Why are we often filled with joy and a feeling of belonging when we enter certain cities? As we will learn on a journey through Italy’s most romantic cities, this sense of familiarity often results from a well-planned seduction that evokes powerful emotions and love of place.
Tuesday, February 10 — David Mayernik: High Ideals and the Italian Renaissance City
An architect’s tour of five Italian cities (Rome, Venice, Florence, Siena and Pienza) will reveal how the longings, and cultural beliefs of their citizens were built into the urban fabric. With these cities as living models, we will consider how our own cities might be made to reflect our dreams and aspirations. David Mayernik is an urban designer, architect, painter and writer. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and has won the Steedman Competition Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. Professor Mayernik’s new book, which he will sign following the lecture, is Timeless Cities: An Architect's Reflections on Renaissance Italy.
Tuesday, February 17 — Medina Lasansky: How Italian Fascism Reshaped the Renaissance City
Drawing upon a range of sources including photography, film and tourist propaganda, Professor Lasansky will explore the dark side of the ideal to show how cities such as Florence, Siena and San Gimignano were reconfigured physically and rhetorically to support Fascist political agendas. Medina Lasansky is an assistant professor of architectural and urban history at Cornell University. She is author of The Past Perfected: Reshaping the Medieval Renaissance City in Fascist Italy. Her grants and awards include a Fulbright scholarship to Italy and the Martin Dominguez Distinguished Teaching Award at Cornell University.
Wednesday, February 25 — Claudio Presta: Restoring the Ancient “Sassi” of Matera
A magical, ancient town of cave dwellings, the Sassi was inhabited from Paleolithic times until the 1950’s, when the Italian government, embarrassed by its primitive living conditions, forced its abandonment. Now restored, the town has been described as “the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region.” It was designated a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1993. Claudio Presta will explain the Sassi’s history, its restoration, and why it is now hailed as a contemporary ideal for urban planning. Presta, an architect and urban planner, was selected to oversee the 1995 restoration of the Sassi for residential use. He is editor in chief for the publishing house of the Association of Roman Architects.