23 April, 2019
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The bow, the inseparable Robin Hood’s weapon of choice, is still considered an instrument of great appeal.

Riser, limbs, string, button and arrow rest: these are the principal components of the bow. There are many new additional components in the modern bow, such as the stabilizer and the sight. Bows have become so diverse that they can be separated into five categories, which are: straight, recurve, delta, asymmetric and compound, all with varying shapes and sizes. The compound bow is the most recent category and the most engineered bow of our time. It has a sophisticated system of cable and pulleys which reduces the traction force, so much so that in the archery they are compared to machines rather than to the traditional bow.

 

foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi

Forged on the archer

The origin of this magnificent object has deep roots in history. The first appearance of the bow was in the Paleolithic age as an hunting instrument. Over time its use bonded with the warfare, especially after the creation of borders between territories, in particular by the wish of their kings to widen them, becoming a permanent fixture in the battles. Historically each culture developed its own type of arch, based on the available material and manner of use. One of the biggest factors in developing the bow style was weather the archer was sitting on a horse or standing. In the first case the bow was longer, in the second one it was shorter. At one point in time the bow was customized to the physical needs of each individual archer to provide better performance. But after the Hundred Year War (1337-1453) the production of bows became a mass production, removing the peculiarities that characterized every single arch to conform in a standard bow. And because of that, new battle tactics emerged. Instead of being a precision weapon, the bow was now used in large groups so accuracy was not as large as a factor.

Olympic games

However the use of this tool has progressively decreased, replaced by stronger and more destructive weapons, and for almost three centuries the bow has been forgotten until the 20th century when it was resumed in the field of sport. In fact, at that time the archery became a Olympic Games sport, excluded then from 1920 to 1972. In Italy archery had success as a hobby for adolescents. Since the 1930s, under the fascism regime, it became a sport just for girls to such a point that a particular group called Giovani Italiane took form and the first female competition, organized by Accademia di Educazione Fisica, was held in Orvieto, a small town in Umbria. The first Italian archery company has been developed in 1956 in Treviso and managed the contests for both sexes. Nowadays in Italy there are two main Federation called Federazione italiana Tiro con l’Arco (FITARCO), born in 1961, that is divided in twenty regional committees, and Federazione Italiana Ariceri Tiro di Campagna (FIARC) created in 1983 representing the Italian association of the International Archery Association (IFAA).

 

foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi

Philosophy

Now the archery is not just a sport. In fact, there are a lot of amateurs lovers of this practice that claim it as a hobby. The reason for this recent spike in interest in archery is due to many different factors such as the cinematography, the historical reenactment, and some tourist accommodation proposing it as a open-air practice to stay in contact with nature. But an interesting point is the Japanese philosophy about archery.
In fact, in Japan the archery is considered a life-style. There are many parallels with life itself, with its facets and circumstances, sometimes favorable and sometimes not, that culminate with the human development of self-control, whereby it is possible to reach any objective. One of the authors who speaks about this philosophy is Paulo Coelho in his book The way of the bow, in which he describes how the bow became a symbol to live with a self-awareness: the bow represents life, source of the human energy, while the arrow is the intention which means «the thing that leads the force of the arch in the middle of dartboard» (p.55). The dartboard is the goal to reach and, in order to do that, it is necessary to be in the proper spiritual condition, picturing it as it gets closer and closer to the archer. Shooting the arrow means that the man is aware of all the steps taken until then, where each one of them is essential with all its own intrinsic and inestimable values meaning that it takes a lot of time and effort to reach the moment before the shot. It’s something that would make anyone to begin this practice.

Becoming an archer in Umbria

For that purpose, the region of Umbria has many facilities that offer archery: there are a lot of agritourism that provide it as an activity to practice surrendered by the beauty of the Green Heart of Italy. Also, it is possible to participate to amateur classes with the release of certificates. For example, two associations of Terni, the sporting association called Gaia and the Dreavel agency, organize outdoor activity days, including archery, which is held respectively in Fiastra and Norcia, and right here people can attend to a course of bow’s construction. Always in Norcia, the Sibillini Adventure association holds specific courses about instinctive archery (the original bow), starting to the basic course of 18 hours, including both theoretical and practice lessons, with a final certification of participation. Finally there is the Activo Park in Scheggino, a little Umbrian village, immersed in the typical wild nature of Valnerina, where it is possible to do many activities for kids and for adults, among which is archery.

