All posts tagged custom


Published December 6, 2013 by Tony



Christmas, time for gifts and evaluations.
In Italy, several say that Christmas is a celebration for children, but I’m not at all convinced.
Maybe because it represents Jesus’ birth, but also those who are not observant or true Catholic Christians are involved in its tender and compassionate atmosphere. Others say that they decorate the tree or make the crib because they have children at home, but underneath it all, the first to find pleasure in doing so are just ourselves, the adults.
Christmas and New Year are also holidays when family gets together, people have meal together or meet to exchange greetings.
A moment of aggregation, dialogue, openness.
In the end, everyone becomes better and, believers or not, the Christmas‘ purpose and true meaning is safe. Too bad it only happens once a year and lasts only a few days!
Whether it’s Befana or Santa Claus, this is also the period for toys to children.
Who have never written a letter to Santa Claus?
Italian children are always polite and respectful in their requests. As usual, they write to have been good kids and end the letter by saying : “I promise you that I will be more good in the future… “, in the hope to get the toys they want.
Usually, children write their letters to Santa with the help of parents or teachers, and many of them before puberty already are aware that it is only a childish thing.
In my day we were content with little, even a simple plastic gun became an important gift for us children, where Christmas was the only time to get a toy. Then, it was custom to hide gifts, so, early in the morning, we woke up excited and went in search of the package for the whole house.
I do not deny that when my son/dau were babies, I repeated this ritual.
In the night, before sending children to bed, we together put the socks hanging somewhere with their letters, and to pretend that Befana or Santa Claus found something to eat, I let a slice of cake with a drink nearby.
They are considered to be short-tempered and you have to treat them well!
Then we all went to bed. As soon as children had fallen asleep, I got up and carefully substitutive socks with colorful stockings filled with sweets, took off the cake’s slice, leaving a few crumbs here and there, emptied the glass, and then I hid the various toys in the room.
Needless to say that the next morning, they were the children to get up early, not in their shoes to see if Befana or Santa Claus had come.
Their astonishment at seeing the crumbs, empty glass and sparkling socks really is priceless!

The tenderness and naivety of children leaves you speechless.

After the first moments of perplexity, shown by their eyes wide open and sweet expression of wonder, the first gifts, the biggest, were sighted.
“Oh … mom, dad, look at that!”
And then opening the package to see what’s inside… another moment of surprise and wonder….
Really beautiful experiences you never forget.

                           inquiries  ladygaga

                             oryoudie  1_amazon


for a Happy and Saint Christmas to you all.



