Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

Miscellany page 79
started early September 2020

  

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1.  Sept. 4, 2020.
This weekend the Opus Continuum Art Collective finishes its extended exhibit at Lake Fusaro (noted here). Suzanne Toll, who provides me with translations from Latin on many occasions sends this, which I call (without permission!)

LOOK AT THIS LITTER!
"I read your post about the Opus Continuum exhibit in the Vanvitelli lodge on Lake Fusaro.  I so enjoyed my visits there and was delighted to see the ruins of Vatia's villa on the Torregaveta  promontory.  Every time I went to Lake Fusaro, I thought with amusement of Seneca, Nero's tutor, and his description of having his slaves running along the lake while carrying him in a litter in order, as he says, to shake up and thin his bile. Despite Seneca's subject matter, though, he still sounds pompous and didactic.  It's one of those personal anecdotes that brings the ancient world alive for me... The name Torregaveta likely comes from Latin Turris Vatiae (to Italian Torre di Vatia / tower of Vatia).
Suzanne includes excerpts from Letter 55 of Seneca's Epistulae This translation is altered from Wikisource's version.
"Moral letters to Lucilius"/ Letter 55 On Vatia's Villa

 Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 4 B.C.- AD 65) .         
From 49 AD he was Nero's tutor and  when Nero became emperor,    
his advisor. In 65 A.D.  Seneca was ordered to take his own life for
   
plotting to assassinate Nero.  Ever the Stoic, Seneca did so.              

1. I have just returned from a ride in my litter; and I am as weary as if I had walked the distance, instead of being seated. Even to be carried for any length of time is hard work, all the more so because it is not natural; nature gave us legs for walking and eyes for seeing. Our luxuries have made us weak, and we can no longer do that which we have long declined to do.
2. Nevertheless, I found it necessary to give my body a shaking up, so the bile that had gathered in my throat, if that was my trouble, might be shaken out, or, if my very breath had become for some reason too thick, that the jolting, which I felt was good for me, might make it thinner. So I insisted on being carried longer than usual, along an attractive beach, which bends between Cumae and Servilius Vatia's country-house, shut in by the sea on one side and the lake on the other, like a narrow path. It was packed firm because of a recent storm since, as you know, the waves, when beating upon the beach hard and fast, level it out, but a steady period of fair weather loosens the sand, kept firm by the water, and it loses its moisture.
3. As is my habit, I looked about for something that might be of service to me, and I saw the structure that had once belonged to Vatia.* So this was where that famous praetorian millionaire spent his old age! He was famous for nothing else than his life of leisure and was regarded as lucky only for that reason. For whenever men were ruined by their friendship with Asinius Gallus or  others ruined by their hatred of Sejanus, and later by their intimacy with him, – for it was no more dangerous to offend him than to love him, – people would cry out: "O Vatia, you alone know how to live!"

4. But what he knew was how to hide, not how to live; it makes a great deal of difference whether your life is one of leisure or one of idleness. So I never passed his country-place without saying to myself: "Here lies Vatia!" *

[note]
  *The reference is to the villa built by Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus (c. 130 BC – 44 BC), a Roman politician and general of the First Century BC. He was elected one of the two consuls for 79 BC. He fought against the Isaurian hill tribes in Asia Minor and was called "Isauricus" for his victories over them in battle. His villa, or at least bits of it, are indeed still there, now incorporated into a restaurant.

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       2. Sept. 8, 2020
All Good Things...

Opus Continuum announces that their exhibit, "Waiting for Immaginaria 2020" (original mention here) has come to an end. It all took place at Lake Fusaro (Bacoli), near Naples, on the delightful premises of the Vanvitelli Lodge. The closing day (Sunday) featured on-the-spot drawings and paintings by Ludovico della Rocca, Renato Criscuolo and Giovanni Tuoro. They drew and painted like crazy to give members of the public something to take home.

