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  • Pyramids in Italy April 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pyramids in Italy

    The pyramids of the Etruscan king Porsenna (fl c. 500 BC) are one of the great mysteries of antiquity. What does this passage ‘mean’? What did they really look like (try and visualise them)? Where were they? Hell, did they ever really exist? [Porsenna] was buried below the city of Clusium in the place where […]

    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked? April 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked?

    Beach is not waving but drowning in the flood of work, but the summer is coming closer and – oh wonderful – closer. Soon he’ll be able to settle down to four months of light teaching and heavy research. Most of the cherry-blossom time will be given over to fairies. However, Beach has also been […]

    Escaped Lions March 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Escaped Lions

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk*** Lions are striking animals and it is only natural that, through the ages, zoos and circuses have kept them to impress their clientele. They are also hardy creatures that makes them easier to keep alive than, say, the giraffe or a rhino. But they are dangerous and if they […]

    Hitler’s Italian Fantasy Life November 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Hitler's Italian Fantasy Life

    Beachcombing offers today an other example of a historical dream. However, unlike the nightscapes of Leonardo or Augustine, here, instead, is a fantasy from Adolf Hitler. Now Hitler’s private life is not particularly well known. There are unsubstantiated rumours about his genealogy and his sexual preferences, and his family relations (including a possibly murdered niece). […]

    Buying Up Clarice October 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Buying Up Clarice

                      Beach hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the Italian Renaissance this past week: blame the genitals of the mad, bad but always interesting Caterina Sforza. And in this difficult time of renaissance obsession one source that has run around and around his head is (Lauro […]

    Pietro Montini: A Tribute September 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Pietro Montini: A Tribute

    First, sincere apologies for not yet getting the comments up this month. Beach has written about 30,000 words on fairies and is still getting over it. Sunday night is his self-imposed deadline and then he’s going to forget the red-capped ones ever existed and think about making our young into better citizens (ahem). Today though […]

    Fury and Cannibalism July 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Fury and Cannibalism

    Cannibalism for most of us took place on ‘less happy (is)lands’ in less happy times, when neurologically-challenged Pacific folk loped from side to side suffering from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. Others might also recall occasional starving humans on boats, in plane wrecks or beseiged cities obliged to eat each other. But cannabilism does not, surely, figure in […]

    Barbecuing Friars in Late Medieval Florence April 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Barbecuing Friars in Late Medieval Florence

      Beachcombing promised just the other day that he would leave blood alone for at least a month. He wants then to be very clear that this post will not involve bloodshed. It will describe though one of the last ordeals by fire of the Middle Ages, an attempt to use flames to judge a human […]

    Cobblers: a UFO in Palazzo Vecchio? March 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Cobblers: a UFO in Palazzo Vecchio?

    The Madonna col bambino e san Giovannino was painted in a hazy month sometime at the end of the fifteenth century. It hangs today in a corner room on the highest story of Palazzo Vecchio. Its artist – the work is ascribed to Sebastiano Mainardi, Jacopo del Sellaio or one of half a dozen other […]

    Surviving Decapitation January 31, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Surviving Decapitation

    Beachcombing was traumatised in early childhood by seeing his father execute several hens on a Pennine farm. Even now he smells the metallic tang of their blood and sees the mess of heads and bodies and the feathers sticking everywhere. (Honestly, Mrs B won’t even let the younger Beachcombings watch SOS Nanny, what was Beachcombing […]

    Vasari’s Corridor December 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Vasari's Corridor

    Beachcombing had – notwithstanding his recent rudeness about Giorgio Vasari – the fortune of the devil yesterday. He managed to tag onto the work group of Mrs B (absent because too heavily pregnant) as they went to one of the most exclusive tourist destinations in the world, Vasari’s Corridor in Florence. Florence, as any who have […]

    The Vasari Phenomenon November 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Vasari Phenomenon

    Monsoon season in Italy continues and Beachcombing finds himself trapped far from home while providing three lectures for a sister institution. It is 6.00 in the morning, no one is stirring. As the library is closed and Beachcombing’s cognitive functions seem impaired  he thought that he would offer up a cookie-dough post: a hopefully interesting […]

    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism September 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism

    Beachcombing has loved the extraordinary monastery of San Miniato (Florence), his favourite continental church, since he first saw it fifteen years ago. Started in a largely undocumented generation in the eleventh century it showed from the beginning an ambition that, though wholly medieval in form, anticipated the Florentine renaissance in terms of its self-confident eccentricity. However, there […]

    The God Mars and Florence June 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The God Mars and Florence

                        Beachcombing has a special place in his heart for Florence and today, in celebration of the Arno’s flower, on the day of St John no less, he sets out a Florentine mystery: the fate and idenity of Mars on Horseback. We hear of this particular statue […]

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