I always look upon these Sharing posts as a two-fold opportunity – I can bring your attention to some of the wonderful posts I’ve found in the past few days and put up some of the photos that I‘m frankly too damn lazy haven’t had time to get to as photo essays. This time around its some photos from my Torino, Genova, Parma opera week back in late October.
Out of Africa

This fascinating bronze entitled “Out of Africa” was prominently placed in the lobby of the Teatro Regio di Torino. I have mixed reactions to it – it is a beautiful piece but something about it disturbs me.

Holy Water Font

More often than not the holy water fonts in churches here are either dry or have a small bowl of water placed in them. But in Torino’s Chiesa di San Filippo Neri the font was more a fountain of holy water.

Il Museo Egizio in Torino has one of the finest – and stunningly displayed – collections of Egyptomania in Europe. I was particularly taken with this gold and lapis necklace. The pyramid as a display may be the obvious choice but it is subtly handled. Click for a close up.

The gates of the Palazzo Reale in Torino are a direct steal from Versailles but wasn’t every palace in Europe?

  • My friends Larry and Vincenzo spent Capodanno (New Year’s) with Vin’s family in Sicily. They made a trip over to Taormina to see the sights and Larry found some rather pretty, if unusual, Christmas decorations.

That’s the house of Christopher Columbus in Genova sticking up in middle way back there. His front yard is now a parking lot for motorinos – that’s one way to destroy the lawn and bring down prices in the neighbourhood.

This altar in il Duomo di San Lorenz once held relics of San Giovanni Baptista, the patron saint of Genova. His story is retold in the stone carvings in and around the altar. I’m constantly fascinated by the use of coloured marble throughout the churches in Italy – designs and colours always created to take the eye to a focus point.

  • Evilgnome calls the Fenway home in Boston, sadly last week he saw part of what makes his neighbourhood so unique destroyed by fire. And as he remarks when the Mom and Pop stores leave a neighbourhood so does much of its character.

Though the waterfront in Genova has been restored – and magnificently – its is still separated from the historic centre by an elevated freeway. There is no way to see this fascinating painted facade the way it was meant to be seen – approaching from the water.

A complete replica of a Turkish galleon is moored beside the Aquarium on the waterfront. It was original created for some Roman Polanski film and is now a tourist attraction. The Neptune figurehead is a great example of the carver’s art.

  • My darling Dora introduced me to two of the feistiest ladies in Blogdom: Margaret and Helen are two 80-somethings who chat on their blog – Margaret from Maine and Helen from Texas. They’ve known each other for over 60 years and their outspoken – often salty – take on the world is often amusing, always insightful and invariably controversial. They even have their own on-line store.

The Cross of St George (red cross – white background) features in the coat of arms of many cities throughout the world. It’s the municipal coats of arms in both Milano and Genova in Northern Italy – as in the New World it is in Montréal

I only intended to pop into the Aquarium in the harbour for a few minutes and ended up spending over 2 hours. Though not a fan of zoos or the like I found a peaceful fascination in the unusual sea fauna. I really must post a few more to these shots of jelly fish, I found them incredibly beautiful.

  • And speaking of beautiful, my friend Lotus Green is constantly revealing the beauty of the Japanese influence on our world. Her December 30 post on Fireworks is as spectacular as New Year’s Eve display. And her post naked is a enchanting mixture of the visual and the aural.

08 gennaio – San Lorenzo Giustiniani

Christmasy Things – Sharing

Munich Christmas Fair PosterOnce again many of my blog buddies are posting items special to the time of year – oh hell let’s call it what it is: Christmas. Its not the Holiday Season, its not the Festive Season, its Christmas damn it! C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S!!!!! Okay sorry I promise not to rant but this bloody PC attitude to my religious (and secular) traditions is really starting to get to me. Anyway as I was saying quite a few friends are posting some great Christmas memories and items and I’d like to share them – plus it gives me an excuse to post some of my Munich Kristkindlmarkt photos.
Entrance to the Marienplatz Market

Unfortunately the rain made photo taking a bit difficult without magical settings and an expensive camera but the entrance to the fair in the Marienplatz at night was quite magical.

The Marienplatz tree

Though only one of the 16 or 17 Christmas Fairs throughout Munich, the one in Marienplatz is the most well known … and photographed. We also managed to see the Airport Kristkindlmarkt, the charming childs market in the Residenz Palace, the Medieval Market in Wittelsbacher Platz and the wonderful Creche market in the Ridderplatz. We missed the Gay Christmas Market but that will have to wait until next year.

Market stall

You want decorations? They got decorations! Cookies? Yep! Candies? You betcha! 1/2 metre long hot dogs? You should ask! And while you’re shopping have a hot spiced wine. Sorry guys but Walmart just ain’t the same.
  • Some of you may have met Doris before – she would be EG’s mother and to quote him, ” Just remember though, Doris is only funny when she isn’t happening to YOU!” One of my favorite Doris stories involves the Christmas tree, a gin bottle and some nails. But don’t let me spoil it, just go over to EG and read all about Doris and Oh tannenbaum!

Lego Santa

And of course the many shops and department stores have their displays and windows. How about a lego Santa? Why not Neiman-Marcus is selling life-size lego statues as their His and Hers item this year.