There was a good gathering in attendance. The exhibit ran for all of August through Sun.    6 Sept. Works by the following artists were on display for more than a month: Sergio Coppola, Renato Criscuolo, Ludovico della Rocca, Fulvio De Marinis, Michele Di Lillo, Marco Iannaccone/Scarlet Lovejoy, Loris Lombardo, Luca Mastrocinque, Ferdinando Russo, Selene Salvi, and Giovanni Tuoro.

The exhibit was held under the auspices of  the Council Clerk's Office of the town of Bacoli, and we offer to them and to all those who helped us in this adventure our heartfelt appreciation. Those of us who set this up many weeks ago will never forget the experience!  We also thank whatever agency provided the beautiful weather one glorious sunset after another! Entries


 

Entries 1, 2 (above) and 9 (below) are further discussed in this
special tour of 19 locations in the Campi Flegrei.
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          3. Sept.9    Boats of the Bay.  The only one to make the cut for 2020.
 
They Don't Make Them Like This Anymore. Really.

The Talitha. This beautiful classic motor yacht was built in 1929 at the Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel, Germany, for Russel A. Alger of the Packard Car Company. Talitha has passed through a number of owners, names, uses and refits in her 90-year history. One owner, J. Paul Getty Jr., was responsible for the current name of the vessel. She was also named the USS Beaumont for service as a patrol gunboat by the US Navy during World War II. She was rebuilt in her entirety in 1994 at the Devenport shipyard (Plymouth, UK) and remains in use by the Getty family and may be chartered.  There is another, smaller image here that shows more details of the vessel, but this image shows her set in the Gulf of Naples, the way she should be seen. If you have to ask the name of the island, you may still go aboard but will be keelhauled. The best opener on your first date: "Hi, wanna see my boat?"

Stats: overall length, 80.00m (262' 5"); Beam, 10.34m (33' 11"); engines: 2 Caterpillar 3516 TA 1; cruise speed, 13 knots; crew, 18; passengers, 12. Registered with IMO number 1004625 and MMSI 310051000. Call sign ZCAN7. Currently sailing under the flag of Bermuda.
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          4. Sept. 30
From the Halls of San Pietro a Maiella to the Shores of Tripoli
or "Play 'Dixie' "

Francesco Maria Scala (1819–1903) (image), also known as Francis M. Scala, was a musician and military band director. He was born in Naples, became an American citizen and was the first and one of the most important and influential directors of the United States Marine Band, the premier band of the United States Marine Corps. The band was established by Congress on July 11, 1798, and it is the oldest of the United States military bands and the oldest professional musical organization in the United States. It is nicknamed "The President's Own".

Although Scala's family had no musical traditions, he precociously developed a strong passion for music. He was admitted as a student at the San Pietro a Maiella Conservatory in Naples, where he graduated as a clarinet soloist. In 1841 he embarked as a "third-class musician" on the US frigate USS Brandywine of the Mediterranean Squadron. He joined the US Marine Band in Washington. The band had had previous leaders since 1799, but Scala was the first musician officially bestowed with the title of Band Director, by a decree issued on July 25, 1861. The band's most famous director, later in the century, was John Philip Sousa.
Scala was an extremely prolific musician and composer and shaped the instrumental organization that the band still maintains. Under his guidance, the band went from 11-12 musicians who played marches to a 35-piece "symphonic band" with a balance between brassand woodwinds, manifesting Scala's own training and interest in European symphonic music.

If you recognized in the title of this entry the pun on "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli," you know that as the text to the opening of the Marines' Hymn. The melody is actually a revision by Scala of "The Gendarmes' Duet" from Act II of Jacques Offenbach's opera Geneviève de Brabant, which debuted in Paris in 1859. Scala rewrote it for the Marines Corp in 1867.

