What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Today is the day before February 14th and some silver-haired readers may remember an old adage about liking something or lumping it. But are we absolutely certain that there are no other possible alternatives to this (ahem) ‘sugary’ routine? Talking about love may imply realising that many of those things that are (or are not) … Read more

Everything’s coming up roses

The cultivation of flowers on the Ligurian coast takes us back to the second half of the 19th century when gardeners on the Riviera used to load large baskets of roses and carnations onto trains bound for the far reaches of the continent: The European aristocracy, so we are told, simply couldn’t resist these flowers … Read more

Vanishing point

The vanishing point of a painting is the spot to which our eye is drawn and that gives us the intended perspective; but who’s to say the eye wouldn’t prefer to continue roving? A bit like Vermeer’s  “Astronomer” which is now in the Louvre, but once belonged to the Rothschilds, the Jewish banking family. The … Read more

Rise and shine

“The silence of the place was dreadful”, is how Perrault describes the Prince’s impression when he arrives at the castle, shortly before breaking the spell which had kept Beauty asleep for one hundred years. We could do with a fairy tale, even after one week; a week during which, with a great deal of effort, … Read more

Happy New Year

One word always flutters at the transition from one year to the next: almanac, which, according to the meaning of the original Arabic word from which it derives, refers to day-by-day projects and moon phases. Thus, even a horoscope is an almanac, even a to-do list for the coming months, or even the planting of rose … Read more

Do you trust a sock?

In designing a calendar called Socksymbol we wanted to give voice to a garment that usually plays from the bench. However, as a consequence of the two-year slowdown – and working from home – the sock ended up becoming a player of the First XI, man-marking the fridge and sofa.  With a return to normal life, … Read more

Measuring our words

December is the month we measure the year as if counting with an abacus. But no worries, at least as far as words are concerned: the newly-coined ones that get most frequently mentioned usually don’t give us too much of headache. Although they come charging through the palisades, they generally consist in the name of one’s sweetheart … Read more

Those sharp, wandering sheep

According to a time-honoured tradition, today is the day that we Italians put up our Christmas trees and proceed to staging our nativities. Let’s imagine, however, that we’re flying over another classic Christmas scene: New York, Fifth Avenue and the Metropolitan Museum. The Christmas tree lights are about to be switched on but, as we … Read more

Make yourselves confy and “eat up”

At the Fondazione Prada in Milan Rem Koolhaas and Salvatore Settis have mounted a Roman sarcophagus on a desk: visitors are invited to sit down on an office chair to observe the marble artefact. It’s almost an explicit invitation not to get distracted. It was the Romans themselves who had favoured the idea of a … Read more

Snail Fridays

Medieval books of hours always featured sections – flourishes – that didn’t contain the devotional prayers to be said at the canonical hours. In these miniature drawings, which in technical jargon were called “Marginalia”, the illuminators would let their imagination run free. One of the strangest and most popular drawings of this kind depicts a knight in … Read more