 

foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi

Historical reenactments

But archery is not just a hobby. In fact in Italy we can find it in the aforementioned historical re-enactments, particularly present in Umbria. Usually, during these re-enactments are representation of days from the bygone eras, when the towns and Umbrian villages were divided into factions, often competing with each other. Historic marches, taverns and playful events characterize these moments, performed strictly wearing traditional robes and in specific times of the year. The challenges between factions, called by different names from place to place, are competitions whose the aim is the conquest of a prize, named Palio, which is namely a tapestry painted by some famous artist. In Umbria there are three historical re-enactments where the main challenge is a archery competition: two of them take place in Todi, the third in Città della Pieve.
In the case of Todi, both the archery competitions are held in the FITAST national championship (Italian Federation Traditional e and Historical Bow): the first race is in April and is known as Todi città degli arcieri, where 200 archers challenge each other on twenty pitches; the second, in October, is called Disfida di San Fortunato and provides a maximum of 120 archers competing on a course of 10 pitches, with the wonderful historical center of Todi as the background.
Alternatevely, the so-called Palio dei Terzieri is held in Città della Pieve in August. The town was divided in terzieri, portions of lend which were unevenly divided into the Castello Medievale, or knights class, that identified aristocracy; Borgo Dentro, referring to bourgeoisie class; Casalino, or pedestrian class, which means farmers class. The main challenge is known as Caccia del Toro (Hunting of the Bull), where three archers for each terziere has to shoot moving targets shaped like a bull, all situated on the same carousel. The competition is divided in three times, and every last one the speed of the gauges-target increase. The winner will get the prize (Palio), a tapestry in which the symbols of the three Terzieri and the high coat of arms of the town are depicted. That trophy will be kept by the winner until next challenge.
A sporting and historical instrument, and recently also endowed with a philosophical connotation, the bow represents a sort of link between the man of antiquity and modern man. This link allows the latter to escape from technologies that invade the everyday life and to savor the sense of the reality.

 


Sources:

Enzo Maolucci (2012) Arco per tutti, Hoepli, Milano.

Paulo Coelho (2003) Il cammino dell’arco; nuova edizione 2017 di La nave di Teseo, Milano. http://www.activopark.com

http://www.asgaia.it

https://www.dreavel.com/ita/4/attivita/214/norcia-corso-di-tiro-con-larco-istintivo/

http://www.fitarco-italia.org

https://www.fiarc.it

https://www.sibilliniadventure.it

https://www.paliodeiterzieri.it

In 1863 and 1865, Domenico Golini found the world-famous frescoed tombs that were named after him, in Orvieto’s territory, more precisely at Poggio del Roccolo di Settecamini, between Orvieto and Porano. It is a pair of monuments of exceptional artistic and documentary value that form a unicum in the territory they belong to (another painted tomb, which belonged to hescanas family, was discovered in the same area). For obvious reasons of safety and preservation, wall paintings were detached in 1950 and moved to the Orvieto National Archeological Museum where are now displayed in a space that has been designed to replicate the original tombs.

Tomba Golini I. Banchetto infero alla presenza di Ade e Persefone; restituzione grafica (da P. Bruschetti, Gli Etruschi a Orvieto. Collezioni e territorio, Città di Castello 2006, p. 69).

The Golini I tomb

The Golini I tomb, also called “dei Leinie” consists of a single, large quadrangular room with a tuff partition partition dividing it in two which, starting from the bottom wall, arrives at almost half of the sepulchral room. The fresco depicts a scene from a banquet in the underworld celebrating the dead man’s passage to the hereafter, where is welcomed by his ancestors with a feast. Very interesting is how architecture and painting merge using structural parts to separate materially and conceptually the illustrated scenes; the tuff partition, in fact, not only divides the area, but also separates the servile part from the main one; so the picture represents an essential ideological division and the two different stages of the feast: the scene from preparations and the scene from the real banquet.

