Clams, Eels and Salted Cod! A shameless reblog from last year on the highlights of the Neapolitan Christmas Eve feast. Buon Natale.
The Roman poet Horace apparently exclaimed ‘with rapture‘ that: ‘There is nothing in the world to compare to splendid Baiae‘ where the ‘various temptations on offer were as persuasive and seductive as the music of the sirens‘.
It’s a lot quieter today but well worth a visit out from Naples.
More Naples drone footage here.
A tongue-in-cheek, Neapolitan language song written by Renato Carosone in the late 1950s, Tu vuò fà l’americano is about a young wannabee who affects a contemporary American life style (sharp clothes, whisky and soda, rock-and-roll, baseball and Camel cigarettes) but who relies on his parents for money. Seen as a satire on the process of Americanisation in post-war Italy, the lyrics most damningly accuse: ‘How can your girl friend understand you, if you speak to her in half American when you make love under the moon. Where do you get off saying ‘I love you?’
Ugo Foscolo, an Italian patriot, pre-Romantic and atheist, died in exile in London. After the Risorgimento his remains were returned to Florence. His poem To Evening (Alla Serra) captures his restlessness, his longing for the peace that evening brings to the world, whilst foreshadowing his eventual death that will soothe his pains away.
Perhaps because you are the image
of the fatal quiet, your coming is so dear to me,
O evening! And whether gay summer clouds
and serene zephyrs court you
Or whether down from the snowy air
you bring long, restless nights to the world,
Always you descend invoked.
and you softly take hold of the secret paths of my heart
You cause me to wander with my thoughts upon the traces
That lead to eternal nothingness; and meanwhile
this evil time flies, and with it goes the swarms
Of cares with which it is destroying itself and me;
And the while I gaze upon your peacefulness
that warrior spirit which roars in me is sleeping.
Photograph of the Mezzogiorno partly under cloud, with lightning over Naples, by the US Astronaut Scott Kelly who is spending a year in space in the International Space Station.
A Flabellum in Christian liturgical use is ‘a fan of metal, leather, silk, parchment or feathers, intended to keep away insects from the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ and from the priest, as well as to show honour. The ceremonial use of such fans dates back to ancient Egypt’. They fell out of use in the Catholic liturgy in the 14th Century.
This exquisite 16th Century decorative example, in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples comes from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), is 20 inches high, made of ivory and:
has a long handle decorated with plant and animal motifs, with segmented ivory sticks arranged like spokes. The upper part portrays the neck and head of a bird, whose eyes are made up of tiny cabochon-cut sapphires, thereby concealing the central flanges.
In the heart of the dark, hulking Castel Nuovo, known locally as the Maschio Angioino (Angevin Keep), is the Hall of the Barons. Some 28 meter high, the impressive medieval ribbed vaulted roof ‘fuses ancient Roman and Spanish late-Gothic influences‘. The walls, bare today, were originally frescoed by Giotto in around 1330 with images of ancient heros: Samson, Hercules, Solomon, Achilles, Caesar etc. It’s still a striking space, designed to shock and awe visitors to this Royal Palace.
But the Hall was also the site of a bloody wedding massacre 500 years ago, a real medieval counterpart to the fictional slaughter of Game of Thrones. Peter Robb picks up the story. The protagonists were: