Throw Back Thursday

Yesterday Fearsome Beard, a fellow blogger, wrote about a decision he and his spouse had made concerning one of their beloved dogs. A decision that Laurent and I know is one of the hardest someone who has a beloved pet has to make: one that is made with a breaking heart but out of true love.

My favourite photo of two of the great loves of my life: Reesie (left) and Bundnie.

Ten years ago yesterday (December 28, 2007) we made the same decision for our Reesie. A gentle sweet natured boy he was sixteen and had been in poor health but there was no way we were leaving him behind when we moved to Italy in August of that year. He was our Reeserman and we would do what we could to make him comfortable in his new home until the time came. Perhaps it came a little earlier than we either expected or wished but we knew when it was the truly loving thing to do.

Reading Fearsome’s post yesterday reminded me of the day following that final trip to the Vets and a post about a trip to the Borgo that even today serves as a reminder to be thankful for what we’ve had and have.

Willy Or Won't He

The first time Laurent and I came to Rome we stayed on the other side of the Tiber in the Borgo near St. Peter’s. The area takes its name from the German Burg and was an area of hostels and hospices for pilgrims as far back as AD 725. Given the events of the day we were at a bit of a loss on Thursday evening – comfort food was in order but neither one of us felt like cooking. So a trip to the Borgo and that trattoria that I can never remember the name of for spaghetti alla carbonara seemed the solution. And since we would be in the area we thought we’d have a look-in at the (mildly?) controversial Presepe in Piazza San Pietro.

Presepe in Piazza San Pietro

Taverna panel

St Joseph and Holy Infant

The Holy Family

Left panel

It was only 2000 but there were very few people in the Piazza and most were crowded around the Presepe by a rather…

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Throwback Thursday

One of the oh so many joys of living in Rome was taking a walking tour with Nancy.  She is an American art historian who has lived most of her adult live in Italy and has a wealth of knowledge – both technical and anecdotal – on Italy ancient and modern. And she also seems to have access to things that you just don’t see on the average tour. On one occasion she managed to set up a private evening tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. After visiting it in a group of only 20 I was never able to go back during the crush of regular opening hours.

On another occasion she arranged a peek into the rare book collection of the Biblioteca Angelica – one of the first public libraries in the Western world. I thought I’d reblog three posts I wrote back in 2010 after that visit. At the end of this first repost there are links to the other two. I had several others in the works that were left unfinished and languishing in that very large “drafts” folder.

Willy Or Won't He

A week ago Tuesday I spent the morning at the public library here in Roma – well okay not just any old public library but one of the earliest public libraries in Europe. Biblioteca Angelica was founded in 1604 by Bishop Angelo (hence Angelica) Rocca, a writer and collector of rare books. He was also in charge of the Vatican Printing House during the pontificate of Pope Sextus V. He entrusted the care of some 20,000 volumes to the Monks at the convent of St Augustine, provided a building, an annuity, and regulations for its operation: the principle rule being that it was open to all people regardless of income or social status. It has functioned as a public library since 1609 and except for a few periods of renovation and civil upheaval has been a major source of learning and research material to anyone over the age of 16…

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Mercoledi Musicale

The first October we lived in Italy I went up to Parma for the Verdi Festival and a performance of is first opera Oberto, Conte di S. Bonifacio at a tiny theatre in the great composer’s hometown of Busetto. I wrote a bit about both the opera and the lovely little Teatro Giuseppe Verdi at the time.  It was quite the journey – Rome to Bologna on the express then a regional train to Parma. But the journey was far from over – after checking in at the hotel and changing into respectable performance attire I had get to Bussetto another 50 minutes away – by taxi.  As well as the performance I had one of the most uncomfortable dinners of my life at I Due Foscari – an albergo owned at the time by the great Italian tenor Carlo Bergonzi and his son Marco.

Though I heard him often on the Metropolitan Opera Saturday Broadcast I only had the privilege of seeing him live once – on the Met Spring Tour in Toronto in 1958.  It was a new production of Madama Butterfly that had been the hit of the New York season – an “authentic” Japanese production by Yoshio Aoyama, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos and starring Antoinetta Stella and Bergonzi. Those were the days, said the old opera curmudgeon with a woeful sigh.

