Ulterior motives

Posted July 9th, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Living in Post-Normal Times, Trip reports

Riding on the outcome of the World Cup championship game this evening may be the future of Media World. Apparently, before the games even started, when Italy was regarded as having little chance of winning, this German company offered to reimburse the cost of LDC and plasma televisions larger than 32″, purchased between May 18th and June 8th, if Italy wins. Over 10,000 Italians took them up on the bet. If you read Italian, the offer can be found online here.

Must have been the coffee!

Posted July 4th, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Living in Post-Normal Times, Trip reports, Tuscanophilia



I almost fell asleep watching the Italy/Germany soccer game, but, as the game went into overtime, determined not to see the game end with penalty kicks, accepted a cup of coffee and sat up straight, just in time to see Italy make two goals in the last two minutes of the second period of overtime. Now that I’m fired back up, here are a few pictures from another game, “Il Gioco del Ponte” – i.e., The Bridge Game that is played every year in Pisa, by teams from opposite sides of the Arno river – the side on which the sun comes up – the Mezzo Giorno, and the side on which it sets – the Tramontana (the side I was rooting for because it is where most of my relatives live and I visit, as often as possible. It all starts with a medieval parade that makes the US marines look docile but its all drama. Following which, a challenge is sent from one side to the other, following which, the biggest men from either side of town battle for the main bridge, by pushing on a large cart until the flag is knocked over on one side of the bridge or the other. The Pisan and the neighborhood flags wasn’t the only ones flying – below the bridge was a boat flying the Red Cross flag, ready to rescue anyone falling from it. It has happened…. but everything remained rather civil this time. Tramontana won again, as they have since 1998. But what makes it even more worthwhile is that the entire downtown area is closed to traffic and, after the game is over, there are a lot of people walking around in medieval dress, as if they dressed like that every day. Also, sitting on the wall along the Arno river at sunset, one could also feel a maritime breeze coming in from the Mediterranean.
Earlier in June is another festival that I missed when, in addition to closing the streets to traffic, all electric lighting is turned off. The river and the entire downtown of Pisa are lit up entirely with candle lanterns – this is done for the Night of San Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa, known elsewhere in the world as the Night of the Shooting Stars, the English title of a Taviani brothers film that tells the story of an incident that took place on that day in 1945. I also missed the boat races among the “4 Maritime Republics” – Pisa, Genova, Venice and Amalfi – which were hosted here this year. Pisa won that too. Before I leave, maybe I will get a chance to see the boats that were used….
This is Sylvia Tognetti,aka, The Ronin Geographer, reporting from the Tramontana, in the Marine Republic of Pisa…
Note: I have a painfully slow connection – so there is a lag between writing and posting.

Una vista di una camera con una vista

Posted July 3rd, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Living in Post-Normal Times, Trip reports, Tuscanophilia

Giá che sono in Italia, una traduzione in Italiano del´ultimo post. Se arrivano commenti interessanti, forse traduceró anche quelli:

