as judges’ , physicians’, or representatives of big Industrial associations (Confindustria), whose leaders are able to influence political decisions without exposing themselves in the first person. So in Italy, the real power lies in the hands of these people, who of course pull water to their mills, uncaring of Italy and Italian people’s destiny. They are the true all-rounder of the specific activity of the government, untouchable, those who decide whether a law should pass or in what manner it must be varied, those who give strategic guidelines, who decide on major contracts, who are able to block the initiatives of any power or to choose a leader who must occupy a significant seat. This super caste is cohesive and interactive, differently from Italian politicians who are not and that, on the contrary, are afraid and become like puppets. These castes are the real masters of Italian politics that operate confidentially. Anyone else, from workers to retirees, from dealers to small businesses, do not have a voice and their protests or claims leave the time they are found.
The absurdity is that many Italian folks still believe that something can be accomplished going to vote for changing the government.

NAPLES ANCIENT BUILDINGS

Published January 13, 2014 by Tony

– MYSTERY AND DECAY OF PALACE PENNE –

Penne's palace

Palazzo Penne is a Renaissance building in Naples, built by Antonio Penne, located in the Piazzetta Teodoro Monticelli, in that narrow blind alley that leads to the long and narrow “Scalea del Pennino” in the Sedile “Porto”.
Antonio Penne, so named because coming from the town of Penne in Abruzzo, belonged to a wealthy bourgeois family, and in 1391 he became secretary and special adviser to the king Ladislaus of Anjou (Naples 1374-1414), son of Margherita of Durres, nephew of the Queen Joanna I. His prestige at court became so high till to obtain permission to erect his own memorial in Santa Clara’s church, exclusive place for Angevin nobility, where today, in a chapel we can still admire his tomb.
Once this property was famous for a legend that hovered over, while in the last centuries a total negligence led it to ruin.

Penne's tomb

HISTORY

Palazzo Penne was built in 1406 and the area where it is located is called “Pennino” (meaning slope), because it was a small hill where the road surface was about 5 meters lower than now, a place that at the time was considered healthy, and safe against flooding landslides.
The year of manufacture can be inferred from the inscription on a plaque above the arch at the entrance of the building: “XX anno regni regis Ladislai sunt domus haec facte nullo sint turbine fracie mille fluunt magni bistres centum quater anni.” The inscription arranges a single block with the Anjou-Durres’ coat of arms. The concession of the sovereign to embellish the building with weapons and symbols of the royal family, as well as the approval of Penne’s blazon, signified the eternal protection to the family Penne.

The facade  is made with ashlar rusticated “piperno” alternated with “soft stone of the mountain”, referred to as “piperino tuff”, which is actually trachyte: a compact yellowish rock. The pediment is formed by arches called “flaming Gothic” with the crown of King Ladislaus in the first order, and below the Cross of Jerusalem, Majorca’s coat of arms (poles), and the stripes of Durres’ lineage. In the ashlar frame you see the “feathers”, symbol of the house in three rows, topped by Angevin lilies in seven rows, in honor of King Ladidslao. In the middle of the arch, a composition represents the religious and superstitious spirit of Antonio Penne: the stylized clouds from which come out some beams (the divine light) with two hands holding a tape containing two engraved lines of Martial (against evil eye) “Avi Ducis Vultu Sinec Auspicis Isca Libenter Omnibus Invideas Tibi Nemo” (you, who do not turn your face and do not look at this building willingly or envious, envy everyone well, no one envies you). The door is oak, although altered over the centuries, is one example of craftsmanship with steel spikes, iron studs called “Peroni”, consisting of the original arches of the Gothic period.
The inner courtyard is decorated with a beautiful five-arched portico with a lovely garden still partly preserved. Originally, in the courtyard there were sixteen stables, while the beautiful porch was adorned with statues of the Roman period, all remodeled in 1740 and then covered up by the construction of the janitor’s home, as well as the “Majestic Arch” which remains only a track in the wall. In the apartment on the first floor there were two rooms, one looking out on the porch and another on a courtyard that led into the park, all with frescoed ceiling. In the courtyard there was a spiral staircase that led to the basement that were below the level of the building. A scale of piperno led to the second floor, where there was a large terrace with a balustrade still made with piperno.

