Italian Family the video for the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2012 campaign, starring Monica Bellucci and Bianca Balti.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
In 1221, in Firenze, Florentine Dominican monks began an infirmary that has now evolved into a world famous perfumery and beauty brand. The monks based in Santa Maria Novella, grew herbs to make medicines, and by the mid-16th Century, they were selling perfumes and lotions to the public. They also created a perfume for Caterina de Medici, the Queen of France who had been born in Florence. The brand Santa Maria Novella has spread in popularity and remains one of the oldest and most well established perfumeries in the world. The packaging design is so classic and elegant, I wish I had known of the brand when I visited Florence, I would have visited the store.
Friday, February 24, 2012
'For each season, a light. In spring, when I look out my window, I see hills and trees lit with a green I used to puzzle over as a child. In the big Crayola box, one unnatural green was labeled 'veridian', and when I coloured trees with it I thought it was a fake green. It's the olive in the neon martini sign, brazen green, blue-green with a dollop of sun dropped in, a bikini I once wore in Nicaragua. But here it turns innocent at evening, swathes every new grassy hillside, each budding almond or plum. The light is glassy, gossamer, silvery - it seems to slide over the crests of the low Apennines in the distance. In spring, almonds, the earliest flowers, start the sequence of plum, apple, pear, and cherry, all famous for their brief love affairs with light.'
from In Tuscany by Frances Mayes
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
One of the best things to do on a mopey evening is to curl up and watch a trashy movie and eat chocolate. Under the Tuscan Sun is a film directed by Audrey Wells, based loosely on the travel novel of the same name by Frances Mayes, who is played by Diane Lane.
With beautiful cinematography of the stunning Tuscan countryside, the film tells the tale of writer Frances' move to Italy, and her new life as she renovates the villa she impulsively buys. It is a typically Hollywood take on Italy, but good-humoured fun all the same. Still slightly upset that she ends up with Christopher from Gilmore Girls instead of the dashingly dreamy Raoul Bova though.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
A satellite image of the beautiful wintery snow in Italy.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Valentino: The Last Emperor is a documentary directed by Matt Tyrnauer, focused on the life of Italian fashion designer, Valentino Garavani. It follows his career and explores the glamourous fashion world of couture with beautiful behind-the-scenes footage. I've now watched this film three times, and each time have found something different to love. The clothing is magical, and the exclusive access into Valentino's creative and personal domains are unprecedented. He remains one of my favourite, if not the favourite, fashion designer of all time, his style and vision are impeccable.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Etymology will never cease to fascinate me, especially that of names. My name, Emily, is derived from the Roman patrician family Aemilia, one of the oldest patrician houses of Rome. It is believed that the family began in the reign of Numa Pompilius, who was the second King of Rome, and the Aemilii were one of the gentes maiores, the major patrician families, with its members holding some of the highest offices of the state, throughout the Republican years into the Imperial. In 187BC, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, who was a Roman consul, Pontifex Maximus, and censor, oversaw the construction of Via Aemilia, the main road from Piacenza to Rimini, which is still one of the major roads of Northern Italy. He also supervised the completion of the Basilica Aemilia in the Roman forum. Marcus Aemilius Scaurus was a Roman consul and considered one of the most influential politicians of the Republic. In 115BC he oversaw the construction of the Via Aemilia Scauri road which connected Rome to Placentia and Pisa, running through Genoa. The region of Emilia-Romagna, derives the former half of its name from Via Aemilia. There is so much history behind names that we never really think of, it's kind of overwhelming to think how far back they originated.
Le hérisson (The Hedgehog) is a French film directed by Mona Achache, based loosely on the novel by Muriel Barbery. It features the delicate acting of Josiane Balasko, Garance Le Guillermic, and Togo Igawa in beautiful scenes of carefully composed cinematography. This is one of those films that doesn't really have a distinct or eventful storyline, which seems to be a trait more common in European films than in that of Hollywood, but it cleverly weaves together the every day lives of these people living in a Parisian apartment in such a way that the viewer is engaged in their story, and we want to know how their days unfold as they go about their quirky routines.
'Renee is the concierge if a grand Parisian apartment building; reliable, gruff, and totally uncultured, she conforms to expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this prickly facade lies the real Renee, a woman passionate about literature and the arts, and in many ways more knowledgeable than her outwardly successful but emotionally vapid employers.
Meanwhile, several floors up, precocious eleven-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future that seems laid out before her. In an effort to show how absurd her life is, she takes up an old camera to film the people around her - her parents, her teenage sister and even their building's grumpy concierge.
But little do either Paloma or Renee know that their lives will change forever with the arrival of an elegant and enigmatic new neighbour Mr. Ozu.'
