Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

This is a short movie based on the post “Cavity Wall Noises” (scroll down and read it!). It is entitled “In The Hollow Of The Walls”. I hope you like it.


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This video shows exactly what could happen during a Liscio Concert. The crowd interacts with the orchestra in a very “friendly” and participative way, and in this case the one who joins the band on stage (as I wrote in A Cocktail At The Pierrot post: “every night someone would join us on the stage while we were still playing”) is a guy who introduces himself as “Danilo l’Alpino”. He sings (completely drunk) a whole song called “Madonnina dai Riccioli d’Oro”, and it is important to highlight the behaviour of the band leader who encourages and congratulates DANILo l’Alpino, despite the fact that he is out of tune in every single part of the song. He also invites the others listeners to sing along with him. DAniLo l’Alpino is the worst singer I have ever heard, but it doesn’t matter, the crowd claps hands and sings because the most important thing to do during a liscio concert, is not to see a good show, but be part of it and share good times with people. So, Viva Danilo l’Alpino.

In this other video the interaction between public and orchestra is outstanding. The crowd itself becomes the “stage”, and each spectators holds a sheet with the lyrics of the song that the band is going to perform. The setting is a square of a little city in north Italy, and the song that everybody sing is a classic from Liscio Tradition: “Casa e Chiesa” (litteraly “Home and Church”), a piece that describes the figure of a shy, devoted and beautiful young lady, which the protagonist of the song falls in love with.

The chorus says: “Sei una ragazza tutta casa e chiesa, sei una ragazza come piace a me”, this means: “you are that kind of serious lady who loves going to church any given Sunday, you are the kind of lady who I’d love to marry”. It is an example of how much the “religious factoris present in most of the songs from Italian popular music.  

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Two videos that explain very well what I wrote on “Cavity Wall Noises”.

Fantozzi Subisce Ancora- film director Neri Parenti

This an extract from a movie called “Fantozzi Subisce Ancora”. The protagonist of this little masterpiece is Ugo Fantozzi, a middle class man who embodies all the contradiction of his country. This scene is about a condominium meeting, and anyone who lives in a building here in Italy knows that what is represented in this scene could happen for real  in every day life.

About the extract: Ugo Fantozzi is nominated chairman of the meeting. In the beginning everyone is very kind to the others, but when the reunion starts it suddenly becomes a BATTLE…and Fantozzi has to wear a helmet on his head!

Così Parlò Bellavista- film director Luciano De Crescenzo     

This scene is taken from the movie Così Parlò Bellavista. Two characters are trapped inside the elevator, and immediately all the other owners decide to help them.


Dialogue “Highlights”

Relax and don’t worry” says the character with the black beard, “we are going to rescue you, but to do this we have to operate manually, with a crank”. “And why are you going to do it instead of doing it now?” ask the man who is trapped. “We cant’ do it now” replies the man with the beard, “because now we don’t have the crank”. This scene describes perfectly the Italian disorganization, but also our will to help and share the problem with other people. 

Key Words translation:   Crank = Manovella – Resist= Resistete

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It is a Blog very similar to sòitalians.  Read it, this web site has an elegant “female touch” .  http://www.theitalianblog.net

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Living in a building of eight floors teaches you one thing above all: sound spreads in a very strange way.
Saturday morning.
I’m quiet in bed, and suddenly, I hear a deafening NOISE that seems to be coming from one corner of the room.
It stops after a few seconds.
Then it starts again, and this time it seems to come from the living room.
I go there, listening carefully, very carefully, and finally I have one certainty: it  comes from upstairs, exactly from the Bertaccini’s flat.

I hate them and I am happy to have a reason to quarrel.
Furious I leave my aparment, go up the stairs up to them but before I can knock on their door the noise, as if by magic, moves away.
Meanwhile the old maid who lives beside me opened her door, and now she’s looking at me curious as a cat.
Got a problem?” she asks, “I heard you open your door and I thought something might have happened”
People like her who say the expression “something happened” often mean “disgrace.”
She is an old and fat widow called by everyone in the building Nunziatina.

Aldo Moro Square (Latina): Where I grew up....Home Sweet Home. Photo by Alessio Casalvieri

 “No, nothing has happened” I answer crossing one’s finger (she is the classic Bird Of Ill Omen), “everithing is ok”
In an italian condominium the eyes that watch you are everywhere, especially behind your back.
And infact another neighbor, specifically the PENSIONER who lives in the flat next to my one, catches me in the act.
“What are you doing?” he roars to me with a tone of reproach, “Why you are crossing your fingers? Did you mean to say that talking to Nunziatina could bring you bad luck?”
Oh my god, no!” I respond, “Why do you think these kind of things?!”
He doesn’t answer me, and looking at both me and Nunziatina (who is obviously still not back in her apartment) questions: “Anyway, what ‘s wrong? I have heard you talking and I thought that something had Happened”
The pensioner is a curious conversationalist pretty aggressive, who would be able to keep me at the door for the rest of my life just to talk about his suppositions.
I’m frightened, so I decide to cut short immediately and confess: “I came out of my flat, because I heard a noise and wanted to understand where it came from”.

The aggressive Pensioner

Now the entire building has noticed me.
Directly from the sixth floor, enters the scene the woman who plays in the condominium the role of the “well informed“.
“The noise comes from the family on the first floor, they are restructuring their flat.”
“I don’t understand” I say to her, “why I can hear the noise in a such deafening way, if they are so far from us?”
This time it is the condominium administrator who answers the question, he arrives from the sixth floor.
‘It happens because the bricklayers are beating near the CAVITY WALL“.

