Brushstrokes to eternity – 500 years of Raphael Sanzio

The “divine painter”, a sensible genius, prince of the arts, almost a mortal God. People from all over the world attribute these titles to Raphael Sanzio, one of the greatest Renaissance artists. Five hundred years after Raphael’s death, the celebrations in Italy have been suspended by the Covid-19 emergency. The works rest in dark, climate-controlled rooms, and, like everybody else, is in an endless wait during this time of social distancing. The exposition “is a Sleeping Beauty waiting for a prince to awaken her”, as stated by the president of the Roman museum, Mario di Simoni. But in the end, it doesn’t matter if the prince wakes her up late because the works that Raphael has gifted us are eternal.

However, instead of all these titles, just saying ‘Raphael’, or ‘Raffaello’, as the exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome is called, seems already enough, given that he can be easily recognized in his work. The distinctive traces of his ‘madonnas’ with children, portraits of popes, cardinals, and lords, frescoes in the Vatican’s rooms, and many other works that have made him famous worldwide lead us to the master of Italian painting born in Urbino in 1483.

Raphael, son of the painter Giovanni Santi, was influenced by his father and soon learned basic artistic techniques. After his father’s death, when Raphael was only 11 years old, his uncle, the priest Bartolomeo, entrusted his training to the painter Pietro Vannucci, called ‘Perugino’. In 1504, Raphael went to live in Florence and wanted to meet Da Vinci and Michelangelo, painting in this period numerous portraits, most importantly the ‘Madonne with children’. At the end of 1508, he moved to Rome and was commissioned by Pope Julius II to finish the frescoes in the Vatican apartments.

More than ever, Raphael Sanzio captivated everybody’s appreciation and became the most sought artist in the city. Painting continued to be his main activity, but it also gave way to architecture, learned a priori to support the first one. It was as an architect that Raphael answered Pope Leo X’s call, replacing Donato Bramante who died in 1514, in the construction that marked forever the history of architecture, St. Peter’s Basilica, to which other great masters dedicated themselves, like Michelangelo Buonarroti. Raphael died in 1520 when he was only 37 years old, and with him also ended his project of the Basilica. Despite being so young, the ‘prince of the painters’, as he is called by many, influenced other artists in the following centuries, among them Caravaggio and Salvador Dalí. [Photos: Self-portrait by Raphael 1505-06, Uffizi, Florence (Raphael, Wikimedia Commons Public domain Mark 1.0). Detail of the masterpiece “The Sistine Madonna” 1513-1514 circa (Raphael, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain Mark 1.0)]

Raphael Sanzio, the exhibitions waiting to restart

So far, the exhibitions have been interrupted by the pandemic and remain awaiting a restart. In Rome, at the Scuderie del Quirinale. The exposition “Raffaello 1520-1483 contains over 100 masterpieces, from collections and museums all over the world. Just the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence has contributed with around 50 paintings. The hope is that the planned exhibition, programmed to close on the 2nd of June, which is the limit given by the loan contracts, can be kept open for enough time. While we wait, the Galleria degli Uffizi has prepared a virtual tour that can be seen clicking here or searching for #RaffaelloOltrelaMostra. Other celebrations will certainly resume in Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, and the Marche, region where Raphael was born.

It’s not only Italy that celebrates Raphael Sanzio. In Brazil, the Fiesp Cultural Center, in São Paulo, has organized the exhibition ‘Raphael e a Definição da Beleza’ that brings never before seen works to the country from museums in Rome, Naples, and Modena. It’s also in São Paulo, in the Museum of Modern Art (MASP), that you can see the

only painting of Raphael outside Europe and United States: the “Resurrection of Christ, dated 1502 and acquired by the museum in 1954. The celebration in the United States is also on hold. The National Gallery of Art, in Washington DC, celebrates the 500 years of Raphael’s death showing ‘Raphael and his Circle’ that at this moment can be visited only in a 3D virtual tour on the Gallery’s site.

