Friday, November 25, 2011

La Banda- The Italian Wind Bands Tradition.

Now Wind bands may not exactly be hip but they certainly get the toes tapping and lift the spirits and are the perfect open air Orchestra. Italy is the country of opera and song and we even sing about ice creams! Italians are naturally musical and the Banda (wind band) tradition has been around for more than 150 years. The Banda brought the tunes of the Italian opera to the streets and piazzas in towns and cities and the tradition even extended to remote villages.  Puccini was after all the top of the hit parade for his generation. The tunes where often taken down second hand but the stirring interpretations spread huge national pride. Like in most other parts of the world wind bands where made up of the folk for the folk and they also acted and still do as training grounds for young musicians.

My sentimental side loves to see rural bands with grandfather playing alongside grandchildren just like in those 1950 movies about La Dolce Vita. Italian bands also keep the folk tradition alive and over the years they have become an essential part of religious processions especially during holy week and local saint day celebrations. Band music for some reason is very positive and crosses musical boundaries from jazz to pop. The spectacle of a local band in their polyester uniforms with polished brass buttons and plumes, which often look more like feather dusters only add to the charm.

There also now seems to be a penchant for having majorettes twirling their batons marching with the band. This must make the village banda the perfect place for teenage dating!

flickr- Daniele Nicolucci

My favourite Military Wind Band are Bersaglieri troops, the 'Fanfara', who are trained to play while running, imagine how fit they must be and their helmets are quite a fashion statement with their shiny black feathers. 

I have heard these bands described as corny but they always make my spine tingle and uplift my spirit so perhaps it was the perfect choice to have the band play for the inauguration of the Puccini Museum and bring opera in the traditional way to all the citizens  of Lucca in the piazza below his family apartment.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11/11/11 at Le Mura Villa near Lucca In Tuscany

Today was a perfect day at Le Mura Villa so I had to pause to take a few pictures at the 11th minute of the 11th hour on the 11th day on the 11th month in the 11th year to remember and contemplate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Berlusconi To Resign

Tonight looks like the end of an era in Italy. My prosecco is nearly spilling over my glass from the shock as I listen to the news that has just announced that our carasmatic leader has been forced to resign and has promised to do so after the Legge di Stabilità has been passed by parliament. This act is to implement what Europe has requested. Here are a few of my favourite cartoons. Bderlusconi has always been a gift for the satirists and here are a few of my favourite from today's press.

The Independent

Tom Jenssen -

Daily Telegraph

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lucca Comics

This last week has been more of a tragedy than a comedy for Italy. Lucca despite everything, provided citizens and tourists alike with great shenanigans and light relief thanks to the comics and games festival. Weaving my way through the crowds I felt that I had entered Shangri-la. Captain Jack was having a conversation with a fairy, while helmeted guards went around looking menacing. However as soon as one pointed a camera the characters would hold a suitable pose often looking ominous but then when thanked broke into a wide grin. The atmosphere was certainly like a carnival and how uplifting to   be in a large happy and peaceful crowd.