Festivals Celebrations & Protests, Rome
The monuments of Rome are often used by protesters to support their views - in some cases the result is pretty amazing - as were the ancient "talking statues" in the days when citizens left notes of protest on those monuments. (see our Off the Beaten Path Tips pages 1 & 2 for all the ancient talking statues). Here, The Albanian Leader Scanderberg is turned into a peace supporter while Emperor Trajan is worried by the rise in oil prices.
Giorgio Castriota Skanderberg (Skanderberg - bey Alexander) was the son of an Albanian Prince, sent by his father to the court of Sultan Murad II. He became a military commander of the Ottoman Army until in 1443 he led a rebellion of the Albanians against the Sultan's rule and for twenty years by using guerilla tactics he managed to circumvent the Sultan's attempts to regain control of that country. He is remembered for some particularly cruel massacres.
In 1939 the King of Albania was dethroned by the Italians and the title was assumed by the King of Italy: to celebrate the friendship between Italy and Albania a monument to the Albanian hero was erected in 1940 in the large alley leading from Circo Massimo to Porta S. Paolo. It is highly unlikely Skanderberg would have objected to the war in Iraq.
Photos and reference text by permission of Roberto Piperno for non-commercial purposes only.
If we are not in the midst of a festival, there is one on the way. Check the Rome meetings/events often as I do try to list them as they are approaching. You are welcome to e-mail me at any time if you are here, in transit, or planning your trip. I'll do my best to find out what is happening or direct you to where you can find the information you would like.
The Festival of San Lorenzo was celebrated in various locations throughout Rome on August 10. This legend urges you to pick a star in the sky and make your wish and prayer to Saint Lorenzo - he's very generous on this day especially. As my nephew is yet another Lorenzo (although no saint, to be sure!) we did celebrate. I attended this concert and then joined Lorenzo the unholy and the multitude at a rousing wine tasting celebration on the grounds of Casa Cine in Villa Borghese produced by the vintners of Lazio.
This concert took place in the courtyard of the Church of St Ivers on Via Risorgimento and the photo of this facility speaks for itself. I met and sat with two lovely ladies - one I have been able to keep in touch with from Florence.
The second night's celebration of Italy's victory culminated with over 1 million people in Circus Maximus tonight - a sea of waving flags greeted Italy's soccer team as the entered in an open bus winding through the streets of Rome, hours late due to huge crowds along the way. Many other piazzas were filled with people celebrating.
Once they reached the Circus Maximus, the players appeared on stage, dancing and waving, as the crowd stretched out before them waving Italian flags. Alessandro Del Piero, who scored a goal in the semi-final win over Germany, took off his shirt and threw it into the crowd, posing bare-chested in front of the masses.
TV coverage has been constant and the party continues on into the night.
With the Easter Sunday and Pasquetta now behind us, we can reflect on the customs that repeat in Spring each Easter. On Pasquetta, which is the day after Easter (Easter Monday) and a national holiday, it is traditional to have a picnic. Most people go to the Villa Doria Pamphili. And they eat three things: pecorino cheese, red wine, and raw fava beans.
The villa became the largest public park in the city in 1971. It has become a favourite place for jogging and dog owners. The oldest part at 183 of the Aurelia Antica is Villa Vecchia, which already existed when Panfilo Pamphili bought in 1630. The new villa was built between 1644and 1652 by Algardi and Grimaldi when Innocent X Pamphili was Pope. The richly frescoed halls of the villa having access from 111 Via Aurelia were embellished by a collection of statues, which today are in the Capitolini Museums. Changes, extension and new constructions to the villa continued in the 19th century
Waves in the form of music splash about the "Beach of Roma" (aka the banks of the Tevere). The Tevere's floating stage presents a constant flow of entertainment throughout the summer 2006.
Puccini's TOSCA - presented on the floating Tevere stage - all this and with the lights of Castel Sant Angelo in the background. An exhilarating sight to behold!
More photos to come as we attend events.
Tickets range from 5 Euro to 25 Euro depending on the performance.
