(Dec 22) - Probably nothing to worry about, but the scientific journal Nature Communications has just published a report by Italian and French scientists expressing concern at the hydrothermal conditions beneath the Campi Flegrei (alias the Fiery Fields, alias the site of the mammoth Campanian Ignimbrite eruption of 40,000 years ago, which created the western end of the bay of Naples.) The many small hills in Camp Flegrei are remnant craters. From the report:
...scientists have for the first time identified a threshold beyond which rising magma under the Earth's surface could trigger the release of fluids and gases at a 10-fold increased rate...This would cause the injection of high-temperature steam into surrounding rocks...which can ultimately lose their mechanical resistance, causing an acceleration towards critical conditions.
This is not the first alarm. The entire area was jolted by small movements called bradiseisms in the 1980s and has been subject to increased monitoring since 2005, and geologists on TV never tire of warning the half-million people in the area that the popular tourist attraction, the bubbling sulfur pit called Solfatara (pictured) is really an active volcano and probably part of a potential super volcano like Yellowstone in the United States. Probably nothing to worry about—unless you put credence, as do many Neapolitans, in the fact that the Miracle of San Gennaro did not occur the other day, when it was supposed to. That means bad luck, disaster, and catastrophe.
[Also see item for Feb 3, below]
Confessions of a Neapolitan model:
My name is Anna, Anna Cutolo. Those who like me call me Nannina, or Cosarella, because they say I look like a little girl. I'm a model, in the sense that they pay me to pose for them. Even nude. I'm not ashamed of it; I've done it a thousand times. Maybe a little bit when I started, but then it just got natural because I saw that their eyes were not full of desire, they just wanted to transform me—at least that's what they told me. I am much in demand. Maybe because a poet told me once that I looked as if I stepped out of painting by Titian, what with my red hair and my “pale gentle head”* [trans. note: a phrase from Neapolitan poet Salvatore Di Giacomo's biography of Gemito]
Those who have painted me include Giuseppe De Sanctis, Vincenzo Caprile, Paolo Vetri, Salvatore Postiglione, maestro Morelli and many others. But I fell in love with one of them. It was something in his look, I can't explain it...now I pose only for him, for my Vincenzo and his madness. Maestro Morelli, don Mimi, tells me that I have lovely breasts, lovelier than those of the Venus di Milo. Once he put a fan in my hand and had me undress. He told me to look in his eyes as if I were seeking a kiss. I felt like laughing, but I held it in. Now I'll tell you a little secret, but you mustn't tell anyone. One sculptor (not my husband—I'll let you guess for yourselves) looked at the painting that don Mimi had done of me and fell in love with me. He had me pose for his loveliest work, a half-bust without arms, just like the Venus di Milo. I don't think it was my “pale, gentle head” that inspired him, do you?
18) - Here is
another fascinating photo of
one of the many subterranean
spaces beneath Naples; this
one is part of the now very
popular tourist attraction
known as the Bourbon Gallery
(or tunnel). The Gallery was
recently restored (which
means cleaning up, shoring
up, and dressing up) to put
on a very good presentation
for tourists to the city.
One such tourist is the
person who took this shot,
Gianluca Padovan of Milan
who has contributed
regularly (and continues to
do so) to the website of
Napoli Underground (Nug).
This photo is from n.12 in a
series entitled Naples:
Above & Below. All
of the installments are on
the Nug website starting
here. They are all
very short insightful
comments on the spaces above
(castles, fortresses) and
below (quarries, aqueducts
and cistern) Naples. They
are all accompanied by good
photography such as this
sample. (On the Nug website,
the installments may not be
in numerical order—because I
didn't translate them in
order!—but they are all on
the same list and easy to
find. He said.) My own
comments on the Bourbon
Valentine's Day is another of those holidays
that no one around here used to celebrate.
At least Valentine was not a foreign import.
He, indeed, was a priest in Rome during the
reign of Claudius II Gothicus in the third
century. He was beheaded, they say, on
February 14, not just for refusing to give up his
faith, but for refusing to stop
performing Christian marriage rites in an
age when Christianity was still a covert
faith. Until 1969 the day was a feast day in
the Roman Catholic calendar; now, however,
the secularization is complete.
Paraphernalia of Valentine's Day is evident
in all shops in Naples: stylized bouquets
with heart–shaped candies in place of
flowers, €50 heart-shaped boxes of
chocolates, cards, little teddy-bears with
the words "Ti amo" ("I love you")
embossed on them, and a special newspaper
insert bearing paid–for personal
declarations of love. The papers also run
articles about the commercialization of
was an excerpt from the original entry at this link.]
(Apr 4) - Currently running (until April 10th) Fatte Pittà, [roughly: Painting Naples and the Colors of Her Songs]. Maybe I'm just fascinated by this image and others like it. The event combines the art of Maurizio Vinanti (presumably the guy in the image painting on a 45 rpm record— whatever that is!), the poetry of Carla Adamo, and, of course, the beloved Neapolitan Song. Put'em together and what've you got—the story of the city, her people, streets, dreams, lottery numbers, etc. I'm not sure if this image from their advert represents a particular song (probably not), but I can think of some songs that are impossible to paint! Or maybe not. I guess I'll go and find out. The event is at the Egg Castle and it's free. (If you have synesthesia, you'll love this.)
(May 6) - Here we go again. It's hard to see how big this tub is, so I'll tell you. It's the Motor Yacht Symphony, the largest M/Y ever built in the Netherlands. She was here last year. Stats: Length 333.01ft /101.5m; Beam 46.26ft /14.1m; Builder Feadship; Built 2015; Gross Tonnage 3000 Tons; Draft 13.45ft /4.1m; Cruising Speed 16 Knots; Top speed 22 knots. The current owner is French Godzillionaire, Bernard Arnault, the eighth richest person in the world. This zoom shot was taken from a balcony one mile away. The good ship Symphony is the first of the new "bigger" yachts to arrive in the Bay of Naples (Mergellina harbor) this season. The 100-meter mark is the newest definition of "big". It got here on the morning of May 1st, just in time for Labor Day. Guests on board gathered to sing rousing choruses of the Internationale and spit champagne onto the heads of the tired, poor and huddled Neapolitan street urchins who were in the water attaching magnetic mines to the hull.
Boats of the Bay page is here.]
*The sculpture is by the great Danish-Icelandic artist Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), who spent much of his life studying and working in Italy and was called "the next Canova." The work, entitled Ganymede Giving Water to Zeus" depicts one version of the myth in which—as the Iliad puts it:
[Ganymede] was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore
the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus' wine-pourer,
for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.
— Homer, Iliad, Book XX, lines 233-235. (transl. Richard Lattimore, Uni of Chicago Press.1961.)
The myth manifested the socially acceptable Greek custom of paiderastía, the erotic relationship between an adult male and an adolescent male. The work is on loan from the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen.