Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

Miscellany p. 92

start at beginning of March 2023
link to all Miscellany Pages
to bottom of this page

1. Neapolitan tenor, Enrico Caruso, was born on Feb 25, 1873. Naples hosted a small celebration at San Carlo theater a days ago for the occasion. There was some singing, a few debates, and they listened to scratchy recordings, restored as much as possible (the original versions were on wax cylinders - Caruso was an early techno junkie and liked to record his voice.) The hosts of the event assured us all that a permanent Caruso museum would open on July 20 at San Carlo and that a new on-line ticket office / booking office / Museum and Historical Archive of San Carlo was now available... "a place of memory and innovation to relive the great historical events surrounding the oldest opera house in Europe." That site is here.
                                                                                              Caruso was a good caricature sketch artist. This is one he did of himself!

2. From Cash Back to Trash Back

Italians love anglicisms. It makes them cosmopolitan to know they are getting "cash back" if they wait longer than such-and-such a period in this or that line to make a payment. Now we have Trash Back, at least I offer that phrase to the city. I am heartened to see that the mayor of the town of Bacoli, a very scenic town in the Flegrean Fields has started the ball rolling. He saw from reviewing surveillance videos that trash had been discarded on via Spiaggia Romana in Bacoli. The offender's car was right there, so they had him dead-to-rights. It's always a local. Tourists pick up after themselves. They come from distant galaxies and live by the Cosmic Code that says you leave a place cleaner than when you found it. I used to joke about this. I'd say, What are they going to do if you don't pay the yearly trash collection fee? Bring it all back to you? (What happens in large cities is that you pay a fine, and then another one and another. Then they take your children. But out in Bacoli --just a few letters away from Bucolic, the mayor had the guy's trash bagged and dropped off at his front door with a note: Here. Stick this where the moon don't shine -- in a trash bin. There was a short lecture on "Zero tolerance" and a fine. I sigh for my youthful visionariosity.


3 ALL of the Museums and Archeological Sites in Puglia
                        (there are dozens of them)
                                    No kidding! The best organized such site on the internet.

                                                                                                                                     Oh, this thing? Search and ye shall find.

March 13
ALL of the Museums and Archeological Sites in Italy

The goal of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage is to have up and on-line 500 Italian museums all linked via an easy-to-use hierarchy from region down to province down to  museum (an archeological site, castle or fortress, or a building of major artistic value). Each one of the 500 targets will then have an explanation with an Italian-English toggle, some images, ideally some photos, but at least a graphic contour map of the site. I previewed this a week ago at item #3 (above). The page for Puglia is excellent. None of the others comes close and many say "temporarily closed due to covid". It is clear the pages have not been looked at in many months. A few of them have explanatory text, so maybe something is stirring. I don't know why Puglia went right to work and stayed at it. Yes, they have a lot to show (maybe more castles and fortresses per cubic Italian than anywhere else!) But it's as if most of them are getting ready to start thinking about it. I looked at the pages for Florence, Rome, and my own Campania region, and it's all very sparse. I expect it will all be filled in sooner or later. It's a worthwhile project, but it is painstaking and slow. Be patient, but try it every so often. Anyway, their homepage looks looks like this right now: Scroll down a bit. You'll see a statue and "Discover Italy" written next to it. Below that is "Museums list by region". That is the top of the chain. All 500 of the sites are below that.

In Search of the Golden Bough

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, /  But I have promises to keep,/  
And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep.

These lovely lines by Robert Frost are what this tenacious group, Opus Continuum is all about. Certainly tenacious, if you think what the world has been through in the past couple of years. If you feel that a bunch of artists wandering around the woods looking for truth or pondering "promises" they made and now have to keep, are irrelevant, then you may feel that art, music, and literature, themselves, are irrelevant. I think you're missing something, but that's your business. Good-bye and I wish you well. A reminder for you from Socrates —"The unexamined life is not worth living."

“IMMAGINARIA” has reached its third edition. The year's effort by the Opus Continuum artists collective will be a joint venture with the Archeological Park of the Campi Flegrei. Selene Salvi of the collective points out that the group's exhibits "always center on our local myths and legends, but not simply for the sake of nostalgia or to evoke antiquity, but rather to serve as a lens through which we can focus on our own lives and times." They've chosen the Greek myth of the "The Golden Bough", an episodic tale in Virgil's Aeneid that narrates the adventures of the Trojan hero, Aeneas, after the Trojan War. It's a metaphor of the search for one's self. They could have chosen something else, but, after all, Virgil lived and wrote here, was "nurtured in sweet Parthenope" and they're in the Flegrean Fields! You are invited. Can I guarantee that you will find your own personal Golden Bough, the key to your own personal "underworld"? No, but the search is what counts!

The exhibit will run from 25 March to 21 May in the Baia Castle, in this restless landscape, one rich with myth and legend. From its vantage points you can admire the beauty of a land that has inspired artists down through the ages.
UBC-code displayed above links to the 69-page fully illustrated brochure of In Search of the Golden Bough.


Portrait attributed to Francesco Metzi (from 1515-1518) is the only certain
 contemporary depiction of Leonardo. I like it better  than Leonardo's famous
self-portrait where he looks grizzled and unhappy.
                                       Hey, Mom, Can We Talk?

They're still discovering astonishing things about the breadth of Leonardo da Vinci's (1452-1519) genius. He is widely held to be the greatest "universal genius" in history. He had unquenchable curiosity and a feverishly inventive imagination. This latest one, by CalTech scholars in 2023 found his calculations for the gravitational constant were 97% accurate! What's more, he did all this without a means of accurate timekeeping or the benefit of calculus, which Newton later invented for his laws of motion and universal gravitation in the 1660s. Leonardo was playing with the idea that gravity and the rate at which time passes were related. That is what Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was about, published in 1915.  Leonardo had the great advantage of living before everything had to be either science or the humanities. It was all connected. He wrote copious notes on the world and what was in it. Astronomy, Biology, Carrots ...etc...Zoology. Mona Lisa is in there somewhere. (His thousands of pages of notes were in cursive mirror-writing, like the emergency vehicle in back of you that writes "Ambulance" backwards so you can read it in your rear-view mirror. The scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and his mind superhuman, yet the man himself is mysterious and remote. So, barring the revelation that Leonardo was from the future and rolled out buck-naked from a shimmering electromagnetic sphere like The Terminator, we'll have to focus on his "mysterious and remote" personal life if we want to know more,

Maybe his mother can tell us. What? We're not even sure who she was? Indeed, Carlo Vecce, a literature professor at the "Orientale" University of Naples has revealed his theory in a new novel, “Il Sorriso di Caterina”) [“Caterina’s Smile”]. He bases his theory on a 600-year-old document in State Archives in Florence that granted freedom to a girl named Caterina, who, says Vecchia, was kidnapped from her home on the Black Sea in Circassia (now southern Russia) before being shipped to Venice as a slave! Vecce says she was freed from slavery by da Vinci’s father, who was himself a well-known slave trader. Ah, the hackneyed cliché of a slave trader with a heart of gold; yet, it gladdens the heart. The traditional story of Leonardo's mother was that she was a humble peasant girl named Caterina. That's it. Leo's father was a wealthy notary named Ser Piero. He and she made a little whoopee and a little Leo out of wedlock. Daddy made sure Leo got a good education. There is no record of Caterina. The lines between truth, fiction, past, present, and future get ever fainter, so I note that Katherine ("Caterina") Janeway, captain of the starship "Enterprise" on TV's Star Trek-Voyager visits the ship's holodeck regularly where she chats with a hologram of Leonardo da Vinci. I rest my case.


                            Happy Vernal Equinox!

I remember in my college band, way back in the caves, when members of the reed section (clarinets, saxes and those other things) showed up one morning all bent out of shape; they were sputtering fortissimo vituperation because they had just seen a billboard ad for Texaco featuring Benny Goodman, the King of Swing (image). (He had released a record produced by Texaco called "Swing into Spring.") On the recording, Benny sounded great, as you might expect, but the billboard ad had a drawing of a Texaco gas-station guy who really looked like Benny, playing the clarinet, and our reed players were fuming! Why? Look carefully at the image. What's wrong with it? (hint: nothing to do with the bird.) A free bottle of Corona beer for the right answer! Earliest time-stamp counts. (Offer void where prohibited by law or if I'm too tired to leave the house.)


