Archive for February, 2014


I would just like to start by saying that Italians are crazy. At mIMG_3762y last practice on Thursday it was raining a little but about halfway through the practice it started to hail. I mean like chunks of ice were hitting us on the head. As soon as it started everyone ran to shelter in the locker rooms… for about 30 seconds and then they went out again. I should also mention that there was lightning and thunder going on the whole time. Like I said Italians are crazy. Anyway the hail stopped after a while and we continued playing (I shouldn’t say playing exactly, some kids were just throwing snowballs). We got a picture with the janitor Michèl (I’m second from the left). If you want to see more pictures follow the link to the Don Bosco website.

Castel Rigone, Weeks 23-25: Sliding

Scappini scoring his first goal, versus Tuttocuoio. From

I’ve been away for the last three matches, and having lacked the local newspaper, can’t give much detail about Castel Rigone’s recent struggles. With two losses and one draw, the team has slid down the table into the playout zone in 10th place.

Defensively, Castel Rigone has continued to have difficulty with crosses into the area (guilty of ball-watching and not minding the opposition’s runners). Offensively, they missed two penalties (a woeful team conversion rate of 42% for the season) which would have earned them three more points than they currently have. The team has given up an inordinate number of goals in the first 30 minutes of the game, as the Giornale dell’Umbria has recently described. Also, in each of the last two games, they’ve been reduced to 10 men after red cards, impeding their ability to mount a comeback. Finally, without the outstanding play of their keeper, Franzese, the margin of their last match might have been well worse.

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Il Saggio (The Recital)

Last evening Simon and Jakob had their Spring 2014 recital at the Scuola Musica of La Banda degli Unisoni. They’ve been working hard all year, and while they need to work on smiling and engaging the audience, they enjoyed the experience.

Simon on saxophone and piano; Jakob on piano.

Inghilterra 1: Liverpool

The Three Graces, Liverpool

Pier Head (or, “The Three Graces,”) Liverpool

I’ve just returned from a lecture tour of the U.K., giving a talk and seeing friends and colleagues in Liverpool, Bristol, and the Cambridge area. During our previous sabbatical we loved living in Yorkshire (even if it was a bit cold, dark, and rainy), so it was nice to return.

The arrival happened at the tail end of a miserable few weeks of weather for the U.K., with record winds and rain and railways eroding into the sea, so a bumpy landing on our direct flight from Perugia to Stansted was not unexpected.

A string of three posts, begun with Liverpool, will largely feature pictures, especially of sights and venues that might be interesting to those wishing to visit. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring the whole family to visit soon.

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Golden Fleece

Phrixos, modeling a finely-woven himation around his waist, reaches towards his sister Helle as the golden ram carries him away; Fresco from Pompeii, Insula Occidentalis House VI.17, Naples Museum inventory: MANN 8889.

In the Argonautika, the Greek hero Jason goes on a quest with a ship full of heroes to the junction of the Black Sea and the Caucasus to find the Golden Fleece, the glittering pelt of a magic ram. That ram had once rescued a pair of royal twins, Phrixos and Helle, from the deadly designs of their stepmother Ino in the kingdom of Boiotia. The ram began to carry the twins to the kingdom of Colchis, at the eastern end of the Black Sea, but Helle swooned into the channel between Europe and Asia, thus naming the Hellespont. In Colchis, Phrixos sacrificed the ram to to the gods and gave its fleece to King Aietes. Aietes hung the fleece in a tree and set a dragon to guard over it as a guarantee of his wealth and power. Years later, Jason tries to retrieve the fleece in order to reclaim his own Thessalian throne from evil uncle Pelias.

Cashmere goats, from the Times. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Today the soft undercoat of capra aegagrus hircus, from the highlands of Central Asia (northern China and Mongolia), supplies cashmere for Brunello Cucinelli. Recently our friend Marzia and I got a tour behind the scenes of Cucinelli’s production facilities in Solomeo. Here is how hairs 14-15 microns thick (six times finer than a human hair) become fashion gold.

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Castel Rigone, Week 22: Royalty

Old Lions

Poggibonsi: Old Lion Supporters 1978

The sun was shining in Perugia on Saturday afternoon, but above Lake Trasimeno clouds and mist prevailed. In a parallel struggle at the edge of the sod and mud, visiting tifosi tried to lift the atmosphere, spreading red-and-yellow banners (and one flag), and calling out their songs to the tunes of ‘Aida’, ‘The Entertainer’, and even ‘God Save The Queen’. Poggibonsi’s English aspirations even extended to one of the supporters’ groups, ‘Old Lion‘. Their team had not lost in six games.

The home side were not sporting color; with the stewards in their usual light-grey Cucinelli slacks and charcoal pea coats, and the fans in dark winter gear, the mood was tense and uncertain. Castel Rigone had lost its last three matches.

Right before Poggibonsi put it in the net

Right before Poggibonsi put it in the net to make it 0-1.

The pitch had been vacuumed of water, but more was to come — not long after the opening whistle, the skies opened up. The morass along which the near-side assistant referee had to run looked like a course set up for miniature monster trucks. And Poggibonsi was fierce in attack — their number 7, Daniele Ferri Marini, bossed the left sideline against the Castel Rigone terzino, Francesco Luoni. Right before half, Ferri Marini capitalized off poor clearances in front of the net, and the gloom deepened at 0-1.

Our friends John and Marcello, who had joined Simon and me for the match, found it somewhat difficult to cheer for Castel Rigone. The home team was sloppy, slow, and inattentive. The central defenders, Moracci and Gimmelli, were dismal, frequently just lobbing the ball up the middle of the field, right back to the opponents. On one occasion Moracci, having fouled a Poggibonsi player, shoved him back down after he tried to get up, frustrated that he had just given the ball away again. That sort of ungentlemanly play soured the game, and chippy encounters continued. The home side would end up with four cautions and and one dismissal, and Poggibonsi’s manager would be ejected. There was even an incident between fans in the stands near the end of the match, which is not supposed to happen at San Bartolomeo.

Castel Rigone did better when they tried to play through their new regista, the central midfielder Mauro Calvi, who had only been with the team a few days. He was thoughtful, patient, and incisive with his passes. He looks like the kind of glue the team needs. But not much clicked between the rest of the midfield and the two strikers, Tranchitella and Scappini. Nicholas Redi, who had hardly played of late, started at attacking midfield, but was neither strong enough to hold the ball or sharp enough to pass it usefully.

It was a grim and grimy affair. How on earth did Castel Rigone win?

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