Flabellum-shaped Fan, Museo di Capodimonte

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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.

Photograph: Imgur.

Red Wedding in the New Castle, Naples

Barons Hall

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:

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Sunrise in Naples

Naples Sunrise

C’è un momento in ciascuna alba in cui la luce è come sospesa, un istante magico dove tutto può succedere. La creazione trattiene il suo respiro.

‘There is a moment in every dawn when light floats, there is the possibility of magic. Creation holds its breath’.

Douglas Adams.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


Italian Style: 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour De France

During a recent visit to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, my personal star of the show was the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour De France.

Designed by Pinin Farina, with a powerful V12 engine, strengthened chassis and aluminium body, this car has breathtaking looks and is also arguably the greatest and most important Ferrari road/racing car ever built.

It delivered four victories in the 10-day Tour De France plus two category wins and a second overall in the Mille Miglia.  It also triumphed in its class at Le Mans.  The example above is one of 45 built between 1956 and 1960.