Sunday, February 12, 2012
A little video about macarons on Deustche Welle, Euromaxx. Famously a Parisian pastry, there has also been research to reveal their origin in Italy, introduced to France when Caterina de Medici brought her chefs with her when marrying the King Henry II.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Gomorra is an intense Italian film directed by Matteo Garrone and based on the book by Roberto Saviano. Following the release of the book, Saviano has received multiple death-threats and must now be accompanied by a personal body guard and live in a secret location. The film depicts the Casalesi clan of the Camorra in Napoli and Caserta. It has garnered wide acclaim, nominated for the Palme d'Or, winning the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival 2008, and seven David di Donatello Awards. Gomorra is a powerful portrayal of the brutality and unnecessary violence of the mafia that control much of this Southern region of Italy. The jagged architecture and barren landscape contribute to the feeling of unease and tension; there is nothing safe about this film, but we remain transfixed all the same.
'Power, money, and blood... These are the 'values' that residents of Italy's Campania region confront daily. They have little choice but to obey the mafia-enforced rules of the 'System', the Camorra. Gomorra recounts five true stories - the accountant, the tailor, the new blood, the apprentice, and the hotheads - that detail the intricate control the Camorra have over day-to-day life in Southern Italy.
Don Ciro pays the families of jailed clan-members. But when the clan begins to crumbles, he doesn't know where to turn. A talented tailor, Pasquale works under-the-table for the haute couture industry. When Chinese competitors woo him to moonlight for them, his employers won't be happy. Toto can't wait to grow up. So he begins his training in the 'school of life', until one day he must make a decision - one he can never, ever change. University graduate Roberto is offered steady employment and a good wage in 'toxic waste management'. But is the reality too much for his conscience? Marco and Ciro think life is like a Brian de Palma film, but their bravado is disturbing the orderly routine of business...'
The other day at the beach, we were digging into the sand, and wondering where we would end up if we managed to dig right to the other side of the earth. Some voted Italy but I voted Spain, certain that it couldn't possibly be Italy, just because I would know if it were. And sure enough, where we were had been the antipodes of Spain. It turns out that New Zealand, along with France, have the most antipodal points than any other country in the world. Maybe that's why we feel so isolated, everything is on the opposite side. Less than 4% of land on Earth is antipodal to land, the rest is to ocean. The word 'antipodes' originates from the Greek language, from 'anti', meaning 'opposed', and 'pous' meaning 'foot'; the point diametrically opposite to a place on Earth. The world truly is fascinating, I desperately need to get a map to put on the wall, my geography is terrible.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Over the long weekend just past, a group of us went camping at Karekare Beach, and spent the days and nights between there and Piha. It never ceases to amaze me how stunningly beautiful the ocean is, how vast and expansive it is. We watched the glorious sunsets and toasted marshmallows over a bonfire. It's funny how it takes friends from overseas in Europe to make me realize what we have right here on our doorstep in New Zealand. One of the best weekends of my life, so precious.
'In those solitary evenings by my fire I found finely spun threads, a pattern, my own story. I opened up the kind of memory that feels like a wistful hankering for something lost or something that never was. I think most of us have it, this potentially destructive habit of mental record-keeping that builds, distorts, then breaks up and spreads into even the farthest flung territories of reason and consciousness. What we do is accumulate pain, collect it like cranberry glass. We display it, stack it up into a pile... I'd always fought to keep dismantling my pile, to sort and reject as much of the clutter as I could. Now, even more, I made myself look back straight into that which was over and done with, and that which would never be.'
from A Thousand Days in Venice - Marlena de Blasi
Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips) is an Italian romantic comedy directed by Silvio Soldini. I was surprized at the numerous Nastro d'Argento and David di Donatello awards it has won and the rave reviews; I will probably like it more when I'm older, but I found it somewhat tedious and the elements of fantasy rather odd. However, the views of Venice were beautiful and the piano accordion soundtrack delightful.
'Life's little turning points often come in the plainest forms. A casual encounter, a little oversight, a strange coincidence, a twist of fate. When a tour bus leaves without bored housewife and dutiful mother, Rosalba (Licia Maglietta), during a family holiday and not even her husband or children notice until it is too late, she sees an irresistible opportunity for freedom.
Virtually penniless, Rosalba heads for Venice - Venice, the fabulous city of her dreams. Revelling in her new independence, her one-day adventure extends to a few days, then weeks. As her husband hires an amateur detective to track her down, the beauty of Venice, together with her newfound freedom, lead her to romance and self-discovery.
Pane e tulipani isn't so much about the difficult decisions we make in life, but the ones we make almost out of instinct... the wonderful, crazy sponteneity that makes us human.'