After Antonio Penne’s death, the building passed to his nephew Onofrio, as long as the last heirs sold it to the family Rocco or Rocca, and finally in 1558, to Aloisia Scannapieco Capuano who in turn gave it to her son Giovanni Geronimo, married with Lucretia de Sangro.
In 1685 the house was purchased by the Order of the Somascan Fathers, the nearby church of Saints Demetrius and Bonifacio. The fathers Somascan modified it according to their needs and transforming it in novitiaten and cells for the Fathers. The transformations occupied nearly a century, new houses were built in the garden area, while part of the cellars, adjacent to the Church of Santa Barbara, were transformed into shops and other flats. The final annihilation of the ancient structure happened with the destruction of the top floor’s roof. With the arrival of the French, in the first decade of the nineteenth century, and with the abolition of religious orders in 1806, the building was put up for sale and became the property of the abbot Teodoro Monticelli, noble barons of Cerreto, a volcanologist.
After his death in 1845, the assets were sold to the University of Naples, while the watchman Saverio Monticelli remained, the grandson of Theodore. In memory of Monticelli was a plaque on the first floor of the building, commissioned by the Civic Administration in 1909. In 2002, the Region of Campania bought the building for 10 billion lire, held by a private possession who had transformed the building into a “bed and breakfast” . The palace was then transferred on loan to “University Orientale” in 2004. The project involved the construction of laboratories, rooms for seminars or conferences, and services for students. Work on the renovation of the building that never initiated by the presence of squatters in the building. In 2007, the intellectuals Alda Croce e Marta Herling, daughter and granddaughter of the philosopher Benedetto Croce, obtained the suspension of the squatters works inside the building for the construction of some housing units by the occupants (who resumed work despite the ban). To no avail the appeals of the President of the Republic and UNESCO for the start of restoration work. On 20 May 2008 the investigations requested by UNESCO through the Italian judiciary, were concluded, and among the defendants the governor Antonio Bassolino and the then dean Pasquale Ciriello, for the non-restorative intervention against an artifact of historical and artistic interest. In November 2009, the Prosecutor has requested the dismissal of the process, giving the opportunity to the Public Prosecutor to appeal to the prosecution, if the case. In 2013, all the defendants in the trial, for damage to property of historical interest, were acquitted by the Tribunal of Naples because the crime does not exist. The agreement between the Region and the last two individuals, illegally occupying the building and to which it has been procured an alternative residence, has allowed to finally put the entire building under the supervision of the Region and the University Orientale, which must agree to the restorative intervention and the intended use. In November 2008, work  for the safety of the building has begun, to prevent further deterioration, as a new abusive attack, nipped in the bud by the Superintendent and the City of Naples, took place in the early months of 2009 when an adjoining hotel was taking possession of the garden.
For now, the only certainty is the decay and neglect that still prevail in the building.

THE LEGEND
”Beelzebub’s building”

As soon as the noble Antonio Penne come to Naples with the French entourage, he fell in love with a beautiful Neapolitan young girl.
Having too many offers of marriage and the next day to give an answer to other suitors, the damsel replied that she maybe would agree only if the Penne had built, for the next morning, a building equal to her beauty, as a pledge of love and wedding gift. Sure that he had not been able to fulfill such an absurd request because, alas, she already had chosen the man to marry.
Aware that he could not cope with such an impossible request, it is said that to just to have a change, the nobleman asked for help to the devil, Beelzebub, who accepted in exchange for Penne’s soul. Antonio accepted by signing with his own blood, but reserving the right to insert an irrelevant clause that he would reveal in the end.

At midnight the evil forces began their work, and at dawn and the building was ready. At this point Beelzebub asked him about the last clause and Antonio explained it: he would have sprinkled many grains of wheat in the courtyard, and the devil would have to pick up and count them all, and if he had missed even one of them, the agreement was no longer valid. Said than done, when the devil counted the grains their number wasn’t exact, because Antonio  deliberately had mixed them with pitch, and inevitably some of them stuck under Beelzebub’s nails. This one protested demanding for his soul, but Antonio made the sign of the cross obliging the devil to sink in the courtyard, where today it is said that there is a well.

 

SEDILI IN NAPLES

Published January 11, 2014 by Tony

Old Administrative Institutions in Naples

In Naples, the “Sedili” (Seats), also called Seggi o Piazze (Squares), were in force from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, and they were administrative institutions of the city, whose representatives, known as Eletti (Elects), met in the convent of San Lorenzo to take decisions about the civil administration for the common good of the City. The first six seats were attended only by the nobility, while the citizens had their own representatives in the seventh Seat.
The Sedili became extinct in 1800 due to an edict of King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, who abolished their functions. In 1808, after Joachim Murat’s reforms, the functions and responsibilities of the seats were assigned to the new Municipality institution (City Hall), with the election of the first mayor. Despite the abolition of these local administrative units, the names of some of them, still indicate the area (neighborhood) where these old Sedili were.

