The Monthly Williamite

Friday, November 17, 2006

The olive picking process

It is now the olive picking season so I thought I would write a short account of the process of olive oil. The process of olive oil is an ancient tradition. The main countries were olive oil is made are Spain (the n. 1 producer), Italy, Palestine, Greece, and most of the North African countries. In 2003 there was an estimate of over 9 million olive trees in the Mediterranean area, making about 43.000 metric tones of oil. The process is very laborious requiring about a month of daily labor. The olives can be picked into a basket or racked/beaten of the tree into a fine net, which is spread out under the tree. At the end of the picking the olives must be taken as soon as possible to the "Frantoio" (press), where they are squashed by massive weighs. A brown, very bitter, paste is the result of the pounding. This is compressed and the olive oil comes dripping out. A delicious recipe to have with freshly made olive oil is Fettunta: garlic toast dipped in the oil.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A life of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo was born on the 15 April 1452 in a little town near Florence, Italy. He was the illegitimate son of a twenty-five year old notary called Ser Piero and of a poor peasant, Caterina. After Leonardo’s birth his parents separated because having an illegitimate child was considered outrageous. However both parents continued having children, supplying Leonardo with approximately seventeen half brothers and sisters. Leonardo grew up in his father’s house in Vinci. He first showed his real interest in painting when he was about twelve years old, and so when he was fifteen Ser Piero sent him to be an apprentice to Andrea da Verrochio, a painter in Florence. While Leonardo stayed with Verrochio he showed extraordinary painting talents. Once, his master told him to paint an angel in his “Baptism of Christ”; Leonardo’s one was so much better then Verrochio’s that he swore to never paint again in his life. Leonardo left Andrea da Verrochio in 1477, for he had larger ambitions than to stay in Florence. In 1482 Leonardo entered the service of the Duke of Milan, abandoning his previous commission in Florence: “The adoration of the Magi”. In Milan he was kept very busy by the Duke. He did many paintings and sculptures, but at the same time designed weapons, buildings and machinery. Leonardo was very scrupulous about his paintings; it is said that after he finished “The virgin of the rocks” he decided that he would do it again and make a few changes. While Leonardo was serving the Duke of Milan he made such inventions as the tank, the flying machine (which was practically perfect apart from one or two flaws), the submarine and various other combat devices. He also had a great interest in the human body and he would dig up bodies so that he could dissect them.
Sadly, Leonardo had many interests and if he suddenly discovered something that he thought was more interesting than the thing he was working on at the time he would leave it. In this way, many of Leonardo’s works were left unfinished. In 1499 the French army invaded Milan and deposed the Duke Ludovico Sforza so that Leonardo had to leave.
During the sixteen years that followed Leonardo went around Italy and was under the service of many great rulers. He even travelled with Borgia’s army and met Niccolò Macchiavelli.
On July the 9 1504, Ser Piero perished and, thanks to his evil half brothers and sisters, he did not receive any of the inheritance. Soon after his uncle died and this too resulted in a scuffle over the legacy but this time Leonardo managed to beat off his greedy siblings and take some money for himself.
From this period Leonardo worked for various important people such as the Pope and the king of France who, sadly did not prove to be very nice employers. On the 2 May 1519 Leonardo died, aged 67, at Cloux having been a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, musician, poet, writer, philosopher, scientist and many other kinds of occupations... What a prodigy!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Jacob natus est

Jacob Hayes was born at six thirty in the morning on Thursday 8th June in a bath of a hospital in a little town called Poggibonsi, which is near Siena. I thick that even someone who doesn’t know anything about him or his family can safely say that he is a pretty lovely baby, I mean come on, be honest! I first saw him just a day after he was born I immediately liked everything about him apart from his name but that dose not matter because I can call him Iacopo, the more or less Italian equivalent. My mother wanted to plant a tree for him and she said that the placenta of the baby would of been a good fertilizer. I regret to say that she did bring it home... Rough! But, anyway I think that he one of the sweetest little things I have ever seen and I hope that his other uncles and aunt (who have not seen him yet) will think the same.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Florence, the best city in the world

I am writing this second edition to the MW in the Multi Media room of the British institute of Florence. Florence, Italy is about twenty minutes from my home (which is in the depths of the Chianti) and, although I have not visited every city on the planet I think that it is the nicest of all. Florence is divided into to sections by a lovely river, the Arno. There are many bridges that cross it such as the famous Ponte Vecchio, which is the only bridge with houses on it; and the Ponte S. Trinita which has some fantastic statues of the four seasons on each corner. One of the nicest things about Florence is that there are so many little side-allys and narrow streets in it's depths. Mystry rulles in those little streets and there are many small yet well preserved art artifacts such as a little hand or other old marks that are often on street corners that indicate the water-level of the vareous floods over the course of Florentine history. Via Tornaboni, which begins at the end of Ponte S. Trinita, is the fascion street: it contains such shops as Giorgio Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, etc. Florence also contains some of the finest churches such as Santa Maria Novella, the Baptistry, Santa Maria del Fiore (which has a spectacular dome). Florence also has the privilage of having the second italian national library, after Rome, the capital.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Introduction to the MW

Gooday to evrybody who is reading the first page of The Monthly Williamite (MW). In this blogger I shall talk about my life in Florence, Italy and my interests.
I love watching films althogh I don't watch as many as I would like to (five or six a week)... More about my film interests later. I live in Tuscany, near Florence in the beutiful countryside of the Chianti... More about where I live later. My favourite season is winter and my favourite farm-animal is a pig... More about my favourite things later...
Anyway, you get the picture. These are my interests that you will discover in detail if you carry on reading this blogg. The main reason why I started the MW is because I can get the chance to write pages and pages about myself and about my surraundings.
I must warn my readers that the MW may come out twice or thrice in one month and then not come out for a very long time... In other words it might not be exactly punctual.
Thank you.