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MUSEUM

‘Crap’ Hitler painting goes on show in Italian Museum of Madness

A painting by former Nazi leader Adolf Hitler has gone on show in an art museum on the shores of Lake Garda, as part of an exhibition on the theme of madness.

'Crap' Hitler painting goes on show in Italian Museum of Madness
Adolf Hitler. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The work was described by art curator Vittorio Sgarbi, who organized the 'Museum of Madness' exhibition, as “crap”.

“It's a piece of crap; a painting by a desperate man,” said Sgarbi. He was speaking ahead of the exhibition's opening on Saturday at the Museum of Salò, housed in a former church near Brescia.

“You don't see greatness [in the painting], but misery. It's not the work of a dictator but that of a wretch,” he added.

The oil painting has never been exhibited to the public before but has been loaned to the museum by a private German art collector, and will form part of an exhibition on 'political madness'.

Altogether, around 200 paintings, photos, sculptures and multimedia installations will explore the theme of madness at the museum until November 16th this year.

The exhibition's organizers noted that Hitler once told British Ambassador Neville Henderson: “I am an artist, not a politician. Once the Polish question is resolved, I want to end my life as an artist.”

The northern town of Salò has a close connection with the history of fascism, and was the seat of government in Benito Mussolini's Nazi-backed Italian Social Republic between 1943 and 1945. The state was informally known as the Republic of Salò, a nod to the town where Mussolini and his foreign ministry had their headquarters.

Perhaps for this reason, recent years have seen Hitler supporters in Lombardy gather prominence, with some representatives being elected to local governments including Como and Novara. In 2014, Milan-based supporters emblazoned the town with posters praising Hitler, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of his birth.

And last year, right-wing Milanese newspaper Il Giornale gave out free copies of his autobiography, Mein Kampf, a move which was denounced by then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and representatives of Italian Jewish organizations.

“Know it in order to reject it,” was the justification given by the newspaper, which said the free gift was an attempt to educate readers on “the toxicity of national-socialism”.

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CULTURE

Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.

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