Sunday, 24 April 2011

Italian Bread

The Italians may be good cooks but their bread leaves a lot to be desired. This has only one advantage that I can think of which is that one does not overindulge in the pre-meal bread that restaurants serve.

Yet, competition between the many bakeries is evidently tough: to outdo their rivals, my next-door forno offers bread that has already been blessed: pan di ramerino benedetto. Buy your bread here and it will save you having to go to the church to have it blessed. The local priest doing his bit to help local business?

EU (and Italian) Flags

Every semi-public building flies a flag. Nowadays, they don’t only fly the national flag but always also the EU flag. Why do bureaucrats have to plant their flags everywhere? Who needs flags over the beautiful row of Andrea della Robbia ceramic plaques that decorate the 15th century spedale degli innocenti.

Instead of planting flags, those public officials should do a better job of keeping the city and its riches in a better state of repair: The fountains in the Piazza Santissima Annunciata are filled with dirt and dry moss. Such dilapidation is not to be seen at the various palazzi that house government departments around town. These seem to always be in a wonderful state of refurbishment.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Pozzo Divino

I know, pozzo in Italian is not putz in American, however... why am I not surprised that the person who named his shop Pozzo Divino chose to establish himself in canto alle stinche? Where else?

Room with a View

Who is complaining?

I have three rooms with two views: from my bedroom I see the dome of the Florentine Cathedral, the duomo, and from the two other rooms I have a view onto Fiesole over the garden of the palazzo in which I am staying.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The David Ranan Peace Plan

A Facebook friend of mine put the following question to his friends:

What is the craziest, non-political, non-violent idea you can think of to get Israelis and Palestinians to come together and make peace?

My response was:

Put the leadership of both sides under curfew: Lock them up in their own countries. Close the rest of the world to the top 5000 on each side. Prevent them from travelling, shopping, investing and accumulating money overseas. They are all so corrupt that they will not hold out: Soon enough, the Israeli as well as the Palestinian leadership will agree a deal.

One will, of course, need international cooperation for such a boycott to work and that is unlikely to be agreed. It is a shame really, because such a travel boycott would most probably deliver peace.

Social Mobility

In a Radio Four debate on social mobility it was suggested that Britain has become a more meritocratic society, allowing upward mobility, but that this could not go on forever as there might be a limit to available middle class jobs. One of the participants made the point that downward mobility is less traumatic than one might expect: dim middle class men – he said - who in the past became stockbrokers in the City have not been relegated to being dustmen - they have now become estate agents.