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Umbria preserves the memory of Raphael’s extraordinary artistic story; throughout the region, in fact, Rapahael left traces, direct or indirect, of his art.

Crucifixion Gavari

He was one of the most famous painters and architects of the Renaissance. He considered one of the greatest artists of all time, his works marked an essential path for all subsequent painters and he was of vital importance for the development of the artistic language of the centuries to come.
Raphael was born in Urbino in «the year 1483, on Good Friday, at the tree in the morning, by Giovanni de’ Santi, a painter no less excellent, but a good man of good talent, and capable of directing his children to that good way which, unfortunately for him, had not been shown to him in his beautiful youth»[1]. A second version identifies the artist’s birth day on 6th April.

The school of Perugino

The city of Urbino was decisive for young Raphael: indeed, from a very young age, he had access to the rooms of Palazzo Ducale, and he could admire the works of Piero della Francesca, Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Melozzo da Forlì.
But the real apprenticeship took place in Perugino’s workshop of Perugino, where he was able to rediscover, through the refined variations of the master, the rigorous spatial articulation and the monumental compositive order.
Raphael intervened in the frescoes of the College of Change in Perugia: his painting is recognizable where the masses of colour assume almost a plastic value. It is precisely in this context that Raphael first saw the grotesque, painted on the ceiling of the College, which later entered his iconographic repertoire.[2]
In 1499 a sixteen-year-old Raphael moved to Città di Castello, where he received his first independent commission: the Standard of the Holy Trinity, commissioned by a local confraternity that wanted to offer a devotional work as a token of thanks for the end of a plague. It is preserved now in the Pinacoteca Comunale di Città di Castello. It is one of the very first works attributed to the artist, as well as the only painting of Raphael remained in the city. The banner, painted on both sides, depicts in the front the Trinity with Saints Rocco and Sebastiano and in the direction of the Creation of Eve. The precepts of Perugino art are still evident, both in the gentle landscape and in the symmetrical angels.

 

Marriage of the Virgin for church of San Francesco.

 

In Città di Castello the artist left at least two other works: the Crucifixion Gavari and the Marriage of the Virgin for the church of San Francesco. In the first one it is easy to note a full assimilation of Perugino’s manners, even if we note the first developments towards a style of its own. Today it is conserved at the National Gallery in London. The second, however, is one of the most famous works of the artist, which closes the youthful period and marks the beginning of the stage of artistic maturity.
The work is inspired by the similar altarpiece made by Perugino for the Duomo of Perugia, but the comparison between the two paintings reveals profound and significant differences.
Entering the small but delightful church of San Francesco, next to the chapel calves, built in the middle of 1500 on a design by Giorgio Vasari, there is the altar of San Giuseppe, which contains a copy of the Marriage of the Virgin. The original, stolen by the Napoleonic troops in 1798, is kept in the Pinacoteca di Brera.

The works created in Perugia

Meanwhile, the artist’s fame soon began to spread throughout Umbria; thus he came to the Umbrian capital city: Perugia. In the city he was commissioned the Pala Colonna, for the church of the nuns of Sant’Antonio and in 1502-1503 the Pala degli Oddi, commissioned by the famous family in Perugia for the church of San Francesco al Prato.
In 1503 the artist undertook many trips that introduced him to the most important Italian cities such as Florence, Rome and Siena. But the commissions from Umbria were not long in coming: in 1504 was commissioned the Madonna and Child and saints Giovanni Battista and Nicola, called Pala Ansidei.
In the same year he signed in Perugia the fresco with the Trinity and Saints for the church of the monastery of San Severo, which years later Perugino completed in the lower band.
The work of crucial importance was the Pala Baglioni (1507) commissioned by Atalanta Baglioni to commemorate the bloody events that led to the death of Grifonetto, her son. The work was carried out for the church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia. Raphael in the altarpiece represented the indescribable pain of a mother for the loss of her son and the vital disturbance, through a monumental composition, balanced and studied in detail.

 

Trinity and Saints

 

Raphael became the reference painter for the largest and most important families of Perugia such as the Oddi, Ansidei and Baglioni, establishing himself as a great artist of relief; in the contract of his work, the Coronation of the Virgin, for the church of the nuns of Monteluce, he was mentioned as the best teacher in town. Raphael died on 6th April 1520 of fever caused, as Giorgio Vasari specifies, «by loving excesses». This year marks the 500th anniversary of death.
The artist was at the top of the Renaissance artistic season, bringing his painting to the highest levels of beauty and harmony. Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo wrote: «Raphael had in his face that sweetness and that beauty of the traits that are traditionally attributed to Good».
He lived his life with great commitment and continuity, giving future generations his incredible talent and his precious art, so much that he already deserved the title of divine in life.


[1] Giorgio Vasari, The lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects, Life of Raphael from Urbin, Firenze, 1568.
[2] Paolo Franzese, Raphael, Mondadori Arte, Milano 2008, p. 13.

