The Black Jersey

June 24th, 2012

At Blood & Treasure, the story of the battle for the black jersey:

Shortly after World War Two, the Italian cycling authorities introduced the Black Jersey, awarded, along with a cash prize, to the entrant who came last in each stage of the Giro d'Italia. This was partly to encourage the fans to identify with cyclists nearer their own level of skill and partly to encourage the crowds to hang around after the leaders had whizzed past. […]

It worked rather better than the organisers expected. […] Coming last was a serious matter. […]

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Ferdinandea

April 23rd, 2012

Ferdinandea will rise:

In the Mediterranean Sea southwest of Sicily, an island comes and goes. Called, alternately and among other names, depending on whose territorial interests are at stake, Graham Bank, Île Julia, the island of Ferdinandea, or, more extravagantly, a complex known as the Campi Flegrei del Mar di Sicilia (the Phlegraean Fields of the Sicily Sea), this geographic phenomenon is fueled by a range of submerged volcanoes. One peak, in particular, has been known to break the waves, forming a small, ephemeral island off the coast of Italy.

And, when it does, several nation-states are quick to claim it, including, in 1831, when the island appeared above water, "the navies of France, Britain, Spain, and Italy." Unfortunately for them, it eroded away and disappeared beneath the waves in 1832. […]

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Fondling Juliet

December 21st, 2011

Mary Beard describes a strange custom engaged in by tourists/fans of Romeo and Juliet upon visiting the 'House of Juliet' in Verona:

[The] weirdest thing was the 1970's bronze statue of Juliet standing just underneath the balcony. It was clear from the 'polish', and by watching what people actually did, that one hallowed custom was to go up and grasp Juliet's right breast, and have your photo taken in the act. This was the sport of almost every visitor from the seven year olds to the seventy-something, male and female. A few looked a bit embarrassed. Most entered into the spirit of the fondle.

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Prime ministerial wit

February 24th, 2011

David Cameron:

"If the Queen asks you to a party, you say yes. If the Italian prime minister asks you to a party, it's probably safe to say no."

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Guiding Light

April 25th, 2010

Contestants' lamps illuminate the trail at the start of the Glacier Patrol, or Patrouille des Glaciers.

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12. I write a killer resume

January 29th, 2010

If you were the Duke of Milan's Human Resources manager, would you recommend hiring this guy?

9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.

10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.

[Via kottke.org]

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His Tremendousness

December 16th, 2009

Giorgio Carbone, the recently-deceased ruler of the micronation of Seborga, had the best title ever:

Prince Giorgio, a bewhiskered grower of mimosa flowers from a family of mimosa growers, was seized by a glorious vision: that Seborga was not part of the surrounding Italian nation. It was an ancient principality, cruelly robbed of its sovereignty.

After convincing his Seborgan neighbors of their true significance, Giorgio Carbone was elected prince in 1963. He gracefully accepted the informal title of His Tremendousness, and was elected prince for life in 1995 by a vote of 304 to 4.

[Via FP Passport]

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Civita di Bagnoregio

July 12th, 2009

A nice panoramic shot of Civita di Bagnoregio.

(For more information about "the dying town" see Wikipedia.)

[Via Flickr Blog]

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Ghost armies

February 8th, 2009

"At times, real life is more like what happens in novels than you might think."

It is a plot of which Jorge Luis Borges would have been proud: some of the best military and juridical minds in Italy are wrestling with the problem of how to dispose of the unwelcome legacy of tens – perhaps hundreds – of thousands of soldiers who never existed. […]

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Not happy

November 13th, 2008

Economist readers react to the magazine's endorsement of Barack Obama. Most readers were shocked or disappointed that it should endorse a left-of-centre politician, but this last correspondent had other concerns:

SIR – I would like to congratulate Mr Obama on his brilliant victory. In his official capacity as president of the United States he will probably have to meet our prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. I apologise in advance.

Marta Sanna
Cagliari, Italy

[Via Memex 1.1]

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