10th May 2008
Around 10 years ago there was a great deal of excitement about the 500th Anniversary of the death of one of the greatest Renaissance painters, Piero Della Francesca. I remember being on holiday in Italy at the time and tearing around with Marito to various churches, museums and small towns to see as much of his work as possible as quickly as we could, The Piero Trail.
There were so many highlights, including my personal favourite, the serene Madonna Del Parto , but the one that perhaps stands out the most in terms of its sheer magnificence is the Legend of the True Cross fresco cycle in Arezzo. As a story it has all the intrigue of The Lord of the Rings, spanning over 5,000 years from the death of Adam to the return of the cross to Jerusalem.
In the middle there is the search for healing oil from the Wood of Mercy, the theatrical angel appearing to Constantine in his beautifully illuminated campaign tent and two tremendous battle scenes. It appears exactly as it would have done, except for the damage caused by earthquakes, lightning, nearby building works and, perhaps the worst of all evils, if you're a fresco, damp.
I took some photographs, although I did get told off for doing so. Flash photography causes terrible damage to a fresco, I was once told that one flash was the equivalent of 10 days subdued sunlight, so I am always careful to not use it. So when I asked (politely) why it was wrong, it seems the reason is now copyright. After 510 years I doubt whether Piero Della Francesca would really care that much.
Anyway, guilty as charged, here they are. The idea is to make other people want to go and pay to see the frescoes, so I guess it all works out ok in the end.
The History of Art really is food for the soul, it's history with pictures, a wonderful subject for anyone with their eyes open to ideas and creativity and, whether or not you love the art, it represents an aspect of human endeavour which shapes the world we live in.
Seems like nature’s doing a pretty good job too, it being so juicy green and blooming beautiful around here these days.
Best thing I ate;
Sometimes the best thing you eat has less to do with the actual food itself and more to do with the location in which you eat it, or the company you're with. So it was with my Panino con Tonno e Capperi, oily and delicious indeed, but it would hardly have drawn a crowd.
However, add to it the location, (a bustling outside café under Vasari’s gracious loggia in the stunning town of Arezzo) the company, (two of my favourite Italophiles and fellow bloggers, the olive notes) a little sunshine and the famous Fiera Antiquaria.
Mix it all up and stick that in a Panino – ‘perfetto’!