Yes, Italy's royal scandal starring the House of Savoy with KING VITTORIO EMANUELE III - he was deposed - exiled to Switzerland - begged to return - was granted his wish - returned - was arrested and imprisoned recently for criminal activity (gambling and prostitution) - confined to his quarters; but, here we caught him again - this time getting into his car at the Northern end of the street where we live just below Villa Borghese.
I made a swift get-away myself as he saw me take the third photo - started toward me - and is notorious for his mean temper (among other things)..................
*News flash - Feb 2008 - Ahhh - the saga continues as Italy's now-defunct royal family apologized for suing the Italian state for their 56 years of forced exile, the ANSA news agency reported.
"I'm sorry for the unpleasantness caused," Emanuele Filiberto (a good-looking guy - photo 4) told ANSA in an interview three months after his family, the Savoys, filed papers seeking 260 million euros (385 million dollars) in compensation plus interest. Filiberto's father Vittorio Emanuele, now 71, demanded 170 million euros in November and Filiberto, 35, asked for 90 million euros.
The Italian government rejected the demand out of hand, saying the state owed nothing to the former royal family.
"Italians were right to react the way they did," Filiberto said, adding:
"Italy does not need this extra problem. I don't want to create a problem for Italy."
The male heirs of the Savoy family were sent into exile a year after the end of World War II because king Vittorio Emmanuel III had collaborated with the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini on anti-Jewish laws.
After pleading to return to Italy, the family was permitted through a law reforming the constitution that was adopted in 2002.
Emanuele Filiberto was born in Geneva, Switzerland, the only child of Vittorio Emanuele, head of the House of Savoy, and his wife, the former Marina Doria, a Swiss water ski champion.
Emanuele Filiberto married Clotilde Courau, a French actress and daughter of Jean Claude Courau and Catherine du Pontavice des Renardières, in Rome, Italy. Albert II, Prince of Monaco, who introduced the couple in 2003, was the best man. Around 1,200 people are thought to have attended the wedding. The bride, then six months pregnant, wore a Valentino dress, a veil held in place by a diamond tiara and gems belonging to the House of Savoy.
The couple have two daughters:
Princess Vittoria of Savoy, born on 29 December 2003
Princess Luisa of Savoy, born on 16 August 2006
The couple also sponsor two boys from Kenya since January 2011
It is understandable that this feast day is so special to the people of Trastevere and, in particular, the parish of St Francis di Ripa. Masses were held to overflowing crowds throughout the day and culminated with a procession. Leading the procession, parishioners carried banners honoring St Francis - followed by Franciscan monks, a band playing along the way, local parishioners bearing the Statue of St Francis taking Christ from the Cross, the Pastor carrying the relic of St. Francis, and those who came to walk with him and pay their tribute.
This was home to St Francis in 1229 when he ventured to Rome to seek approval of the Pope for his order. Francis undertook this mission reluctantly and only to protect his community and prevent possible persecution for heresy by many adversaries.
In the 17th century the church was rebuilt and dedicated to Francis, the Ripa ("shore") referring to the shore of the Tevere (Tiber) river.
In the cell where the saint lived in this church is the black stone he had used as a cushion. An orange tree planted by St Francis thrives in the garden of the church.
On June 1st, we had just left the house and turned the corner onto Via Veneto and I stopped in my tracks - this group of Caribinieri in full formal dress, all mounted on white horses was passing by us heading South on Via Veneto. I was told they were celebrating an anniversary of some particular event - I'm still trying to find out the significance of June 1st in the Carabinieri Corps.
Italy has both a local police force (Polizia) and the National Carabinieri.
The new Corps, created to perform both military and civil functions, was called the Carabinieri not only to avoid any comparison with the former napoleonic "Gendarmerie" but mainly because, like all elite units of those years, it was equipped with carbines.
The Carabinieri Corps was created on July 13, 1814, by resolution of Vittorio Emanuele I which established a Corps, known as Carabinieri Reali, of mounted or foot soldiers rigorously selected "... for their distinguished good conduct and judiciouness" whose task was "to contribute to the necessary happiness of the State, which cannot be separated from protection and defense of all good subjects."