Pietro Vannucci, known as Il Perugino, is considered one of the greatest exponents of humanism and the greatest representative of Umbrian painting in the 15th century. The painter moves in a historical context that is that of late humanism. «In the city of Perugia was born to a poor person from Castello della Pieve, called Christophe, a son who at baptism was called Peter (…) studied under the discipline of Andrea Verrocchio». (The lives of the most excellent Italian architects, painters, and sculptors, from Cimabue to our times. Part two. Giorgio Vasari).

Self-portrait

Perugino was born in 1450 in Città della Pieve and its first Umbrian artistic experiences were probably based on local workshops such as those of Bartolomeo Caporali and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo. From a very young age he moved to Florence, where he started attending one of the most important workshops: Andrea del Verrocchio’s. The city of the Medici was fundamental for its formation.
His masterpieces conceal religious intimacy: the gentle hills typical of Umbria, the wooded landscape realized with more shades of green, the soft-patterned characters and the fluttering tapes of the angels are his decorative styling that he then transmitted also to his pupil: Raphael.

The works in Umbria and beyond

One of his first documented works is The Adoration of the Magi, and the gonfalone with the Pietà, both in the exhibition halls of the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. In 1473 Perugino received the first significant commission of his career: the Franciscans of Perugia asked him to decorate the niche of San Bernardino.
Later (1477-1478) is the detached fresco, today in the Pinacoteca Comunale of Deruta, with the Eternal Father with the saints Rocco and Romano, with a rare view of Deruta in the lower register; probably commissioned to invoke the protection of the Saints Roman and Rocco, since an epidemic of plague raged in the territory of Perugia. In 1478 he continued to work in Umbria, painting the frescoes of the Chapel of La Maddalena in the parish church of Cerqueto, near Perugia.
When he reached fame, he was called to Rome in 1479, where he carried out one of the greatest and most prestigious works: the decoration of the Sistine Chapel, work in which also Cosimo Rosselli, Botticelli, and the Ghirlandaio. It is here that he realizes one of his many masterpieces: The Delivery of the Keys to Saint Peter, the Baptism of Christ and the Journey of Moses to Egypt. In the next ten years Perugino continued to gravitate between Rome, Florence and Perugia.
Between 1495 and 1496, he created another masterpiece: the Pala dei Decemviri, so called because it was commissioned by the decemviri of Perugia. In the same period he worked on the decoration of the Sala dell’Udienza in the Collegio del Cambio in Perugia, a cycle completed in 1500. In 1501-1504 is the year in which he made the Marriage of the Virgin, painted for the Chapel of the Holy Ring in the Cathedral of Perugia, iconography taken by Raphael for the church of San Francesco in Città di Castello.

 

Marriage of the Virgin

 

Perugino continued to receive commissions; in fact he realized the Madonna of Consolation, the gonfalone of Justice and the Pala Tezi, preserved in the exhibition halls of the National Gallery of Umbria and the Resurrection for San Francesco al Prato. Excellent works of the painter are also preserved in Città della Pieve, not far from the border with nearby Tuscany. At Santa Maria dei Bianchi and the Cathedral of SS Gervasio and Protasio, there are some of his most significant works such as the Adoration of the Magi.[1]
Following the footsteps of Perugino, you must sop in Panicale, a picturesque village that is part of the most beautiful villages in Italy. In the Church of San Sebastiano there is the work the Martyrdom of San Sebastiano, an entire wall frescoed by the artist.

 

Martyrdom of San Sebastiano

 

Another important stop to discover the whole art of the Divin Pittore is Fontignano, where in 1511 Perugino established his workshop to escape the plague. But the painter died because of the plague in 1523-1524, while he was working on a fresco depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds commissioned for the small Church of the Annunziata. That fresco then was finished by his students, and finally a Madonna with child, the last work he completed in 1522.
Perugino was the initiator of a new way of painting; the artist goes in constant search of landscapes of wider breath, admiring the example of previous Florentines such as Filippo Lippi, Domenico Veneziano and Beato Angelico. The Perugino proceeds towards a slow and gradual conquest of the natural. The harmony inherent in the landscape of Perugia was created by a mystical approach with nature and by an art that, rather than being based on the intellect and training of the eye, as happened in Florence, flowed from the heart and strength of feelings.[2] The Perugino thus marked the taste of an era.

 


[1] Emma Bianchi, “Petro penctore”: l’Adorazione dei magi e la confraternita di Santa Maria dei Bianchi di Città della Pieve, in Perugino e il paesaggio, Silvana Editoriale, 2004, pp. 119-128.
[2] Silvia Blasio, Il paesaggio nella pittura di Pietro Perugino, in Perugino e il paesaggio, Silvana Editoriale, 2004, pp. 15-41.

Berto di Giovanni is a very important Umbrian painter because he helps us understand how the art of Perugino and Raphael greatly influenced even the smallest Umbrian personalities.

Berto di Giovanni is mentioned for the first time in a notarial deed dated 3rd January 1488. His name appears in the freshman painters for Porta Sole, although some documents mention him as Alberto or Ruberto. He is mentioned Chamberlain of Art and in 1502 he receives various payments together with Eusebio da San Giorgio and Nicolò da Cesena for the fresco, now disappeared, of a room intended for the bishop in the canonical of the cathedral.