NAME

HISTORY

VENUE

Coat of Arms

Capuana

(Capoana)

The name derived from the surname of an influential family.

Via Tribunali

Capoana

Montagna

So named cause it was situated in a high part of the city.

Via Tribunali

Montagna

Forcella

In neapolitan this name refers to the shape Y, a symbol that was the emblem of the nearby school of Pythagoras. The motto of this Seat was: “For good agendum sumus,” (we were born to do good). This seat was merged with Montagna’s seat.

Via Forcella

forcella

Nilo

So named for the presence of the statue of the Nile River and in memory of traders Alessandrini, who dwelt therein.

Piazzetta Nilo

nilo

Porto

So called because it was near the ancient port of Naples.

Via Mezzocannone

Porto

Portanova

So named because, during the Greek time, the city’s walls were enlarged and a new entrance was built near the sea.

Piazza Portanova

Porta_Nova

Popolo

So named because it represented not-aristocratic people of the city. Representatives could only report people’s complaints and actively participate in street festivals or religious processions. They were chosen among the middle class (doctors, writers, lawyers, notaries, merchants, etc.)

Largo della Selleria (current Piazza Nicola Amore)

popolo

.

ERASMUS

Published January 7, 2014 by Tony

– Napoli Seen by a Foreign Student –

I want to share with you these words and this video about a guy who, thanks to the Erasmus program, spent a few months in Naples.
For those who do not know, the Erasmus project (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students), founded in 1987 through the work of the European Community, gives European university students the chance to perform, in a foreign university, a period study legally recognized by their university. The program’s name derives by the Dutch humanist and theologian Desiderius Erasmus (XV century), who for several years traveled across Europe to understand the different cultures. Currently more than 4,000 universities from 31 countries are participating in the project and, up to 2009, within the European Community, the students who participated in this initiative have been more than 2.2 million.

It does not matter the country this student comes from, and although I do not know what information (which described in such a bad way our city) he found and read on the Web before coming to Naples, I think there is no need to add other, apart from telling him “Thank you too, and come back here again.”

(I have translated what the student wrote and published on this website.)

<< I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was in Bilbao when received the news that I had been selected for the Erasmus project. I quickly went on internet and typed the word “Naples”. Oh my good! It didn’t seeme true what I was reading! Was I going to relocate into the worst place in the planet? I could not believe in the things written on the first pages that I found on internet, but, fortunately, I am quite curious and went on reading, until a point where the bad stories transformed into beautiful stories about people who had been in Naples and had discovered the heart of the city. It can be said that from that moment I felt the wish to become part of those people.  I arrived on September 21 and from the start I found myself really well. I remember my first way from Garibaldi square, where I got out of the bus, going ahead through the colorful Corso Umberto I, turning right towards the long Via Duomo, while I was leaving behind the sea, until to reach my street: “via Anticaglia”. I threw the suitcase on the bed, and so my first day began, the first pizza, the first beer and early acquaintances that later would become my first friends. It’s amazing how the city and its citizens open the doors of their hearts as soon as I arrived in the street “Via dei Tribunali”.

It is said that “when someone goes to the South, he cries twice, once when he comes and another when he leaves (note: a phrase taken from a recent famous Italian film). It may be true, but in my case this occurred rather between arrival and departure. In fact, I lived some of the most intense emotions of my life during the time I have lived in the city. There are many things that I learned there and I’m not able to say all of them. I was living in the historical center, a place that every day is full of life. A place where at the beginning it was impossible to sleep after seven in the morning, because of scooters’ noise that honk at every intersection, even if, after a while, you get used. A place where you can find: from secondhand books in Port’Alba to musical instruments in Via San Sebastiano, from the bar “Café Carini ” in Piazza Bellini, to the best pastries in Domenico Maggiore square. And, above all, the greatest thing that you can find, the one that makes me nostalgic, it is the sunrise seen by “Via San Biagio dei Librai”, with the sun that crosses SpaccaNapoli, from Forcella to Montesanto street.
There is no city equal in the world, I called and still call it “Naples: the city where anything is possible”. I think it’s a city full of noises and music, that you hear from when you wake up until you go to sleep. One of those cities that you cannot judge before staying there, a city that needs to be discovered by everyone without any kind of prejudice, and so and just so you can feel what Neapolitans feel, a true love for the simple things that are simply the things that make you happy in the easiest way: having coffee with your child, drinking a beer in the square with friends or eating a piece of pizza together your dad, like you did many years ago…..
Eventually, living in a special way like only the Neapolitans know. For this reason, there is not a day that I do not remember the aroma of the small “Morenita”, the smell of pasta ready at home, of Peroni
(note: an Italian brand of beer), of buffalo mozzarella, of sfogliatelle, public transport links that work in that particular way, the order in the disorder. Above all, I miss my home and people I met and which I still feel nostalgia. A nostalgia that sometimes brings me back to Castel Sant’ Elmo, where I looked at those sunsets with the sun disappearing behind Pozzuoli.  I miss Naples… >>