In England, the National Gallery of London dedicates a big exhibition to Raphael. ‘The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Raphael’ as it is entitled, will be held from October 2020 to January 2021 with more than 90 works from several museums like the Louvre, Vatican, Uffizi, and the National Gallery of Arts of Washington. In a message, the president of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, expressed his feelings: “the wish is that the doors can be reopened as soon as possible and from that Renaissance spirit that made Raphael’s art incomparable, we can draw energy for a restart of Italy and Europe”. With my best wishes!

“ The Sistine Madonna”, one of Raphael’s most famous paintings (1513-14). (Raphael, Wikimedia Commons Public domain mark 1.0)

“The Triumph of Galatea”, a fresco, Villa Farnesina, Roma,1514. (Raphael, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Portrait of Pope Julius II”, 1511, National Gallery of London. A second version dated 1512 is kept by the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. (Raphael, Wikimedia Commons  Public domain Mark 1.0),

“The Resurrection of Christ”, 1501-02, São Paulo Museum of Art, Brazil.(Raphael, Wikimedia Commons Public domain Mark 1.0)

“Saint George and the dragon”, 1504-06, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA. (Raphael, Wikimedia Commons Public domain Mark 1.0)


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“Angels in the sky speak Italian.” (Thomas Mann)

Dante in Paradiso - Divina Commedia

«But sir, what are you asking me? I’m truly in love with this beautiful language, the most beautiful in the world. I just need to open my mouth and unintentionally it becomes the source of all the harmony of this celestial tongue. Yes, dear sir, for me there is no doubt that angels in the sky speak Italian. Impossible to imagine that these blessed creatures use a less musical language.”

This is a true statement of love for the Italian language. Thomas Mann, Nobel Prize laureate in Literature in 1929, made the protagonist of his novel, “Confessions of Felix Krull, give this answer to a hotel manager who asked him if he knew Italian. Mann, born in Germany, beyond this fascinating confession has gifted us with works such as “Death in Venice, which later originated an award-winning film.

So, if it is the language of the angels, I bet it is also the official language in the sky, don’t you think? I’m not surprised Italian crossed to the sky and even went abroad as the most romantic, sweet, melodic, harmonious, and seductive of all languages. Everyone knows that beauty is subjective and that a language is not more beautiful than another, but in the case of Italian, how can we explain the fact that so many people share the same feeling? It’s true that famous linguists and many of us modest words ‘laborers’ have carried out many studies trying to explain all of this, but I have the intuition that surely the angels will someday explain it better. (Photo: Dante Alighieri in Heaven vy Gustavo Doré 1832-1833 – Gustave DoréPublic domain Mark 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Italian was born from Dante’s poetry

      Dante and his poem, fresco by Domenico di Michelino in the                   Cathedral of Florence (1465)  [Domenico di MichelinoPublic                 domain Mark 1.0, via Wikimedia Common] 

In the past, Italy was a babel of dialects most of them derived from Latin. The division in fiefdoms frequently warring with each other also set up the fragmentation of the language. The inhabitants of the peninsula in the many regions spoke local dialects, incomprehensible to each other. As the Unification of Italy became a reality in 1861, a concern about the language came up. Italian intellectuals gathered and chose Florence’s dialect as Italy’s official language. “They had to reach back in time two-hundred years to find the most beautiful dialect and have decided by the personal language of the great Florentine poet Dante Alighieri”, says the American writer Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-seller “Eat, Pray, Love. Therefore, Italian as a language was born from Dante’s poetry.

When the “Divine Comedy” was released, in 1321, Dante sparked a reaction in the world of letters by not writing it in Latin. To tell his journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, he looked to the streets for the true Florentine dialect, spoken by the people. “The language that we speak today is basically Dante. No other European language has a lineage so artistic”, highlights Gilbert. She adds that everyone who knows modern Italian can easily understand the Italian written by Dante: “In the last line of the Divine Comedy, in which Dante meets the vision of God himself, he writes that God is not just a dazzling image of glorious light, but first of all, he is l’amor che muove il sole e l’altre stelle… (the love which moves the sun and the other stars…).”

