Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Stumbling Stones

As you wander through the Jewish Ghetto area of Rome you may see these brass cobblestones outside some of the doorways - a reminder of a very dark episode in the city's history. For each tells a terrible story of a victim  of the Holocaust - individuals who strolled on these very cobblestones were fated to be deported to  Nazi extermination camps. Over 2,000 residents of the Ghetto suffered this plight. Only a handful ever returned .


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Recipes from Rome : Using Up

I hate waste at the best of times and couldn't bear to get rid of this dried up, wrinkled piece of parmesan rind which was all that remained from a visit to a favourite deli in Rome, La Tradizione. Imagine, therefore, how delighted I was to read the phrase 'And feel free to throw in an old piece of parmesan rind which will add extra flavour', in a recipe for minestrone soup by Elizabeth Minchilli

In an ideal world I would be using ready prepared vegetables from a local Roman market but an 89p soup mix from Aldi is a worthy substitute. The required amount of vegetables is reached by combining the mix with a raid on the bottom of fridge drawer which yields some celery, a red pepper and a lonely looking parsnip as well as a head of savoy cabbage.

First, an onion and garlic is softened slowly in plenty of olive oil.

 The cabbage is wilted in next followed by the rest of the vegetables.

 Finally enough liquid is added to cover the vegetables. The recipe uses water but I had chicken carcass stock to use up so, naturally, I used that. In went the parmesan rind and an hour later the soup was ready. Simples!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Feast of Sant'Agnese

January 21st is the feast of Saint Agnes, a 13 year old martyr who was born in to a noble family of Rome. She had many suitors of high rank, who, it is said, betrayed her to the authorities for being a Christian when she rejected their advances. On the orders of Emperor Diocletian she was dragged through the streets to a brothel where she was stripped of her clothes. Miraculously her hair grew to cover her nakedness.
The church of Sant'Agnese in Agone now stands of the site of the brothel, in Piazza Navonna.

The church was built by Borromini for the Pamphilj family - their dove emblem can be seen in the architectural details.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

12 Cribs of Christmas 12

Of course the ultimate Christmas crib in Rome has to be the life size scene in St Peter's Square. Each year a different region of Italy donates the crib. This year it was the turn of Trento in the Dolomites and the scene represents life in that area in the 1900's.
The figures include one bending over an elderly man in an act of mercy to represent the theme of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year that began on 8th December.
The Christmas tree is a spruce from Bavaria and is decorated with ceramic baubles painted by children on oncology wards throughout Italy.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

12 Cribs of Christmas 11

Our 11th crib can be viewed all year round and can be found in the vestibule of the church of SS Cosma & Damiano, on the Via dei Fori Imperiale.
This crib was built in the Neapolitan tradition and it sets the nativity amongst the columns of the Roman Forum.
It is also worth visiting this church for the amazing mosaics.

Monday, 4 January 2016

12 Cribs of Christmas 10

The prize for the most unusual venue for a crib must go to the AMA waste management offices where the Street Cleaner's Nativity can be found. This manger scene was started in 1972 and faithfully recreates the buildings of Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.
Pope John Paul II loved this nativity scene and visited it every year for 24 years. When he was unable to visit during his last Christmas  because of health reasons the cribs creator made a small portable version for the Pope

Sunday, 3 January 2016

12 cribs of Christmas 9

This jolly crib is from Guatamala and, again, can be seen in the 100 Presepe exhibition. In Guatamala nativity scenes are called Nacimiento and are usually placed under the Christmas tree. This one is constructed with cotton, copper wire and beads.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

12 Cribs of Christmas 8

This simple manger can be found in the Pantheon. It  bought to mind the lines from John Betjeman's poem 'Christmas'

'And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained- glass windows hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall?
The maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

This beautiful 'Annunciation' by Melozzo da Forli can be found in the first chapel on the right as you enter the Pantheon. Melozzo's use of geometric perspective was to influence later artists such as Raphael (whose tomb is also in the Pantheon) and Michelangelo.