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Posts from the ‘Norms do…’ Category

Norms in Rome | The Piazza Navona

Norms in Rome, Rome in the Norms… such has been the delicious longevity of the Norms’ devoted acquaintance with Italy’s beating heart that the Norms feel permanently wedded to this city of ancient glory and modern glamour. They’ve been in piazzas aplenty, gorged on delectable Roman food fare, explored ruins, historical monuments and strolled riverside. But as the Norms prepare to take their leave of the city, with their bags packed from some summertime travels, these blobby creatures have made one last visit – to a Piazza equal in glory to the spectacle of the Piazza della Rotonda where their adventure began some three months ago… the glorious Piazza Navona.

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Norms on the Piazza Navona ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2018, pen on paper

Retaining the shape of the Stadium of Domitian which lies beneath its current day ground-level manifestation, but filled with some of the most magnificent sculptures of the Roman baroque, the Piazza Navona embodies Rome at its unique best, evidencing like a geological cross-section Rome’s complex trajectory throughout history. Whether it be those exquisite fountains, the countless cafes, or the temporary carousel which appears whenever a festival is in town, the Piazza Navona is the ideal location for the Norms to bid Rome arrivederci…until their inevitable return very soon.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

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Norms in Rome | Trajan’s Wedding Cake

Oh dear. The Norms’ reversion to the simpler things in life didn’t last for long. No sooner had they settled in the laid back Roman neighbourhood of Trastevere than they got itchy bottoms, and decided to trek again across the river in search of the grandeur for which Rome is famous. And this time they have hit the bullseye, arriving at the monument which, in modern times at least, is probably the grandest spectacle the city of Rome has ever created. Conspicuously named the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), but otherwise known as “the Wedding cake”, “the Typewriter” and the “English Trifle”, this pompous and mammoth construction was, in the early 20th century, built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first King of a unified Italy. However, it caused great controversy in its construction, doing away with large swathes of the historically critical Capitoline Hill as well as sticking out like a sore thumb for its gleaming whiteness in amongst a city of ochres and reds.

Norms Victor Emmanuel II

Norms at the Wedding Cake (2018 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

Yet for all this, being white themselves, the Norms feel rather attracted to this mass of dazzling white theatricality and have made it a high point in their Roman adventure. That is not to say that they are ignoring the spiralling column of Trajan in the ruins of said Emperor’s forum just across the road. For one really can’t do one of these historical monuments without the other. And happily there’s an ice cream stop between the two, just in case the Norms required further inducement to enjoy these two indisputable icons of Rome.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms in Rome | Trastevere living

The Daily Norm office may have decamped to Porto, but the Norms have decided not to stray from Roma. And if the Norms’ trip around Rome is about immersing themselves, unquestionably, in every aspect of the city, then they don’t want to visit just temples and ruins. For the essence of Rome extends far beyond its historical significance, to the robust character of her people, and the sense of contemporary spirit filling her streets and piazzas. The Trastevere may be an area popular with tourists – it is after all undeniably quaint – but it is also a part of the city with a proud working class heritage which is in no way acted out for the benefit of visitors. This is an area where laundry is strung across the streets because it needs to dry, not because it looks good in photos. And here, the restaurant terraces which hug buildings in narrow cobbled lanes serve up great Italian fare because the locals go there too.

Norms in the Trastevere

So to this most authentic of Roman neighbourhoods the Norms have strayed, enjoying a lunch of home made pasta which is as delicious as it is simple. Here the Norms can take a break from the big monuments and the grand boulevards, but focus instead on the charms of a very charismatic village-within-a-city, where plants grown in abundance and the architecture follows no pre-planned objective. It’s an atmosphere that suits the Norms down to the ground… in fact, after lunch, their next stop is an estate agent. This is clearly where they need to settle indefinitely! 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms in Rome | The River Tiber

When one thinks of Rome, it’s easy to forget the river which twists its way through the centre of the city, carving a divide between the ancient centre on the one side, and Vatican City and the neighbouring area of Trastevere on the other. Yet the River Tiber is as much part of the fabric of the city as the Castel Sant’angelo which sits proudly on its banks, once the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian himself. Not only did it bring crucial transportation and supplies to the city throughout its burgeoning past, but it was also the source of plague and pestilence, bringing the relentless annual swathe of mosquitoes to the city where malaria routinely reduced the population to a mere fraction of its former self.