 


St. John the Evangelist writes the Apocalypse. Perugia, Nazioanle Gallery of Umbria

In Perugino’s workshop

Berto di Giovanni worked in Perugino’s workshop together with other notable personalities: Eusebio da San Giorgio, Sinibaldo Ibi, Ludovico d’Angelo and Lattanzio di Giovanni. The store was a small reality in which social contrasts, their own time and their own experience were shared. This community led to the development of a Koiné, a style in which it becomes really difficult to try to isolate individual shaded areas in precise contours, suffocated by the need to adhere to a common and winning style.[1]
The most important work is the Madonna and Child with Saints James the Greater and Francis; first in San Francesco del Monte and now in the National Gallery of Umbria. The Virgin, seated in a vast landscape, holds the Child in her lap, holding a wreath of flowers in her hands, the Saints kneeling beside her, while two angels in flight place a crown on her head. The Child derives from the overturned cardboard used for the Madonna of the Kress collection, now in the National Gallery of Washington, with appropriate modifications to the little face and the right arm to make him hold, very visibly, the crown of flowers. The landscape, which opens behind the protagonists, makes the table even more fascinating. The figurative language of the composition seems to be articulated on several registers: on the one hand the calmness of a typically composition by Perugino, on the other a more modern evolution of the characters.[2]
Dated 1507 is the Sacred Conversation, now in London at Buckinghain Palace, in which they are depicted the Nativity of the Assumption and the Marriage of the Virgin. The altarpiece shows a prevalent Peruginesque influence with some memories of Pala Ansidei by Raphael.The painter also participated in an excellent work, now preserved in the Vatican Art Gallery: the Coronation of the Virgin, made by Raphael, then completed by Giulio Romano and Francesco Penni. Berto di Giovanni took part in the construction of the predella, now in the National Gallery of Umbria.[3]

 

 

Banner in the cathedral of Perugia

 

In the four scenes the strong color contrasts show the clear influence of Giulio Romano. In fact in the last period, Berto di Giovanni was attracted by the great painter. Walking through the halls of the National Gallery of Umbria you can admire other masterpieces of the painter: St. John the Evangelist in Patmos with the Eternal and the Stories of the saint, which was executed for the Cistercians of St. Giuliana in Perugia. In the table we can see the clumsy representation of the evangelist taken from the figure of Pythagoras in the School of Athens. The last certain work preserved in the cathedral of Perugia is a standar painted in 1526 on the occasion of the plague.[4]

 


[1]Laura Teza, A painting in society: Perugino, Berto di Giovanni and the Store  of 1496, pp. 47-61, in Pietro Vannucci and the Perugian Painters of the early sixteenth century. Mondays of the Gallery. Proceedings of the Conferences 23 February- 10 May  2004, curated by Paola Mercurelli Salari, Superintendency for Architectural Heritage, Landscape, Umbria’s Historic Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage, Perugia, Ponte San Giovanni.
[2] F. Santi, National Gallery of Umbria. Paintings, sculptures and objects of the XV-XVI centuries, Rome, 1985, p. 140, considers it Giannicola, while F. Todini, The Umbrian painting from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, Milan, 1989, I, p. 278 e P. Mercurelli Salari, Painter from Perugia area 9. Madonna with Child, two angels, the Saints Giacomo Maggiore and Francesco, in Perugino and the landscape, catalog of the exhibition (Città della Pieve, 28 February-18 July 2004), Milan 2004 , p .60 close to Berto di Giovanni.
[3] Dictionary of Painters and Engravers Biographical and Critical, by Michael Bryan, p. 119, New Edition Revised and Enlarged, Edit by Robert Edmund Graves B.A., of the British Museum. Volume I A-K, London 1886.
[4] Encyclopedia Treccani, Biographical Dictionary of Italians, Volume IX, 1967.

I was talking to a friend of mine who decided to spend her holidays in Umbria. I found myself giving advice on local design-themed itineraries! Thinking about which stages could be more curious and interesting, I could not help mixing design with craftsmanship and architecture, facets of a single large area made of manual skills, planning and creativity that strongly characterizes the Umbrian territory.

Piazza Nuova in Fontivegge

Piazza Nuova in Fontivegge

 

During our chat, my friend was pleasantly surprised by the amount of small and large companies operating in these areas, but, to tell the truth, what she found most interesting was Aldo Rossi, architect and designer who worked in Perugia, drafting, in the Eighties, the project for the redevelopment of the Fontivegge district, designing a new face for the former Piazza del Bacio, now Piazza Nuova.

I will tell you what I told her a few days ago and I leave you some indications for a short route through this architectural work, the most important of Perugia in the Twentieth century.

The itinerary

Leave your car in Pian di Massiano and get the Minimetro: by doing so you can easily reach the Fontivegge district which, a few steps from the railway station, houses the complex of offices and houses that embrace the square. Coming from the station, you enter this space by passing through a large staircase; as soon as you go up, the feeling you have is to be extremely small because of the grandeur of the buildings surrounding this urban space. The eye is immediately enraptured by the main building, a modern temple with clock, characterized by a massive colonnade with a staircase that, like a fortress, dominates the area; on the sides, there are two other buildings with a highly rational character. In the center of the square stands a fountain with straight lines and a monolithic appearance, today – alas – without water. Other modern residential and commercial buildings complete the modern acropolis.