The fourth most studied language in the world

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In 1861 only 2,5% of people in Italy spoke Italian correctly; another 10% could understand it even though they did not speak it. In the 1950s, Italian still lost against the dialects: 18% of Italians communicated in the official language, another 18% did it alternating between the two while 64% still spoke only the local dialects. It became the main language only about 60 years ago with literacy in the schools and the advent of television. According to the 2015 statistical data by ISTAT-National Institute of Statistics, 45,9% of the population speaks primarily in Italian, 32,2% in both Italian and dialect, and 14% predominantly in dialects (6,9% speaks other languages and are characterized by immigrants).

Currently, Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world. This news, published exhaustively by Italian newspapers and blogs, was broken by “Ethnologue: Languages of the World“, a SIL International publication in print and online. The first three are English, Spanish and Mandarin, respectively. So, Dante’s language overcomes French and German, among others. In the ranking by number of speakers, English keeps the leadership, Portuguese appears in 10th, and Italian occupies the 21st place.

There are probably several reasons why Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world and certainly among the most important ones is the Italian culture. I believe that spoken Italian musicality impacts a lot and also the food. Some

time ago I read an article in an Italian newspaper in which an Italian teacher said something along the lines of: “Perhaps, many foreigners feel motivated to learn our vocabulary only to read our divine recipes”.

From the beginning of my university studies in Brazil, I enrolled myself in an Italian course. The main motivations were my familiar roots, the bonds with the culture, and the appealing songs, but not only. The beauty of the words, the literature, cinema, history, art, food, the crave of visiting Italy someday, and the feelings experienced by the language. All of these made Italian my second language. Later in life, I felt the need to learn English, and if today I’m proud of having Portuguese as my mother tongue which I love, Italian for me became the language of pleasure.

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Spoken in heaven and abroad

Again, it is Elizabeth Gilbert who explains to us the Italian language’s power of seduction. “The interesting thing about my Italian class is that nobody really needs to be there. There are twelve of us studying together, of all ages, from all over the world, and everybody has come to Rome for the same reason—to study Italian just because they feel like it. (…) Everybody, even the uptight German engineer, shares what I thought was my own personal motive: we all want to speak Italian because we love the way it makes us feel. A sad-faced Russian woman tells us she’s treating herself to Italian lessons because ‘I think I deserve something beautiful“.

After having made us cross Hell, go through Purgatory, and reach Paradise where the angels possibly learned to speak Italian, the language of Dante’s Divine Comedy overcame not only the barriers within the Italic peninsula but went beyond the borders and conquered new and incurable enthusiasts. Not even in the neighboring lands, it stopped as it slowly showed itself irresistible to those living in the Americas and now too in the Asiatic world. The latest news comes from Elaph, the first independent Arabic newspaper online that states: “Italian is the most beautiful language.

This conclusion is the result of a personal analysis by journalist Sarah al-Shamali about the most known languages. In her analysis, Sarah al-Shamali took into consideration English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Hebrew. Arabic and Chinese, among others. The Elaph’s journalist evaluated the sonority, structure, versatility, and use of the languages concluding that Italian is by far the most beautiful. According to her, Italian is the best language due to its strong expressiveness and eloquence. In addition, the romantic tone and the gestures used by Italians give it a more human dimension”. The news was published by ArabPress and has a link to the original release.

So, based on Elaph’s article and the Italian teacher’s words we can conclude that whether by Dante’s Divine Comedy or by the divine recipes of the Italian cuisine, the fact is that Dante’s language seduces. This reminds me of a book which I studied called “L’italiano, una lingua maliarda (Italian, a bewitching language), by Romolo Traiano, published by Centro Studi Ca’Romana, in 1987. Well, Traiano already knew at that time that Italian is a seductive language.