Here is Bergonzi, not in a big operatic aria but in a lovely arietta by Vincenzo Bellini published in 1838 and dedicated to the journalist and writer Giulietta Pezzi.

Beautiful moon, dappling with silver
These banks and flowers,
Evoking from the elements
The language of love

Only you are witness
To my ardent desire;
Go tell her, tell my beloved
How much I long for her and sigh.

Tell her that with her so far away,
My grief can never be allayed,
That the only hope I cherish
Is for my future to be spent with her.

Tell her that day and night
I count the hours of my yearning,
That hope, a sweet hope beckons,
And comforts me in my love.

Like the moon his voice was dappled with silver and I’d say there was even spun gold in his singing.

On this day in 1881:  The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral takes place at Tombstone, Arizona.

Throwback Thursday

In looking over drafts for posts I’d always meant to publish I found a few that seem to have been completed. Now I’m wondering why I haven’t put them up. This particular item was written just was after our two week holiday driving around Sicily in May of 2011. We had been to Palermo several times during our four years in Italy but never beyond. Our trip took us to Trepani on the western tip of the Island and along the south coast to Catania on the east.  A stop in Agrigento included a stay at a wonderful bed and breakfast with a terrace view of the Valley of the Temples.

The view from the breakfast veranda of the strange little bed and breakfast we stayed at in Agrigento. Beyond the sprawl of the modern town lies the 2000 year old Valley of the Temples.
The owners were a funny old man and his daughter who gave us the “bridal room” and worried constantly about our comfort. The view alone was worth the (very reasonable) price of the room.

A New Antiquity

A New Antiquity

It may seem strange for this ancient and fragmented site to be the venue for an exhibition by a modern artist but given both his style and medium it came as no surprise that the late Igor Mitoraj’s mammoth bronzes both fitted and matched their surroundings. I’ve spoke once before of Mitoraj’s San Giovanni Batista in Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri in Rome, a beautiful but disturbing piece. There he was working with the whiteness of marble – in Agrigento his work was in bronze.

A New Antiquity


A New Antiquity

A New Antiquity

The shades of the metal – burnished browns, dull greens and earth shades – reflected and melded into their surrounds. Like the flowers around them they were highlighted by the intense southern sun or silhouetted against a bright blue sky. Mitoraj’s subjects, style and use of bronze again seemed to be at one with the surroundings.  .

A New Antiquity


A New Antiquity

A New Antiquity

Though his figures were all mythological his chief inspiration was the Icarus myth – the failed attempt by man to fly brought down by his own foolishness.

A New Antiquity
A New Antiquity
A New Antiquity

But Mitoraj’s Icraus figures had a certain majesty to them and often they seem to have been brought to earth by the failure of the world around them to understand their aspirations more than their own foolhardiness.

A New Antiquity
A New Antiquity
A New Antiquity

Most of Mitoraj’s work have what has been termed “echos of antiquity” and he himself acknowledged that he looked back at the roots of Classical sculpture and painting in his work. But he maintained that he saw them through modern eyes and as the fragments that they have often come down to us in.

A New Antiquity
A New Antiquity

Looking back on the photos and remembering the visit it’s hard to believe that these are not remnants of one of the many civilizations that colonize, built, fought over, destroyed and rebuilt Agrigento over the past two thousand years.


On this day in 1956: Fortran, the first modern computer language, is shared with the coding community for the first time.

Throwback Thursday

As I am still working on posts about the recent trips – Prince Edward Island and the cruise to Saint-Pierre et Miquelon I thought I’d do a bit of a Throwback Thursday. Here’s a post from September 2010 during our time in Italy.

Willy Or Won't He

I had only seen Villa d’Este in the winter so when friends Lorraine and John suggested a Sunday jaunt at the beginning of August we decided that, like much here, a second look was well deserved. This time around most of the fountains were working – though as always there was something under repair.

I’ve put together this video look at them with some film and photos I took that day. Please excuse the hand-held jerky moments, I really should take a film course or better yet buy a tripod. As the project was done in a larger format you may want to double click on the video and go directly to the YouTube download.

The wonderful music – which I’m hoping won’t be removed by EMI – is by Leo Delibes and is the Galliarde from his ballet music for Victor Hugo’s Le Roi s’amuse. Sir Thomas Beecham

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