The architect accepted the assignment in 1983, designing the long-awaited business center. In fact, in the previous decade, the international competition launched by the municipal administration had been cancelled, since the winning project was too oversized and expensive to afford, especially because of the crisis that ran in the Seventies.

 

Architecture

Rossi, who was the first Italian to win the Pritzker Prize for architecture, designs a long brick-paved pedestrian square that follows the natural slope, similar to other Umbrian squares placed in the city center. Looking for dialogue and integration with the past, Aldo Rossi – in this as in many other projects – makes use of archetypes, recurring elementary geometric shapes in the history of architecture, easily recognizable and capable of making the project surprisingly innovative and traditional at the same time. In this regard, someone wanted to see in Piazza Nuova the modern revival of Piazza IV Novembre with the steps of San Lorenzo, Palazzo dei Priori and the Fontana Maggiore. Pure and essential geometries are also recurring in his projects as designers; at the beginning of the 1980s, Rossi devoted himself to this type of activity by designing miniature architectures for Alessi, creating poetic small-scale domestic landscapes; the Tea & Coffee Piazza project is the realization of this definition.

 

Piazza Nuova

Piazza Nuova

Stories, activities and projects

A story full of contaminations, therefore. I leave you with a last note: walking towards the park, you can notice a curious conical brick structure dating back to the 1920s, which break the penalty. It is the testimony of its original use, intended for one of the most important activities of Perugia; this brick tower is in fact a find of industrial archaeology: it is one of the old smokestacks of the Perugina confetti and chocolates factory that occupied this place from 1915 (year in which, in addition to the production of sugared almonds, the production line comes into operation cocoa powder and cocoa butter) until 1965, the year of transfer to the new industrial plant in San Sisto.

The original project, which also included the construction of a theater, was never completed and Rossi’s Piazza Nuova never played the role of modern acropolis desired at the time of the project. However, the charm of the monument remains intact. «I have always thought of architecture as a monument… only when it is realized as a monument does it constitute a place». A. Rossi

Rossi’s Piazza Nuova is also destined to have a new redevelopment; in these days, work began on the implementation of a project presented by the municipal administration. Who knows if this place will finally manage to have the long-awaited social and urban role thought by Rossi?

Bernardino di Betto, known as Pinturicchio, was born in Perugia in 1454 by Benedetto di Biagio, in the neighborhood of Porta Sant’Angelo.[1] He was probably called Pinturicchio because of his tiny stature.

He was the heir to an important pictorial and miniaturist tradition, which has its precedents in Bartolomeo Caporali, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo and Benedetto Bonfigli. The Pinturicchio stood out as one of the architects of the great Renaissance season of rediscovery of classicism: in fact he copied the frescos of the Domus Aurea, and contributing to the spread of the grotesque.
He entered the Perugino’s workshop and collaborated with his teacher in Rome, between 1481 and 1482, creating two frescoes: the Baptism of Christ and the Circumcision of the sons of Moses in the Sistine Chapel.
In 1486 he executed the Stories of St. Bernardino that decorate the Bufalini Chapel in S. Maria in Ara Coeli. These frescoes were commissioned to the painter by messer Niccolò di Manno Bufalini, a concistorial lawyer, to recall the proximity between his family and the Baglioni of Perugia, thanks to S. Bernardino. In Rome he also came into contact with the painting of the Ghirlandaio and the Botticelli, who contributed to his artistic formation.
In the second half of the Fifteenth century, the artist made a small but delicious tempera on a table depicting the Madonna and Child and San Giovanni, preserved in the Duomo Museum in Città di Castello.

 

Madonna and Child and San Giovanni

 

The small table depicts Mary, Child Jesus, standing on the knees of her mother and Saint John the Baptist, who holds the inscription Ecce Agnus Dei. The three figures are bright on a broad background, with a composed and severe stylistic language.
The artist returned to Perugia on 14 February 1495, concluding, with the religious of the convent of S. Maria degli Angeli in Porta S. Pietro, the contract for the realization of the Polyptych of S. Maria dei Fossi, now in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. The contract for the work has reached us and contains very detailed instructions about the realization, which was intended for the high altar for the church, called dei Fossi. The painter was at the time at the height of his success, favourite by Pope Alexander VI for whom he had just concluded the great undertaking of the decoration of the Borgia apartment.

 

Polyptych of S. Maria dei Fossi

 

The altarpiece is now composed of seven main panels; in the centre stands the Madonna with the child and Saint John, flanked by Saints Augustine and Jerome, dressed as a cardinal and with a model of the church in hand, perhaps the same Santa Maria degli Angeli. Above them two panels with the Announcing Angel and the Virgin announced. On the tree stands the dead Christ supported by two angels and the Dove of the Holy Spirit.
In 1497 the frescoes were painted for the decoration of the Eroli chapel in the Cathedral of Spoleto, portraying the Madonna and Child between San Giovanni Battista and Leonardo, immersed in a sweet lake landscape typical of the Umbrian school.
In 1501 Pinturicchio made another of his best works the chapel Baglioni in Santa Maria Maggiore in Spello. The decoration was commissioned by the Prior Troilo Baglioni. The company was the last important commission of the Pinturicchio in Umbria, before leaving for Rome and Siena.

