Monday, April 02, 2012

Viva Monti!

How indeed refreshing that after soooo many years The Economist FINALLY speaks well of an Italian politician, in this case Italy’s PM Mario Monti in Charlemagne’s March 10th, 2012 editorial, “Mario, put on your toga” (p. 35)!

And indeed what sophisticated words from the introduction:

“Such is the reverence for Mario Monti that some compare him to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the patrician recalled from retirement to save ancient Rome. Legend recounts how Cincinnatus was working in his fields in 458 BC when he was approached by messengers, told to don his toga and informed that he had been appointed dictator for six months to confront the Aequi, who had trapped a Roman army. Having defeated the foes, Cincinnatus surrendered his absolute powers and returned to the plough, refusing all spoils and gifts”.

The worrying part though of this rather interesting and detailed article comes at the end where Charlemagne says that:

“And just as Cincinnatus was recalled a second time, to prevent a plot to overthrow the Roman republic, Mr. Monti may yet be summoned to serve as Italy’s president—if only to dispel any risk of Mr Berlusconi getting the job”.

Italy’s current president, Giorgio Napolitano, recently said that in 2013 he’ll be stepping down and won’t go for another seven-year term. His “poltrona” (seat) will therefore be free. I still recall having told a good friend of mine over at the New York Times in Rome back in November, 2011 as Mr Silvio “Bung Bunga” Berlusconi stepped down as Italy’s (disgraced) PM that watch out, I bet you anything he’ll aim for the Quirinale (the presidential palace) and Napolitano’s position! My journalist friend said: “No way, he’s washed up”!

Bets on that sooner or later we’ll see Don Silvio coming back once again, but this time (and with one MEAN “vendetta” too) as Italy’s prez???

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Magnificent Mantova!

“Mantua me genuit” (“Mantova gave me birth”)! The famous words are taken from the tomb of the poet Virgil. Virgil (Dante considered him to be one of the most important influences on his thought and also appears symbolically as his guide throughout much of The Divine Comedy) was born in the Mantova area. The famous Latin phrase, which can still be seen around the town (the entire phrase is actually longer), was apparently uttered as Virgil was dying. My father would repeat it over and over again as his own mother was born in Mantova. I think he would have been indeed very happy that I finally got to visit the elegant town.

Mantova is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but it’s also home to the mighty Gonzaga dynasty of the 1300s (great horse traders they were), to Rigoletto (from the very same opera), to some of the most beautiful Andrea Mantegna paintings (such as the room of the newlyweds, or the “Stanza degli Sposi” in the grandiose “Palazzo Ducale”), to his home, to Tazio Nuvolari’s home (a famous sports car driver), to the truly superb “Bibiena Theater” (the very same theater was inaugurated by a young 14 year-old, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!) and to both Virgil’s and Dante’s statues.

The town itself isn’t terribly big with just some 50,000 souls, but the architecture is wonderful, including the “Palazzo Te” which was a built for the summer delights of Federico II Gonzaga (the palace has just hosted the 25th anniversary of Pixar productions, a treat as I’ve always enjoyed Pixar’s animated movies). Cyclists can be seen everywhere as the city is flat and so moving about on two wheels is great. Mantova is also conveniently located just some 30 kms from another famous and important town, Verona.

Oh, and the pic of the Luisa Spagnoli store? It was my mom’s favorite Italian stylist, so much so that when she passed away in August, 2006, I had her dressed in one of her favorite Spagnoli dresses.