Firenze, 23 Giugno, 2006. Firenze appare di essere diventata una bella scena per il fondo del palco mondiale. La mostruositá nella foto sopra é la vista dal tetto di un edificio nel centro di Firenze, casa di un amica dagli anni di scuola (medie e primi di liceo) che ho fatto in quella cittá, esito a dire quanti anni fa, ma ho avuto una lunga interruzione dalla scuola durante la grande alluvione del 1966, e poi ricordo bene i tempi subito dopo, quando fango usciva dai rubinetti. Ero in partenza per Firenze da Pisa quel giorno che é successo ma fortunatamente, fu cancellato il treno (dopo che ero abordo). Insomma, il quartiere é cambiato. Nella direzione opposta si vedono grandi macchine da costruzione, fino almeno alla distanza a cui si riesce a vedere con gli occhi. Ai lati, i paesaggi iconici di colline, includendo i telescopi di Galileo, ci stanno sempre. Pure rimane il Ponte Vecchio, che peró era chiuso per usare come pista per una sfilata di Roberto Cavalli, per vendere quello che é diventato il piú notevole prodotto Italiano da quando Marcello Mastroianni si é buttato nella fontana di Trevi nella Dolce Vita – l’ immagine maschile. La sfilata era parte di “Pitti Immagine Uomo” che, secondo Il Firenze (nuovo giornale locale), ha confirmato l’ immagine del uomo contemporaneo di essere “sportivo-vanitoso” – che vuole essere esclusivo e ricercato a tutti i costi. Con la eccezione peró del’ uomo di Cavalli, il quale si é pavoneggiato in un foulard multi-uso, portato come cravatta, vestito in colori rosso e viola, una camicia con rifiniture in pitone bianco e chissá cosa. Io non ho direttamente visto questa faccenda, e non ho idea se era pitone vero. Cerco solo di fare senso di come é descritto nel giornale e il mio Italiano é un po arruginito ma ora comincia a tornare….
Altre cose non hanno cambiato proprio per niente. Ulisse Sifossifoco, un blogger Fiorentino, per cuil il Ponte Vecchio é anche la strada per ritornare a casa dal lavoro, non ne volle sentire. Quando gli hanno detto che il ponte era stato “acquistato” per la sfilata e che perció era chiuso per la sera, gentilmente offrí “un rap di moccoli a colonna sonora per questa sfilata di brubbrú” (cioé, cafoni vestiti da festa). Un modo di parlare che, nella mente di altri Italiani, é associato con la Toscana quanto lo é Dante. Peró forse infondo é anche la ragione perché Danta é diventato famoso. Dopo di avere scritto in Latino della eloquenza della lingua volgare, cioé, il vernacolo Toscano, e dopo di essere stato mandato in esilio, ha scritto La Divina Commedia in quella lingua che piú tardi, in una forma piú pulita e uniforme, é diventato ¨Italiano.¨ Sifossifoco poi prende il suo ¨nom de blog¨ da una poesia di Cecco Angiolieri, che era un compagno di battaglia verbale di Dante. Questa poesia presenta un immagine di uomo piú archaico – uno che, invece di essere cercato, cerca, non donne ma,¨donne giovane¨ ‘ esclusivamente! Ma tornando al problema di traversare il Ponte Vecchio per ritornare a casa, Sifossi ha anche offerte la scelta di farlo passare, e fu subito dato una scorta da due poliziotti. Come lo descrive lui, era come quando Pinocchio fu portato a case dai gendarmi.
Questo incidente non lo ho visto direttamente o preso fotografie – ho solo la parola di Sifossi, il quale ho finalmente avuto l´opportunitá di conoscere in persona. Sifossi, autore di un blog che leggo da un paio di anni, ed un´altra blogger Fiorentina, La VisContessa, hanno organizzato una rimpatriata blogger a Firenze in Piazza Brunelleschi. E siccome, per caso stavo facendo la valigia quando fu annunciato, e non era molto fuori del mio itinerario, decisi di fare la inviata per il Post’Normal Times.
Quando siamo arrivati alla fine di una bella serata con aria fresca in piazza, sono stata scortata alla casa di un amica – cioé la camera con la vista della camera con la vista, sopra un´altro grande prodotto del disegno della Toscana di Pisa – la vespa. Solo per poi essere svegliata ed imbarazzata da una colonna sonora, presentata da Americani ubriachi che cantavano cercavano di cantare, America the Beautiful. Siccome molti di questi vecchi edifici non hanno aria condizionata, non ero certamente l´unica a dormire con le finestre aperte. Deve essere stato le 3 di mattina. Almeno avrebbero potuto cantarlo bene – una cosa che forse potrebbe anche migliorare le relazioni internazionali, almeno al livello personale. Alle riunioni scientifiche internazionali, dove, duranti periodi sociali, i participanti spesso cantano qualcosa dal loro paese, Amercani hanno anche una reputazione di non potere cantare.
Sylvia Tognetti , aka, la Geografa Ronin, inviata al Post-Normal Times, da una camera con una vista di una camera con una vista di Firenze.
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Grazie a problemi di connezione internet, altre foto della rimpatriata dovranno aspettare che torno a Muddy Spring (Sorgente Fangoso – il nome che ho dato al quartiere dove abito, parte di “Silver Spring” (Sorgente Argentato)

A view of a room with a view

Posted July 2nd, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Living in Post-Normal Times, Trip reports, Tuscanophilia