ITALIAN CARD GAME

Published December 27, 2013 by Tony

SEVEN AND A HALF

 


“7 and 1/2” is a popular Italian card game that can be ranked among gambling games.
The game is played using Neapolitan cards (forty cards), but you also can use other regional Italian cards or even French cards (but in this case you should remove all the cards numbered 8, 9 and 10). Therefore, you must have four different suits for each value between ace and 7, plus the twelve figures (see the pics below).
The ideal number of players for this game is 4-6 , but you can already play with 2 players up to a maximum of 10-12 . One of the players get the function of the dealer, which is not fixed, but changes during the game. In turn, the dealer plays one at a time with the other players.
The maximum score to be reached just is “7 and a half” and the purpose of the game is precisely to achieve the highest score possible without ever busting, ie without exceeding the value of 7 and 1/2. The dealer must try to match or exceed the score of the challengers, of course without going bust. The dealer collects the amount wagered by the players if they go busting or getting a score lower or equal to his own. Conversely, the dealer pays the equivalent of the bet to players who surpass his score. The rating is calculated by adding the value  of all the cards that each player has got.

GAME’S RULES

• The cards from Ace to 7 are worth as many points as their numeric value. That is, the Ace is worth 1 point, the 2 is worth 2 points … until to get 7  which is worth 7 points.
• The figures  are worth half a point each [in Neapolitan cards they are: 8 (the woman), the 9 (the horse) and 10 (the king)].
• The 10 (the king), if it has the “seed of coins” (golden) assumes the role of “crazy” or “wild card” (it is the “King of Diamonds” in French cards), and it can take the VALUE of any other card to the discretion of the player who receives it.
The game begins with a single card that the dealer gives to each player (to keep covered on the table and only the player can see). Now the player must play trying to achieve a score of 7 and 1/2 (or a value closest to it), asking dealer for other cards, which this time must be shown (uncovered on the table), and whose value has to be added (algebraic number) to the first received card. In this way, no one knows the player’s score. When the value of the received cards reaches half past seven or values close to 7 , the player will not ask for any more cards and will say, “I’m fine“, “I stop“,  or “I see” and let the dealer to play with his (covered) card. 

Examples of seven and a half are:  one “3” + one “4” + one figure, one “5” + one “2” and a figure, one “7” +  one figure, or  the “crazy” and one “7” (the best!). If the “Seven and a half” is reached using only two cards (7 + one figure), even if using the “crazy” card, we talk about the creation of “Real Seven and a half” or a “legitimate” one. In this case it is worth more than any other “7 and 1/2” reached with different cards. The player who achieves this score receives from the dealer a sum equal to double gambled and the player also becomes the next dealer. If more players make SEVEN and HALF in the same hand, everyone will be paid double, and the player who sits closest to the dealer’s right will become the next dealer, unless the dealer also made a “Real 7 1/2”. On the contrary, if the dealer is who reaches a “Real seven and half”, he collects the double gambled from all the players, except those who also made “Real 7 and 1/2” and those who were offside because busted, from which the dealer receives only the gambled sum. If one of the players realized a “Real 7 and 1/2”  having the “crazy” and a figure, the dealer wins only if he got the same. If the dealer makes a  “seven and half” by using more than two cards, it  is “not legitimate”, and he wins even if the players get the same, except towards the “Legitimate 7 and ½ ”.

