16 June, 2019
Italiano
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«Take a handful of chopped walnuts, a handful of raisin, a fistful of pecorino cheese cut into small dice, a pinch of the same grated cheese, a pinch of pepper, a little salt, five or six cloves, half a glass of red wine, lard and olive oil as required, and form a whole which has to rest for about ten hours. Join a kilo and a half of bread dough, forming a mixture to divide into three parts like separate loaves. On these you can practice a deep cross cut. When the mixture is leavened, you have to cook it in the brick oven».

A snack for farmers

The Yearbook of the city of Todi, dated 1927, reports this procedure for the preparation of the “pan pepato”, a bread enriched with tasty walnuts – sometimes even raisins – that the people of these areas used to consume during the Autumn period, especially when the worked in the fields.
This type of food due to its ingredients is extremely energetic and corroborating, so that it was choosen as  as the perfect snack for those who, during the cold November days, struggled along the grassy ridges because of the olive harvest. In fact, the small size of the damaged breadpan was perfect for having  something to eat without weighing down.

 

A sublimated version

Although there are several versions, both sweet and savory, the original recipe is the the one from Todi, which benefits not only from the softness of lard, but also from the sweet-savory contrast of raisins combined with pecorino. It seems that this preparation had already been codified in a treaty of the sixteenth, but similar preparations were already widespread in the classical world. The patriarch of Jerusalem Sofrone, during the sixth century, talks about a type of cheese bread for children, not to mention the innumerable preparations spreaded in the ancient Rome and then refined over the following centuries.

Literary appetizers

It is undoubted, then, that the “pan nociato”, or “pan caciato”, is an authentic delicacy, still appreciated today, on the Umbrian tables and served as an appetizer. A delight that spreaded from Todi throughout the Umbria. So known to deserve a place of honor in the poem “November” of Guido Discepoli, inside the “Sage of poems and religious folk songs of some Umbrian towns”, edited by Oreste Grifoni – unfortunately, today, out of print.

The bow, the inseparable Robin Hood’s weapon of choice, is still considered an instrument of great appeal.

Riser, limbs, string, button and arrow rest: these are the principal components of the bow. There are many new additional components in the modern bow, such as the stabilizer and the sight. Bows have become so diverse that they can be separated into five categories, which are: straight, recurve, delta, asymmetric and compound, all with varying shapes and sizes. The compound bow is the most recent category and the most engineered bow of our time. It has a sophisticated system of cable and pulleys which reduces the traction force, so much so that in the archery they are compared to machines rather than to the traditional bow.

 

foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi

Forged on the archer

The origin of this magnificent object has deep roots in history. The first appearance of the bow was in the Paleolithic age as an hunting instrument. Over time its use bonded with the warfare, especially after the creation of borders between territories, in particular by the wish of their kings to widen them, becoming a permanent fixture in the battles. Historically each culture developed its own type of arch, based on the available material and manner of use. One of the biggest factors in developing the bow style was weather the archer was sitting on a horse or standing. In the first case the bow was longer, in the second one it was shorter. At one point in time the bow was customized to the physical needs of each individual archer to provide better performance. But after the Hundred Year War (1337-1453) the production of bows became a mass production, removing the peculiarities that characterized every single arch to conform in a standard bow. And because of that, new battle tactics emerged. Instead of being a precision weapon, the bow was now used in large groups so accuracy was not as large as a factor.

Olympic games

However the use of this tool has progressively decreased, replaced by stronger and more destructive weapons, and for almost three centuries the bow has been forgotten until the 20th century when it was resumed in the field of sport. In fact, at that time the archery became a Olympic Games sport, excluded then from 1920 to 1972. In Italy archery had success as a hobby for adolescents. Since the 1930s, under the fascism regime, it became a sport just for girls to such a point that a particular group called Giovani Italiane took form and the first female competition, organized by Accademia di Educazione Fisica, was held in Orvieto, a small town in Umbria. The first Italian archery company has been developed in 1956 in Treviso and managed the contests for both sexes. Nowadays in Italy there are two main Federation called Federazione italiana Tiro con l’Arco (FITARCO), born in 1961, that is divided in twenty regional committees, and Federazione Italiana Ariceri Tiro di Campagna (FIARC) created in 1983 representing the Italian association of the International Archery Association (IFAA).

