NOTE: I will be exhibiting the paintings from this trip to Italy in my studio the weekend of December 6th and 7th from 1 pm to 6 pm.
An old Italian once told me "We are Arab in the south and German in the north."
This is only a slight exaggeration. Our two month journey last summer from Sicily in the south to Emilia-Romagna in the north ( by way of the Aeolian Islands, Naples, Rome, finally coming to rest on a farm near Florence, ) confirmed the enormous range and variety of what is called Italian Culture.
The south, with its Baroque Spanish architecture and the terra-cotta rooftops scattered in a volcanic landscape, could almost be Mexico. Except that Mexico doesn't have Greek temples. Nor people who, more than two thousand years after they were vanquished by the Romans, still consider themselves Greek.
Lugo amid the fertile plain that surrounds the river Po in the northern province of Emilia-Romagna exudes a sense of well being and orderliness more characteristic of northern Europe. Many here are practicing Catholics who also insist that they are Communists. Neighbors often share their cars.
Florentine youth, eager to be on the the cutting edge, have embraced American culture with gusto. On this visit much of the graffiti was in English. One noteworthy message asked: "If this is tourist season, why can't we hunt them?"
I was scandalized to find hamburgers on the lunch menu at 'Pops', a popular youth hangout in Piazza Santo Spirito, until I tasted their truffle hamburger which was exquisite. Italy has a history of absorbing from cultures around it and converting them into something uniquely Italian.
I encourage you to to experience the full variety of cultures we encountered by viewing the video of our journey . It is designed to inform and entertain you, so set aside forty minutes. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy "From Sicily to Emilia-Romagna, Through Artists' Eyes"
The music of Hugo Wainzinger and Al Fabrizio is a marvelous addition to this video. If you like their adaptations for guitar and mandolin, you may find more of their music - and buy their CDs at: www.heartstringsmusic.com