THE GAME

At the beginning, each player draws a card from the deck and the one who choses the card with the highest value will be the dealer. In the event that two or more players draw a card of the same value, these ones will repeat the draw. At the beginning of the hand the dealer deals one card face down to each player, and the game begins. Starting from the player seated to his right, the dealer will proceed clockwise. In turn, each player then performs the following operations :
• Look at the own card.
• Make a bet by placing the corresponding amount of money near the covered card. Of course, the stake will depend on the card’s value. At this point, the player decides whether to ask for more cards or stop (to stay). The player may request as many cards as he wants and stop at any time. One at a time, all the cards, subsequent to the first, are dealt face up on the table, so the dealer can see them and realize the score that the player possibly has got. If the player “goes bust” he has to show the card face down and give the money to the dealer, who will proceed to play with the next player.
• If a player busts or achieves 7 and Half must immediately point it out and discover the first card received. When someone goes bust, the bet is immediately withdrawn from the bank, then the game proceeds and the turn passes to the next player.
The maximum score achievable is 7 ½ and in the event of a tie between players and the dealer, this one always wins.
• The Dealer will win the wager to all players who have reached a score lower than his and all the players who went bust, otherwise he must pay the equivalent of the amount played by each player who beat his score.
Once all participants have performed their play, it is the turn of the Dealer, who publically discovers his own card and decides whether “to stay” or take other cards. If the dealer busts, he must pay all the sums bet  from the players still in game. When the dealer decides to stay or is Ok with his cards,  each player has to discover the cards and see who has a higher score (winning) or lower (losing) compared with the dealer’s. Obviously, those who have achieved a higher score will receive the payment of the “bet” on the part of the dealer, who, on the other hand, collects the share played by those who have reached a lower value.
At the end of the round, the Dealer will pass his role to the player sitting to his right, unless the players have not decided a priori that the Dealer loses the role only at the end of the cards in the deck.
As said, who has got the “seven and half” also acquire the right to become the new dealer, bypassing the natural rotation between players.
If more than a player got the real Seven and a half during the same hand, they have not pay the double, and the new Dealer becomes the player closest to the Dealer’s right.
If, however, the Real Seven and a half is made by the Dealer, he will collect a double post by each player at the table, as he will maintain the role to the next round.

seeds

Here you can see the four seeds referring to the 12 figures (coins or suns,  clubs, cups, swords) that are equivalent to the French card’s seeds hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades). These figures are worth half a point each. The King of Suns is the most important card because the player can easily make “Seven and a half”.

Carte_napoletane_al_completo%20WikiCommons Here’s the other cards, from ace to seven.

EXAMPLES

seven and a half  sette e mezzoExamples of “Real 7 and 1/2”

sevenAn example how the king of suns can be used to achieve the maximum value possible (7) with the received card (2), assigning the value 5 to the King.

6 and a halfA player who reaches such a score should stop and stay. If you receive a card from 1 to 5, it is almost obligatory groped in asking for more cards, while it is reasonable “to stay” if you receive one 6 or 7, risking to bust.

BARILLA NO-GAY

Published December 26, 2013 by Tony

Barilla says NO to Gay Ads
The Jackal’s group reacts!

Our nation still is the emblem_ of closed-mindedness.
This time is the Barilla’s brand_ to impress_ the audience_ worldwide. While companies, such as Ikea, launch spot that continually refers to the “_new-families_” and “extended_families”, which are no longer simply made by dad, mum and son, some brands just draw back and still aim on the “traditional”.
The _tricolor-pasta’s producer_ declared_ itself against advertisements that refers to ‘non-traditional’ families, and about gay Guido Barilla said :
” …. I’ll never produce a commercial_ with gay people. If they like our pasta and  our communication, eat it!  If they do not like what we say, do without and eat another!”
With these sentences, the firm made Italia and abroad indignant.
_Napolitans_ also has remained agape, and the known Neapolitan group of independent_videomaking called “the Jackal” for only answer created a _clip_ dedicated to Barilla ads, but with a gay couple.

For other the Jackal’s video see HERE

or follow them on Facebook

HOLIDAY SEASON

Published December 24, 2013 by Tony

* CHRISTMAS IN NAPLES *

There is no city in the world that doesn’t celebrate Christmas with some Christmas decorations. Some European capitals or major cities like New York are a glitter of colors in this period. Without a doubt the richest cities where the Christmas spirit is more felt and experienced. Although Naples has never had this record and has never been a city richly decorated, this year I see some more light around the squares.

 

galleria Umberto   piazza borsa   piazza dei martiri

piazza trieste e trento   piazza triete e trento   corso umberto

via chiaia   via filangieri   via merliani

piazza dei martiri