Elves in the window

There may not be quite the same flair up North as we see in Italy but every so often a window would jump right out at you!

And there was the occasional display that suggested there might be, what could be thought of as, an Italianate influence.
  • And another Boston buddy RG has once again shared his story of the first Christmas he and his mom, Justine, were on their own. As I said to him: good stories are worth repeating, great stories are worth repeating again and again. Between EG and RG they’ve given us two great stories.

Cookie molds

One of the market stalls had every type of mold you’d want for stamping Springerle, those wonderful sugar dusted cookies sometimes scented with cardamon other times with anise.

Shockheaded Peter

They even had one for Struwwelpeter (Shockheaded Peter) – that slovenly anti-hero of German childrens’ books. Laurent had never heard of him and the punishments meted out to misbehaving children. Good solid lessons to be learned by good boys and girls.


But most of the wood carvings were of a religious nature and meant for home creches.
  • Jeff has been posting a riot of Santas over at his world. There’s a sackful of great videos, songs and proof that Santa’s a Meany. ; There’s so much I can’t single out one so just go over to World o’Jeff start at the top and work your way down – sort of like Santa coming down the chimney.

Laurent and the polar bear

Laurent seems to have a thing for bears and 1/2 metre long rotwurstl!

13 dicembre – Santa Lucia da Siracusa

Mercolidi Musicale

Today’s Mercolidi Musicale is dedicated to my blog buddy the notorious EG. Last week Tony wrote a great piece on music, memories and aging. I tried to think of a comment – you know something witty, wacky and wild but decided this number from Stephen Sondheim’s Follies was the best comment to make.

In 1971 I gave up a chance to see a matinee of Follies to go to the 55th Street Playhouse and see Boys in the Sand – talk about the stupidity of youth!

In Everything Was Possible, his remarkable book on the making of Follies, Ted Chapin recalls how as the run progressed Yvonne De Carlo had trouble remembering her lyrics. She encountered problems in this clip but still gives a powerhouse performance.

And Tony, those last lines are for you:

Lord knows, at least I was there.
And I’m here!
Look who’s here!
I’m still here!

20 agosto – San Bernardo

Un Piccolo Giardino nella Citta*

*That’s a close as I can come to a translation of a PBS programme – A Small City Garden – I use to watch every Saturday morning about 15 years ago. A clenched jawed Boston matron, Thalasa Caruso if memory serves because a Google search doesn’t, dished out advise on how to make your little corner of urbana green and floral.

When I look at EvilGnome’s gardening pictures I get a real twinge of regret that we left our beauitful but large garden behind. About this time of the year – even before the snow had completely gone – the wonderful smell of regeneration was in the air. I knew it would mean a great deal of work in the days ahead but it also meant a great deal of pleasure.

Well that’s in the past and I’m now tending a 6′ by 20″ blue-tiled balcony pot garden four floors up. I guess the nice thing is that garden clean up took about an hour today and most of that was spent sweeping up the dirt left behind by the heavy rains and city pollution. That and attempting not to send dust and debris floating down onto the Fascist Grouch’s balcony below – if our upstairs neighbours do it that’s okay they’re Italian but we are stranari (foreigners)and uomosexuale and since the Fascists are now in power …
There is still a good deal of pleasure in seeing plants that had been dormant over the winter break into leaf. And even in my pot garden, as so often happened in the past, I am finding things that I don’t recall being there last fall.
While digging around in one of the jasmine pots I came across what looked like a clump of clover that had hitched a ride from somewhere. A bit of research suggests that since it is springing from a bulb it is probably a type of woodland sorrel. Whatever it is I’ve put it in a pot – every little bit of green helps!
The day lily, which had its last blooms in early November, has already sent out four flower stalks and seems to have its share of hitchhikers. As well as a very health ivy, a slender tendril festooned with round leaves and tiny snapdragon-like blossoms has made an unexpected appearance. The flowers have a faint purple throat with a splash of yellow and are half the size they appear in the enbiggened photo.
I’ve never been very good at remembering the names of plants but given the fragrance and the appearance of the flowers I would say this is either jasmine of some type or frangipani. Can anyone tell from looking at the pictures? There is a massive bed of them below us and even four stories up we get the incredible scent.The only thing that appearance to have been lost over the winter – and yes we get winter here – was the hibiscus but I’ll just wait and see. Meanwhile the cascading plant around it – again be damned if I know the name – is sending out delicate white flowers, individually and in clumps.

I’ve just noticed that our ground floor neighbour – a charming lady – and her two boys have been out raking the leaves in their garden and the maintenance staff have been cutting the grass. Two less things I have to do in my piccolo giardino – hmmm that twinge of regret is getting less and less noticeable.

01 maggio – San Guiseppe di Antioch

Oh Lord I Am Not Worthy

My friend Tony over at EvilGnome scored pretty high for a heathen on this Bible Quiz; not being competitive or anything but:

You know the Bible 93%!


Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses – you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Sorry that wasn’t very Christian was it????? And like Tony I’m wondering why I can remember those things but not my Bancomat pin number!

29 aprile – Santa Caterina da Sienna