Monday, 28 June 2010

World Cup and Indiana Jones

Thanks to the match between Germany and England, yesterday I had the chance to learn a lot about the Trajan's Aqueduct. It may seems a bit weird to learn something about ancient history during a 21st modern sport match.

Yet that's what happened, thanks to Gialappa's Band: in case you wonder, they are a trio of radio and TV commenters. They've had a lot of influence in Italian pop culture of the last 25 years. 
Their shows are basically commentary of football matches, music or tv events. They got a very satirical style. They brought in many changes: first of all, they never appear on their Italian shows. They would only use their voices to comment mistakes, behaviours and idiocies that would go on. 
Given that Italians take football more seriously than any other thing, it was a complete, refreshing viewpoint.
They normally broadcast their own comments for the European and World Championships. They would normally air from Radio Due, but given the pathetic situation (and director) the national radio is at the moment, no wonder they moved to a private network. The radio show is not impartial: they are supporters and they invite supporters for the other teams, foreigners that live in Italy, and some of them have been to many edition by now. 

Yesterday's match was a big match not only on the pitch, but also in the studio, with 2 of the most famous "gialappa's" supporters.

Representing Germany was Michael Wezel: this guy has been commenting for several years and it's the perfect poster man of how wrong stereotypes are. If you  believe Germans to be cold and collected people, here come tank Michael to trash all your preconceived ideas: he's loud, ironic, and likes to sing football jingle very loud.

To counterbalance on the English side there was Ted O'Neill. Not as loud as Michael,  the 2 shares a love for beer. And it's thanks to Ted that I learnt about the Trajan's Aqueduct. He has a documentary production company that focuses mainly on Italy and its culture. 
While doing some filming about another aqueduct, Aqua Alsietina, Ted and his father Michael came to discover something amazing: the source of the Aqua Traiana, the aqueduct built around 109 a.d. by emperor Trajan. I don't remember what I had this morning for breakfast, but I still remember the whole chapter that was dedicated in my middle shool history textbook to Trajan and the Nerva Antonine dinasty (after all, my sister's name is Adriana, just like the emperor): obviously the story had my complete attention and as he was talking about it, I went on to read what the encyclopedia says about Trajan.

The news of the discovery has been published on specialist website and in newspapers in Italy and abroad.
Yet yesterday Ted talked on the radio about the problems he was having with trying to protect and preserve the site: you may think that such a discovery would interest the local and national public organizations that should preserve Italian heritage.
Ah! Think again! In a country where the government property administration is prepairing a list of what to sell (and here you can look at some photos of the possible "items for sale"), do you think this is the type of discovery that may interest politicians and administrators?
The land where the site is is owned by a farmer, who's refusing to let the archeologists in and has cut down a fig, whose roots where basically holding up the structure, now in danger of collapsing.

On their Vimeo page you can have a look at the video they shot:

The Source of Trajan's Aqueduct from MEON HDTV PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

and you can read more about it on Ted's blog.

It was very disheartening to hear Ted talking about how it felt as if Italians were not caring or worrying about something that belongs to them. 
Seeing that in order to have something like that discovered we had to wait for 2 English videomaker to come to Italy feels like a cruel and mercyless mirror of the general (and collapsing) situation of Italian culture.

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