Since ancient times, there have been shrines of the Gods, watching over Romans in their day to day life--and they are still there, but since Christian times, in the form of Madonnelle, shrines to the Holy Mother Mary on the facades of Roman buildings all over the ancient city. Some are painted, some sculpted, while others are mosaics or behind glass. And while others are at eye level to pedestrians passing by, most seem to be perched up high, usually on the second floor overlooking the street below.
They are all well maintained and beloved, with many displaying fresh flowers and illuminated at night with their own personal street lamp. Others even have ornate but functional canopies to protect from inclement weather. Still others have ornate frames, themselves works of art. Stone angels often are often surrounding the Madonna and intricate ironwork is often used to support the shrines.
"Today enters March, the wrangling arose underground and cracked the Earth,
God save the quarrel,
the witch, the femmena mandrega,
by dogma are angry and envious of Mankind."
--from Prete Grasso e dal Vilan che va a Spasso
(The Fat Priest and Villain Take a Walk, a childrens story)
This children's story warns against evil and reminds us of the Margolfa, a "mummy" carved into stone and used to ward off evil and the malocchio in the region surrounding Fiumalbo in the mountains of Emilia-Romagna. These stone heads are placed on walls and homes to scare away the evil that came from the deep, dark forests in medieval days.
Perhaps this superstitious tradition was begun by the ancestors of modern day Fiumalbini, who in times past actually hung the severed heads on doors and walls as a warning to their real world threats--invaders--to stay away.
While some margolfa are ancient, there are local artists still carving new ones today... and people still guard their homes from the malocchio with them.
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Small Towns of Italy - Fiumalbo in Emilia-Romagna
Monsters of Italy: Sardinian Mamuthones, the Stuff of Nightmares
Garden of Bomarzo - Lions, Monsters and Bears, Oh My!
Villa Palagonia, the Sicilian Villa of Monsters
Castello Incantato - the Enchanted Castle and Stone Heads of a Madman
To me, the old, weathered doors in Italy are a work of art in and of themselves. Their textures of aged wood, peeling paint and ancient, blacksmith forged hardware are wonderful subjects for my own photography.
But in the small mountainside village of Staiti in the Aspromonte National Park in Calabria there are doors that boast both colors and colorful words. They were painted by a Staitese artist, Teresa Gandini, with the help of local boys. Gandini is a well known artist in the area who usually paints local scenes of rustic architecture, gardens and floral settings. But in this case, not only her images, but also the words she paints on the doors are what transforms them doors into sheer architectural poetry.
They could very well be the doors to visitors' souls...
One of the world’s oldest olive trees, photographed under the stars, is in Puglia.
It is shown here, as captured by photographer Beth Moon in her Diamond Nights series.
Some olive trees have survived more than a thousand years. One such tree, on the Greek Island of Crete, is estimated to be between 2 to 3 thousand years old. This tree may be somewhat unique in that at the top of the trunk there appears to be the image of a man face, with two prominent eyes, a nose and a rather large mouth.
--Anthony J. DiLaura, GVI Contributer
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Ancient Olive Trees - Slide Show
Our Favorite Things Made from Olive Wood
L’Ulivo Pensieroso: The Pensive Olive Tree
All About Italian Olive Oil: The Good, the Bad and the Amazing...
Video: How Olives are Harvested and Made into Olive Oil
Treating Your Olive Oil with Love and Respect
Today is International Women's Day and La Festa delle Donne in Italy. It's the perfect time to honor my mother and the strange and interesting birth of my oldest sisters, Barbara and Joan--"The Twins" as we called them.
The interesting thing is, they were born 3 days apart. Yes. THREE days. I asked my mother once about how she felt when only one was born and she had to wait all that time for the second. She casually said, "The doctor just said the second one wasn't ready yet and we had to wait. Nothing to worry about."
Yes... my mother was tough, unique and nothing held her back, until she passed away some years ago at the ripe age of 92. She had lost that toughness the last few years of her life due to failing health. This coming April 2nd should would have been 102 years old.
In Bocca al Lupo means Good Luck in Italian.
Canis Italicus, the Italian wolf is found mainly in the Apennine Mountains in Italy. They have been found dwelling within 25 miles of Rome and are considered a threat to sheep
At long last, here is my collection of Classical Rome. Rome is filled with history reaching back to the Ancients at nearly every turn.
Photos copyrighted 2019, Finzi Photography - All Rights Reserved
Some other posts that might interest you...
Agony and Ectasy: The TRUTH about taking a Vatican Museum Tour
The Pope's Swiss Guard - Fancy Dress and Military Readiness
The New, Virtual, Sistine Chapel Media Theatrical Show!
Arm Chair Voyager: High Resolution Views of the Sistine Chapel!
Voyager Expectations Versus Realities in Italy
On the streets and back alleys of Italian towns, you might come across a communal dinner like this... a miss-mosh of chairs, tables, sawhorses and plywood hobbled together to create an impossibly long dining table--often blocks long. The celebration might be a birthday, a wedding, a baptism, anniversary or even a more organized event or town festival. But the result is the same... bringing families together in one huge feast, sharing wine, food, laughter and love.
Citrus fruits were brought to Italy via Sicily by the Arabs around 850 AD. Its warm climate and mild and sea breezes are perfect conditions for large-scale cultivation of many types of citrus. At first only bitter and yellow oranges were grown, though over time sweeter, loose-skinned and even red varieties were developed.
The climate and local conditions in the plain of Catania, near its volcano, is the only place in the world growing Sicilian Blood Oranges. Sicilian citrus groves are found throughout the island region. There are also Mandarins, Tangerines, Cicilian Lemons, and Limette (Sicilian Limes).