Today the River Tiber is one of the most tranquil areas of Rome. Indeed, I have barely ever seen a boat move along its waters, and the river bank, which could be as vibrant as the South Bank in London, is practically deserted, the odd piece of graffiti reminding that the presence of some is not entirely lacking. Yet the banks of the River Tiber are as much a historical treasure as other parts of the city, leading as they do to the ancient Pons Fabricius, the oldest bridge in Rome, together with the mighty Ponte Sant’angelo, lined with glorious sculpture and affording visitors the most stunning view of St Peter’s and the Vatican beyond.

Norms on the Tiber

Norms on the River Tiber (©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

It is from that very bridge that this week’s Norm sketch is located, with the dome of St Peter’s accompanied by a panoply of pine trees, Vatican buildings, and a river bank suitably populated by eager Norms. While the bank itself may be a place for the down and outs, the Norms kissing in secret, and the frustrated teenager Norm, spray painting the wall because his creativity has been suppressed at home, its river is a place for recreation and relaxation – these two Norm boats find themselves quite secluded, despite being in the very centre of Rome. Such are the advantages of a river which is integral to the city, but which today is quite forgotten, in the grand Roman scheme of things.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms in Rome | Campo de’ Fiori

The Norms love a good market. Stalls filled with cheeses hard and soft, long and fat sausages, gloriously coloured vegetables, herbs and spices…mmm even though Norms don’t have visible noses, the perfumes of a sunny morning market are such that they could survive off for a lifetime. Now that the Norms have been in Rome for a while, it’s time to get down to business, to settle, and to live life like the Romans do. That means gathering up the freshest ingredients, sitting down with the family and cooking a big dish of delicious pasta for all to share. Clearly, the Campo de’ Fiori, Rome’s most famous market, is the must-go destination for such pleasures, and amongst the ancient cobbles and old decadent buildings, the very best produce is available for the pleasure of all.

Campo de Fiori Norms

Norms in the Campo de’ Fiori

But the Campo de’ Fiori is not just about the pleasures of food. It has a dark history too, and as the looming dark statue of Giordano Bruno demonstrates, it was once the place in which to burn heretics. Poor Giordano suffered such a fate for authoring works of philosophy which went down badly over at the Vatican. His statue today faces defiantly towards Vatican city, and stands as a reminder to all Norms, happily munching on their freshly bought food, that times were not always so bounteous and happy as these.

But enough of the lecture, let’s go onwards with our food, and a bunch of flowers too… after all, this is a place named after flowers, and a bunch on the table is always the perfect finishing touch to any Norm dinner party.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms in Rome | The Spanish Steps

The Norms do enjoy a little bit of something chic, al la mode, au courant. So, when in Rome, do as the Roman high society would have you do, and go shopping in the city’s glitziest boutiques, all of which can be found in the immediate vicinity of the Spanish Steps.

The sweeping staircase of 135 steps has always had a touch of baroque glamour about it, but gained a Hollywood dazzle when it was the backdrop to Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s not-so-chance encounter in the 1953 epic, Roman Holiday. But even before hitting the silver screen, the staircase was the stuff of romantic legend, as it was location to the house of English Romantic poetic, John Keats, who lived and died in his house on the right side of the staircase in 1821.

Spanish Steps Norms

Norms on the Spanish Steps (2018 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Naturally, the Norms feel an impulsive need to imbue themselves in the natural elegance of this area, and while they find bouncing up and down the many stairs somewhat tiresome, there can be little denying the true pleasure of both seeing, and being seen in the place that society says really does matter. No wonder the Norms are out in such large numbers to enjoy this true highlight of the Roman cityscape.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms in Rome | The Ancient Forum

It is a fact universally acknowledged that Norms are mega history buffs. From the ice age to the golden age of the Renaissance, from Emperor Nero to Emperor Napoleon, the Norms soak in historical facts like they do rejuvenating sunshine. Lucky then that in Rome they can get both. In buckets. And where better to start the historical immersion than in the place where it all began: the Forum of Ancient Rome.

It’s not all that much to look at now, with its scattered ruins ravaged by time and multiple pillage, but with a little imagination, how mesmerising it is to recreate the kind of historical drama which played out in this place. Here it was that the steps of the Senate ran with Julius Caesar Norm’s blood. Where the great orator Cicero Norm would enchant his audiences with legal rhetoric. And where, just up the hillside, generations of magnificent but despotic emperor Norms would hold sway.

