Saturday, November 05, 2011

Italy and its Public

Idling around Rome one day last week, we found ourselves at the (overblown) public piazza in front of the (oveblown) presidential palace, the Quirinale.  I never cease to admire the sheer artless fraudulence of Italy's public face--that giant birthday cake outside the Forum, all those piazzi named after Cavour (who?) all those streets named after XX Settembre (what?).  There are are even streets named after Quattro Novembre, which I learned lately is supposed to commemorate an Italian military victory, and cool it with the giggling.

I have to concede, though--the view from the Quirinale piazza is one of the best in all of Rome and--wait a minute, folks, what have we here?  Why, it's an Italian military band.  At least I think it is a military band, though how, exactly, you would distinguish them from your neighborhood junior high school outfit is more than I can fathom, overtopped and perhaps overawed as they are by the sheer majesty of their surroundings.  I tried to snap a picture but I was disabled by a fit of paralytic hilarity, not lessened when I remembered one of my mother's favorite stories.  It's about the guy giving testimony for the Salvation Army where he talks about how he used to smoke and drink and hang around with loose women and "Now all I do is....

...stand and beat this God Damn Drum!

For more on the Italian government beating the God damn drum, go here.  For an unfairly comical shot of an Italian military  band, go here.


Robert said...

Thanks for the link.

The quirinale is overblown because it was the King's palace back when there were kings (including the huge guy on a huge horse in front of the horrible birthday cake near the forum).

OK it is also the site where Romulus the first king of Rome was taken up into heaven to become the God Quirinus or alternatively killed and cut into pieces and hidden under Senators' togas. Either way he was removed, which is more than modern Italy can manage with Berlusconi.

Cavour was the first prime minister of united Italy (serving under the big guy on the big horse). My dad once asked me "who is this Cavour guy" I said "Oh he filched united Italy when Garibaldi wasn't looking." Garibaldi was such a sucker. Dad replied "Yes but I know who Garibaldi was."

Speaking of some of the more recent contributions to Roman architecture, my Grandfather was not a big fan of official Washington architecture. He called it the "neo Mussolini" style. I think Mussolini was alive at the time.

I'm from DC and parts of Rome (built under Mussolini) make me homesick.

marcel said...

I think this is the link you are looking for in the story your mother told you:

Note that the testifier is female.

Buce said...

Marcel, how do you know that's not my mother?