Published December 2, 2013 by Tony


The word “presepe” or “presepio” (crib) comes from the Latin verb “praesepire” which means “fencing with hedge.” A term used only in Italy (and in Hungary) because it was introduced in Naples in the fourteenth century, when one Anjou’s descendant became king. The tradition, mainly Italian, can be dated back to St. Francesco of Assisi who, in 1223 in Greccio, created the first living representation of the Nativity. His representation cannot be considered a crib as we currently consider it, because it was just a cave with two real animals on the sides of a trough with straw.
Statues in Basilica of Santo Stefano -  photo by  Giovanni Lattanzi www.giovannilattanzi.itThe first example of carved nativity scene is preserved in the Basilica of Santo Stefano (in Bologna), the oldest known nativity scene in the world that consists of the thirteenth century’s statues by an anonymous sculptor from Bologna.
Soon this kind of symbolism was widely understood at all levels, especially within families, where the representation of Jesus’ birth, with statuettes and elements taken from the wild, became a rite.
In the fifteenth century it became common practice to place big statues in the churches,  tradition that also spread throughout the sixteenth century. Some of these ancient statues have survived, despite many thefts, and are still on display during Christmastime.
The use of the crib started to spread in the nobles houses in the form of  knick-knacks or real chapels, although the great development of carved crèches occurred in the eighteenth century, through three different and great traditions: Neapolitan cribs, cribs from Genoa and from Bologna. In the eighteenth century, in Naples even began a competition between families over who had the most beautiful and gorgeous crib: the nobles used a whole room for represent the nativity, with statues dressed with precious fabrics and jewelry.
Although among the various Italian regions, the crib diversified for cultural reasons, from these perspective, the Italian crib’s art only differentiates for different products and materials used to recreate the nativity. Traditionally, the crib in Genova was made with wood, with papier-mâché in Puglia, while in Sicily some typical products are added, like branches of orange and mandarin, and different materials such as coral, pearl and alabaster.
The Neapolitan crib  was characterized by statuettes made with terracotta, with the use of cork to recreate the setting. Later in time, the use of clay was reduced as a result of the overwhelming success of plastic figurines, which provided large scale production at a lower price.
CiccibaccoThe Neapolitan crib scene added other popular and anachronistic characters, such as taverns, street traders and typical rural houses. Sometimes these characters are symbolic,  such as for example the tavern represented “the bad”, and the character of “Ciccibacco”, who brings barrels with wine,  represented the “devil”.
The Neapolitan crib art has remained unchanged for centuries, becoming part of the Neapolitan Christmas traditions. Famous in Naples is “San Gregorio Armeno” street,  that offers a showcase of all the local cribs crafts. In addition, there are many museums (like San Martino Museum or the Royal Palace of Caserta), where
San Martino Museum historical or very old pieces are exposed.
The first nativity scene in Naples is mentioned in a document that talks about a nativity scene in the Church of St. Maria ‘s crib in 1025 . In Amalfi, according Particular of the crib in Royal Palace of Casertato various sources, already in 1324 there was a “crib’s chapel” in  Alagni’s house.
In 1340 Queen Sancha of Aragon (wife of Robert of Anjou) gave to the Poor Clares a crib for their new church, and today only a statue remains, visible in the museum of St. Martin. Other examples date back to 1478, with a crib of Pietro and Giovanni Alemanno of which we have received twelve statues, and the crib in marble of 1475 by Antonio Rossellino, visible in Sant’Anna dei Lombardi church . One of the clearest examples of Neapolitan crib is given by manufacturing clay with pieces dating back to the eighteenth century, exposed in the EllipticGiuseppe Sammartino's crib room of the Royal Palace in Caserta. In the eighteenth century, the Neapolitan nativity scene experienced its golden age, when from the churches, where it was a religious object of devotion, the crib became a tradition in each aristocrat’s house. Giuseppe Sammartino, perhaps the greatest Neapolitan sculptor of the eighteenth century, a skilled artist for terracotta figures, gave rise to the first school for cribs.
In 1787, Goethe describes the crib in his Italian Journey to Italy.

“That’s the time to talk about another entertainment that is characteristic of the Neapolitans, the crib […] they build a small stage, hut shaped, all adorned with trees and small evergreen trees , and there they put the Lady, the Child Jesus and all the characters, including those that hover in the air, sumptuously dressed for the festivity […] . But what gives the whole show a note of incomparable grace is the background in which the Vesuvius frames itself with its surroundings. »

Although Jesus was a poor family’s son, with our cribs, it is as if for we scarabattoloNeapolitans Jesus’ birth happens in a Naples’ street, in a narrow and dark alley, among taverns and bassi, where poverty reigns. The crib can be made by poor people too, with papier-mâché or bark, twigs and a few plastic small statuettes. Until a few decades ago, only a few people  decorated a tree for Christmas, considered more a cold symbol of northern traditions, and it was said that once you had prepared a crib, you had to adorn and show it every year to avoid a bad luck!
Our cribs, as a symbol of equality, became the ransom of a miserable existence. It conveys joy and sweetness, and gives faith to even those who have little.
Once, it was the custom to visit relatives and friends to see their new crib; cribs that although simple and cheap, many families did not throw away, but kept close in a glass or wood’s container called “scarabattola” (Neapolitan term not translatable). Thanks to these containers, we today can admire old cribs that, centuries later, have got a historical and artistic value.


