"In his youth, Piero applied himself to the study of mathematics, and even though by the age of fifteen he was on the way to becoming a painter, he never abandoned his studies."
--Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Artists (1549-1550)
Last July, I went to Italy on a partial scholarship to paint for two weeks.
In the middle time in Italy, I went on a field trip with many of the other artists. We planned to visit several towns where we could primarily experience work by the early Renaissance painter, Piero della Francesca.
First stop: Arezzo.
Walls and ceiling at the Basilica di San Francesco in Arezzo.
We left the Basilica and wandered to the Cattedrale, up on a little hill. My favorite fresco was this Magdalena:
Then we got back on the bus and rode to Sansepolcro, Piero della Francesca's birthplace.
Here is the Misercordia, in the Museo Civico in Sansepolcro. It is a very large fresco; the figure of the Madonna is much greater than life-size, stretching up to the tall ceiling. I liked her protective gesture, the way she holds her cloak out like an umbrella over her followers. To me, she represents a divine goddess figure, offering comfort, mercy, and compassion.
It's hard to see from my photo, but behind her the negative space shines completely of gold!
Then we arrived in Urbino, a medieval walled-city with a strong legacy from the Renaissance.
Getting distracted in a wonderful little Italian bookstore!
Just before leaving to find our bus to return to Civita, we reached a high point of the city, and there was this gorgeous overlook of rolling Italian hills in the evening light.
Drunk in Urbino
Women lost and laughing,
racing up and down the steep and cobbled streets
of ancient Urbino.
My heart is so full,
it bears the expansive unfolding of beauty,
the old bookshops and gelaterias,
the vistas opening up behind hidden alleyways…
I’m so full of poems, and art, and life,
a divine intoxication,
so perfectly drunk with you, my friend,
and that strong negroni, illuminated
by the evening light,
dark amber liquid, clear and strong,
pouring down the roof of the Duke’s palace.