The Italian language in Brazil

During the most intensive period of Italian migration, between 1875 and 1935, one million and a half Italians arrived in Brazil. Among them, more than half were from Veneto, as were my great-grandparents Valentino Fasolato ed Elvira Pressato, and spoke a Venetian dialect that aligned with Portuguese. Then, it happened that during World War II, Brazil’s president, Getúlio Vargas, prohibited the spoken and written use of the Italian language in Brazil closing all its schools. The prohibition caused the Italians and their descendants to communicate with each other using a mixture of Venetian and Portuguese which allowed the birth of a new language: Talian. Also known as ‘Brazilian Veneto’, in 2014 it was officially recognized as a language and became part of Brazil’s historic and cultural heritage. Ma cos’elo sto Talian? (But what is this Talian about?) Well, we will talk about this in another post.

Antonio Prado (RS) cidade italiana

Antônio Prado (RS) one of the most important Italian cities in Brazil – Gateway by Marinelson Almeida – Flickr Attribution CC BY 2.0


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Venice carnival, a unique experience

carnevale venezia
carnevale venezia
carnevale venezia

Experiencing Venice’s carnival is something to do at least once in your life. There is nothing quite like it. It’s like waking up in a dream and realizing you are at St. Mark’s square in the eighteenth century. The world has changed outside and change you inside. The colors, laces, appliques, smooth velvet, the beauty of the costumes and the mystery, hidden in the eyes, behind the masks. There is nothing more fascinating than mystery and the wonder in the eyes. Well, It’s carnival! How can we not tell the beauty and the magic within Venice these days?

The origin of Venice’s carnival dates back to 1094 when, for the first time, this term was used to describe public entertainment. But it was in the seventeenth century that the carnival had acquired prestige. Even the nobles wanted to have fun and through the anonymity given by the masks they mixed themselves among the people on the streets. Wearing a mask, they could hide not only their identity but also the sex and social class. So, it was like an opening to an illusory world where everything was possible and allowed. Removing the mask often signaled availability to the approaches of suitors. Each story’s outcome stems from magic.

Masks, symbol of freedom.

carnevale venezia pierrot

The masks became a symbol of freedom. The bauta, worn by women and men, are among the oldest and more traditional ones that never miss a carnival in Venice. It consists of a white mask under a black tricorn hat and a large black coat, named tabard. But that’s not all. There’s no carnival in Venice without Harlequin, Columbina, Cat, Moretta and, of course, my favorite one, the beautiful Pierrot… Ok, I’ll allow myself a teardrop to daydream about that so romantic but unhappy sweetheart!

But the world sometimes proves to be really weird. In 1797 the beauty of Venice’s carnival was banned by Napoleon Bonaparte, after the invasion of Northern Italy. By fearing disorders and rebellions the masks were forbidden. Only almost two centuries later, the party was officially restored, and the tradition of the masks was resumed. Thus, a real trade in masks was set up in Venice.

With the resurgence of the party and the traditions restored, the artisans recovered what seemed forgotten and put forward the business. Nowadays, they work with different techniques and materials and promote courses to teach the art of making masks. They work clay, gypsum, gauze, but the most authentic ones are those made following the ancient tradition, I mean, the handmade ones produced with papier-mâché obtained from scraps of absorbent paper and glue.

To produce the most coveted masks of Venice, the first step is to create a model, and then a mold where the papier-mâché is worked and let dry. Once the mold has been removed it is time to finish the work and enhance it with feathers, beads, drawings, and anything within the realm of imagination. In this case, words don’t do them justice. I’m sure that images have a lot more to tell.

carnevale venezia

With so many people around there are also those who managed to take a nap.🙂


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On Italian immigrants Day, a tribute to Valentino and Elvira

Even the town of Torreglia, located in Veneto, adds history to that book named Italy in which my great-grandparents Valentino and Elvira were also co-authors. Keeping the memory alive, we rescue our past.
This is a retelling of farewells and meetings, a short paragraph of this story written by those who left, and unknown to the ones who today live and build the Torreglia of the future.
I feel fortunate for having the opportunity of bringing back, with Valentino ed Elvira, a remote and forgotten story and by finding in it my roots. There is not a better date than February 21st, Italian immigrants Day in Brazil, to publish this tribute to the many “Valentinos” and “Elviras” who left in search of better opportunities for life and work.

