Category Archives: TV

Rockin’ Roll “Sister Style”




Italy’s version of “The Voice” has been hit with the latest singing sensation – and an unlikely one at that!  Sister Cristina Scuccia, an Ursuline Sister of the Holy Family, has wowed us all with her sensational rock and roll style, all while wearing her black habit and veil!  With no makeup and simple clothes, her true beauty shines through as we watch the pure joy she is feeling while sharing the gift that God has given her – her spectacular voice and style!  She has captivated our hearts with this simple exterior appearance while belting out songs by Alicia Keys and, most recently, Cyndi Lauper.   In her words,  “I came here because I have a gift and I want to share that gift.  Shouldn’t things be that way?”

Her initial appearance on “The Voice of Italy” blew the judges away.  The Italian rapper, and judge, J-Ax praised her by saying: “If I had found you at Mass I would always be in church.” “You and me are like the devil and holy water.”

Would Pope Francis be proud of her?  I would think so….and she hopes that he will tell her so!  “I am waiting for Pope Francis to call me on the phone. He always says we should go out and evangelize, telling us God doesn’t take anything away from us, but will give us more. I am here for this.”

A native of Sicily, she appeared on the show while her parents and four fellow sisters came to cheer her on.  Her first performance of Alicia Keyes “No One” opened the world’s eyes to this Singing Nun, and her most recent performance of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” just continued the awe and fascination of this amazing young woman with an incredible gift – we’re just fortunate that she had the willingness to share it with all of us!  Go Suor Cristina!






Lucrezia and Family



Borgia, that is…wow!  We have been watching the Showtime mini series The Borgia’s and have gotten through Season 1 and Season 2.  Season 3 is coming up beginning this April.  It’s been an interesting tale, full of intrigue, deceipt, lust, and power.  As I’m sure you know, I love stories of Renaissance Italy.  I’m always drawn to that era, but I don’t think I would have liked to have lived through it.  Human life didn’t seem to have much value back then.  If someone got in the way of someone else, whether it was for wealth or love or jealousy, they were conveniently taken care of.  Even siblings and family members were not exempt to revenge!

imagesCALGKWN2The story of the Borgia’s follows the life of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia).  He was a Spaniard of common descent who rose to power within the Vatican.  He had many mistresses and, prior to becoming the Pope, fathered four children.  The male children were given roles of power within the Vatican, while his daughter Lucrezia was marriedimages[6] off to wealthy and prominent families in order to gain more power for his papacy.  The success of the papacy depended on how much power he could wield to get what he wanted, and his daughter was a tool he could use to build alliances with various ruling families. The head of the Borgia clan was an interesting dichotomy of a man. Both ruthlessly ambitious and utterly devoted to his family, he used his position in the Catholic church to acquire power, influence, and wealth. He was incredibly shrewd and managed to outmaneuver his rivals at every turn. He took care of anyone that got in his way.  He enjoyed the carnal pleasures of life, particularly the company of beautiful women, and this left him open to his enemies.   It didn’t seem like the main focus of being a Pope in those days was to do God’s will…and the Popes were not what I would consider holy!  They seemed to break every commandment…and merely confessed their way out of it!

According to this mini-series, which I’m sure has been embellished for the sake of creating some excitement, portrayed each member of the Borgia family as being ruthless if someone got in his or her way, or if the family’s honor was at stake.  They were all tortured souls with hidden demons.  I’m sure some of the facts are true and therefore give us a glimpse into life in Italy during this period.

The show is gruesome at times, with stabbings and tortures at every turn.  It’s love-making scenes are, at the least “R” rated, if not “X” at times!  The depictions of the grand Italian cities and architectural elements within the Vatican and the palazzos are beautiful, and hopefully fairly realistic.  Jeremy Irons, with his “regal sneer” is the perfect actor for the role.  He portrays a man of extreme power, and his voice has that perfect snobbish air to bring home the point!


I am anxious for the new season to begin to see what treacheries are in store for Lucrezia and family…

Italy Book Challenge 2011


I LOVE reading books set in Italy.  I especially enjoy historical fiction, and the Renaissance is one of my favorite periods.  But, really, all stories set in my beautiful country are attractive to me.  Even though most of the books I read are fiction, their factual accounts of places and events in Italy teach me so much about Italy’s history, culture, people, and places.  It makes me relive those places to which I’ve been, and to dream about the others yet to be discovered.  That’s why when I heard about Book after Book’s Italy Book Challenge 2011, I knew I had to participate.  First of all, I think it’s a great resource to discover new titles to read.  Secondly, it’s fun to read reviews by others who also enjoy reading books about Italy!

The “challenge” runs the entire year, and the goal is to read one novel about Italy every month, and then to review it.  There is the possibility of winning a prize, too!  If you are interested in joining the challenge, you can join Book after Book’s Italy Book Challenge 2011.

Can’t wait to read my first new book about Italy….stay tuned!

Ancient Rome….Taking a Step Back in Time


We are always a bit late keeping up with series on HBO (probably because we don’t subscribe to HBO!!), and therefore missed it when they were airing ROME.  But, after hearing rave reviews on the series, we rented it on NetFlix.  Wow!!!  What an epic show it was!  The production was definitely worthy of the many awards that it received.  It was mostly filmed in the Cinecitta Studios in Rome on a set that spanned over 35 acres! 

The story takes place during the 1st century, and it begins with Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, and ends with the reign of Emperor Octavian Caesar and the take over of Egypt (including the deaths of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra).   Even though the story has some fictional characters, many of the historical data is accurate and allows you to experience life of Ancient Rome.  It was a cruel world, with the value of human life at an absolute minimum.  Death was around every corner – both in murder as well as self inflicted for the sake of maintaining honor.  The important historical figures are portrayed in graphic detail, but obviously portrayed through the eyes of the director and slanted towards his interpretation of what these people were really like.

The show follows the lives of two fictional characters, Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenas, as they go from being soldiers in Julius Caesar’s army to civilians, and back to soldier life.  This series is very graphic – both in sexual content as well as violece.  People are stabbed, maimed, and gored with no sparing of the blood and guts.  It is all there for us, the viewers, to witness.  The sexual scenes leave nothing to the imagination, either!  But this is probably how it was back then, and all that was important was the here and now – they didn’t believe that their earthly actions would bring them to consequence in the afterlife.  That came afterward!! 

What enthralled me was trying to equate what I was seeing in “ancient Rome” to what I have seen in “modern day Rome”.  The forum, of course, was at it’s peak as far as architectural perfection, but what captivated my imagination was more the “neighborhoods” depicted in the series.  The Aventine, where the common folk lived in the series, is now one of the wealthier neighborhoods of Rome.  Each of these different districts were ruled by their own “gang lords”.  Different “gangs” or collegiums (as they were called back then) ruled different parts of the city, protecting their inhabitants and fighting against each other if need be.  The dynamics between the upper and lower classes, as well as the practice of slavery, was interesting to witness as well.  So much cultural and sociological development was protrayed in this series, which is, what I think, allowed it to earn such high acclaim.  I can wholeheartedy recommend this series to any historical buff who is interested in learning more about the culture of Ancient Rome.  Kudos to the producers, writers,and directors of this epic series!  I wish there were more of these historical fiction mini-series to bring history alive!