Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Place Like Home, If You Live In Italy

“Making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence; to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationships, context” ~Marilyn Ferguson

When I wrote my Architectural Reflections last week I was essentially commenting on how it was once church structures that were dominant in cities but that the new structures in which we invested our imaginations were symbols of commerce (New York skyscrapers) or of excess (Vegas casinos.) What I did not talk much about is the history that is contained in the buildings themselves.

I am thinking this morning of European architecture, especially Rennaissance era buildings into which so much human creativity and imagination has been poured. The trigger for this was an email from our friend Mario Monasterolo, a historian in Northern Italy. Upon reading Sunday's comments on Pavarotti, Mario sent me these photos from Modena, where Pavarotti's life originated.

What's fascinating is that my father-in-law was there during the war, and described his emotions in response to Modena. Mario took the time to locate the passage from Bud's war memoir, And There Shall Be Wars.

Mario wrote, "Pavarotti was born in Modena; Bud was there and wrote wonderful words!" Then cited these:

"It was nice to go through Modena, a city of over 150.000. There were no old narrow streets here, and there was a really tall 290 foot cathedral. Parma was another city worthy of forfeiting a furlough in order to see... Saving these cities had to have been part of the glory of the war..."
These were scenes that made an impression on a young man from rural Northern Minnesota.

When you do a Google search for the words "European architecture" an astonishing array of images is now at your fingertips, courtesy the Internet. Some people have loved Italian architecture so much that they wanted to bring it home with them to America. In fact, that is exactly what John Ringling, youngest of the Ringling brothers did, purchasing a fifteenth century opera house from a village outside Venice, dismantling and reassembling it in its entirety in Sarasota, Florida.

With so much history on every street, in every villa and vista, it's no wonder that people like Mario Monasterolo have developed a passion for making connections with the past, bringing it to life in the present so we can enrich our futures.

Thanks, Mario, for these images and all the rest.


Christella said...

So true about the excesses of Las Vegas Casinos. Not much imagination nor history that you see in the Italian buildings. Those were built to last while Vegas likes to reinvent itself. It would be interesting if anything survives another 50 years, even though I won't be around to see.

ENNYMAN said...

It is quite amazing how short lived the casinos are. 30-40 years and poof... A few last longer, but it seems like every time you turn around they are blowing up another, and capturing it on celluloid for another scene in a Hollywood feature.

I've not yet been to Italy, but it's definitely on my "bucket list"....

thanks for the visit.