                                                 Good Game! - The Tumult and the Pouting

                                                    When the Great Scorer comes / To mark against your name,

                                        He'll write not 'won' or 'lost' / But how loud you screamed into a microphone**

Finally, a sensible sports writer, Pasquale Tina of la Repubblica. He summed up yesterday's England-Italy game fairly and nicely, saying the English brought a good team. So did we. The stadium was almost full, just a few empty seats. (The stadium, for those of you who don't follow such niceties, is now called the Diego Maradona Stadium. It used to be the San Paolo Stadium. Same place.) It was a good game. One black mark was when some Italian fans booed and jeered the playing of "God Save the King". Boorish behavior, which embarrassed the journalist, who noted that Italian social networks were a-buzz with the dismal rendition of the Italian hymn, Fratelli d'Italia by two Italian pop-stars.
(Message: Get a decent brass band or don't play it.)
   Bad news for the home team: final score - England 2
Italy 1. Final note from the journalist: Good game. The fans won, the stadium won, we lost. (Subtext: that's why they call it "competitive sports". Someone wins. Someone loses.  As much as Italian journalists love the word "Hooligans" to describe English fans, this reporter didn't use it because he saw fairly that they weren't. Were they happy they won? Yes. Was he unhappy Italy lost? Yes. There was no violence. They should have more matches like that.
*apologies to Rudyard Kipling - "The Tumult and the Shouting" ( from Recessional)
                                        **apologies to Grantland Rice - "...'But how you played the game'.


                                                    In Search of the Golden Bough-part 2

As noted (item 5, above), In Search of the Golden Bough, an exhibit put on by the Opus Continuum artists collective opened the other day. About 50 persons were in attendance. The photo (right) shows some of the group enjoying the works of paintings and photography, done by members of the collective,  on the premises of the renowned Baia Castle, the fortress (image, below, left) that guarded the western approaches to the gulf of Naples.

The exhibit will run from 25 March to 21 May in the Baia Castle, in this restless landscape, one rich with myth and legend. From its vantage points you can admire the beauty of a land that has inspired artists down through the ages.

UBC-code  links to the 69-page fully illustrated brochure of In Search of the Golden Bough.
10. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  April 1. Today is not  April Fool's Day! ....       (wait,wait) APRIL FOOL!

Get it? Excuse me while I stop guffawing. I slapped my thigh so hard I think I broke my leg. Actually there is not the April Fool's Day tradition anywhere in Italy that there is in other countries.  I have an item here on that tradition. The English have a good time with it. The BBC used to put up a good hoax on April 1 (see link, above) most years, but I'm not sure if they still do. I looked this morning, and they may have done so, but I couldn't find one suspicious enough. Some stodgy Brits (apparently everyone in the UK except people who work for the BBC and John Cleese complained that it was unbecoming for a news organization to be so frivolous. As that may be, I am indented to Marius Kociejowski for pointing me (and you) to another site that also enjoys fooling people

11.      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
San Carlo Theater Re-Opens

After many months of painstaking restoration, the San Carlo theater has been handed back to the city as "good to go." They did a good job.

    This is the link to the English-language version of their website.

                                They did a good job, too.

12.   - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anchors... or at least
Anchovies "Made in Italy" ... Aweigh!

The Italian naval academy flagship Amerigo Vespucci is a "tall ship", a large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. They are used in many navies in the world to teach young cadets and sailors "the ropes" --that is, the basics skills of seamanship. Italy has two such vessels: Amerigo Vespucci
(image) and Palinuro. The Vespucci is a full-rigged three-masted steel-hulled vessel, built in the Castellammare shipyards near Naples in 1931. She is 82.4 m (270.34 ft) long, with an overall length of 101 m (331 ft) including the bowsprit and a beam  of 15.5 m (51 ft). She has 26 sails totaling 1,360 m2 (14,600 ft2). On July 1 she will set off on a two-year global tour "to boldly go...[sorry]...sell 'Made in Italy' products to as many natives as they can. She will visit all continents. When they say global they mean global. Speaking of "she", I wonder how Prime Minister Gloria Meloni feels about the term "Made in Italy". She's been on a tear lately about not using English terms. Offenders can be fined, I wonder if they'll have to pay up before they set sail.