Published April 10, 2013 by Tony


Standard of living and lifestyle have influenced and still influence the way how people spend their weekend. If we take as a reference two medium families, one from Naples and another from New York, both formed by working parents, with one or more adult children, probably in a month the Neapolitan parents spend one Saturday or Sunday to dine out, while the New Yorker parents spend three. For New Yorkers the Saturday “evening dining out” was, until recently, an obligation, especially for couples with both engaged in work. Due to the popular demand, in order to go to a restaurant or pizzeria in New York, a Saturday evening reservation even was necessary. Where the New Yorker didn’t go out to dinner, as an alternative there always was a dinner party hosted by some friends at their home or in a pub. A lifestyle difficult to eradicate, even in view of the fact that wives were not inclined to spend weekend at home, between cooking and dishes.
Aside from this substantial cultural difference, there was another of economic nature, because an average Neapolitan family certainly did not have the same economic opportunity of the overseas peers.
Although a normal dinner in a normal restaurant in the Neapolitan hinterland costs less than the one in a similar restaurant in New York, the average Neapolitan family culturally is more “conservative” and traditionalist, with wives, who, although involved in work, have not lost their  “housewives” identity, preferring to stay at home during the weekend.  In Naples, there has never been a “dining party” culture, and instead of Saturday dining out, if anything, the custom of a Sunday lunch away from home has always been more in vogue. But occasionally and not as a weekly habit. The Neapolitan wife has always been very attached to the house and the children and  weekend is just a chance to spend more time at home with family, and attend to all those household chores that she has not been able to do during the week.
Our habits have not changed much over the years. The economic situation has led, if anything, to renounce to some Sunday lunch at the restaurant and be thriftier in foodstuffs purchase.

Americans, instead, after a hard week spent at work, look forward to weekends, planning in advance for them.  For many weekend means going out with friends or relatives, outdoor activities or watching a game in a stadium.
In the past, one of the largest changes in American eating habits was the increasing reliance on food eaten away from home (FAFH). FAFH increased from 33% of total food expenditures in 1970 to 47% by 2003. Most of this is at table service and fast food restaurants.
Much of the growth is attributed to the rising value of household time, especially as induced by more female labor force participation, and rising household incomes.
As a 2009 Zagat Survey showed, eating out was a way of life for many Americans, with 50% of all meals prepared outside the home. In short, restaurants became the family kitchen for the busy two-career families. According to Zagat Survey CEO Tim Zagat, “Americans are still eating out in restaurants, they are just making smarter choices.”

Recently, the economic downturn, occasional jobs and financial turmoil in America have made it difficult for people to find enough money to afford their “dining out” habit.
Lately, Americans are making family dinner more often than dine out, a trend that slowly took root before the recession. Mostly, they’re cooking with and eating a narrow range of foods — and relying, to some extent, on prepared, frozen, and canned items to feed their families quickly and economically. “It’s very boring. That’s the sad truth,” says Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for the NPD Group, a national market research company. “For the most part, we’re looking for what’s the eaesiest way out of this, what’s the cheapest way out of this.” Balzer said, the number of restaurant meals an American family eats — dine-in or takeout — has been flat, at just under 200 a year, correlating to plateaus of both women in the workforce and household incomes.

Even the New York Times supported the thesis of the “end of the dinner party” because people do not have more money, time and wish to do so.  Someone else says that beyond the crisis there is a lack of good manners and savoir faire, with people no longer able to have a conversation and that’s why lately “finger food” and “standing up” are preferred to dinner party.



Published March 30, 2013 by Tony


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!




