My handy dandy calendar says today is National Lasagna Day. Italian-American restaurants everywhere seem to agree. Therefore, I think it’s only right to dedicate today’s Postcard Post to the culturally beloved (and yummy) country of Italia!
Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence.
The Holy Cross Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Some say it was founded by Saint Francis himself. Construction began in 1294, but the church was not consecrated until 1442 or ’43. Noted for its sixteen chapels, they are adorned with frescos by Giotto and his students. Interestingly, in the nineteenth century, a Jewish architect designed the facade viewed in this postcard. In the center of the pinnacle (above the round window), he incorporated a star of David! He wished to be buried at the Basilica alongside Italy’s most illustrious figures, including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, which is probably why the Jewish architect took on the project. Perhaps he included the star of David in attempt to preemptively make his intended burial site accepting of Jews. When he did die, the Basilica clergy compromised, burying him under the porch, outside of the church walls.
Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square), Milan
From Mama Snail on tour
March 4, 2000
“I got a little chance to walk around Milan today–very busy and interesting city. Italy is wonderful…The big arch on the right is the entrance to an old fashioned version of a mall! Che bella! Mean[s] how beautiful.”
Here are the postcards and details from the book that I like best:
detail of postcard titled St. Mark’s Basilica–The Clock Tower
The Archdiocese cathedral of Venice, Basilica di San Marco was consecrated in 1071. These Greek horses, however, date back to classical antiquity and have seen many momentous events. Trotting around the Hippodrome of Constantinople, they were sent to Venice in 1204 when Constantinople was sacked in the fourth crusade. Napoleon then took them to Paris in 1797. Returning from France in 1815, they had their coats brushed, hooves scraped and a lot of other restoration before being rewarded their carrots and stationed before St. Mark’s again. In the 1990’s, they went into retirement, now grazing in the museum of St. Mark’s Basilica, while two new horses stand guard out front.
View from the Bridge of Straw
Actually made from stone, the Ponte della Paglia might as well be Italian for “take picture here.” Located between the St. Mark’s and Costello districts, it offers significant views in every direction, including of its neighboring bridge, the romantic landmark the Ponte dei Pospiri (Bridge of Sighs).
Ca’ d’Oro and The Venice Historical Regatta
Built between 1428-30, the Ca’ d’Oro (House of Gold) epitomizes the Venetian Gothic style. The Regatta, meanwhile, has no single year of origin, but is certainly linked with the boat parade of 1489. Welcoming the Queen of Cyprus to Venice, the event celebrated her turning over her kingdom to the city upon her husband, the king’s, death. Like an annual reenactment, sixteenth century style boats manned by costumed gondoliers continue to drift down the Gran Canal in early September.
June 20, 1979
“Dear Venice Lovers–
We arrived yesterday and fell instantly in love with Fred’s “home.” My mother stayed in the same hotel in 1925–my how time flies. Last night Fred took us to your restaurant by his great “circle route.” We had a lovely time and though of you–See you when we get back.”
Caravaggio on the front, Noguchi on the back, I love it!
A former teacher got this postcard at the National Gallery in London after seeing a Caravaggio show there. In fact, that is where this painting resides, while an almost identical one (both are authentic) hangs in the Fondazione Roberto Longhi in Florence. See other postcards from my teacher and some quite funny letters in the previous posts ‘The Beach,’ ‘Bastille Day,’ ‘Summer Reading,’ and ‘London Calling.’
Mama Snail sent me this quietly bawdy postcard from Bologna, accompanied by a nice long letter. In fact, she’d brought it back from her trip, writing the letter and mailing both to me while I was the one away from home.
July 13, 2009
“…Went to see a N. African hiphop fusion group outdoors in the Water Court with Giovanna + Gabriel Friday night–I was supposed to go to a reading at Skylight but I balked at the last minute–the Italian in me asked, ‘Which would you really rather be doing?’
For more film postcards, check out the post ‘Cine-File.’