It seems that even though the world’s most famous polymath has been gone for 500 years, new discoveries about Leonardo da Vinci are still making headlines. The latest news is the confirmation that the Renaissance genius was ambidextrous. Researchers at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence say they have proven that he was able to write, draw and paint with both hands. It confirmed his ambidexterity by analyzing a drawing known simply as Landscape (8P), dated 1473, when the artist was 21. The drawing of the Arno River and the Castle of Montelupo features two handwritten text inscriptions, one on the front written backwards and another on the back written left to right. Researchers have found that the artist used his left hand to write the inscription in ‘mirror writing’ on the front, while he used his right hand to pen the inscription on the back in ordinary writing. It was further concluded that Leonardo was born left-handed but was re-educated at a very early age to use the right hand.
Holy Stairs Reopen in Rome
The Scala Santa or ‘Holy Stairs,’ a set of steps that Jesus supposedly once stood on, have reopened in Rome after a special restoration. Pictured are the first visitors ascending the stairs on their hands and knees, with shoes covered to protect the white marble. From now until the Pentecost on June 9, visitors can climb the steps that Jesus Christ is said to have ascended on his way to be tried by Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. The staircase was brought to Rome by St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, roughly 300 years after Christ’s death. During the Renaissance they were installed in a sanctuary next to the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. For the past 300 years, the 28 steps have been covered by wooden slats installed on Papal orders to protect the white marble. The Vatican Museums have also restored the 16th century frescoes that line the staircase, as well as the ‘Holy of Holies’ sanctuary at the top of the stairs.
Mussolini Runs for Office
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s great-grandson plans to run in next month’s European parliamentary elections on behalf of an Italian far-right party. Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, aged 50, will run as a candidate for the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party. “Many people want to put Mussolini on the ballot,” he is quoted as saying. If elected, he said he would “defend the national interest with all my actions and votes.” The nationalist stance of his party won 4.4 percent of votes in last year’s Italian national election as part of a right-wing bloc alongside Matteo Salvini’s League party and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. If successful, Italy would then have two Mussolinis in the European Parliament. Alessandra Mussolini, the fascist leader’s granddaughter, has been a Member of Parliament since 2014.
Waving the Flag
The Mayor of Genoa says a British royal is set to visit the Italian port city in the latest development in a dispute over the use of the Flag of St. George. “Buckingham Palace replied to our letter and congratulated us on our research into the history of the exchanges over the years, while the organizer of royal trips said a family member will pay us a visit,” said Marco Bucci. As reported in Cronaca last July, the Mayor asked Queen Elizabeth to pay Genoa for allegedly allowing the British crown to use the Cross of St. George free of charge for the last 250 years. During the Middle Ages, London paid for the use of the flag from the maritime republic of Genoa as a warning sign to hostile ships. In his letter, Bucci said, “Your Majesty, I regret to inform you that from my books it looks like you didn’t pay for the last 247 years.” Shown are the crests of Genoa on the left and London on the right.
A recent survey by the Istituto Piepoli indicated that roughly 12 million Italians, or 15% of the population, are in favor of returning the country to the status of a monarchy. Following WWII, a referendum was passed that abolished the monarchy in Italy; but the growing support for a constitutional monarchy has prompted HRH Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, the grandson of Italy’s last King, to state that he is seriously considering the idea of founding a new monarchist party in the country. The dashing 46 year-old (pictured) has resided in Geneva his entire life and is a former waterskiing champion. Italy’s House of Savoy is the oldest royal family in Europe, dating to the year 1003.
On the Subject of Leonardo…
This year’s 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci is causing the already strained relations between Italy and France to worsen a bit more. The countries are feuding over who should have the right to display the great master’s paintings. Italy’s previous government had signed an agreement to loan all of Italy’s paintings by da Vinci for an anniversary exhibit in The Louvre, which is already home to the Mona Lisa. Italy’s current government is threatening to cancel the agreement calling it “unbelievable.” The government is insisting that the paintings should be displayed in the artist’s homeland.