Most girls dream of having a princess wedding when they meet the uomo of their dreams. And what better place to have your wedding--big or small--than la Bel Paese. In fact, save your money, have a small wedding in a tiny chapel, but splurge on your means of transportation--rent a carrozza principessa (princess carriage). In Italy, there are many such carriages you can for your Italian wedding. Select a beautiful location, like a castle or villa to have your wedding at, and your principessa dream can come true.
In a country where entire mountains of marble exist, and nearly every commune has travertine quarries nearby, it's no wonder that many wonderfully designed bathrooms feature stone... and lots of it. Here are some of the most beautiful bathroom ideas in stone that I've come across...
The first floors of many older Italian homes have vaulted rooms on the first floor... a perfect space for rustic bathrooms
Many homes are literally carved out of mountains
When you have stone walls, flaunt them, and mix modern with traditional fixtures
There are many options (albeit an expensive choice) for sinks and tubs carved out of solid marble, travertine or other stones.
This reminds me of our Sassi bathroom in Matera
I love the comfy positioning of the toilet at the end of this vault
The roof timbers are a perfect balance to all this stone
According to the so-called "experts" at Glamour magazine, she is--for the second year in a row. The 44 year old Alyssa Milano is known more recently for her role on the television series Charmed, and back in 1984 (to a whole different generation) in Who's the Boss with Tony Danza (Lord, that's a long time ago). Earlier, she started her career at 7 years old with a role in Annie on Broadway.
I mean, yes. For a 44 year old actress, she's held up well. But using a critical eye she's a bit worn at the edges. For instance, her make-up has gotten heavier and heavier over the years--along with her hips. Speaking as a photographer, her best looks are done as still shots in the studio using what we in the industry call "beauty lighting", with large banks of flat lighting that mask any age lines. Before being printed, retouching is the norm. To check out her "sexiest" looks in a critical way, look for shots captured candidly on the street with natural lighting, or harsh on-camera flash shots done by paparazzi.
Ok, here's my choices, but not for "Sexiest Actress Alive". That's a pretty tall order. Instead, my list for actresses over 40....
Starting from 5000BC right up to modern times, gemstones with images carved into them by artisans, then mounted onto finger rings, have been are among the most highly desirable treasures to own and wear. Unlike the technique of carving cameos, which creates a bas-relief image sitting above a flat background, intaglio carves the image into the stone, below the flat surface. Although many were worn and collected simply as mementos, in ancient Rome they were often used as signet rings, with businessmen and political leaders with enormous power and wealth using them to sign documents by transferring their impression into a hot dripping of wax. At that point in history, there was no such thing as a written signature.
Their origin can be traced to the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia. Seals were used in the Ancient Near East from about 3400BC for over three thousand years, with primarily softer gemstones being used. Harder gemstones were later used to aide the craftsman in cutting more precise detail into the stones that would last.
Emerald intaglio, Egyptian portrait of Severan princess, 100 AD
Red Jasper, 100-200 AD
Scorpion, carnelian intaglio, 2nd Century AD
Jasper ring, Alexander the Great, 100 AD
Hercules killing the Birds of the Stymphalides, Greek 200 BC
In Europe, intaglio carving began in the second quarter of the sixth century BC, when new materials and techniques became available to the Greco-Roman artists. The new techniques were those required to work the harder stones, mainly the use of a cutting wheel and drill, driven by a bow or foot wheel. Previously, figures were gouged free-hand in the softer stone.
Romans created intaglios with a wider variety of stones from Egypt and the far-east trade routes: garnets, emeralds, carnelian, chalcedony and amethyst, many being translucent. Emery (consisting of corundum, spinel and rutile) from the Greek island of Naxos was used as an abrasive polishing powder for the past 2000 years.
Alexander the Great carnelian ring, 200 BC
Itaglio of "Niccolo", an actor from 200 AD
Green jasper, 200-300 AD
Robin, Carnelian intaglio, 200 AD
Carnelian in new gold setting, Head of Mars 100-300 AD
Eagle of the Republic, carnelian 2nd century AD
Pegasus, carnelian intaglio, 350 BC
Amalthea suckling a goat, Gold and Jasper, 2nd Century AD
The Romans inherited these techniques enabling the carving of harder gemstones with amazingly high levels of detail. This was of utmost importance in Roman society as a seal stone often mounted in a ring was used only by its owner to validate serious legal documents, although by the second century AD, the elite of Roman society en-massed large collections of intaglios with images of religions iconography, mythology, political leaders, or their sports and acting favorites.
Portrait of Caracella, adapted to represent St. Peter, 100-200 AD
Roman banded agate2nd century AD
In the later days of the Roman Empire, collecting intaglios were all the rage, as proven by the large number of stones found in the hot mineral baths of Bath, England. Since the stones were held in place by nothing more than pine tars in most cases, the hot waters would dissolve the adhesive and stones worn by Roman soldiers would be lost in the baths. Roman men tended to wear only one intaglio ring at a time, while women might wear them on each finger.
Other caches of intaglio have been discovered, never having been mounted, proof of a large industry of craftsmen producing the carved gems before orders were even placed. It must have been like going to a modern jewelry store where the pieces are already on display for you to make a selection.
Cache of carnelian stones, 2nd-3rd century AD, found in ancient Singidunum, present-day Belgrade, Serbia
Recovered from Bath, England
Jasper intaglio, 1st century AD
Amethyst Intaglio, Nereid Riding SeaBull, 1st Century AD
Silver setting with carnelian, 3rd century AD
Sardonyx, 100 AD
Cornelian intaglio bust of Mercury, 1st century AD
Believe it or not, you can invest in and enjoy ancient intaglio rings today. There are a surprisingly number of them available through specialist jewelers and auction houses. There are even unmounted stones that you can purchase and have mounted in a setting created by your own jewelry designer. Keep in mind that if you want to invest in a ring to wear, you must really try it on first. You see, in Roman times, rings tended to be below the second knuckle, unlike how we wear them, above the second knuckle joint. For this reason, many ancient rings are much smaller that we would require.
On the low end, prices are very doable... Christies London sold a black jasper intaglio of a huntsman leaning on his staff, with a dog, for £1,188 last year. Portraits and mythological tableaux fetch a higher price. A carnelian ring carved with Alexander the Great in the guise of Hercules, his head draped in a lion’s skin, was sold by Bonhams in London for £55,200. And one of Hercules on a carnelian ring was recently estimated to fetch $120,000-$180,000 at Christie’s New York.
Also, be aware that in the world of buying ancient artifacts, there are forgeries--both stones and rings can be forged. Deal only with a dealer with a long and respected reputation.
For me, I'd be satisfied with that little red boar in the photo at the beginning of this article... after all, one of the best meals I had in Italy was a wild board stew.