Scala had some memorable moments serving, as he did, during the U.S. Civil War. He was with Lincoln in Gettysburg on Nov. 19, 1863, for the inauguration of the National Cemetery and personally heard the president's Gettysburg address. Then, at a ceremony to mark the end of the awful civil war Lincoln didn't call for, say, the victorious "Battle Hymn of the Republic"; with keen insight on the need to "bind up the nation's wounds ... with malice toward none, with charity for all,"* the president turned to Scala and said, "Play 'Dixie'. Now it belongs to everyone." ** Eleven days later, their music accompanied Lincoln's coffin during his funeral procession.
[Those phrases are from Lincoln's second inaugural address, March 4, 1865.]                                     Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
[**Friend Bill notes, "What a classy thing that was to do."  It certainly was.]


Scala served as Marine Band director for 16 years, stepping down in 1871. He lived the rest of his life in his
house in Washington, D.C. When he died on April 18, 1903, the Marine Band played his favorite hymn, Nearer My God to Thee. He is buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C.


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5. Oct. 5

Great Words about Music
by Lewis Thomas


This is on p.162 of Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony

by Lewis Thomas, essay entitled "On Matters of Doubt."  A Bantam Book, Viking Press. New York, 1984.
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          6. Oct. 10
    COVID UPDATE

    Here it comes -- No, wait it's already here.
It's baaaaaaaaack!

Multiple sources reported yesterday that there has been a sharp surge in new COVID cases in Italy with the number rising above 3,000 for the first time in months. By late Wednesday there were 3,678 cases in the nation, about 1,000 more than on Tuesday. It was the sharpest rise since mid-April. The new figure brings the daily toll back to the levels of the end of June. The overall death toll in Italy is now slightly more than 36,000.

Premier Giuseppe Conte's cabinet met on Wednesday to extend Italy's COVID-19 state of emergency until January 31 and
approve a decree with new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Such measures include reinstating the use of masks, social distancing measures, the obligation to stay home if you have a fever, and other measures that were in place months ago and then later rescinded. In many places, including Naples, if you go outside you MUST at least carry a mask.

In Naples, with some tolerance for laxness, you should even WEAR the mask outside. Many people in my area have never taken theirs off. People coming into Italy from Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium must now have a swab (cotton stuck in your nose) for the corona virus . That was already in force for arrivals from Croatia, Greece, Malta, Spain and from Paris and seven French regions.  
Oh, it's a really nice day today. 

COVID UPDATE PART 2

           7. Oct. 11
I'm back, too         
Various news sources report that the second wave of corona virus infections has struck all over Europe. This has happened well before the start of flu season. Intensive care wards are filling up again. There is also a  widespread psychological problem now called “COVID-fatigue.”

In Italy, in particular, masks outdoors are obligatory. For a brief period in the early summer the nation was the European epicenter of the pandemic, then recovered well with a 10-week lockdown and a careful approach to reopening and aggressive screening. Then summer travelers came home and created new "hot" clusters.  The nation is again facing significant problems. Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in Lazio around Rome and in Campania around Naples could be full within a month.

The region of Campania, of which Naples is the capital, has only 671 hospital beds destined for COVID-19, and 530 of those are already in use, said Campania Gov. Vincenzo De Luca (image shown). Half of Campania’s 100  ICU virus beds are also now in use. The World Health Organization has advised governments to look at social, psychological, and emotional factors when considering lockdowns and other restrictions. Some say the mental health toll of lockdowns is worse than the virus itself. "For now, the situation, is," says De Luca "manageable...but if we get to 1,000 infections a day and only 200 people cured, it’s lockdown. Got that?”

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                       COVID UPDATE PART 3

            8. Oct. 17 -
The numbers, across the board, in Europe are bad. In Italy they are potentially disastrous.  On Thursday, Italy's daily number of covid infections broke records for the second day in a row, with 8,804 cases, up from 7,332 the previous day. The number of deaths surged to 83 after hovering for days at  30 to 40. The government has banned parties, introduced midnight curfews for bars and restaurants, and made the wearing of masks mandatory even outdoors. A new round of measures could mean shutting bars and restaurants by 10 pm and closing high schools.