Published February 11, 2012 by Tony

Pasta with beans or Hot dog?
Italian & American eating habits

It’s told, “when in Rome do as the Romans do”, meaning that any country gets its own customs.
About this, one of the differences between Italians and Americans is the approach of eating. I am not referring mainly to menu, but the way we deal with the three daily meals, that we usually differentiate into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Starting with breakfast, for Italians it is not considered a true meal, in the sense that most of us undervalue it. For us, early in the morning, the breakfast is something to do quickly before going out, often reducing itself to a simple coffee or in the best cases to a cappuccino with biscuits. Others prefer to have it even when already in the street or at work, going to a bar and eating a croissant with a cappuccino or coffee, while some prefer tea. I believe no Italian in the early morning would like to eat ham and eggs, omelets or bacon and potatoes, then watered down with fruit or tomato juice or cold milk from the fridge. Thus, the first difference lies in this: you Americans are accustomed to spend some time in the morning for a breakfast rich in calories, while we Italians often run away at work while sipping a coffee. The opposite, however, happens at lunchtime. For most Italians lunch and dinner are considered “sacred” and, work permitting, anyone likes to have it at home together family, dedicating it the right time. For us a traditional meal consists of a first course with pasta, then meat or fish with a side dish, wine or water. Those who do not have the opportunity to eat at home, whereas possible, sit in a hash-house or pizzeria and eat with calm a first course or a pizza. Instead, I know that most of you Americans have not such a lunch and often a quickly one in a cafeteria, because you just give not the same value to the lunch as we do.
Finally we arrive at dinnertime.
This is the time when any Italian family joins together, especially when parents have not met at lunchtime. It’s time to chat and watch TV together. In general, the traditional Italian dinner is composed of a main course with vegetables or meat, or something lighter than traditional lunch. On holidays and Sundays it’s different, anyway.
Overall, we do not have the culture of fast-food, as hot dogs, hamburgers or sandwiches which only in recent times spread to Italy by the opening of McDonald’s points in any city. Our food culture, which is mostly derived from ancient rural traditions, is based on meals made with vegetables and local products if not homemade even, whereas the family gathered around the table to eat and be together, while only on Sundays or holidays people ate more with some dish more elaborated. Our traditional lunch made with a simple panino (bread roll) or bread’s slices stuffed with something inside, comes with the need for some workers, such as hard-hats, who could not return home or not having enough time, with parents or wives that in the morning prepared them a panino filled with some left-overs to take away. Even though it has then become commonplace among other workers or students, who have replaced the filling with tasty variations, as it’s a panino with ham and mozarella or with tuna-in-olive-oil and cherry-tomatoes.

panino with tuna

The Nude in the Art

Published April 28, 2011 by Tony


Adamo e Eva, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Cappella Sistina, Firenze

Adamo e Eva, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Cappella Sistina

Human being born naked and it is a fact as the natural situation that he originally lived without clothes. Throughout human history, garments come later and had, in the beginning at least, a symbolic and decorative function eventually, becoming necessary to protect from the cold.

Nudity itself wasn’t the original sin because Adam and Eve were naked before it, but some people correlated it to the original sin, perhaps to explain the ban, and from that moment on the sexual organs started to be demonized and execrated progressively, Masolino, "Adamo e Eva nell'Eden" 1424-25, cappella Brancaccio, Firenzebringing the future generations to consider them as parts to hide, getting more and more discomfort and shame in showing genitals. Hence, as a general rule, the nudity today is not accepted in most modern society, except some circumstance in which nudity – with the usual inconsistencies that drive the civilized human being –  is somewhat tolerated and accepted (locker-rooms, steam-rooms, operating rooms, nudists areas, etc.)

Some narrow interpretations of Islamism require that women cover the whole body
including the face, while some tribes of Togo and Ethiopia (e.g., Suri) commonly live without clothes. Covering sex organs by thong, leather or cases, in the few cases of primitive people still living in the world, is a way to underline their sexuality and not
to hide it. Lots of tribes, from long, are used to cover their nudity as result of the continuous interference by the church’s missionaries that from age to age have handed down their own shame of the western world.

We-all, who are civilized and advanced, lay down the law even if anthropological evidences show the absence of so-called “sexual deviations” afflicting modern society, just among those populations we consider primitive.

Long ago, in New Zealand the photographs of naked children (once considered as asexual creatures) were socially accepted, but now they would induce outrage and disgust if published, as well as a parent will be accused of pedo-pornography if showed a nude portrait of his child.

Anyway, the human body always had a great significance in Arts, specially in ancient times, and it
cannot be considered an aesthetic phenomenon only but, represents custom, concepts, practices, stele Qehrituals, life and mentality of people who made
​​use of it.