Self-portrait

These frescoes bear the signature Bernardius Pictoricius Perusinus and represent on the walls: the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, Jesus among the doctors, in the sails instead the four Sibyls and a self-portrait.
The Piccolomini bookshop in Siena, built in 1502, is considered his absolute masterpiece: powerful chromaticism, taste of detail, great attention to the decorative aspect, characterize the intervention of Pinturicchio in the library built in 1495 by Cardinal Todeschini Piccolomini in honor of Enea Silvio Piccolomini.
The last documented work of the artist is the Madonna in Gloria among the Saints Gregory the Great and Benedict, for the Olivetans of the church of Santa Maria di Barbiano near San Giminiano.
It was Vasari, thanks to an anecdote, who recounted his last years: the painter had found accommodation at the Friars of San Francesco in Siena and asked insistently to remove from his cell a trunk, but during the move this broke, revealing its treasure: five hundred ducats of gold, which belonged to the friars, filling the painter with sadness until he died.[2]
The artist died on 11 December 1513 in Siena. He rested in the parish of SS. Vincenzo and Anastasio.

 


[1] Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architetti, a cura di G. Milanesi, III, Firenze 1878, pp. 493-531.
[2] Giorgio Vasari, Vite de’più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architetti, edizione commentata del 1878, vol. III, pag. 503-505.

An engineering masterpiece and monument-landmark of a civilisation which has been studied as much as it is mysterious: the Etruscan Well is an architectural wonder and live testament to the population which founded Perugia, as well as museum site known worldwide.

Etruscan Well

At no. 18 of the central Piazza Danti, a short walk from Piazza IV Novembre, the elegant open-air living room in town, well known due to the magnificent Fontana Maggiore, with Palazzo dei Priori and the cathedral of San Lorenzo around it there is an impressive structure dug into the underground rooms of Palazzo Sorbello, a stately home and headquarters of the Ranieri di Sorbello Foundation, a cultural association dedicated to the memory of Uguccione V Ranieri di Sorbello, a cosmopolitan intellectual, war hero, journalist and local history scholar. Following an intuition by Uguccione, around 1960, the first surveys were conducted on what he considered family property, to be studied and preserved; they confirmed that it was built by the Etruscans, something that had been forgotten despite continuing use by the local population over the centuries.
In the reception room, an introductory video constitutes the actual admission ticket to the wonders of Etruscan hydraulic engineering, presented using a basic approach, adding nothing to this spectacular natural site: the Etruscan Well is a millenary colossus, dating to the second half of the 3rd century B. C. which reaches underground as far down as 37 metres below road level. The well is still working today (even though it is no longer used as a source of drinking water), having been fed by the same three underground springs for more than two thousand years.

The well belongs to a class of engineering works spread everywhere, with the same purpose, although not always with the same shapes that, in the specific case of this structure, take on considerable dimensions: from the various speleological surveys carried out over the years it has been ascertained have a total size of 424 m3 reaching up to 424,000 liters of water.
The structure consists of a cylindrical barrel whose largest point is reached at the level of the water collection tank, where it is 5.60 metres wide and 12 m tall. The upper section of this room is definitely one of the highlights of the visit: the structure here is covered by large travertine slabs extracted from the quarries in Ellera (8 km from Perugia), a construction material which was also used to build the monumental walls around the town.
Also the top cladding of the well, supported by large slabs placed transversally and surrounded by stone beams which are stuck together without using any mortar or lime and forming two trusses weighing 8 metric tons each, is made of travertine. This homogeneity of materials and construction techniques found between the well and the Etruscan walls of Perugia, has made it possible to hypothesize that this was carried out from the beginning as a public work.

 

 

The presence of grooves detected on the surface of the travertine blocks of the upper cover has left us to suppose that for the collection of the water a rather simple system had to be used initially such as the use of buckets tied to a rope. A central pulley system would have been adopted only later, with the realization of the curb that still indicates the well at street level. In 1768, an iron lattice was made to close the mouth of the curb, on which two noble coats of arms were placed, still in iron, relating to two of the noble families who owned Palazzo Sorbello: the Eugeni counts and the Bourbon di Sorbello marquises.
The Ranieri di Sorbello Foundation has been managing the Etruscan Well since July 2016 and – during this period – it has completed an important mission aimed at enhancing the tourism experience for the visitor by means of a restoration and upgrading project with a view to enhancing the narration and use of the facility, also thanks to a fruitful collaboration with other museums in town dedicated to Etruscan archaeology, for example the Museo del Capitolo in Perugia, a starting point for the discovery of Underground Perugia: a journey that leads us inside the architectural stratifications of the acropolis of ancient Perusna (the ancient name of Perugia).