The Deputy health minister Sandra Zampa told RAI television that another nationwide lockdown was not under consideration, after the March-May lockdown paralyzed the country, but governors of individual regions have some autonomy in these things. That man in Campania is
Vincenzo De Luca. He has already closed schools for the next two weeks, that is, for the rest of October.
[As noted in part 2 of this entry, "social, psychological, and emotional factors" should concern us. The isolation in a lockdown is very stressful. A lot of people everywhere are beginning to feel and act like the woman in the image, above.] 
De Luca: "Halfway measures are not working. The faster we do what we must, the better off we'll be. If we wait, we'll be up to our neck in this thing and then have to take stricter measures." That's the same hard line he took the first time around, in April. "Our situation in Campania is delicate. Demographically we have the highest population density in Europe. We have to act before others act, perhaps, but our goal is to save lives... We have had fewer deaths than other regions, but that can change in an instant."

He sarcastically apologized for interrupting Halloween in two weeks, "that imported American monument to idiocy and stupidity."
(Actually there are Halloween-like rituals on the night before All-Saints Day (Nov. 1) that have existed for centuries in many parts of Italy, including Naples see this link but guess who's going to have a bag of flaming poo on his doorstep that night!)

So, as usual. Good luck, hang in there, and we shall see.


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9. Oct. 19

Who Says You Can't Smile Through a Mask?
                                                                            
 Villa Cerillo in Bacoli (image, left).
We need more young people like this. They get depressed and feel like screaming, too. They have children and sick family members to tend to, but here they are, out here to turn their dream into substance: create a "Casa degli Artisti", an Artists' Home, a meeting place for those with a love for
contemporary figurative art.
They had an exhibit a few weeks ago at Lake Fusaro (#2, this page). Now they have found the Villa Cerillo at Lake Miseno (image, left). With other local groups also on the premises, they are going after that dream. That is optimism, and I love them for it. Under the banner of "Opus Continuum 'habet sedem'- has a home!" they are setting up shop, a trial run for about a year, to see what happens. I think the title of this entry, "Who says you can't smile through a mask?"  has become the de facto  unofficially, of course –  motto of the association.
Speaking of masks and smiles, look at Selene! (The woman in the middle in the image, left.) Her smile rips masks to shreds! They are on the balcony of  the villa, directly over Lake Miseno. The headland, Cape Miseno, rises behind them. (Capri is on the right on the horizon. In the far background on the left is the Sorrentine peninsula, 30 km/20 m away.  
 –the Gulf of Naples, coast to coast!

The location is ideal. The villa is at the orange marker at the top of the satellite image on the left. That is north. You can walk down to the lake in a few minutes. Cape Miseno, behind them in the middle photo (above), is thus at the bottom of the satellite image. The town of Miseno is clearly marked at the lower right. The waters on the right are the Bay of Pozzuoli. Three km up the beach on the far left is Lake Fusaro, where they have just come from. The ruins of Cuma are two km beyond that. Their opening is on Saturday, October 31. Their ambition, energy and enthusiasm are amazing.
(There is additional information and photography on
 the Opus Continuum facebook page here.
)

Entries 1,  and 2 (above) and 9 (this one) are further discussed in this
special tour of 19 locations in Naples and the Campi Flegrei.

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10.  Oct. 24

I encourage you to take a look at the iTour guide, mentioned directly above. It was developed for Apple by Sirio Salvi. For various economic reasons, it fizzled out. I pieced it together as best I could and included it on my website. There are entries above on this page (#9, directly above and #2) the Flegrean Fields (Campi Flegrei), the area that makes up the western end of the gulf of Naples. (shown in the map above) It includes the towns of Bagnoli and Pozzuoli and finishes at Cape Miseno. It is an area of extreme interest geologically, historically, and archeologically. (Here is the link.)