We could do a short excursion through the most important civilizations starting
from the ancient Egyptians who, because some religious prejudice, put the nudity in the background, though even they knew the structure of body through the art of mummification.

In fact, in funerary depictions they considered more important the features of the face so that, after the death, the souls easily could recognize their own
bodies. For this reason, the depictions of nudes are rare in the Egyptian art also if, because of the hot climate, their clothing was quite scanty so, it should not be so unusual or abnormal to glimpse genitals.

  For Sumerians and Babylonians the female nude was more accepted as sign of fertility, and the representations of the Mother Goddess demonstrate it. The nudity was generally considered a condition of submission and shame and for this reason, prisoners and killed enemies ritually were exposed naked in public.

Not even Minoans came to the complete representation of nudity, though they made use of more succinct clothing than Egyptians, with men wearing only a narrow inguinal band and women with a corset that left their breast free. However, women usually showed themselves completely nude during acrobatics games.

In Crete, women role sometimes gained in importance and nudity wasn’t aimed at enhance athletic aspect of the figure as for Grecians. During Greek time, the full nudity appeared for both warriors and other characters. Greek art sought in the man the ideal type of the divine beauty, transferring the nakedness from the reality to a heroic and universal level.

   rilievo greco, V sec. a. C. Barberini, FaunoBronzi di Riace

For Grecians the concept of beauty was central according to the equation beautiful=good. The naked statues considered as a glorification of life, beauty and perfection where nudity was the rule, as for the athletes that, engaged in the Olympic Games, got rid of the clothing hindrance.  The Greek word gymnasium just meant “place to stay unclothed”.

Ganimede e ZeusStatua di giovane kouros, ca. 590–580 b.c.Aphrodite, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The female nude is found mainly in the Archaic period by Corinthians painting with erotic content. On the other hand, just the study of the male body led Greeks to be the first creating three-dimensional pictorial representations, with perspective and depth. During the Hellenistic period, the nude portrait, from juvenile to decadent old age one, acquired delicate fleshy softness, representing it by a realistic virtuosity.  

Lakonia (Sparta). Bronze, 550-525 BC. Getty Villa, Museum.Soldato spartano


The complete female nudity was, instead, considered only in relation to the ethereal sphere and feast, thence with a material and sensual value. It is said that the Spartans were the first to show themselves naked, to appear publicly without clothes and rub oil onto their skin for the competitions, because the Donna nuda con uominiconception of the athletic nudity was more suitable to their customs and austere mentality as warlike people. 

In Sparta, the ritual nudity was common for men and women during some celebration, as well as to see the soldier with armour but showing their crotch in the depictions.

While trying to imitate the Greek motifs, Etruscans revealed their barbaric dislike towards nudity and required the use of the loincloth to their athletes.

As the Etruscans, Romans also come to be portrayed by borrowing naked bodies models of the great Greek art, but the classic Roman portrait remains the one with the toga.

Anyway, we have to point out that these populations, from which most of our knowledge and culture comes – even barbarians unwilling to accept public nudity – did not condemn or demonize it, as
at the present time. In particular, the genitals were considered a normal part of the body and not an evil or sinful organs and showing them could be a sign of inferiority or poverty, for lack of rank or

Marco Claudio Marcello, 1 sec. a.C. – Louvre, ParigiEros, FarneseGaio Vibio Treboniano Gallo

In the next decadent era of the late empire, the increasingly strong and authoritative voice of the Church, in the name of the new religion, condemned with no concessions the nakedness of the human body, even ordering to cover any naked artworks concerning the Old and New Testament.


In Imperial Rome, in fact, prisoners were often stripped of their clothes as a form of humiliation.