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Firenze June 23, 2006. Florence it seems, has become the ultimate backdrop for the world stage. The eyesore pictured above is the view from the rooftop of an apartment building in downtown Florence, home to a friend from the years I spent in there in middle and high school – I hesitate to say how many years ago but I had a long break from school during the big flood in 1966, and then witnessed the immediate aftermath, when mud flowed from the water faucets. I was actually on my way to Florence from Pisa when it happened but my train was fortunately cancelled (after I was on board). The place has changed. In the opposite direction are building cranes as far as the eye can see. Sideways, in the iconic hillside landscapes, Galileo’s telescopes are still there. So too, the Ponte Vecchio, though it was closed off for the evening for use as a runway for a Roberto Cavalli fashion show, to sell what has become Italy’s best known product ever since Marcello Mastroianni jumped into the Trevi fountain in La Dolce Vita – the male image. The show was part of “Pitti Immagine Uomo” – which, according to the local newspaper, Il Firenze, confirmed the image of the contemporary man as “sportivo-vanitoso” i.e., a vain and sportive type, who wants to be exclusive and sought after at all costs. With the exception of the Cavalli man of course, who strutted his stuff in a multiple use scarf worn as a tie, red violet colors, a shirt with finishing touches in white python, and what have you (I didn’t actually see it and have no idea if it was real python skin – I’m just trying to make sense of the description and my Italian is a bit rusty – but its coming back).
Some things haven’t changed at all. Ulisse Sifossifoco, a Florentine blogger, for whom the Ponte Vecchio is the shortest way to walk home from work, was having none of it. Upon being told the bridge had been acquired for the fashion show and was therefore closed for the evening, he kindly offered to provide a soundtrack for the “brubbrú” parade (boors all dressed up in party clothes), in a “rap di moccoli” – a rap of colorful cussing – which, in the mind of other Italians, is associated with Tuscans as much as is Dante. Though perhaps it is the reason Dante became famous to begin with. After writing in Latin about the eloquence of the vulgar tongue (i.e., the Tuscan vernacular), and after being forced into exile, he wrote The Divine Commedy in what later, in a more polished form, became known as “Italian.” Sifossifoco actually takes his “nom de blog” from a poem by Dante’s verbal sparring partner, Cecco Angiolieri. This poem presents a more archaic male image, as one who, rather than being sought after, seeks after, not women but, younger women – exclusively! But getting back to the problem of crossing the Ponte Vecchio to get home, Sifossi also, of course, offered the option of simply letting him cross it, and was promptly escorted across by two police officers. As he put it, it was like when Pinocchio was brought home, dangling from the arms of two “gendarmi.” (armed guards).
I didn’t witness this one myself or get pictures so I had to take Sifossi’s word for it when I finally had the opportunity to meet him in person. Sifossi, who happens to be the author of a blog I have been reading for a few years, together with another Florentine blogger, La VisContessa, organized a repatriation of bloggers, in Piazza Brunelleschi. And since I just happened to be packing my suitcase when this was announced, and it wasn’t far out of my way, I decided to cover it for The Post-Normal Times
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As a delightful evening drew to a close, I was escorted to my friend’s place – i.e., the room with a view of a room with a view by “Volpe”, on the back of that other great product of Tuscan Pisan design – the vespa. Only to be awakened and embarassed by a soundtrack provided by drunk Americans in the street, singing trying to sing, America the Beautiful. Since most of those buildings don’t have air conditioning, I surely wasn´t the only one sleeping with open windows. It must have been 3 am. The least they could do is get it right. It might even improve international relations – on a personal level anyway. At international scientific meetings, where participants often sing songs from their own countries, Americans actually have a reputation for not being able to sing.
For the Post-Normal Times, this is Sylvia Tognetti, aka, the Ronin Geographer, reporting from a room with a view of a room with a view – of Florence.Italy.
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Postscript: The delay in posting this is because I went off radar shortly afterwards – this time, Italy was on the way to Nairobi, where I went for a workshop, and didn’t have much time for the internet at times that it was accessible – once I finally found a decent connection. I also didn’t have enough time to explore Nairobi enough to blog anything interesting about it, or to go on any safaris, but I did actually notice a man wearing a scarf as a necktie – actually, a french participant in the workshop I was attending. He swore it was nothing new. Italy is also on the way back from Nairobi, And there are a few other stops on the itinerary before getting back to DC, so stay tuned.
Since I’m having internet conection problems, I’ll put additional pictures of the Florentine blogger repatriation, in a trip report, after I get back to Muddy Spring.
Also, in order to content the Viscontentessa, who claims to have lived happily ever discontented, an Italian translation, in the next post
Nel prossimo post, una traduzione in Italiano, per contentare la Viscontentessa – che Visse felice e scontenta… Siccome ho problemi di connezione internet, altre foto della rimpatriata dovranno aspettare il mio ritorno a Muddy Spring, quando scriveró una cronaca di viaggio.