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...
First of all, not all beaches in Italy even have sand to build Castelli di Sabbia (sandcastles). Secondly, even if you were on an Italian beach with lots of fine sand and started to build a sandcastle with your child, more than likely a group of Italian children would gather around, never having seen anyone do such a thing. Thirdly, if you are on a beach like Eraclea (near Venice), the bagnino (lifeguard) would come over to stop you and give you a fine. It's apparently illegal, by mayoral degree, to build sandcastles as they block the public access.
Curiously, there are still some very large sandcastle competitions all over Italy during the summer months... one of the most prestigious being on the lido in Jesolo, just east of Venice, another in the seaside town of Cervia near Ravenna, and yet one more in Alessio on the Italian Riviera west of Genoa. Another unexpected one is on Easy Living's Urban Beach on the banks of the Arno River in Florence, a hipster beach bar.
Recently, after the curators of the Palazzo Pitti ordered a routine cleaning and inspection of Raphael's La Donna Velata (the Veiled Woman), they discovered some significant and off-putting under-painting through the use of x-rays and ultraviolet techniques.
Amazed at what they found--a bizarre portrait of a bearded Michelangelo, they began to come up with a reason for this horrific image...
As many historians will tell you, Michelangelo and Raphael had a combative relationship and worked on different parts of the Vatican at the same time. As is well documented, Raphael painted the frescoes on the walls and ceiling of the Pope’s private library while Michelangelo was (as Raphael saw it) "laying down on the job" while painting the Sistine chapel ceiling. Raphael procured a key to the Sistine Chapel and had his spy secretly sneak in to check out Michelangelo’s progress. At times, Raphael himself would spy on the Master and record every detail of what he saw in his Eidetic memory.
Michelangelo later accused Raphael of plagiarism and claimed "everything he knew about art he got from me." Michelangelo hated Raphael and spread nasty rumors about him. The two were bitter rivals to the end.
With this new discovery, art experts now theorize that Raphael hatched his plan to get back at him... to paint the most ugly and grotesque portrait of a bearded Michelangelo underneath one of his own masterpieces, the Veiled Woman, knowing full well that someday, somehow, in the distant future, art historians would uncover his monumental joke upon the Master... once and for all times, shaming Michelangelo (who was rumored to be gay) as a cross-dressing, bambolina-hugging monstrosity--even if the shaming occurred after they were both in their graves.
Perhaps a thousand years before Christianity adopted the egg as a part of the Roman Catholic holiday of Easter, the ancient Romans believed that "omne vivum ex ovo" - all life comes from the egg. The egg was a symbol of a rebirth in spring after the lean days of winter were over. Archaeologists believe that ancient Romans decorated eggs with dyes using onion skins, spices, beets and carrots (a tradition that is still done today in many Italian families). They were used as offerings and gifts during pagan spring rituals and festivals.
Today, the Uova di Pasqua carries on that ancient tradition...
A popular tradition is to give chocolate eggs as gifts, which themselves can be elegantly decorated. The simplest tradition involves giving a large chocolate, hollow egg to each family member, which is broken to reveal a present or treat inside.
Real eggs are died red (in the Greek tradition), representing when Mary Magdalen presented an egg to Emperor Tiberius Caesar as it miraculously turned red, symbolizing the blood of Christ. But the also decorate and paint eggs, often in glorious ways. Any artist can understand why--the egg is such a beautiful, blank canvas...