Everything started when …In America

It all started when the need to replace the slave labor grew in Brazil and the authorities became aware that a group of European immigrants were leaving their countries in search of a better life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The siren’s song came as many pamphlets as possible full of irresistible promises that said: “…in America. Land in Brazil for Italians. Ships leave every week from the port of Genoa. Come and build your dreams with your family. A country of opportunities. Tropical climate and housing for everyone. Mineral wealth. In Brazil, you can have your castle. The government gives land and equipment to everyone.” Thus, on February 21st, 1874, the first Italian expedition arrived in Brazil.

Valentino and Elvira were not the first ones to land, but certainly, they grew up with that dream. Yeah, they dared, and in search of that dream, they left at a young age (he was 25 and she 21) from via Vallorto, amidst the hills, for a long and unknown journey. Having been married for just four months, in that April of 1896, they embarked on the steamship Rosario, at the port of Genoa. In Torreglia, they left their families, friends, and their hearts. In the baggage, they only took with them hope for a better life, and when the steamer moved away from the port, they didn’t know, but they had waved Italy goodbye forever.

Those were difficult years in their homeland, and many were the promises of a new life overseas. Valentino and Elvira were only two among thousands of Italians who answered that call. The decision to emigrate was not a free choice but came from necessity, so there had always been the hope of returning home. For Valentino and Elvira, it was not any different. After a month-long journey, on May 2nd, 1896, more precisely 124 years ago, they arrived at the port of Rio de Janeiro. They had succeeded, together with 953 other third-class passengers, in overcoming the trip’s roughness and diseases. Juiz de Fora (my hometown), in the state of Minas Gerais, was their destination. Valentino and Elvira did not know that from their decision they had also begun to shape my history.

Beyond borders: hard work, family and “saudade”

Firstborn of six children of the couple Giuseppe Fasolato and Antonia Pravato, Valentino Fasolato was born on June 20th, 1870. Besides his parents and relatives, he also left in Torreglia his sister, Angela who had later married Agostino Bernardi, and his brothers Adamo, who married Domenica Gallo, and Luigi. Elvira Pressato was born on February 4th, 1874, daughter to Giovanni Pressato and Scolastica Neri. Together, Valentino and Elvira started a big Fasolato family that broke the boundaries of two countries joining different cultures. Soon after they arrived in Minas, the couple established in Sarandira, a district of Juiz de Fora, where Valentino worked the land, as he had learned to do in Torreglia.

Later, after moving to Juiz de Fora, Valentino established himself as a gardener. He started a small garden where he used to cultivate small plants to sell and bring gardens to life in the most elegant houses in the city. Life was hard, there was plenty of work to do, and like all Italian immigrants at that time Valentino and Elvira also learned to deal with saudade, nostalgia, which continuously tormented their hearts. At this point, the thoughts of returning to Italy, finding their families and friends, resuming their habits, revive the flavors and smells of their country were left behind. The economic situation, the work, and their children, eight in total, made them go ahead and commit themselves even more to improve and consolidate the stability of their family.

Currently, in Brazil there are hundreds of Fasolato descendants, and, overall in the country, the Italian-Americans add up to about 28 million.

It’s necessary to retell to not be forgotten

Some with better luck, but each one with their own fate. In fact, that “paradise” that made our great grannies and grannies dream was far from reality. As soon as they arrived, the immigrants were taken to the Hospedaria dos Imigrantes, a kind of hostel where a screening to evaluate their health conditions was carried out. After that, they were loaded onto trains and transported to remote villages. The “castles” were old and primitive shacks or a roof above their heads yet to be built, away from the cities. They felt confined, isolated, and prone to tropical diseases. They had no transportation, could not communicate with their homeland, did not speak the local language, had neither medical nor religious assistance. They were in need of everything. The wine and cheese gave way to manioc flour. Habits and traditions were violated, and family ties were broken.