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26. Oct
Renewed Covid Restriction
"Ciao"           
Nationwide, Italy reported a record 21,273 cases on Sunday. Beginning Monday, today, restaurants and bars must close by 6 p.m. Gyms, pools and movie theaters must shut down entirely. This is the fourth round of tightening this month in Italy, and the most severe
since the country lifted its
nationwide lock-down in May. There were 17,000 cotton test swabs done and 2,590 "positives." Note the number of asymptomatic cases. Only 145 had symptoms. That is good for those with no symptoms, but bad for trying to keep track of who is sick and who is not sick. Asymptomatics can still spread the virus and are less likely to get tested. There were no new deaths.

In Naples there were large demonstrations by proprietors of places forced to close in the evenings or close completely. Some social media called them "trouble makers" and the protests "acts of civil disobedience." Protestors said, "We're just ordinary people tying to make a living," and "Why doesn't De Luca [president of the region of Campania (image) ] get out of his damned TV studio for a change and come down and see for himself?"
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12. Oct 29
The Twelfth of Never

The Opus Continuum art collective has told me that their exhibit at the Baia Castle, set to start this coming weekend on Sat. 31 Oct. (noted above) has been officially put off until, as the song says, the Twelfth of Never no one knows. Obviously the new constraints on the movement of people and the threat of another total lockdown mentioned in item #11 (directly above)  are the cause. I still have faith in these people and I know they firmly believe in what they are doing. They will get this done even if they have to wait that... "long, long time." I still like that song, but this is too bad.
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13. Nov 4



Solfatara Remains Closed  
This is about an important trial in progress pitting the city of Naples (prosecution) against the owners of the Solfatara volcano tourist site near Pozzuoli (defense). I shall assume that you know nothing about either one, but here is my original entry on Solfatara, with geology and history of the site, cultural activity, and part of The Serpent Coiled in Naples by Marius Kociejowski. From there you can link to the accident from 2017, the reason we are having this law suit.

If you hate links, the nitty-gritty is this: intense volcanic activity thousands of years ago produced near Naples the Flegrean Fields, a large area of what are now extinct (we hope) volcanoes and a few that are quiet but still active down below. One of these is the steaming and bubbling sulfur pit called the Solfatara. It has been a tourist attraction for years. In September of 2017 a young boy and his parents died when part of the ground gave way; the boy fell in and his parents fell in when they went to save him. They all suffocated in the noxious fumes. The trial is about how that happened and who, if anyone, should be held accountable.

The prosecution made its case on October 16. It is unrelentingly harsh: the Solfatara volcano is unique in the world in that it is privately owned by one family [the De Luca family, who bought the property in 1861] and run solely for profit; what happened was entirely foreseeable sooner or later; the owners had not provided even a minimal amount of safeguards, warnings, etc. because they just wanted to make money; and three persons are dead because the owners were negligent, reckless and greedy. The prosecution assures us that they went to the site with geologists and found virtually no safeguards, nothing to prevent something like this from happening. This is not picky-picky legalese; plain common sense tells you that you don't let a child wander off around such a place. They tell us they are being lenient in asking only for six years in prison for the owner and other members of the family, plus a fine of 200 thousand dollars (U.S.), and the confiscation of the property.

The defense is yet to be heard. I'll wait for it, but I think they will say that this was a "freak accident" – unforeseeable. Nothing like this has ever happened before and they have had, over the years, camera crews, students, geologists, casual tourists you name it swarming through Solfatara. [I have been there, enjoyed it, taken pictures, and never felt I was in danger.] The defense might also say Ex turpi causa non oritur actio (a Latin term: "from a dishonorable cause an action does not arise"), a legal doctrine that says a plaintiff may not sue for legal remedy if it arises in connection with his or her own illegal act and the boy did step off of a marked pathway to get into the closed area where he and his parents died. You might call a few character witnesses. The family was (and still is) well liked in the area and has never been known as venial or greedy.

How long will Solfatara be closed? No matter what the judges rule, these kinds of cases are typically appealed and then reappealed.  It'll be a while. We shall see. Stay tuned.


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