Archive for January, 2010

Mondavio theatre

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

mondavio theatre

Last night the newly restored Apollo Theatre at Mondavio opened its new season.
The theatre in Mondavio was built in 1789 and had continued to operate until 1957 when it was closed as the building was considered unsafe. In 2005 the decision was taken to restore the theatre and it is now, once again, open to the public. At the beginning of January it had a recital but last night was the official opening of the season when Shakespeare’s Pene d’Amor Perdute (Love’s Labour’s Lost) was staged.
There are many theatres in the Marche ranging in size from the small such as Mondavio to the large such as the Rossini Theatre in Pesaro and the Fortuna Theatre at Fano. Regardless of their size they all follow the same architectural format.

Fano Theatre

Pesaro: Rossini Theatre

The interiors were beautifully pained and decorated and so even when you enter into the auditorium of a small theatre such as Mondavio one’s eye is led up to the beautifully painted ceiling. Looking directly ahead ahead you see the stage framed by the proscenium arch. Until the play begins the stage is hidden by the curtain. When the curtain rises the play begins. At the back of the stage is the backdrop which is open painted with landscapes etc. to create the play’s setting and atmosphere. The actors entering from then left and right of the stage enter from the wings. In front of the stage are the seats. The seats on the floor of the theatre are the stalls and are normally the most expensive seats in the theatre. In opera houses and larger theatres there is space for an orchestra (orchestra pit) in front of the stage. Is is normally lower than the stage so that the public can hear but not see the orchestra.
Around the auditorium are tiers of seats. These are often called the lower and upper circles. In many older theatres such as Mondavio the circles are divided into boxes which allow groups of 3 to 5 people to sit.
Although the opening of the theatre was an important event we did not go. The theatre only has space for 100 people and tickets so tickets were hard to find. Another reason was that I do not think my Italian is good enough to understand Shakespeare in Italian.

I Giorni della Merla (Days of the Blackbird)

Thursday, January 28th, 2010


The weather over the last few weeks had been miserable – cold, grey, wet and even some snow. Unfortunately the forecast for the next week is little better  as it will remain cold for at least the next week. This, of course, is no surprise for locals who say that the last three days of January are the coldest of the year and they are called “I giorni della merla” or “days of the blackbird”.

Legend has it that the blackbird was originally white with an orange beak. During the coldest days of the year he would sit on top of the chimney. However, one day his efforts at keeping warm ended in disaster and he fell down the chimney and ended up black but still with his orange beak. And so he has remained.

Matteo Ricci at the Court of the Ming

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

matteo ricci

Not a remake of a Flash Gordon movie but a reference to Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), a jesuit from Macerata in the Marche who went as a missionary to China and became fluent in the language.

Now 400 years after his death there are a number of exhibtions in his honour. An exhibition at the Vatican until January will also open in Beijing in February, before moving on to Shanghai, Nanjing, Macau, and finally Seoul. This exhibition has been funded by the Marche Region which seems a better use of money than an advert with Dustin Hoffman.
In China Ricci is acknowedged as a great scholar. He compiled the first Chinese-Portuguese dictionary, translated Euclid’s Geometry into Chinese, translated many chinese confucian works into Latin and also created the first map of the world in the chinese language. This map was recently bought for 1 million dollars by the James Ford Bell Trust and is currently on display in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. There is an interesting article on the map in the New York Times

Ricci was held in such esteem in China tha he was the first foreigner to be given a burial spot inside the forbidden city. He was, needless to say, viewed with some suspiction by church authorities who worried about his “going native”.

Electricity refunds

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

We get our electricity through Enel. We knew that the cost of electricity for non-residents was higher than for residents. However, we thought it was only a few cents more. So after 3 years of being resident here we thought that we should go to the Enel office and let them know we were residents as we might as well have a few extra euros in our bank let it go into the Enel coffers.

A very pleasant Enel employee told us that Enel charges non-residents double for its electricity. To get the “residents’ rate” we needed proof that we were residents but also proof of the date we became resident and if we provided this information there would be a refund. We went home to look for the proof. Before returning to the Enel office we mentioned the refund to some Italian friends who let us know that there would be a refund but that like Captain Oates “it may be some time”.

Returning to Enel with our documents the  same pleasant employee tapped some data into the computer and told us that as we had been residents for 3 years we would be entitled to a refund for the electricity used during that period. We asked when the refund would be available. Within one or two months was the reply. The Enel employee was not amused when we mentioned our friends’ scepticism.

A few weeks later we got a letter informing us that a refund of 600 euros would be paid into our bank account and in January the money went in.

Repairs start on the church.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
blogchurchrepair.jpg Repairs have now started on the Church of the Holy Spirit. The Dioscese had agreed to funding half the cost of the repair but a condition was that work had to start by the end of 2009. As the work has begun the funding is now assured.