Tomba Golini I. Servo con pestelli (da P. Bruschetti, Gli Etruschi a Orvieto. Collezioni e territorio, Città di Castello 2006)

The frescoes in the space on the left depict scenes from preparations for the banquet, showing servants and chefs who are preparing dishes and accompanied by an Etruscan flute player; very realistic is the picture of butchered carcasses hanging from hooks nailed to tables, as well as the scene of a slave who butchers meats. Another illustration depicts the other preliminary stages of the meal, as it shows the scene of the slave who is grinding foods, maybe spices, with pestles in a big three-feet bowl; there are also people who are lighting a fire or those who are preparing a long trapeza with tableware.

The frescoes in the space on the right depict the dead man who, on a chariot pulled by horses, with a winged genius (lasa), reaches the hereafter before Hades and Persephone; the underworld couple, seated on a litter, presides over the banquet attended by the ancestors and members of the Leine’s family, whom the tomb belongs to, whereas naked slaves prepare a magnificent tableware in an area lit up by high candelabras. Almost all characters represented in both the areas, as well as animals, are accompanied by inscriptions, a kind of captions aiming to recall the genealogy of the family members, the positions they occupied, but also the different roles played by slaves.

The Golini II tomb

The Golini II tomb or “delle due Bighe” (the tomb of the two chariots) consists of a single rectangular sepulchral chamber where stand out the illustrated scenes, unfortunately very damaged and sometimes illegible. The subject is very similar to that of the above-mentioned burial, the arrival of a pair of dead in the Hades where is taking place a banquet cheered by lituus and trumpet players.

Tomba Golini I. Inserviente che prepara pietanze (da P. Bruschetti, Gli Etruschi a Orvieto. Collezioni e territorio, Città di Castello 2006)

The main characters are depicted on the sides of the entrance door; the man on the left arrives on a chariot drawn by two horses, behind him the wall is painted with a procession of six characters going towards two klinai, where there are two couples of banqueters who are identified by inscriptions as members of cnezus family. To the right of the door there is another chariot led by a charioteer, whereas the wall shows three klinai similar to the previous ones; the characters depicted are identified by inscriptions as members of the Vercnas family. The frescoes that adorned the bottom wall are now badly deteriorated, except for few fragments concerning figures of warriors.

A Pictorial School

Both the monuments date back to the second half of the IV Century B.C. and show a consistency of conception that points out the existence of a studio or a local pictorial school which, most likely, stopped working after the destruction of the city in 264 B.C.

In conclusion, it is worth stressing that the above-mentioned tombs not only are a valuable and rare historical and artistic evidence of the Etruscan Volsinii painting in the late classical and Hellenistic age, but also they have an important documentary value due to the photographs of the daily aspects and of the customs that characterized the aristocracy life of the time. They also represent one of the latest signs of the figurative theme of the symposium in the Hereafter where the living and the dead feast together; then the subject of grave painting will be replaced with a new concept of tomb which becomes a three-dimensional representation of the Underworld where all the family members buried there take part in an eternal banquet.

 

More on Orvieto

 

 


-F. Boitani, M. Cataldi, M. Pasquinucci, Le città etrusche, Milano 1973.
-M. Cristofani, Etruschi. Cultura e società, Novara 1978.
-M. Cristofani, Dizionario della civiltà etrusca, Firenze 1985.
-P. Bruschetti, Gli Etruschi a Orvieto. Collezioni e territorio, Città di Castello 2006.
-Camporeale, Gli Etruschi. Storia e civiltà, Torino 2000.
-A. E. Feruglio, Porano. Gli Etruschi, Perugia 1995.
-M. Torelli, Storia degli Etruschi, Bari 1981.
-Torelli 1985 M. Torelli, L’arte degli Etruschi, Bari 1985.
-M. Torelli, “Limina Averni”. Realtà e rappresentazione nella pittura tarquiniese arcaica, in M. Torelli, Il rango, il rito e l’immagine. Alle origini della rappresentazione storica romana, Milano 1997, 122-151.
-M. Torelli (ed.), Gli Etruschi, Milano 2000.

Strangozzi, stringozzi, strozzapreti, bringoli, umbricelli, bigoli, umbrichelle, lombrichelli, ciriole, anguillette, manfricoli: if you ever had the chance to take a ride in the Umbrian taverns, sitting in the rural atmosphere of those rooms and probing the delicious menu, in the section dedicated to main courses you see something with an ambiguous but evocative name.