These particularly sensitive functions, specified in the Regie Patenti (Royal Licenses), the official document comprising the aforementioned resolution, underlined the importance attributed to the personal skills required of the selected soldiers, as well as their dual military and civil task. From the very beginning, the Carabinieri demonstrated a heartfelt sense of duty, honor and top level conduct, and quickly gained people's respect and devotion.
These tents actually provided some of the best nibbles and the vendors were all open to bartering - some really nice hand made goods. All last month we had the Portal floating stage and music from Tosca to Big Mama blues - this month we have the Festival along the same space! We were here at night through the weekend (August 5/6) and the food was just great - along with a few good shopping ops. I can't believe any country celebrates pomp and pagentry quite the way Italy does - and, at moment's notice.
You will not believe this - all the azalia plants that lined the Spanish Steps were stolen (Wednesday, June 7, 2006) sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. - I was shocked -- my nephew who is Italian said it was a wonder they did not steal the steps!!
So then - NO, this is not a "local customs" tip because the plants were stolen - its because it is SPRING FESTIVAL!!
The Piazza was was under construction for awhile and now back in beautiful shape. They didn't get the Spanish steps decorated in time for Easter but here it is in full bloom in May and for Festa della Primavera (Spring Festival). We attended Mass there at Trinita dei Monti on Easter - hardly anyone there at Mass the throngs of people crowded St Peter's - the church facade is still undergoing rennovation. But, as of April 21 new azaelia plants covered the center and both right and left sides. Rome is showing her colors - lots of light rain and warm sunshine helped the season's greenery - so, spring has spung. Will keep this tip updated as we're there often.
Photos and reference text by permission of Roberto Piperno for non-commercial purposes only.
Rome is international - Rome is inter-cultural. The scent of incense in the air conveys to you that there is, very likely, a procession forming somplace near. Today our noses guided from Piazza Republica to Via Cavour where we were delighted to see this procession of Peruvian people honoring the Madonna of the Miracles.
The Appia Antica serves as a popular Sunday lunch picnic site for Roman families - following the half-forgotten pagan tradition of dining in the presence of one's ancestors on holy days. A 1990s initiative closed the Via Appia Antica to cars on Sundays, brings out the picnickers and bicyclists -- along with in-line skaters and a new Sunday-only bus route to take you there.
Italians love to talk politics and they love to demonstrate in support of their beliefs. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, even a million people show up almost weekly for these demonstrations in Rome. It really was quite thrilling to be in the middle of a million people parading for peace in the middle of ancient Rome, next to the Forum and Colliseum!
Demonstrations usually take place on Saturday. Certain streets and even churches or other buildings might be closed, if they are near the gathering points. For example, the field in front of San Giovanni in Laterano is often used, and when it is, the Church is usually closed.
The demonstrations are usually colorful, music filled, and completely peaceful. This photo is of the communists and pensioners who were demonstrating against changes in government pensions in December 2003.
Marcel mesmerizes - capitavates - entertains crowds in Piazza Navona. He knows the history of the Piazza as well as he knows the palm of his hands - home to his vast array of puppets. One of the most intriguing shows I have seen - in or out of the formal theatre setting. His family of hand puppets perform joyful animation for you as he interacts with them. We caught his show early on a Saturday evening and he had a crowd of people engaged - a social event in Piazza Navona. Take a photo with Marcel - send it to him - he will add it to his website. We love him!
Look for him - visit his extensive, entertaining website.
We like Santa - but we wait for the Befana - or if we have not been that good, we don't anticipate her arrival on the Eve of Epiphany January 5th, or the morning of January 6th. She is a witch-like character who rides around on a broom. The legend is that the Three Wise Men, I re magi, stopped at Befana's hut to ask directions on their way to Bethlehem and asked her to join them.
She said no, she was too busy. Later a shepherd asked her to join him in
paying respect to the Baby Jesus. Again, Befana said no. Later when it
was dark, she saw a great light in the sky and she thought maybe
she should have gone with the Wise Men. So, she gathered some toys
that had belonged to her own baby, who had died, and ran to find the
kings and the shepherd. But Befana could not find them or the stable.
Now, each year she looks for the Christ Child. And each year since
she can not find him, she leaves the gifts for the good children of Italy
and pieces of charcoal for the bad ones.....