Monday, May 16, 2005

The Palombella in Orvieto

I've never made it to Orvieto (beautiful town) for the famous Pentecost Palombella. According to the Telegraph, they may be changing the custom in future years:
A 600-year-old Italian religious ritual in which an entrapped dove is subjected to a barrage of fireworks took place for the last time yesterday in its present form after a campaign by animal rights protesters, including the MP Ann Widdecombe, demanded it be reformed.
As the bells chimed noon yesterday in the city of Orvieto, a dove, sealed into a transparent tube, was sent hurtling amid plumes of smoke 1,000ft along a wire from the top of the San Francesco church to the base of the cathedral across the piazza.
BTW, the facade of the Cathedral in Orvieto is simply spectacular.
The Mysterious Pianist
The Times has a story which is akin to something one might read in a novel:
HE WAS found soaking wet in the middle of the night, unable to speak and dressed in an expensive dinner suit.
The only real clue to his identity is an astonishing talent for the piano.
The 6ft musician — dubbed The Piano Man — is believed to have suffered a nervous breakdown which has deprived him of his memory and left him unable to communicate except through drawings and a remarkable ability for music.
After being found by police he was driven to Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, where he was able to communicate with doctors and nurses only by drawing a Swedish flag and an intricate sketch of a grand piano.
The man was taken to the piano in the hospital chapel, where he performed a two-hour recital of classical music, but medical staff have not been able to make any further progress with his condition.
He has since been transferred to a psychiatric unit, where he has been treating patients and staff to brilliant performances of his favourite works.

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