Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Holy Viagra Batman!

Is there nothing sacred in this world? Judicial authorities in Rome have put under investigation four employees of the Vatican’s pharmacy. The reason? They were caught selling expired medicine but at the regular price (they passed the pills to customers making them think they weren’t expired). The pharmacy is known in Rome to have great prices but it’s apparently off-limits to the general public (it's only open to Vatican employees). Authorities became suspicious upon noting the added work that the four employees had.

Those naughty priests (one allegedly admitted on hidden camera the other day that he is in fact gay, causing quite the stir in certain Vatican circles), are they perhaps stocking up on Viagra?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Caprese Michelangelo

Ever heard of Carpese Michelangelo? Probably not. Ever heard though of the Sistine Chapel? The Moses and Pieta’ statues located in Rome, not to mention the incredible David statue located in Florence’s Accademia? No doubt yes. Well, Caprese Michelangelo is the birthplace of none other than the sculptor, painter, architect (his is the cupola which sits atop of St. Peter’s Basilica) and poet know to the world as Michelangelo Buonarroti.

The town, actually village (pop. 20!), is located about 260 km from Rome, near the Umbria, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna borders. Michelangelo was born in Caprese on March 6th, 1475. His birthplace is located in a tiny castle atop of a small hill. The surrounding area has a population of only 1,500 people. The village itself isn’t too far from Florence (his family’s roots are Florentine) and Carrara, famous not only for its exquisite marble but also for the material which Michelangelo used for many of his sculptures (the Moses, located next to the Rome’s Coliseum, is simply incredible. His Pieta’ instead is his only work which carries his name. It’s actually inscribed on Mary’s sash and through the bullet-proof glass it can be seen if one looks carefully. Back then, there was someone in Milan who was going around saying that HE was the real Michelangelo who has sculpted the Pieta’. Buonarroti, enraged by the news, decided to lay claim to HIS masterpiece, and therefore signed sculpture).

In 1503 Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Giulius II to come to Rome and paint the Sistine Chapel, a place where most of the world congregates once it makes its way through the incredible maze of the Vatican Museums (I’ve been on several occasions to the V.M. Most tourists just whiz by the incredible works of art to do just one thing: to see up close the amazing ceiling of the Sistine Chapel). The artist also created the square which sits right in front of Rome’s City Hall which has also become a symbol for the City of Rome. From tiny Caprese, Michelangelo not only made his way to the Eternal City but also died there at the “ripe” age of 90.

And the food in his hometown? Well, you’re blogger also happens to be part of the Italian Sommeliers’ Association. What to say about eating in a tiny pensione-restaurant right under Michelangelo’s home: tortellini with truffles, polenta with boar and all washed down with some fine red Tuscan wine! Indeed, a “rough” life.

Some pictures of Caprese Michelangelo, the tiny St. John the Baptist’s church where young Michelangelo was baptized and some of the surrounding towns (the cat by the way was guarding the ATM machine!), including a very nice Franciscan sanctuary where yes, St. Francis had once frequented during his many pilgrimages throughout the country (all pics by M. Rimati).