 

foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi

Philosophy

Now the archery is not just a sport. In fact, there are a lot of amateurs lovers of this practice that claim it as a hobby. The reason for this recent spike in interest in archery is due to many different factors such as the cinematography, the historical reenactment, and some tourist accommodation proposing it as a open-air practice to stay in contact with nature. But an interesting point is the Japanese philosophy about archery.
In fact, in Japan the archery is considered a life-style. There are many parallels with life itself, with its facets and circumstances, sometimes favorable and sometimes not, that culminate with the human development of self-control, whereby it is possible to reach any objective. One of the authors who speaks about this philosophy is Paulo Coelho in his book The way of the bow, in which he describes how the bow became a symbol to live with a self-awareness: the bow represents life, source of the human energy, while the arrow is the intention which means «the thing that leads the force of the arch in the middle of dartboard» (p.55). The dartboard is the goal to reach and, in order to do that, it is necessary to be in the proper spiritual condition, picturing it as it gets closer and closer to the archer. Shooting the arrow means that the man is aware of all the steps taken until then, where each one of them is essential with all its own intrinsic and inestimable values meaning that it takes a lot of time and effort to reach the moment before the shot. It’s something that would make anyone to begin this practice.

Becoming an archer in Umbria

For that purpose, the region of Umbria has many facilities that offer archery: there are a lot of agritourism that provide it as an activity to practice surrendered by the beauty of the Green Heart of Italy. Also, it is possible to participate to amateur classes with the release of certificates. For example, two associations of Terni, the sporting association called Gaia and the Dreavel agency, organize outdoor activity days, including archery, which is held respectively in Fiastra and Norcia, and right here people can attend to a course of bow’s construction. Always in Norcia, the Sibillini Adventure association holds specific courses about instinctive archery (the original bow), starting to the basic course of 18 hours, including both theoretical and practice lessons, with a final certification of participation. Finally there is the Activo Park in Scheggino, a little Umbrian village, immersed in the typical wild nature of Valnerina, where it is possible to do many activities for kids and for adults, among which is archery.

 

foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi

Historical reenactments

But archery is not just a hobby. In fact in Italy we can find it in the aforementioned historical re-enactments, particularly present in Umbria. Usually, during these re-enactments are representation of days from the bygone eras, when the towns and Umbrian villages were divided into factions, often competing with each other. Historic marches, taverns and playful events characterize these moments, performed strictly wearing traditional robes and in specific times of the year. The challenges between factions, called by different names from place to place, are competitions whose the aim is the conquest of a prize, named Palio, which is namely a tapestry painted by some famous artist. In Umbria there are three historical re-enactments where the main challenge is a archery competition: two of them take place in Todi, the third in Città della Pieve.
In the case of Todi, both the archery competitions are held in the FITAST national championship (Italian Federation Traditional e and Historical Bow): the first race is in April and is known as Todi città degli arcieri, where 200 archers challenge each other on twenty pitches; the second, in October, is called Disfida di San Fortunato and provides a maximum of 120 archers competing on a course of 10 pitches, with the wonderful historical center of Todi as the background.
Alternatevely, the so-called Palio dei Terzieri is held in Città della Pieve in August. The town was divided in terzieri, portions of lend which were unevenly divided into the Castello Medievale, or knights class, that identified aristocracy; Borgo Dentro, referring to bourgeoisie class; Casalino, or pedestrian class, which means farmers class. The main challenge is known as Caccia del Toro (Hunting of the Bull), where three archers for each terziere has to shoot moving targets shaped like a bull, all situated on the same carousel. The competition is divided in three times, and every last one the speed of the gauges-target increase. The winner will get the prize (Palio), a tapestry in which the symbols of the three Terzieri and the high coat of arms of the town are depicted. That trophy will be kept by the winner until next challenge.
A sporting and historical instrument, and recently also endowed with a philosophical connotation, the bow represents a sort of link between the man of antiquity and modern man. This link allows the latter to escape from technologies that invade the everyday life and to savor the sense of the reality.

 


Sources:

Enzo Maolucci (2012) Arco per tutti, Hoepli, Milano.

Paulo Coelho (2003) Il cammino dell’arco; nuova edizione 2017 di La nave di Teseo, Milano. http://www.activopark.com

http://www.asgaia.it

https://www.dreavel.com/ita/4/attivita/214/norcia-corso-di-tiro-con-larco-istintivo/

http://www.fitarco-italia.org

https://www.fiarc.it

https://www.sibilliniadventure.it

https://www.paliodeiterzieri.it

Giovanni di Pietro, called Lo Spagna, after his familys Spanish origins, (Spain 1470 – Spoleto 1528) is one of the protagonists of Umbrian pictorial art between the XV and XVI centuries. Not as well known as other followers of the Umbrian master Pietro Vannucci (some of his more famous students: Pinturicchio and Raffaello), he is an interesting and pleasing artist and worthy of closer study.

The Master

The young Giovanni was probably in Florence around 1493 when Pietro Vannucci, known as Il Perugino, was among the four more prominent masters in the city together with Botticelli, Filipino, and Ghirlandaio. Perugino at that time assumed a leading role by opening the workshop near the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova; his studio was on of the most active and was also frequented by numerous students from all over Europe who came to learn “the grace that he had in his own colouring technique” (G.Vasari, 1568). This has led us to believe that our artist may have come into contact with the Umbrian master, subsequently becoming his pupil and collaborator.

Influences and first Works

When in 1501 Perugino opened a workshop in Perugia, a rich town that wanted to renew its style and adopt a more contemporary feel, Giovanni followed him, where he probably also came into contact with Raffaello, another young follower of Perugino. Giovanni worked together with the Master on a series of frescoes for the Franciscan Convent of Monteripido, of these only a fresco of Saint Francis receiving the stigmata remains. It was located on the gable of the façade of the Church and attributed to Lo Spagna and which is now preserved at the National Gallery of Umbria.

Critics agree that in the pictorial style of Giovanni di Pietro there is a strong similarity to Peruginos style of models, which was a fundamental step in the formation of the painter and in obtaining commissions, and also in his ability to grasp the influence of Raffaello while maintaining a personal and simple language that is rich in the fine use of colour and grace. Some of his works form part of collections of some of the most important museums of the world, among which are: The National Gallery, London, The Louvre, Paris and the Vatican Museum Art Gallery, Rome.

From the first keeps to Success

At the beginning of 1500 the Perugino environment was under the control of the Bottega del Vannucci and in common with Perugino collaborators including Pinturicchio, Lo Spagna needed to move on in search of work in order to be able to create his own entourage. His artistic career finally took off in other Umbrian towns.

The beautiful and elegant town of Todi, that dominates the valley of the Tiber is significant: in 1507 a contract was agreed in Todi between the painter and the body of the Church of San Potito to create an altarpiece depicting the Coronation of the Virgin (Todi, Museo Civico) (fig.1), which was completed in 1511 when the artist went to live there and set up a business. In addition to the Montesanto altarpiece, Giovanni worked in the cathedral where he painted various chapels with frescos (between the 1513 and 1515) and he also decorated the organ (1516). Two tablets remain depicting St. Peter and St. Paul and a fragment of a fresco depicting a Trinity (fourth nave on the right, Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, Todi).

Another important Umbrian centre in Lo Spagnas career is the city of Trevi, a village at the top of Monte Serano, beautifully dominates the Spoleto valley, the seat of powerful local families. Here the artist was commissioned by Ermodoro Minerva, ambassador of Ludovico Sforza, to decorate the chapel of San Girolamo in the church of S. Martino. The lunette with the Virgin in Glory with Saints Jerome, Giovanni Battista, Francesco and Antonio da Padova dated 1512 is a fresco with clear Perugino references with its ideal and pleasant landscape, but in more decisive colours. He also created the imposing altarpiece with the Coronation of the Virgin in the same church in 1522 (now at the Pinacoteca of the San Francesco Museum complex). It is rich in pure refined iridescent tones, with solidly constructed figures and subjects and items carefully rendered in an illusionary style, derived from the prototype of Filippo Lippi in the Cathedral of Spoleto (1467-69) and by the Coronation of the Virgin of the Ghirlandaio that he created at San Girolamo in Narni in 1486; both were also referenced to Raphael in 1505 for the altarpiece at Monteluce in Perugia. While at Trevi, the Master Lo Spagna, who by now was in demand and lauded by the whole of Umbria, decorated the church of the Madonna delle Lacrime between 1518 and 1520 with references to the sought-after style of Raffaello, shown in particular in the scene of the transportation of Christ (fig.2), where there is a strong association to the masterpiece by the Urbino Master carried out for the Cappella Baglioni in Perugia in 1507 which is today curated at the Borghese Gallery in Rome. This was testament to Lo Spagnas development in rapid and continual renewal, stimulated by continuous in depth study, in keeping with the requests for special commissions by the more affluent.

In 1516 he was granted citizenship of Spoleto, witness to the fact that Giovanni had resided in Spoleto already for several years. On 31 August 1517 he was appointed Head of Art for painters and goldsmiths, confirming his recognition in the role of Head of the school. From 1516 onwards, his activities were based in Spoleto and the surrounding centres, based on documentary evidence as well as by a large body of work which reveals the presence of assistance and workshop activities that had assimilated his style. Among the more interesting and significant works are the Madonna Ridolfi a Madonna with Child between Saints Giacomo, Niccolò da Tolentino, Caterina and Brizio commissioned by Pietro Ridolfi (fig.3) who was governor of Spoleto from 1514 to 1516 (Spoleto, Palazzo Comunale), the Virtues painted for the Rocca, removed in 1824 and reconstructed in a monument dedicated to Leo XII (Palazzo Comunale). The arrangement and the iconography of the three allegorical figures, justice at the top, with charity and mercy on each side, suggests their destination was to have been an environment with judicial functions. In Charity, conceived in accordance with a rotating composition, and in Clemency, characterised by the perspective that confers rhetoric in gestures and postures, there are also solutions developed by Raphael in the Roman year, thus suggesting a history ahead of its time.

Along the Via Flaminia, not far from Spoleto in the church of San Giacomo Apostolo, the patron saint of pilgrims, Giovanni di Pietro is asked to decorate the apse and two chapels in 1526. The semi-dome depicts the Coronation of the Virgin (fig.4) and the wall depicts San Giacomo and the Miracle of the hanged man and the Miracle of the chickens. With an extraordinary richness of gilding, colours and grotesque ornaments and crowded with figures, it is scenically complex and it is here Lo Spagna achieved the pinnacle of his career, a rare Umbrian display in a modern style.

Spoleto – San Giacomo

Durign this time, together with his workshop, Lo Spagna worked at Valnerina: in the church of S. Michele Arcangelo in Gavelli, where there are frescoes dated 1518 and 1523; to Visso in the church of S. Augustine; at Scheggino, where, finally in 1526 he signed the contract to decorate the church gallery of S. Niccolò for which he was offered 150 guilders.

Inheritage

Lo Spagna may have died of plague in October 1528 confirmed by an entry in the Town Archives of Spoleto which reports that on 9th day of that month candles for the funeral ceremony were received: “die 9 octobris, havemmo per la morte dello Spagna pictore quatro torcie” (Gualdi Sabatini, 1984, p. 395). (“ day of 9 October, we received four candles for the death of the painter Lo Spagna)

Dono Doni was the best known of his followers, but not the only one to collect the baton; his flourishing workshop still today constitutes a characterizing feature of the artistic heritage of the area of Spoleto and the Nera Valley. Among the collaborators to be remembered are also Giovanni Brunotti and Isidoro di ser Moscato, Giacomo di Giovannofrio Iucciaroni (circa 1483-1524) active in Valnerina and Piermarino di Giacomo who in 1533 completed the Scheggino frescoes.

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATIONS:

TodiMuseo civico (closed on Mondays. Open: 10.00-13.00/ 15.00-17.30), Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata (open all day: 9.00-18.00). Tourist Office tel. 075 8942526

TreviPinacoteca complesso museale di San Francesco (open from Friday to Sunday: 10.30-13.00/ 14.30-18.00), other spaces open on request). ProTrevi tel. 0742 781150

SpoletoPalazzo Comunale (open from Monday to Friday: 9.00-13.00; Modays and Thursdays: 15.00-17.00). Tourist Office tel.  0743218620/1

 

 

 

 


Fausta Gualdi Sabatini, Giovanni di Pietro detto Lo Spagna, Spoleto, Accademia Spoletina, 1984.
Pietro Scarpellini, Perugino, Electa, MIlano 1984.
Perugino: il divin pittore, cat. della mostra a cura di Vittoria Garibaldi e Federico Francesco Mancini, (Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria 2004), Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo 2004.
Giovanna Sapori, Giovanni di Pietro: un pittore spagnolo tra Perugino e Raffaello, Milano, Electa, 2004