December 2017- Christmas

Some thoughts on Christmas

On the basis of this being a busy period, this blog will be brief, and comes with my very best wishes.

Christmas, which until recently seemed ages away, is almost upon us, and I am reminded that we have not spent Christmas in our country of birth for over twenty years. We have been adopted of course, and for many of them have added an English tinge to the Italian festivities. They are not very different than any Christian advent, though in Italy it strictly follows the tradition of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. Though don’t hold your breath. When we left the UK, it seemed like eight Sundays. Some wit even said he thought it started after Easter. Still, you don’t have to hunt down a Turkey in these parts, as it seems like a melange of poached meats is the business. It’s made very palatable by the addition of a Salsa Verde – parsley, capers, and anchovy, amalgamated with olive oil. Though I have to admit, I miss the roast potato and mince pies! Nostalgia though is to be avoided. My beloved makes meringues to console me, but as the Italians can’t get enough of these, produces whole meringue cakes to cleverly divert them. In the first or second year, we had those now elusive mince pies I mentioned. Having brought the necessary from the UK, they were devoured rather too quickly by the aforesaid Latin’s, so that having produced over 340, the ingredients ran out! Luckily, ingredients for the meringue cake are available!



However, I’m not looking forward to Christmas so much as I used to. I can’t face the isolation after dinner when it’s heads down, cell phones up. Here we have the most garrulous conversationalists on earth struck dumb in mute isolation as they swipe away in aphonic bliss. It’s so tragic, that an American friend rejecting this alien conduct, has a basket in his entrance where all mobiles are to be deposited. A little like the Mafia having to hand in their ‘rods’! Solidarity. Chatting. That’s what we want this Christmas.

I am also reminded that the Italians have a way with incorporating events into Christian names. Numbers are readily adapted, and I compiled a list in the appendix of ‘Loose Wine’. I also included Pasquale (Easter) but not Natali (plural of Natale – Christmas). Natale, or the English, Noel, is a masculine name, and the feminine Natalia. It is quite rare as a Christian name, but more common as a Surname. I came across the latter just recently when viewing an elderly friend's paintings, which he’s inclined to sell.


NATALI 4.jpg


The Macchiaioli were a group of painters that might be called the ‘Florentine School’ who are not so esoteric as you might believe, as they include the fashionable ‘Parisian’ portrait painter, Boldini. The painter in question, Renato Natali, was one of these, and certainly he must have met his fellow Livornese, Modigliani while in Paris, yet his paintings quite often demonstrate the atmosphere created by the Macchiaioli, as does my friends example, titled ‘Maremma’. The Maremma is a coastal region between Cecina and Piombino in Tuscany, and until the nineteenth century was a malarial swamp, only used in the winter months by stoic farmers. They became almost the nom de plume of the Macchiaioli school. So here you may view a painting for Christmas that apparently has nothing to do with it.

A very harmonious and enjoyable Christmas to you all.