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Sense of Place

Pietro Carlo Pellegrini

Sense of Place
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -
Artemide, Capoferri Serramenti have participated in the project

The term “tuscanization” has become fashionable among the English upper classes. Today’s Tuscany, at least in the international imagination, is an Eden of respected traditions, a place of well-tended land, fine food, and beauty natural and cultural. True or false?

More true than false, just as it is true that anything that becomes a kind of branded version of itself inevitably becomes inflated and inexorably loses vitality. Indeed, tuscanization has exported itself into the increasingly competitive southern region of Apulia, and the more austere (compared with sunny Tuscany) Umbria. Guido Piovene was the first to elucidate on the underlying reasons for the enchantments of tuscanization. He realized that the secret lay in an inexorable rural background conserved with a parsimony that was anything but constrictive; frugal, without waste, focused on striking a balance between land and human product, or as he put it, between sod and brick. Stellar late-medieval Tuscan painting illustrates that grace comes not from above but from the everyday: an everyday reinvented, sublimated in an atmosphere in which we keep our feet firmly anchored to the ground as we look up at a sky that, paradoxically, reflects the earth. Allow me to paraphrase the words of a great Tuscan like Cesare Brandi, a man deeply dedicated to his homeland. Brandi’s thesis was that after decamping from Florence to Rome, excessive pride sapped the Renaissance of its magic, transforming it into a style and a conduit for power. He may well be right. Many in Tuscany believe so.

Pietro Carlo Pellegrini has long kept his feet firmly planted on local ground in the quintessentially Tuscan town of Lucca. As we talk, he points to the city’s walls, an encircling landmark that continues to embrace the city, determining a dialectical relationship between sod and brick (a term much favored by unjustly underestimated Lucchese scholar Mario Tobino). Massimo Carmassi,...

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