To retake their lives, Italian immigrants had to cut heavy ties placed by those who exploit them. They fought against greed and  selfishness,    raised    families,   developed   new   habits,  planted,      

harvested, built cities, recovered traditions, learned, taught. Wine and cheese returned to the table and many, like Valentino and Elvira, dared again: they survived. Valentino lived 45 years in Brazil, and Elvira 49. They were years of hard work and saudade. Years spent dreaming of returning to their country; years of joy and tears. When they left for the spiritual world, both were 70 years old. Valentino and Elvira may not know it but, their mission was certainly accomplished. From them, I inherited the blood, the values, the citizenship, the interest in Italy, the language, culture, music, and not only, but I also inherited the dream. I made for Valentino and Elvira the trip that they were never able to make. Within me, they returned to Italy, and maybe one day I will be able to take them back home to their dear Torreglia. Living in Torreglia is still a dream.

On this February 21st, 2020, Italian immigrants Day in Brazil, and when the Italian migratory movement completes its 145th year, receive this story as a declaration of love!

Primitive urban center in Caxias do Sul, “Sede Dante”, 1876-77 circa. (Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0)


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Piroscafo vetor – Pinclipart.

Italy is like a book – Come read!


Strolling along the streets in Italy is to travel through history. We go back in time and recognize ourselves as protagonists in this huge book. A beautiful full-color edition. Every corner tells us something, you just have to listen. Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince, wrote: “It is only with the heart that one can see correctly”. Although Italy can be perceived with all senses, it is the heart that reaches the unseen… the essence. The art, literature, cinema, architecture, the aroma of a cappuccino, the smell of pizza, the taste of wine, the flowered windows, the accordion that plays O Sole Mio on the streetsItaly is all of that!

For me, Italy has something magical. Finding my own story, my roots, on the pages of this hypothetical book has an indescribable value. And it so happened to be in Torreglia, a welcoming town in the province of Padua, north-east Italy, that I found a very special chapter. In this summary, I’ll introduce you to all those things that Italy has to tell. I’m taking you on this journey!


Italy in chapters – from prehistory to Middle Ages…

Correzzola is magically set to revive the Middle Ages
Correzzola, magically set to revive the Middle Ages.

The first chapter leads us to Prehistory. Italy has been inhabited since the Paleolithic, and according to an article published by the magazine National Geographic, the site Monte Poggiolo, in Emilia Romagna, is the oldest evidence of the human presence in the country. “The first hominids arrived at the Po Valley about 850 years ago, following a drastic changing in climate”, says the magazine.

The second chapter takes us for a walk in Ancient History and makes us discover the Etruscan, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman civilizations. Palermo, founded by the Phoenicians, Naples, and Rome were among the most important cities of this period. Flipping through the pages, we find that roman sociopolitical organization left everlasting marks in human history. The Roman built cities, harbors, roads, aqueducts, fortifications, and it is not uncommon to find ourselves before a Roman archaeological site. History comes alive before our eyes.

Would you like to go for a walk in the Middle Ages? Well… that’s also possible. The Medieval festivities are always eye-catching. I had the pleasure of living the medieval period in Correzzola, (pictures) in the province of Padua, which has since then housed a small community. Every year, in July, Correzzola is magically set to revive the dark ages, and… oh Gosh, what an adventure! I ended up with my head in a “gogna” (pillory). “Gogna” is the last part of the word “vergogna” (shame) and this is what we feel when finding ourselves in that embarrassing position. Luckily, my tormentor had a good heart and freed me, or I would not be here to tell you about the third chapter of this book.