It is a five people conversation: the administrator and the “well informed”, the pensioner, myself and the maid.

Attracted by the voices like sharks to blood, all the other owners come to us and ask: “What is happening? We heard you talking and we are alarmed”.
As the voices are now much higher than the noise, we are also achieved by the owner who is making the restructuring work.
“What is going on here?” asks the crowd.
Everyones look at me: “Mr. Roccia complained about the noise” they say.
“Really? and what would you have to say? ” he questions me.I am not intimidated and I answer: “In a condominium you can not do work on Saturday.”

“I know” says the administrator, “but in doing so the restructuration getting finished in a shorter time.”
The owner who lives on the first floor shares this stupid theory: “It is true. And also the most important thing to say, is that if the bricklayers work near the CAVITY WALL, is normal that we hear that noise!”
The entire building says “YES” nodding their heads, it’s logical, how can you discord when somebody talks about the cavity wall?

The administrator says: “From Monday nobody will no longer beat at that point, so you’ll not hear anything and you will be peaceful and serene.”
“Serene?!” exclaim the most alarmist of the widows group, “I don’t Know if it will be possible. Once the son of a person I know, has had a burst eardrum because of noises coming from CAvity wall“.

Nobody makes the case for a story so shamelessly invented.

Before he return in his apartment, the man of the first floor accuses me: “you have ruined my weekend!!”
Understanding that it is the end of the story, each one of the owners goes back to their own apartment.

When I rest alone I start to imagine me living in a villa, without other owners with whom to share noises.

But after I think better: living alone could be so boring!

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My favorite Liscio Standard is a valzer musette called Romantica Parigi. The French musician in this video plays it pretty well. Vive la France (after all we are cousins!)


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United States has Rock’n’Roll, jazz and Blues as traditional music. Spain has the Flamenco, Argentina has the tango and Brazil has the Bossa Nova. Unfortunately Italian popular music is the LISCIO.
In every single bar or dance hall of my country, you can easily hear this kind of music. No matter if you are in the South, in the center or in the west of the Italian peninsula, LISCIO persecutes you in any corner of the country.
The most sad aspect of this situation is that if you are an Italian musician, the only thing you can do to earn some money is to play this music.
And I’m one of those musicians who played Liscio.

Rimini, Rimini, Rimini: The soundtrack of this post”.

It happened during my last year at “La Sapienza” University in Rome.
I needed money for my studies, and at that time the only thing that I was able to do very well was play the guitar.
A friend of mine gave me the opportunity to meet Marco Napoli, the leader of a little Liscio ensemble that was pretty popular in my county.
The name of this orchestra was one of the worst names you can give to a dance-band: “The Cocktail”.
When I met Marco, the first thing that I asked him was: “Why have you chosen this name for your orchestra?”
“You know” he answered me, “when you play Liscio you have to communicate to the audience a feeling of happiness, and a name like The Cocktail suggests to the people something full of colour, of vitality and joy….in other words it suggests Happiness”.
Does it?” I asked doubtfully.
“Yes…Hey wait a moment” he said, “have you got any problem with the name of my band?”
“No, no. I love it, I was just curious about it. That’s all”.
I WAS recruited.

I was the guitarist on the right.

We played for a whole year in a Balera (it is the Italian word to indicate a Liscio Dance Hall) called “Pierrot”.
We used to arrive at the club around nine p.m. and after the sound check, we opened the show with a classic Raul Casadei’s song: “Rimini, Rimini” (Raul Casadei is one of the most important authors in the Liscio tradition).
The crowd started to dance from the first note of that song.
People who love to spend the night in a balera, basically do two kinds of things above all: dance AND drink wine.
This is the reason why often some of them would fall down to the ground completely DRUNK.

A couple of old, drunken customers. They were tireless...

The floor of a balera is literary a pool of sweat, and the owners usually strew it with talcum powder to create a grip for the dancer’s feet; but if you are drunk nothing can save you from falling, even a good “grip”.
I hated the balera’s patrons.
They didn’t show the musicians any kind of respect, and every night someone would join us on the stage (while we were still playing), and say something like: “Have you got Romantica Parigi?” or “Have you got Mutandine di Seta Nera?”; they didn’t ask for a song, they ordered a song, they treated us as if we were waiters instead musicians.
Generally at midnight we stopped playing and the crowd stopped dancing: that was the moment for the Pasta (the balera’s owners used to offer to the customers and the musicians some horrible pasta cooked by their resident chef).
While the customers ate, Marco remained on the stage to announce the winning numbers extracted for the balera’s lottery (each number was followed by a drum roll loop); it was the main event of the night and those who attended it could win: a Prosciutto di Parma as first prize, a shape of Parmigiano Reggiano as second prize and a bottle of wine as third prize.

The main event of the night: The Lottery. Pictures of Italian Culture

After the Lottery the show started again and we kept playing until one o’clock (more or less).
At that hour most of the dancers began to go back home, except the ones that we called: “Tiratardi”; these were the kind of tireless people who could dance from dust till dawn.
We invented a stratagem to set us free from them: we accelerated the bpm of the songs; in doing so they were forced to dance very, very fast.
Generally they collapsed to the floor completely strengthless after two or three minutes.
When all of them went away we descended from the stage.
I used to massage my back and smoke a cigarette while Marco and the other guys, compiled the bourderaux writing down the songs that we had played.
The most exciting moment of the night was certainly when the owner paid the orchestra: one hundred euro for each of us, not a bad wage!
Yes, despite everything, it was pretty cool to play LISCIO.

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