Category: Florence


Templars and Assassins

Trotting the rooftops of Lecce

Trotting the rooftops of Lecce

I love Assassin’s Creed. I love parkour.  Parkour is running and jumping and flipping in an orderly fashion over objects, and cities are good for that. Italian cities are really good for that sort of thing because the buildings are close together.

I sort of love history. In Assassin’s Creed, the ‘Assassins’ fight the ‘Templars‘. In the game, the Templars are trying to take over the world in order to have ‘peace’. So it was interesting when we went to Lecce and thought we saw an actual Templar lodge.

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From Florence to Foligno

AphroditeFarfelleArt and food are intimately related in Italy and Italians are justly proud of their accomplishments in both endeavors. Over the last two weekends we have experienced our full share of both food and art (as well as food as art). Last weekend my parents (and niece) came to Perugia. While the boys were at school, Pedar and I took them to see the Perugino’s in the National Gallery of Umbria. Over the weekend we all went to Florence together (where we also met up with our friends from Arezzo).  We saw A LOT of art and had a great meal with Peter and Lili (at Trattoria Enzo e Piero). Unexpectedly, on Sunday we found ourselves in the middle of the time trials for the Cycling World Championships. It was all a bot overwhelming, not least because Florence is hotter and dustier than Perugia. The kids held up well, all things considered. A highlight for everyone was the Botticelli room at the Uffizi. Maybe because it was early in the day and we still had energy and enthusiasm for art, or maybe because Botticelli’s works really did feel like the coming of Spring after so many Perugino’s, or maybe because the myth behind the Birth of Venus (according to Hesiod) is compelling in a Freudian sort of way, whatever the case, the kids spent a good twenty minutes in this part of the gallery. Micah has since declared The Birth of Venus his favorite painting. And, as it turns out, she is everywhere. Including promoting pasta at “I Primi d’Italia” this past weekend in Foligno. The Italians take their art and their food seriously. Although this image may seem funny to us, no one was laughing in Foligno, it is most definitely an homage to both Botticelli and Farfelle. For more like it, see here.

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Maps and Legends

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Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

I love maps. Ever since Mr. Tew’s 6th-grade class in which he had us draw maps of the world and color and label them, I’ve been fascinated by cartographic representations of the world, especially maps where artistic attention was applied. (I pass over, with a shudder, a practice from the late 1960s onward, by which line-maps are somehow thought to be at all useful or interesting.)

Maps should not just be cold, abstract representations of space and place. After all, they can never just be the ‘objective truth,’ because no map can perfectly convey the full scale, proportions and dimensions of the world it seeks to distill. Interesting maps express passion, interest, and a personality of approach. And it never hurts if they are beautifully made.

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Map of southwest Anatolia, from the Map Room

So I was wonderfully surprised, having nearly finished the tour of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, to encounter the Map Room, where rich lapis lazuli glows bright blue from the oil-painted seas of the world. Perugian(!) native Ignazio Danti was given the commission in 1563 by Giorgio Vasari to paint the doors of the cabinets in this Guardaroba that held the valuables of the Medicis. Danti’s aunt may have studied under Perugino (a painter we are really beginning to appreciate here; there are dozens of his works here in Perugia).

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