Pic via

Flour and Water

It is not easy to reconstruct the history of a dish with an ancient birth, especially when confusion still reigns even on his name, as it is contamined by the vagueness of the spoken language and by the use of certain customary terms rather than others.
But let’s go in order: first of all, we are talking about a type of fresh pasta, rustic because its handmade processing and therefore inaccurate, coarse, whose goodness lies in the roughness of its own composition. Sources agree on the poor origins of this dish, made of the sole water and wheat flour. What makes the difference, however, is the shape it assumes: so, the same dought produces many types of pasta, whose names are often confused because of their etymological similarity.

In Spoleto, «Erti de stinarello e fini de cortello»

Pic via

The stringozzi of Spoleto -called strangozzi in Terni, manfricoli in Orvieto, anguillette in the area of Lake Trasimeno, umbricelli in Perugia for their resemblance to earthworms, or even brigoli, lombrichelli or ciriole – are a type of stubby and coarse spaghetti, with a circumference of 3-4 mm and of a length of 25 cm, hand-rolled on a work surface. As the saying goes, the dought must not be excessively stretched; you will pay attention to the thickness only when you cut the phyllo dough lenghtwise with a knife.

Strangozzi must be cooked in plenty water, and you have to dredge them up at the exact moment they emerge. They are seasoned with meat sauces, truffles, parmesan cheese or vegetables. Beyond doubt, the most characteristic preparation is the one holding up the name of Spoleto – “alla spoletina” – where tomatos, parsley and hot pepper enhance the taste of pasta.

A Linguistic Tussle

Pic via

It is curious that strangozzi – for their assonance with the verb “to strangle” – are often confused with strozzapreti, another preparation made out the simple mixture of water and flour.
Although the names are often used interchangeably, the shape of strozzapreti is very different from strangozzi one (and their counterparts): strozzapreti are shorter and the strips of dough are rolled up on themselves; their shape looks like shoelaces, once made of tough curled leather.

Someone had to end up choking

The legend says that the anti-clerical rebels used these strings to strangle the walking ecclesiastics, during the Pontifical State domain. An hypothesis that does not seem too remote, if we consider the constant struggle of Perugia against the interference of the Papal States: when we think about episodes like the Salt War of 1540 or the XIX century anti-clericalism resulted in massacres of Perugia, we do understand the lack of love of the population towards the prelates. The latter, indeed, in addition of collecting taxes were notoriously gluttons, always ready to scrounge meals off the poor people.

Pic via

Another interpretation says that strozzapreti were so called because the housewives, forced to halve the portions to their beloved ones to serve prelates, whished them to choke with the food they were eating. A variant says that the housewives cursed the priests that wanted the eggs as a tribute, forcing them to make a “poor” dought, only composed of water and flour.
A further interpretation – that confirms the enormous appetite of the curia – is given by the poet Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli, Roman vernacular master:

 

Pic via

Nun pòi crede che ppranzo che ccià ffatto  
Quel’accidente de Padron Cammillo.  
Un pranzo, ch’è impossibbile de díllo:  
Ma un pranzo, un pranzo da restacce matto.  
Quello perantro c’ha mmesso er ziggillo  
A ttutto er rimanente de lo ssciatto,  
È stato, guarda a mmé, ttanto de piatto  
De strozzapreti cotti cor zughillo.  
Ma a pproposito cqui de strozzapreti:  
Io nun pozzo capí ppe cche rraggione  
S’abbi da cche strozzino li preti:  
Quanno oggni prete è un sscioto de cristiano  
Da iggnottisse magara in un boccone  
Er zor Pavolo Bbionni sano sano. 

(G.G. Belli, La Scampaggnata) 

 

 

 

Thus it appears that the echo of the hungry stomachs of the prelates had spread up to Rome: their appetite was so huge to overcome even the difficulties that the particular shape of strozzapreti gave to the act of eating them. Other than choking: it takes more than a bowl of strozzapreti to extinguish the appetite of a religious!

A filling dish

Pic via

Today, though strozzapreti are produced on an industrial scale, a processing implemented with a bronze die plate makes them rough as homemade ones, allowing the full absorption of seasoning with which they are served. Between the contour of its profile, in fact, the sauces deposite and there remain, giving the palate a pleasant sensation of texture and body, and so are all the flavor of the ancient types of pasta..