 

Palazzo Sorbello

 

The history of Perugia has deep roots, as does the Etruscan well: an incredibly unique monument which reminds us of a distant age, still allowing us to soak in its atmosphere.

 


For information about opening days and hours, please refer to: www.pozzoetrusco.it
The Wikipedia page on the Etruscan Well has been updated: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pozzo_etrusco

«Homo bulla est» (Erasmo da Rotterdam)

The motto of Erasmus of Rotterdam inspired by a sentence from Varrone, gave rise to the iconography of Homo bulla, widespread in the first half of the sixteenth century. The protagonists are puttos intent on blowing soap bubbles, unaware of being condemned a little more than the iridescent spheres produced in their game. The representations of Homo bulla are fully part of the category of Vanitas, didactic images in which the reference to fragility or evanescence, through elements such as cut flowers, crystals and soap bubbles, recalling the inevitability of death and the frailty of the earthly things. The Allegory of Jan Brueghel the Younger is very rich in this sense, in which many objects are depicted in the ephemeral joys of the senses.

 

Gunter Zint, Il ragazzo che vive nei pressi del muro, 1963.

The art of soap bubbles

The National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia, until 9 June 2019, faces this issue for the first time, traditionally related to the artistic genre of still life and vanitas. The exhibition, entitled Soap Bubbles. Forms of utopia between vanitas, art and science, curated by Michele Emmer, professor of Mathematics at the Sapienza University of Rome and Marco Pierini, director of the National Gallery of Umbria. The inspiration for the exhibition comes from a text by Michele Emmer, in which the interrelations with mathematics, painting, physics and architecture are explored.
«It’s a project that Emmer and I had in mind for a long time», says director Marco Pierini. «It was a great dream. A dream with many faces», adds Emmer. «It is difficult to find a “game” that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years, like soap bubbles». In fact, the exhibition presents itself as an interdisciplinary initiative that, parallel to the historical and artistic path, also tells of the birth of the scientific, physical and mathematical interest in perfect soap bubble models. Starting from a book by Isaac Newton, from the Oliveriana Library of Pesaro, in which the English physicist describes in detail the phenomena that are observed on the surfaces of the soap suds, to arrive at the current experiments through the aid of computer graphics. In fact, the review highlights the importance that bubbles have played in all contemporary science, and how these latest discoveries, in turn, continue to inspire contemporary artists and architects in their creations.

Gino Boccasile, manifesto Achille Banfi, 1937, Treviso, Museo nazionale Collezione Salce

The exhibition itinerary

The itinerary consists of around sixty works, loaned by the most important national and international institutions: the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Accademia Galleries in Venice, the National Gallery in London, the National Gallery in Washington and the Museum of Hermitage of St. Petersburg.

 

Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin, La Lavandaia, 1730-1740, Museo dell’Ermitage, San Pietroburgo

 

The masterpieces cover a long period of time ranging from the sixteenth century with Hendrick Goltzius, passing through the seventeenth century, in which the puttos becomes more and more a contemporary child. You will have to wait for the eighteenth century to meet real genre scenes, in which the allegorical aspect almost tends to disappear, as in the young man portrayed by Fra Galgario. The presence of the bubble in nineteenth-century painting is not thinning out, important in historical Romanticism with Pelagio Palagi, then increasingly at the center of scenes of daily life or portraits; in fact Bubbles by John Everett Millais is famous, when the bubbles became the image of Pears soaps.In the twentieth century this theme is declined in an original way, opening up a new perspective: in 1964 Günter Zint decides to document in West Berlin the life of a child who, among the games of childhood, becomes a witness unaware of the dramas of history. Not even the first decades of the current century have managed to escape from soap bubbles, which become a true model for light architectures, such as the Watercube in Beijing.Symbol of the fragility and transience of human ambitions, soap bubbles have fascinated not only the generations of artists who were amazed by those plays of color that move on surfaces, for their luster and lightness, but continue to fascinate the visitors who walk through the blue halls of the National Gallery of Umbria.

 

Charles Amedée Philippe Van Loo, Soap Bubbles, 1764, National Gallery Washington

Title: Perugia Undergroud, stories of sex, women and power in Perugia, during the Twentieth Century

 

Author: Andrea Maori

 

Publisher: Francesco Tozzuolo Editore

 

Year of Printing: 2018

Features: 108 pages, photos cm 21 x 15, paperback illustrated black and white

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his latest book, Andrea Maori – archivist and researcher from Perugia – leads us to discover three stories, in which women are the main characters. Three events that go through the last century and which, thanks to an accurate documentation and specific researches, bear witness to the condition of subordination of women and of their denied individual freedom.

The first story, Bell’Epoque in Perugia: “Illicit relationships” in the women’s prison house is set in 1909, in Perugia, inside the reformatory and the women’s prison of the city, in which at that time, happened violence and abuses on prisoners. These violences came to light thanks to two brave women, Zita Centa Tartarini and Maria Rygier, who brought the issue to the attention of the public.

In the second one: At the margins of history: Cecilia Aurora and Agostina between prostitution and anti-fascism the author Andrea Maori followed their lives of marginalization through few traces found in the archives. Two women, Cecilia Aurora Tavernelli from Città di Castello and Agostina Tortaioli from Perugia, recorded as anti-fascist prostitutes forced to move from one city to another until we lose their traces. From that point on, it is possible to find their faint presence only through police files.

In the third one: Public morality from the approval of the Merlin Law to the seventies. The case of Perugia the author analyzes with punctual numbers and data, the phenomenon of prostitution before and after the the Merlin law, which would have given dignity to women and avoided exploitation situations. In addition, Maori examines the constitution of the female police whose purpose was to safeguard public morality and to monitor the press by repressing that which was considered immoral.

«The book brings to light three local stories that inevitably are linked to the national italian context of that time. In every one of them, the central topic is the subalternity among social classes and, above all, the male domination on the female sexuality», as professor Paolo Bartoli underlines in the preface.

Remarkable is the striking image on the cover, which reproduces the work that the Spanish artist Daniel Munoz created in 2012 on the outer wall of the former Perugia women’s prison. The mural (acrylic on cement) entitled Abandoned Women of the Perugia Prison was destroyed in 2017 during the restoration works of the building. «The idea of ​​the mural» explains the artist «was to create a symbolic representation of the submission of women through history. I chose this topic because the building was the prison of women».

 

«I am from Ponte San Giovanni, born and raised along the Tiber. This river has meant- and still means- a lot for me».

My phone rings.

«Good morning, it’s Serse Cosmi. Can we have our interview right now, as I am busy later?».

«All right, give me five minutes».
I admit that I still had not turned on the computer and I was half sleepy, but I immediately woke up.
Rarely someone called me to anticipate an interview and not to cancel it: not Serse Cormi, he is one’s word! I did not confess it (now he will read it here), but I was at the the Curi stadium when he was coaching Perugia. Chatting with him was fun, there was more than a laugh. Despite having toured Italy to train many teams – from Pontevecchio to the Maremma, from Perugia to Genoa, up to Udinese, Brescia, Livorno, Palermo, to name a few –  he is genuinely from Perugia, as he says, «a perugino from Ponte San Giovanni».

 

Serse Cosmi

What is your link with Umbria?

The Umbrians are tied in a deep way to their land and their roots: having a profession that makes me trael around Italy, I feel a lot of this link. When you’re out, you appreciate even more where you were born and your home town. For me it is, and remains, a very strong bond.

Do you still consider yourself “the Man of the river”, a man from Ponte San Giovanni?

Absolutely yes. I am from Ponte San Giovanni (n.d.r. suburb of Perugia) and here there is a big difference: when I was a child, there were the inhabitants of the Perugia’s downtown and those of the “bridges”. I claim loudly to be from Ponte San Giovanni and to have being born near the Tiber, a river to which I have been linked since childhood.

What did the Tiber represent for you?

My generation is perhaps the last one who had a bath in the Tiber: I learned to swim in its waters, I played there and of course, I went to dance at the “Lido Tevere”. I spent my childhood near the river, growing up by seeing it flowing, is something that you carry in forever.

Today there is a plenty of coaches who didn’t work their way up the ladder, starting from junior teams as you did: what do you think, is a change of our time or the rush to have someone famous as a coach?

Both of them Who has been a great footballer has already had great privileges in that trade, but I do not consider it right, because if he undertakes another profession – that of coaching – he should before gain a lot of experience so as he did to achieve the highest levels as a player. Let me explain: who has played with Juventus, Inter or Milan has made its own path, starting from the minor series until playing to that high level. The same thing should apply to a coach, considering that it is another job. But if the profession of the coach is considered as an extension of the career of player, then I shut up! Obviously a great player can also become a great coach…

But not even the opposite is not to be taken for granted: a great player will not necessarily become a great coach…

Yes, indeed. I always remember a phrase by Arrigo Sacchi: “It’s not that to be a good jockey you must have been a horse”.

Gaucci, Zamparini, Preziosi… you met some real mastiffs: during these years do you think that the relationship between coaches and presidents has changed?

Times have definitely changed. The presidents are now more than managers, the passionate aspect has diminished – even if their managerial role has always been there. Many roles have changed in football, and that of presidents has also changed: today they are dealing with very different aspects compared to 20-30 years ago. They openly confront the coaches and talk to them about football as if they were doing the same job, but it is not interchangeable. Gaucci, for example, was one of the least intrusive presidents who I worked with. He was more a supporter so as his reactions, but I never had the feeling that he pushed me – even in a veiled way – to make me play one player in place of another. If it happened, it was so good that I never saw it! (Laughs).

Is there a player who you have a special relationship with?

There are many, but I was more tied to those of early career with whom I had shared many human and sporting moments. I think of the guys from Pontevecchio, from Arezzo and those of early years in Perugia. Then I also met other players that I often stay in touch with, but the most direct relationship I have maintained, is with those with whom I started.

Which player would you have wished to train but you never did?

Francesco Totti. He is a player who has always intrigued me.