In Western Europe, until the early eighth century the Christians were baptized naked, emerging from the water like Adam and Eve but, during the Carolingian era the nudity acquired a connotation too
sexual and such a practice was abolished, as well as the representation of any naked Christ on the cross.
During the long and dark years of the Middle Ages, most statues of nudes (considered Crocifisso, Michelangeloblasphemous) were destroyed or damaged and female images underwent such iconoclastic fury mainly. Only later, the artists exceptionally could portray female nude in the case of biblical representations. Well-known is the “campagna della foglia di fico” (fig-leaf campaign) that Roman Catholic Church organized to cover the nudity in art, starting from Michelangelo works. 
Up to nineteenth century, public nudity was considered obscene and it was necessary wait until Renaissance for the studio of the nude to restart and revive a sensuality so long repressed.

Today, in a world that defines itself advanced, democratic and free, nudity in art
(we call artistic nudes) – even in public – is accepted luckily, but it is always forbidden to show ourselves undressed, generally punishable by law. 

The thing that let me puzzled is why many people easily accept
the vision of an “artistic nude” (any statue, painting or photo), in a public place, while can’t stand an actual naked person.
Evidently, the art that becomes here a screen for bias and hypocrisy.

Given that silence becomes acceptance, we could say that everyone deserves the society which he is living in.

David di MichelangeloGli ignudi, Michelangelo "Sleeping Shepherd Boy", Adolf von Hildebrand

Apollo, Giacinto e CiparissoCorreggio, "Danae"Caravaggio, "amore vittorioso"

Morte di GiacintoTrionfo di Venere, BronzinoGrien Hans Baldung, "La Musica"

Gioacchino_Pagliei, "The_Naiads""Rêverie d'enfant", Jean-Charles ChabriéFirst secret confidence to Venus

Bouguereau, "Nascita di Venere"Guerin P. Narcisse, Morpheus and IrisAristeo

"Prince Paris", BissenCanova, "Amore e Psiche"Peel Paul, "The Little Shepherdess"

Mapplethorpe, nudeWilhelm von Gloeden, "Amore e arte""15 year old girl from Vienna", Carl Heinrich Stratz



Published January 22, 2011 by Tony


Neapolitans mentality is not easy to understand.

To do that it could be necessary to retrace carefully many ages of history that the south, and Naples in particular, went through. History, experiences, culture, philosophy, coincidences and chance events as background worked together to forge folks or a race, I could say, unique and special.
It’s a matter of fact that as years go by fashion and culture are influenced and change adapting slowly but, in the Neapolitan people some atavistic characteristic endure in the time, being so strong and deeply rooted that could be considered a genetic factor even. Gesture, distrust, cunning and adaptability are the main example of those characteristics that evidently, evolution or development provided no improvement or repression in the time.
Surely, some cliché is now outdated and to forget like the false rumor that Neapolitans are, in general, goof-off. An old good story says: (literal translation)

There were four Neapolitans called: Everyone, Someone, Each and None,

Once an important piece of work needed to be done.

Everybody was sure that Someone would have done it.

Each could do it but in the end None did it.

So, Each  blamed Someone because Nobody had done just what Each should have to carry out.

Nowadays, because the high unemployment rate a lot of young people go away just to find a job and it’s irrelevant and provocative to argue such a thesis.

Everywhere, work isn’t a thing most people like specially if we refer to unrewarding or hard ones – usual and popular in  the past here – and it’s peculiar that in Neapolitan dialect many still use the term “toil” to mean “going to work”.

Under this point of view we may consider the famous phrase that the actor Eduardo De Filippo says in the comedy  “Natale in casa Cupiello” (Christmas at Cupiello’s home) :

<Cuncè, che brutto suonno me sò fatto stanotte. Me sò sunnate che lavoravo…..>

(Concetta, what a bad dream I had tonight. I dreamed I was working….)

Naples is a “training for life”,  an “university of life” where we all are performers or actors and the fun thing is that we don’t realize that even. The uniqueness marking Neapolitanism  is in the frail border separating fact and fiction, fun and dignity. Sometimes this border overlaps making difficult the identification and giving back comedy and tragedy. The well-known “macchietta” (“odd character”) is a forerunner,  an old theatrical tradition with sketches where the robust and colorful dialect becomes humorous through ribald and double senses.

In Naples anything becomes difficult but possible at the same time.

