SARONNO, Italy -
The First Bit .....
I made three interesting discoveries this week, the first is the Google Art Project. The Google Art Project is an online platform which allows access to the artworks of some of the world’s most famous museums. In 2011 the Uffizi Gallery in Florence was added to the site and now the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan, the Musei Senesi in Siena, the Museo di Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and the Musei di Strada Nuova in Genova are also participants. You can even take virtual tours of the museums, which intrigued me all the more.
|Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy|
To be able to tour - well virtually tour - some of the world’s greatest museums, most of which I will never see in my lifetime, seemed to me as thrilling as being able to see what’s going on on the moon. Maybe even a little more.
|Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan|
But this is a Google project, right? So who better than Google to turn to for help. In a flash I found a three minute video entitled Art Project - How to Use the Site. I watched a finger slip and slide across the screen pressing icons and making stuff bigger and smaller, all amazing, but not even the finger managed to do the one thing I wanted to do.
Then I noticed that someone had left a message saying what a wonderful site it was, but they couldn’t figure out how it works either. While that made me feel better, at least for a minute or two, it didn’t really solve my problem. So here’s the video and the address for the web site. If anyone can shed any light on this I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.
The Second Bit - Voting with Your Chestnuts
For those of you who don’t know, in Italy sometimes chestnuts are also called marroni, a less than polite name for a man’s dangling bits, which is why I found this bit of etymological research interesting. In 1282 the historic Torre della Castagna (Tower of the Chestnuts) in the center of the city of Florence, became the meeting place of the Florentine Priori delle Arti. The Priori, also known as the Signoria, was the governing body of the Florentine Republic.
|Piazza della Signoria, Florence|
The members of the Priori delle Arti were elected for two-month terms, during which time they were not allowed to leave the tower unless in the company of another member, ensuring that all contact with outsiders was monitored to reduce the risk of threats or bribery. Now there’s an idea worthy of revival given the sorry state of politics today.
|Torre delle Castagna, Florence|
The Priori were very influential in the decisions made for the Republic and they used a voting system similar to the modern day ballot. But instead of using pieces of paper stuffed in a box, they use chestnuts. The number of chestnuts placed in small fabric bags indicated the voting preference of each member. In Florentine dialect boiled chestnuts are known as ballotte - you see where I’m going with this - and so there are some scholars who think this is why ballots are now called ballots. Could very well be.
And the Last Bit .....
If you are a dedicated marathon runner, you might want to consider participating in next year’s Run the Renaissance in Florence. The 42+ kilometers (26 miles) kicks off at the Duomo in the center of the city, and goes from there. Here’s the official web site, (in English) www.firenzemarathon.it , which still has the details from this year’s marathon posted, but I’m sure that it will be updated after the first of the year.
At any rate the next marathon date is November 24, 2013, so there’s plenty of time to register and make your travel arrangements, not to mention get in shape.