San Giorgio Informa

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The latest issue of San Giorgio Informa came out in December. 
Highlights of the latest edition:

The new roundabout is deliberately being left in a “temporary” state so as to allow assessments of its usefulness and ensure it is put in the best postion.
Contracts for road repairs are being finalised. These works will include the resurfacing of the road to Montecuccho (there is a very popular restaurant/dance venue there).

Solar Energy
The Commune approved the creation of the “San Giorgio Innovazione, Energia e Territorio srl”. The aim of this limited company is the creation of a solar energy plant. It will produce a minimum of 689 kilowatts and will cost 4.5 million euros. This will bring economic and environmental benefits to the area.

Turbogas Plant
The proposed turbogas plant near Corinaldo will, according to the Environmental Impact Assessment by Edison (the company proposing to build the plant) and presented to the Ministry of the Environment, will have minimum impact. The group “Valcesano Sostenibile” is challenging this assessment and have highlighted a 2003 review article by Armaroli and Po in the journal ” Chimica e l’industria” which found the production of ultrafine particulate matter (PM) by the plants have been underestimated if not ignored and that in fact the PMs produced are of environmental significance. These findings were confirmed in a report by the Universities of Trento and Padova on a turbogas plant in their area. This reports speaks of increased health problems in the residents near the plant. San Giorgio with other comunes in the area are opposed to the creation of the plant.

The School and Sustainable Development
Luciano Barbetta (councillor) has written about the importance of introducing young people to environmental sustainability:

luciano I bought some cyclamens to brighten up the garden in winter. Within a week they had died. A local garden centre said that the plants were bred to die quickly as then people would have to buy new plants. This market philosophy which prioritises sales over sustainable cultivation is something we cannot extend to our most precious “plants”, the children of San Giorgio. In the school we can make them aware of the problems they will face in life and equip them to deal with them. The best method of teaching is by example and therefore the Commune in introducing recycling, solar energy are setting an example. If a new school between San Giorgio and Piagge becomes possible then using renewable and sustainable techniques in its construction can show the children that there is an alternative to a culture of consumption and profit.

Dustin Hoffman advertises the Marche

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Later on this month a publicity campaign about the Marche will be launched. It will star Dustin Hoffman. He will be seen reading the poem “L’infinito” by Giacomo Leopardi with the landscape of the Marche as background.

Leopardi is among the greatest of Italian poets. He was born in the Marche in 1798 and died in 1837. L’infinito is his most famous poem and most people of a certain age can quote at least the first couple of lines – rather like Wordsworth’s daffodils for English people of a certain age.

The publicity campaign with Dustin Hoffmann will reputedly cost 2 million euros and has been critised not only in terms of cost but also in terms of Dustin Hoffman’s “mauling(?)” of the Italian language – it has even been criticised by Mina – a diva/icon singer in Italy. An impression of the advert can be seen on u-tube. click here.

In the meantime here is an English translation of the poem.

L’infinito (English Translation)

This solitary hill has always been dear to me
And this hedge, which prevents me from seeing most of
The endless horizon.
But when I sit and gaze, I imagine, in my thoughts
Endless spaces beyond the hedge,
An all encompassing silence and a deeply profound quiet,
To the point that my heart is almost overwhelmed.
And when I hear the wind rustling through the trees
I compare its voice to the infinite silence.
And eternity occurs to me, and all the ages past,
And the present time, and its sound.
Amidst this immensity my thought drowns:
And to flounder in this sea is sweet to me.

Thoughtful presents

Friday, January 8th, 2010


Bill and I have families who are very thoughtful at Christmas. My family gives nice gifts such as books, records, scarves etc. Bill’s family is equally thoughtful but they always  include a couple of “unusual presents”.

This year our unusal gifts were “Kapow underpants”. An article in an italian newspaper mentioned the fact the Marks and Spensers are offering a range of male suport garments to keep tummies in and bottoms pert. The “Kapow underpants” are not from the Marks and Spensers range.

The other “unusual gift” was a mud pack with genuine dead sea mud. Bill tried his and while it didn’t improve the skin much it did mean that as the mud hardened speaking was impossible. 

Gifts like these make us look forward to next Christmas.

New Year in San Giorgio – free food and drink.

Friday, January 8th, 2010

New Year was wet in San Giorgio. It was a pity as the new mayor had offered spumante and panatone to revellers who arrived in front of the Christmas tree at midnight. As it happened we who had eaten a very untraditional “steak and kidney pudding” instead of zampone and lentils, and had begun to watch the film Julie and Julia were happy to toast the new year and to watch fireworks from neighbours from the shelter of the back door instead of braving the elements.  Appartently other people thought the same and so the offer of free food and drink was ignored. However, all agree it was a good idea and perhaps next year if the offer is made again and the weather better the response will be better.

Christmas tree: the first and the last.

Friday, January 8th, 2010

This year San Giorgio had a lovely Christmas tree and it will soon be gone. It may be the first and final year. Apparently the tree had been growing in someone’s garden and they wanted to get rid of it. They got rid of the tree and the village got a lovely tree. To buy the tree would have cost a couple of thousand euros and so next year there may be no tree.