13.   - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                                                                                                                                                                                        It's like this all the way to Vevuvius
Easter Monday is the second day of Easter and a public holiday in some countries. In Western Christianity it marks the second day of the eight-day period that begins on Easter Sunday and ends with the following Sunday. Christians celebrate
the Monday as the beginning of Eastertide. In Italy, Monday is an official public holiday and is called “Pasquetta”. It is customary to prepare a family picnic. Specifically, the walk recalls the walk of the disciples to Emmaus, when Jesus followed them without being recognized.

"And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus…and they talked together of these things which
had happened…Jesus himself drew near and went with them…" (Luke 24:13-15)                                   photo credit: Selene Salvi

Pasquetta is hectic. Everyone puts on a knapsack packed with food and sets out to go somewhere —anywhere. But not alone.The travel in groups, carefree and out for a picnic in celebration of an event they no longer know anything about, an event that was evidence that Jesus was the Messaiah. Emmaus was about "threescore furlongs" from Jerusalem. That's about 7½ miles (12 km). Neapolitan teenagers are not going to walk that for anything, much less to celebrate The Risen Messiah, but they will walk along my street, a broad avenue and look for a place to stop and unpack their backpacks. The city has issued bulletins that it's ok to eat in this park but not in that one and not here but over there. People are confused, but that's ok. It's Naples. Some will have to move and some will not. It used to be very noisy because of portable music players. That has changed to zombie-like, eerie silence. Everyone is texting. I miss the noise. Please, text not that ye be not texted. Don't forget to "like" Jesus. And don't talk. You'll wake the dead. Wait, isn't that what this is all about?

I have synthesized the text from these earlier items:
pasquetta.php   -original item
  miscellany73.php#12   -update

14.   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
added- April 11, 2023

here is Always Something Going on in Herculaneum

After months of restoring a section of the Roman City of Herculaneum, the charred remains of a number of beams and doors that were somehow not totally destroyed in the great eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. have been readied for public display starting in June. The object was to open to the public in June an arcade along the decumanus massimo --that is, the main east-west street, in which a number of shops were located. The beams and doors Image) that will be displayed were part of that shop. There are another 330 similar objects in Herculaneum. The remains are carbonized wood, standing there like sculpted charcoal.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                 Amalfi Maritime Museum

The Amalfi maritime museum is now open to the public again. It was closed in January for a brief winter break and for minor repairs. It is the symbol of the medieval city, containing displays on the maritime duchy of Amalfi.
The facility documents and illustrates the history of this ancient Maritime Republic with displays on the evolution of nautical navigational instruments as well as various artifacts and relics that go back
to the founding of this City-State in 839, including a facsimile of the Tabula de Amalpha, the first code of Mediterranean maritime law. It is well worth the visit. There is an entrance fee of 3 euros, waived, however, for students and school-teachers from the area.

16.  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                    UNESCO's Creative Cities Network

Papers make it sound as if this is an award given to a city for being "creative" in a particular field. There are seven fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature, and Music. Fine,  there should be a list of winners since 2004, when UNESCO launched this network. That's not how it works. All a city has to do is send in a form and promise to be creative in at least one of those fields. There are currently 295 cities on the global list. Naples is NOT one of them, but that may change. The president of the Campania region, the mayor of the city and a sub-heavenly host of flunkies just had a sit-down and opined how nice it would be to get on that last. It would raise the city internationally to a new level...etc.etc. Naples is already a world brand. It's packed with tourists this minute, right now as I write. So I don't know what this means. "Joining the network is a long-term commitment to participate and present a realistic plan of specific projects, initiatives or policies to be carried out in the next four years to implement the objectives of the Network and enhance your city's creative potential for sustainable urban development, to exchange know-how and cooperate at an international level!" If you lie about that, if your city has a river, it turns to blood; then come the frogs, lice, locusts, and boils
                                    If you want to see if your city is on the list, see

                    back to Miscellany page #91         to top of this page        to next Miscellany page #93

© 2002 - 2023