Do you remember the film “Il Giudizio Universale” (“The last Judgment”) of Vittorio De Sica?

In spite of the universality of its moral, it’s not a case that the film was produced by a Neapolitan and filmed in Naples. People are sure that the Last Judgment is arriving so, any bad cynic and sinful person is worried to expiate – at once – the one’s own sins in a sort of competition but, as soon as they hears that it is not true their usual life then go back as nothing happened!

Just a way to highlight the innate opportunism and adaptability of we Neapolitans.

< A famma fà scì ‘o lupo do’ bosco> (Hunger let wolf came out) is a way of saying meaning that the deprivations sharpen the wits… and for Neapolitans this is a rule. For example, there is no work or way to earn money – bizarre and absurd – that Neapolitans don’t have carried out o tried to put into practice.

Simme ngegnuso e fantasiuse” (we are ingenious and imaginative) under this point of view.

Another distinctive element to leap out at the foreigner is our gesticulation, sometimes incessant. Probably, this is a characteristic of many Mediterranean people but, for Neapolitans it acquires a symbolic meaning and not a mimicry only.  In some case, the hands gesticulation acquire such a form to come close to the art.  Practically, “reading” the movements of the hands we can understand the sense of the talk between two fellow citizens.  Evidently, our ancestors – for lack of knowledge and willingness – had to concentrate and summarize soon and good their dialogues. As others populations created dialogue patterns and expressions  – based on drawings paintings and symbolism – in Naples, possibly, gesture and aphorisms (we can call Neapolitanism) improved in the time.  Even the dialect is subject in the time to this simplification and adaptation and still going on. In the era of the SMS and with the input of some modern comedian (macchietta) also the dialect is changing according to new terms and social class. “Napule è…”  “Naples is…”  this too, making reference to the homonym Pino Daniele song whose lyric – among others phrases – says

Napule è mille culure………  (Naples is a thousand colors)
Napule è nu sole amaro…… (Naples is a bitter sun)
Napule è ‘na carta sporca … (Naples is a dirty paper)
nisciuno se ne importa e ognuno aspetta a’ ciorta….. (nobody care and everybody wait and hope)

Naples, where the ancient lives with the modern and probably, it’s this aspect too to hit the tourist.

All along, the presence of important and famous artists coming from anywhere in the world is the proof.

I read that the German philosopher Gadamer is popping over Naples from long and during the first visit in 1972, after a long walk in the old town, he said:  <I never saw so much humanity!>

Naples is loved or detested without middle ways.

Unluckily, we are an on-going mix of good and bad things that in the end give no possibility to reach a conclusion. Neapolitans are friendly informal frank and generous but till a certain extent because expedience always is at the gate. A Neapolitan can be very open and sincere but can be reticent and conspiratorial as a Sicilian.

<L’occasione fa l’uomo ladro> (Opportunity makes the thief), this is because we all take precautions, always.

However, for better or for worse, in the end a good lunch and some good time can’t be lacking. It could be said: “….scurdammece ‘o passato, simme ‘e Napulè paisa!” (forget the past, fellows we are from Naples!) as a famous song says.

I think that this sort of superficiality and kindness sometimes have the purpose to ease the situation as a safeguard. Then it comes into play the trick and the wisdom of the Neapolitans that in the time, because the adversity, often turn nasty into rudeness and abuse. Aside from the organized crime (Camorra) that is not object of this talk, I would like that any fellow citizen will realize that even a simple paper chucked away in the street becomes a disaffection and insult towards the city and  fellow citizen. We should change starting from the minor faults while – alas! – the wisdom is by now in the old proverb only. It is not easy because the deep rooted atavistic behavior I mentioned above and it needs a strong determination that must involve anybody starting from local institutions, school, security forces, upper class, clergy and storekeepers.

I finish this piecemeal chat with a beautiful Alessandro Siani sentence, a new fashionable comic:

“Naples is a not-sent postcard remained at the bottom of the boots (Italy), scrunched up, dusty and a little bit helpless but, alive. A living city waiting for a mayor that picks up it, clean out and lovingly send it all over the world.”