First Course: Carboneria
This is what prompted me to post the recipe for "Pasta Alla Carbonara".
Reading Judy "Kneepads" Miller's sob story about her highly principled vacation in the slammer, I was reminded of a scene from my favorite movie of all time "Down By Law".
At one point in the film (a third of which takes place in the Orleans Parish Prison), Roberto Benigni, completely randomly recites this Italian quote:
Vision di pieta', d'onta e afflizione
Orribil pensiero, un'alma in prigione
A vison of pity, shame and affliction
A horrible thought: a soul in prison
I have no idea where the quote comes from, but I thought it could be from "Le Mie Prigioni" (My Prisons) by Silvio Pellico. Pellico (1788-1854) was an Italian writer and dramatist who was sentenced to eight years in prison with hard labor for belonging to the Carbonari, a revolutionary secret society that advocated parliamentary elections and independence for Italy from the rule of foreign nations (France, Spain, Austria) that controlled Italy at the time. "Le Mie Prigioni" is about his experience in jail.
This passsage from the Catholic encyclopedia's page on the Carbonari struck me as typical of Italian idiosyncracy:
One of the underlying principles of the society, it is true, was that the "good brotherhood" rested on religion and virtue; but by this was understood a purely natural conception of religion, and the mention of religion was absolutely forbidden. In reality the association was opposed to the Church. Nevertheless, it venerated St. Theobald as its patron saint.
I think San Teobaldo is the one in the upper center of the painting above that depicts many of the symbols used by the Carbonari.
The Carbonari remind me of American bloggers: the bloggers' Lexicon of Liberal Invective is like the Carbonari's code words and secret handshakes. They, like lefty bloggers, were true patriots, fighting for true democracy for their countrymen and women.
There are differences. Carboneria did not disavow violence in the pursuit of it's goals. They also had some freaky initiation rituals:
Initiation into the society was accompanied by special ceremonies which, in the reception into the grade of master, imitated the Passion of Christ in a manner actually blasphemous.