Renaissance, Modern Age, Risorgimento, the wars…

In the fourth chapter, we leave for a journey towards the Modern Age. The departure gate is the Renaissance, a period of transition and changes in European history. Florence plays an important role in this path where we meet Dante, Giotto, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo… Many are the pages added to this voluminous book. The geographic discoveries, the inventions… Marconi invented the radio and Meucci, despite the late recognition, invented the telephone. It is the beginning of a new era.

And here we are proud to fight for national unity, thus participating in the Italian Risorgimento. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, the capital moved to Rome, and the Tuscan dialect was chosen as the national language. Then the wars happened and left deep marks. We still find scars left by the bullets, small but deep wounds on walls, kept as memories of the conflicts. Researching I found the Fasolato Brigade, one of the many that took part in the Italian Resistance. I’m wondering even if I had some relative partisan, but this is research yet to be explored.

And much more to discover:

This book tells us much more. On its pages, we find out how Venice, the city that seems to float, was built. Venice’s beauty is incomparable and invites us to get lost in its narrow “streets”, to follow the pace of the gondolas… to fall in love in Venice. And then, taking the vaporetto, we get off in the magic colors of Burano. For us, a walk of enchantment. For the fisherman who lives on the island, the varied and bright colors with which they paint their houses, help them to find their home when immersed in the thick fog. History passes in front of our eyes like a masterpiece of Italian cinema and while we hum “Nel blu dipinto di blu we understand that life is beautiful. In the book called Italy, we never stop adding pages.

David by Michelangelo - a masterpiece of Renaissance

David by Michelangelo (Photo by Jörg Bittner Unna – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported) David-hand details (Photo by Rabe!Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

Cupid and Psyche by Antonio Canova, 1787. (Photo by gadgetdude Creative Commons –  Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Torreglia, a special chapter.

"The fall of the rebel angels" by Agostino Fasolato (ca. 1750): 60 figures carved in a single piece of Carrara marble. The masterpiece in Intesa Sanpaolo's collection, permanently on display at the Gallerie d'Italia, in Vicenza

Now we have arrived at Torreglialocated at the feet of the Euganean Hills. It’s a special place for me because it was there that I found my roots. Flipping through the ancient books held by the parish and by the registry office, I discovered various Fasolato. Some famous, such as Giacomo Fasolato, writer, linguist, and lexicographer, born in Italy in 1682. He liked the Latin language so much that he latinized the spelling of his name, becoming Jacopo Facciolati. Many are also the registers of Fasolato belonging to the stone cutter and sculptor guild that appear in the documents preserved by the State Archives of Padua. Among them, Agostino Fasolato (ca. 1750) carved 60 figures in a single piece of Carrara marble almost two meters high, which he called “The fall of the rebel angels”.

However, it was in front of a little house, made of stone and brick debris, that I touched history more deeply. There, in Via Vallorto, in front of the small house where my great-grandfather Valentino lived, I made a movie in my mind. I imagined it inhabited, illuminated only by a faint light that barely reached the window… Yep, I entered the time machine and I found myself in the nineteenth century. I looked at the landscape through his farmer’s eyes, I went up the long road to the church of San Sabino that kept history alive by registering all births and marriages. This history that until today tells me that in 1895, Valentino Fasolato married Elvira Pressato.

I imagined Valentino while he was making the decision that would change his family’s whole life: leaving for Brazil on a one-way trip on a steamship called Rosario which, after so many trips, in 1915, had chosen to rest at the bottom of the ocean. As all of this was passing my mind, the church bells rang. Maybe they did it on purpose so I could hear them as Valentino and Elvira had heard before leaving. In my imagination, I turned off the city lights. I saw darkness, winter, loneliness, and hunger which made them leave their land and their bonds behind. I always return to Torreglia. It’s nice to look at the hills. Torreglia told me so much about my history. Italy goes way beyond the five senses.

Above: Torreglia, province of Padua. Below, from the left: Valentino's house, me visiting Torreglia, and a view of the Euganean Hills.
Valentino's house


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