Walking down the streets of any big city in the world, you'll more than likely come across functional, but elaborately designed manhole covers. But in Italy, such beautiful practicality has been going on for a very lone time... even back to the time of ancient Rome. In fact, many claim that our GVI mascot, La Bocca della Verita was once a large manhole cover.
Enjoy the variety in this collection, and don't forget to look down once in a while while walking through Italian cities.
Some of these are nearly 2000 years old...
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.
You might also be interested in...
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
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
You might also be interested in...
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
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
Castello di Ruffo di Scilla (also known Ruffo di Calabria castle) is an ancient fortification, originally built during the 5th century BC, and located on the Scillèo promontory, looking out over the Strait of Messina. The castle is in the town of Scilla, about 20 km north of Reggio Calabria. The castle also houses one of the Navy lighthouses, the Scilla lighthouse.
Mythology tells us that Scilla was a beautiful young girl, daughter of Niso, who was King of Megara. She was loved by the marine god Glauco, and transformed by a wizard named Circe into a monster with six heads of ferocious dogs who devoured sailors passing through the Strait of Messina. Due to the unpredictably strong currents, the Strait of Messina had always been feared by ancient mariners.
It is said that Tyrrhenian pirates were first to settle this coastal area in 493 BC, but others claim it was already settled during the time of the Trojan Wars in the 12th century BC.
Built by the Dukes of Calabria, the Castello di Ruffo costs a mere €1.50 to tour, overlooking the Marina di Scilla and its wonderful pebble beach. The beach-front in summer is frequented by tourists and surrounded by hotels and restaurants. Because of its location in the Straight of Messina, the waters are typically very warm. As such, the fishing in these waters are world renowned for catching Pesce Spada, or swordfish and the Castello contains many exhibits about what it takes to catch this elusive great fish.
When I Voyaged throughout Puglia, it became obvious that the Olive Tree is king here--and has been for thousands of years. There are more ancient olive trees here than anywhere else in Italy, many of which are hundreds of not thousands of years old. What is intriguing about these gnarly giants is their bizarre, fantastical shapes, often twisting and turning about themselves, even when the interior of the tree is gone, they continue to live.
One can regard the resulting shapes as one does when finding animals and babies in passing clouds... but these shapes aren't going anywhere.
This particular olive tree was given the name L’Ulivo Pensieroso (the Pensive Olive Tree) by photographer Michele Grecucci. What is he thinking after living on this Earth for over 500 years? Is he forlorn about the loved ones and neighbors he has lost over the centuries? Does he miss the children who used to play at his feet? Is he worried about the future with blights, wars, drought or fire? Is he simply pondering, worried, concerned or trying to unravel a problem of the ages? Perhaps we'll never know...
The photo was captured near Ginosa, Puglia but in order to retain the olive grove owner's privacy--and to protect the tree from damage--Grecucci is keeping its precise location a secret.
Grecuci's photography captures the essence of Italy and being Italian. I highly recommend taking a tour of his work. To see more of Grecucci's creations...
Facebook: Michele Grecucci
Website: Michele Grecucci Photography