Città delle Pieve
The Umbrian town of Città delle Pieve is situated between Siena and Perugia in Umbria. This is where the artist Pietro Perugino was born around 1450. Perugino was an Italian Renaissance painter and the teacher of Raphael, his most famous student. Perugino was an artist who was successful in his own lifetime, receiving commissions from many important patrons.
There was an open air market today in town, and also a festival celebrating saffron. Città delle Pieve is famous for saffron products, it is cultivated here with care. Saffron is a spice from the crocus flower that enriches food with an aromatic note that is full flavored and refined. It is one of the highlights for Umbria’s wine and food lovers. The center of town offered potted crocus plants, other veggies, and fall squash–which made for some wonderful photos.
Down a small street, inside a very unassuming doorway there was a tiny room that housed an amazing work of art. I would have missed it, had it not been for my amazing guide, and coordinator of this Italy Collage Workshop and Tour of Umbria, Pamela Haack.
Pam even helped me pick out a fun and funky Italian hat at the market.
Perugino’s “The Magi Adoration” dated 1504 is behind the altar of this very unassuming Oratory. The Brotherhood “S. Maria dei Bianchi” commissioned Perugino, because he was a villager himself, to create the painting for a much reduced fee payable in installments.
The art is simply stunning. The colors are amazing, the faces are all so peaceful and calm that there is a sense of calm that washes over you when you stand in awe of it. The bordering frame and ornamentation all appears 3-D but it’s painted, in a Trompe l’oeil style. Absolutely stunning.
Pamela and I stood and examined, discussed, and enjoyed this amazing work of art for quite some time. The gentleman in the Oratory gave us his permission to photograph the piece, despite the no photo signs posted, and he gave Pam much information about the restoration of the art and the history of the Brotherhood.
The second half of our morning was spent exploring the Etruscan Museum in Chiusi where we saw artifacts from the ceramic blackware called bucchero, to sculptures such as sphynxes and tomb-markers, from carved sarcophagi to funerary urns in stone and ceramic. The sheer age of these artifacts, some dating back to 500BC, was unfathomable.
Many of the ceramic pieces were restored, patched back together. But then there were several very delicate looking pieces, completely in tact. Amazing.
I managed to grab some postcards to send to my friends and family back home, complete with postage stamps. Out here in Umbria, in these small towns, there is not much English being spoken. We have done a lot of pointing, slow talking, and laughing. Italians are totally willing to work with you in order to figure out just what it is you are trying to say, which makes all the difference.
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