Since 1908 the n.1 source of all things Italian featuring Italian news, culture, business and travel

Issue link: http://italoamericanodigital.uberflip.com/i/1281809

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 39

THURSDAY, AUGUST 20, 2020 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T he Duomo of Florence is a huge building: its nave is 153 meters long, 90 meters wide at the cross, and 90 meters high from the floor to the opening of the lan- tern. It was designed to hold 30.000 people and today it is the fifth largest church in Europe, after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, St. Paul's Basilica in London, the Cathedral of Seville and the Cathedral of Milan. But when it was completed in the 15th century, it was the largest church in the world. An impressive wonder. Imagine the grandeur of the project, the ambition of the Signoria of Florence and of its designer, Arnolfo di Cam- bio. Above all, keep in mind that its first stone was laid on September 8, 1296. We are nearly in the 14th century, the heart of the Middle Ages, an era that makes us think about knights on horseback, damsels locked in towers and dra- gons to be defeated. Our set of images and memories is decidedly misleading.This, and all the other majestic Gothic cathedrals, should remind us of the wondrous ingenuity that lived in those dark and distant centuries. Above this magnificent and beautiful cathedral, stands one of the most famous domes in the world with its incredible 600-year-old beauty; an inexhaustible source of inspiration for contemporary architects and a wonderful example of engineering. But this is the end result, not the starting point. And so, let's go back at the beginning. You are in front of that triumph of beauty that is Florence cathedral with its inlaid marbles, whose superb polychromy decorates the landscape and embroider the sky. Its magnificence was to serve as an icon for the power of the city of Florence. It was necessary to eclipse the cathedrals of its rivals, Pisa and The courage of ideas: what we can learn from the Italian Renaissance From the director Siena in the first place, but also to establish a primacy. About a century later, there was also an objectively diffi- cult technical problem to solve: how to cover a 43 meter wide hole, a real crater that opened onto the roof of the cathedral at a height of 60 meters. No one had been able to find the keystone. And there is more. Try to work in an atmosphere of suspicion and accusations, filled with tension and risks: an extreme load on an effort already worthy of Hercules. Giorgio Vasari says that, almost every week, anonymous letters or letters signed by other architects, pre- dicting the collapse of the dome at any moment, reached the Opera del Duomo. At this stage, you can somehow understand how high the bar was and guess the level of performance anxiety associated with the project. This is why the greatness of Filippo Brunelleschi's work, the amount of wisdom, expe- rience and science he put into it — and, therefore, donated to the field of architecture — are even more outstanding. How courageous this Florentine, former goldsmith and sculptor, had been. He was also the first to discover the geo- metric rules to reproduce distance and panoramic dimen- sions on paper, a very important feat for architecture. We are, without a doubt, facing two brave men. The first, Arnolfo di Cambio, who conceived Florence cathedral in all its majesty; the second, Filippo Brunelleschi, whose construction secrets are, still today, not fully understood, 600 years after the construction of the most beautiful dome in the history of art. Brunelleschi, if possible, goes even further than that. For the first time, a single architect directs every aspect of a project, from choice of materials to construction phase. Although he feels all the possible and imaginable pressure on him, he cannot afford to make mistakes: in fact, he never left the building site and took care of everything. From the stones in the quarries to the bricks in the kilns and the desi- gn of boats for their transport; the creation of construction machinery, winches, pulleys, cranes, but also the safety of the construction site and the workers' pay, not to mention the design and translation into practice of his theories which, we repeat, had no precedent or models. Put yourself in the shoes of these medieval men, and always keep in mind they never went to architecture school, they did not come from Berkeley, did not have computer graphics programs, an international design studio behind them or a 3D in their laptop. Here it is. This is the Renaissance. It means, above all, to trust human potential, the ability to reach the boundaries of knowledge, the will to overcome limits. We are in the age of hope and recklessness, when the measure of future possibilities is conceived. It gives a glimpse of magnificent and progressive destinies, it has in essence the potential of nineteenth-century Romanticism. Giorgio Vasari wrote that Brunelleschi created a structure rivaling the mountains around Florence, a work of God. A few decades after the completion of the dome, the humanist and philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, speaking of Creation in his treatise On the dignity of man, states that God gave human beings the role of contemplator of the universe: He wanted someone able to understand the wonders of crea- tion, to contemplate them and then, in turn, to create great things. This is the lesson coming to us from the past, a lesson we should consider an intrinsic part of our heritage. We should make it our own, decline it in the present despite the pande- mic and all it carries with it. Believing in human potential is good for you. We must dare, imagine, look beyond. After all, if they did it in the Middle Ages ... we can do it, too. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 Member of FUSIE (Federazione Unitaria Stampa Italiana all'Estero), COGITO L'Italo-Americano 610 West Foothill Blvd. Unit D, Monrovia, CA 91016 - Tel.: (626) 359-7715 PLEASE SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO P.O. BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano Newspaper (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), www.italoamericano.org, is the largest and longest-running Italian newspaper in America, not to mention the cultural and news resource for all things Italian in the US. A bilingual newspaper which represents an historical landmark for the Italian American Communities in the West Coast and throughout the US. L'Italo-Americano benefits from subsidies by the Italian Government, Memberships and Donations intended to support and not interrupt a mission that began in 1908 to preserve and promote the Italian language and culture in the USA Periodicals postage paid at Monrovia, California 91016, and additional mailing offices. PUBLISHER Robert Barbera Grande Ufficiale DIRECTOR/EDITOR IN CHIEF Simone Schiavinato ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER Patrick Abbate EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Barbara Minafra COPY EDITOR Francesca Bezzone LOS ANGELES CONTRIBUTOR Silvia Giudici SAN FRANCISCO CONTRIBUTORS Catherine Accardi Serena Perfetto SEATTLE CONTRIBUTOR Rita Cipalla CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mariella Radaelli, Francesca Bezzone, Luca Ferrari, Stefano Carnevali, Joel Mack, Paula Reynolds, Nicoletta Curradi, GenerosoD'Agnese, Fabrizio Del Bimbo, Maria Gloria, Alfonso Guerriero Jr., Anthony Di Renzo Serena Perfetto, Kenneth Scambray, Chiara D'Alessio © 2020 L'Italo-Americano Membership: One year $59 - Single copy $2.25 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to L'Italo Americano PO Box 6528 Altadena, CA 91003

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of L'Italo-Americano - italoamericano-digital-8-20-2020