Are you nostalgic for Perugia? Have you ever thought of coming back to train this team or is it an era that ended by now?

Not nostalgic. We are nostalgic for something that can never be verified again. As long as I do this job there could always be an opportunity to return to the bench of Perugia, the fact is that – during there 30 years as a coach – I have never went back to a society where I have already been.

Maybe for Perugia it would be possible…

Let’s say it’s one of the few teams I would do it for.

Is there an episode of your career which you remember with more affection?

The phone call from Luciano Gaucci in the locker room after our victory at the San Siro’s stadium against Milan: it was before Christmas and before his birthday. That episode will remain indelible for me because I had the perception of how much he cared about the team, the players and how much when he was involved humanely. At that time he was not a president, but a fan who had realized that his team had achieved an exceptional goal: it was the first time in its history that the Perugia team had won at San Siro.

 

Serse Cosmi dj

If you did not worked as a coach what job would you have done, the DJ?

Actually I’m a DJ who is a coach as a hobby! I am a teacher of physical activity, I had a gym for 10 years so I thought that I would remain in the field of sport. Even though, at the age of 60, I sometimes think about reinventing myself and doing another job. For me, music is a hobby and it remains so, “soccer” started as a hobby, but then it became a job.

Tell us something about you that your fans do not know…

When I won the championship with the Pontevecchio and I obtained the “D series”. My father was a founder of the company and the team had never arrived at playing in that category. I drived all night, thinking about my childhood and many other things. It was the most exciting thing since I have coached.

And a secret not related to the soccer world?

I would like to work at the theater, meet people and discover everything about it. It is a world that has always appealed to me a lot.

Do you do superstitious gestures?

When I was training amateurs I used to change my underwear for every game, I never wore the same. Or after winning a game I always did the same path.

Do you have an anecdote related to Perugia, when you were only a fan?

With the Perugia club of Ponte San Giovanni I went to watch a match in Foggia: halfway we were really in a bad condition, because of beers and various drinks. Fortunately, thanks to the long journey by bus, we recovered and we arrived at the stadium in a dignified way.

How do you consider the Umbrian soccer schools, how should they be strengthened?

When I will stop being a coach, my dream is to create or do something in the soccer field. Surely it will not be called soccer school, but youth sector. In my opinion, one of the worst aspect in this field, is the fact of having matched the word school with the word soccer: the school has a value and it is a place where there are teachers who train the boys, while in the soccer, the real problem are those who teach because they show soccer in a misrepresented way or at least in a different way from my point of view. This is the reason why my dream is to create a youth sector where you do not pay, where talent emerges and where soccer can be a real social value. A place open to everyone, where talent is rewarded, but also where everyone can play.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Tough- about the attitude of people – authentic, distant.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

Spello.

TITLE: Love at the time of design

 

AUTHOR: Stelio Zaganelli

 

PUBLISHER: Bertonieditore

 

YEAR: 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you remove a diamond from a perfect building, everything seems to crumble …

On the cover stands out this perfect diamond and, while I was reading, I wondered what was the reason why a diamond is on the cover of a book, mostly set in Perugia. Then, continuing to read, everything appeared perfectly clear to me. Not only because the action moves to Ferrara and it is mentioned the legend linked to “Palazzo dei Diamanti”, but because the diamond also represents the precious uniqueness of each member of a group. Inside this group, if an element is removed, it produces a terrible explosion that inevitably leads to the fall down of the unit. From that moment on, everyone alone, has to choose his own path to become an adult.

The stories of Santo, Babila, Elettra, Mirro and Sandrino, if on one hand bring us to think of what it is the most fascinating film about adolescence – Stand by me: memories of a summer, from the famous novel of Stephen King – on the other hand, they make us enjoy the memories of a Perugia where life was marked by different rhythms. The city center was not only for tourists, but it was a lively place, the beating heart of the city. A downtown perhaps more run – down than today, but full of real life.

Love at the time of design is a charming book that tells not only a love story, the story between Santo and Babila, which, as a common thread, accompanies us from the very first page to the last one. At the same time it takes us back to a difficult period of the Italian history. These events make everything very real, without weighing down a story that is so captivating, thanks to the capacity of the author to influence the events that disturb him, through the force of his mind.

 

Stelio Zaganelli

 

Like every book, this one too is partly autobiographical, in fact Stelio Zaganelli remembers all the cities dear to him: Perugia where he has always lived, Ferrara where he was born, Florence where he obtained his degree as an architect and Milan which he often visited both for work and for pleasure. When he talks about the escalators and the restaurants of the city center of Perugia, it is inevitable of thinking of a tribute to his grandfather, of whom, Stelio brings the name. He was mayor of Perugia from 1977 to 1980.

Certainly also in the characters, so alive and authentic, there probably be the memories of people met by the author. The fact of choosening special names – which appear a little curious, in the vivid narrative of a time that seems so distant to many of us – helps to hide real identifications and to remain in the field of pure fantasy.

Of course, at the end of the reading, an entire generation of inhabitants of Perugia will carefully put this book on a shelf, but it surely remain in their heart and mind, because of the personal history, recognized in it.

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