Plump, naked, and adorable, amorini are those androgynous winged babies that tumble and flutter through Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo art. You may have also heard the related term putti. Both terms are Latin diminutives; amorini for love and putti for “putus,” meaning “boy child.” Amorini are typically depicted as angelic cherubs in religious scenes or frolicking cupids in mythological narratives. In both cases, their presence, whether divine or earthly, always symbolizes love and joy.
However young these playful, ever-curious and fetching flying bambini appear, they’re quite old . . . going back to classical antiquity, when they were winged messengers of the Greek gods known as “erotes,” members of Aphrodite’s train, who conveyed various forms of love to humans. They were recast as child-angels in early Christian imagery but fell out of favor during the dour and dreary Middle Ages.
Then came their rediscovery, along with a cornucopia of other classical images, during the Renaissance when masters like Donatello and Raphael breathed new life into them, creating a new generation as bacchanalian as their ancestors. Ever popular and ubiquitous today, especially around Valentines’ Day, amorini bring delight and enchantment to whatever tableaux they join.
Can coffee boost the libido? Une caffe is sexy: it is hot, black, lively and gives you an instant kick. It is full of heady aroma. And yes, coffee CAN be weapon of seduction, “prendere un uomo per la gola”, “take a man by his throat” as they say in Italia …
Lavazza has long understood this with its playful, sensual and even occasionally scandalous imagery. At one time the company received a rap on the knuckles by the Ethical Trade Council of Sweden for an ad campaign it considered sexist …
If you plan to visit Torino with its fabulous and elegant cafes and chocolate shops, do check out the hyper-caffeinated Lavazza Museum which opened in June of 2018 at Lavazza’s Nuvola Headquarters. Here you will experience immersive multimedia installations and learn about global coffee culture, 120 plus years of Lavazza family & company history and view more than 50 years of advertising, which has always been highly imaginative, provocative and edgy. But what kind of coffee museum would this be without a free sample? At the end of your visit, you can try one classic drink and something new, like a coffee-infused cocktail. Another of the many reasons to visit Torino.
Venice, once an exotic East-meets-West Xanadu, had long been a tourist honeypot by the turn of the 18th century, with Europe’s best courtesans, elegant gambling salons and of course the original grand old party, Carnevale. Most famous of all revelers was Casanova whose infamous seductions were, indeed, an expression of Venetian licentiousness. But then abruptly, Carnevale was kaput. Napoleon, notorious killjoy that he was, decreed an end to all masquerade balls and public festivities when he took Venice as his own in 1797. It was not until 1979 that the pipers piped and revelers once again reveled thanks to many young art students committed to reviving the craft of mask-making.
Nowadays anyone who can afford tickets can party the night away at Venice’s most exclusive private palazzi. The most opulent of the Balls may well be Il Ballo del Doge, once described by Vanity Fair as “the most sumptuous, refined exclusive ball in the world.” You can either create or bring your own costume from home or, better yet, hire sumptuous finery from a Venetian atelier. If you go this route be sure to plan ahead, especially if you have something spectacular or specific in mind. As you might expect, renting a costume can be expensive (800 euros or more). Most important of all, you will need to BYO mask, as they are seldom rented. (All photographs featured in this post are courtesy of Anita Sanseverino who has been taking amazing photos of La Bella Italia for decades.)