Folk tradition and people of the Renaissance – by Simonetta Bernasconi – Found in Translation Course

 In Diary, News

Folk tradition and people of the Renaissance – by Simonetta Bernasconi – Found in Translation Course 2017.

As in Dublin you have relics of Saint Valentine, I thought I would talk about the particular link existing between art and love in popular tradition. Martyred by decapitation under the emperor Claudio, Saint Valentine died in Rome and now his remains are here, in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church.

He receives a lot of letters and messages from lovers from around the world.

In Italy we have, you know, an immense artistic heritage. We see Beauty all around, we breathe Beauty from the time we are children, we build, paint, sew Beauty.

Because we have a lot of imagination. Yes: we are great lovers with a lot of imagination!

The charm of Italy, perhaps, is based actually on this mix of passion, love and love for what is beautiful, coupled with a sort of tormenting (disturbing??) decadence. In this regard, I recall Sorrentino’s film ‘The great beauty’ – ‘La grande bellezza’.

Here are three examples of how love, art and that sense of decadence and tragedy can be elements of great attraction for people. I will discuss the lives of three people, two women and one man, who are said to bring luck in love.

Don’t worry, when you first see them they may seem bit rigid and cold: but that is just because they can’t move to greet you.
I’ll start with my favourite: she is Ilaria del Carretto, the only daughter of the Marquis of Savona. She arrived in Lucca, Tuscany, in 1403 to marry the Lord of the city, Paolo Giunigi.

Shortly after the birth of their first child Ladislao, Ilaria discovered she was pregnant again. However, a few days after her second child was born, she died because of complications that followed the birth. She was only 26.

Paolo ordered Jacopo della Quercia to sculpt his wife in marble so that he could forever have the adorable face of his young bride beside him. She has her head resting on a pillow; she’s wearing a beautiful dress and there is a dog at her feet, to symbolize Paolo’s fidelity. Look at her nose: it is worn away because women caress it so that it will bring them luck in love. A lot of poets wrote about her: Quasimodo, Pasolini, D’Annunzio.

The second work is in Verona and it is the statue of Giulietta, a young girl made famous by Shakespeare in his play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The statue is in the courtyard of Giulietta’s house, under the balcony.

This is a bronze statue and as you can see the colour is uniform almost everywhere – except that one breast seems golden, luminous. This is because women touch it in order to have luck in love.

Our last friend is Guidarello Guidarelli by Tullio Lombardo. He was an Italian knight, man at arms in the service of Cesare Borgia. He is famous for his face. He was married to Benedetta Del Sale, a noblewoman. It is said he was killed during a quarrel at a carnival party, but it is much more likely that Cesare Borgia gave the order to have him killed. The death mask of Guidarello is very impressive. The expression on his face is at once delicate and intense. It shows the torment of his soul.

In the past, according to oral testimony, handed down in Ravenna, some wealthy women bribed the (museum guard???) guardian in order to have the opportunity to be alone with Guidarello’s death mask.

Girls who kiss Guidarello will be married within a year. There is an Italian literary prize for Journalism also dedicated to him.

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Catherine Dunne author - photo Noel Hillisorotava balconies