Forum Norms

Norms in the Forum (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

The broken rubble and the patches of grass don’t seem to do justice to what this place once was. But the Norms love it all the same. Here one can really take a tangible Norm-bounce back thousands of years into the past. And when the time comes to return to the 21st Century, the glory of modern day Rome reminds why this city continues to be a bustling contemporary metropolis, beloved of Norms everywhere.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms in Rome | Trevi Fountain

It’s a Norm takeover! Rome is full of them! Sprawling in their Norm tourist masses, the sweet little one-armed blobs have truly adopted the Eternal City to their hearts, and are determined to tick off the iconic sights, one by one. So where should they venture having sipped a coffee in the Piazza before the magnificent Pantheon? From a temple of Roman architectural brilliance to a fountain of baroque splendour, the Norms have traversed the central core of ancient Rome, crossed the chic Via Corso and arrived at one of the city’s most popular baroque masterpieces: the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Norms

Norms at the Trevi Fountain (©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Being genetically programmed to be born with just one arm, there are many things that Norms cannot do that we two-armed humans take for granted. Happily, engaging in the tradition to through a coin into the Trevi Fountain is not one of them. This over-the-shoulder backwards coin throw is guaranteed to secure Norms a swift return to Rome. No wonder so many of them are doing it. And for those who aren’t, the good old favourite of 21st century tourists can also be held in the a Norms’ wonderful one-arm: bring on the trusty selfie-stick. The only way to ensure that the Norms capture their moment before one of the world’s most magnificent fountains.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Norms in Rome | Piazza della Rotonda

The Norms have arrived in the Eternal City, Roma, land of Emperors, Popes and SPQR. The Norms adore it. Why would they not? It’s a caramel city, imbued with the light of earthy terracotta and dark shiny cobbles. It prioritises La Dolce Vita, something very close to the Norms hearts. And above all things, it was the location of the Norms’ favourite ever film, Roman Holiday, so now, the Norms have gone off on their very own Vacanza Romana.

Norms in Rome PANTHEON

Norms in Rome | Piazza della Rotonda (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and ink on paper)

First stop: the Piazza della Rotonda, home to the most glorious and perfectly intact of all ancient Roman temples: the Pantheon, whose single-span brilliant concrete dome complete with illuminative ocular continues to defy architects to this day, and reminds the Norms of their own rotund figures. Outside that great Temple of the Romans, the Piazza bustles to the trickle of one of Rome’s many Papal fountains, while in buildings all around, cafes spill out onto the cobbles and enable the Norms to enjoy their favourite tipples to the accompaniment of street cellists and their assistants (for Norms only have one arm – playing a cello alone would be a challenge).

When in Rome, do as the Romans do – it’s the norm retold to all visitors. Now it’s very much the norm for the Norms too, and doing like Romans is something these Norms have taken very close to their heart.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

Marbella Norms for Mothering Sunday

It’s Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom… or at least the last few hours of it. But there’s still time for people everywhere to appreciate their respective Mummies. And for my maternal homage, I was able to show love for my dear Mother with the help of the Norms, and a dose of her favourite of all places – our house in Marbella, Spain.

Continuing my rather personal collection illustrating family homes past and present, I presented my Mummy with the ultimate of all Norm gifts this Mother’s Day: A Normified depiction of our family holidaying in our beloved Casa Valentino. There, standing proudly at the door to our little old town house, Mummy Norm takes a break from cooking in her flamenco apron, while Daddy Norm waters the burgeoning Bougainvillea. Upstairs on the first floor, there’s me – paintbrushes in hand (of course), while up on the terrace, engaged in his favourite of pastimes – the siesta – Dominik snoozes away, a book lately put down as he gives way to the summer heat. Naturally, our charismatic neighbours make their way into the sketch too, not to mention Jenny, who has cleaned our house so faithfully for years.

Norms Casa Valentino FINAL

Mother’s Day Norms at home in Marbella (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Giving this sketch represented not only a gift of thanks to my Mummy, but a chance to reflect on the home where we have all spent some of our happiest times. Happy Mothering Sunday to all Mothers, and to all Norm Mummies too!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.