One of the most important fresco cycles in Italy is by the Italian Renaissance master Giotto located in a chapel on the estate grounds of a money lenders son who in atonement for his father’s sins sought redemption through art. Reginaldo Scrovegni was a wealthy moneylender from the city of Padua. His reputation was such that he was portrayed in the Seventh Circle of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy. It’s no wonder that Enrico Scrovegni, Reginaldo’s son, felt compelled to build a private chapel next to the family palazzo in penitence for his father’s sins. He must have been frightened out of his mind after reading Dante’s description of his impending doom and hoped not only to atone for the sins of his father but his own as it was suggested that Enrico was also involved in usurious practices. So Enrico commissioned Giotto to design a chapel with a series of frescoes on the site of a Roman arena that was on the grounds of his family estate.
Giotto’s Last Supper
The vaulted chapel is a work of breathless beauty with a ceiling that resembles a starry blue sky.The walls of the chapel contain 37 panels in 3 tiers with scenes of the life of Christ and his mother Mary including a pre da Vinci painting of the Last Supper that in someways is as intriquing as Leonardo’s masterpiece in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. In Giotto’s versione the apostles are arranged around the table, some with their backs towards us, in a more realistic scene of a Passover meal. It’s interesting to note that the Last Supper had been portrayed many times prior to da Vinci’s Il Cenacolo including a 13th-century image with Mary Magdalene embracing the feet of Christ beneath the table while the beardless apostle John reclines his head on his Lord’s chest.The
Portrait of an Ideal Woman (Botticelli 1487)
Send a special message to the women in your life today. March 8th is International Women’s Day.
In Italy they celebrate Festa della donna (Festival of the Woman) with banners and yellow mimosa. This time of the year, traveling in Italy, I noticed hundreds of bouquets of mimosa and banners everywhere. The Italians have always valued women and their role in society. Italy is like a great caldron of sensuality and emotion. History and art are sprinkled in for good measure and the outcome allows creativity to flourish and for women it allows their special talents to emerge.
If the number of yellow-flowered mimosa I have seen in Italy during March is any indication of the esteem Italy has for its women than I think they are greatly appreciated.
The Italian language is very fond of suffix endings. A few letters added to the end of a word can expand the meaning of the word by degrees of smallness, largeness or extremes. Of course there are Italian words themselves that convey the same meaning as the modifying suffix but the economy of word usage by just slightly altering the ending of an Italian word is a fun way to express degrees or extremes. Some people use these nomi alterati frequently and others tend to use adjectives instead*. Sometimes these suffix endings are not acceptable substitutes for a descriptive adjective but when they are Italian “word changelings, the offspring of a noun or adjective with a modifying suffix, make the original word all the more melodious and sound so much better than their English counterpart. Italian word changelings intensify the meaning and when pronounced with the right inflection and tone make the Italian language that much more colorful and fun to speak.
For example the following suffix ending – ino (a) used to indicate a diminutive form or smallness.
a car – una macchina – (a small car) una macchinina
a piece – un pezzo – ( a small piece) un pezzino
a white cup – una tazza bianca – (a small white cup ) una tazzina bianca
*you can also use the word piccolo (a) to mean small or tiny.
Another common suffix ending in Italian used to indicate a superlative quality such as “extremely” or “very” is –issimo (a) and of course you can also use molto
bella (beautiful) – bellissima (very beautiful)
cara (dear) – carissima (very dear – dearest)
buono (good) – buonissimo (very good)
alto (tall) – altissimo (very tall)
*you can also use word molto to mean very much, a lot
The word ending – one is used to indicate largeness.
baci (kiss) – bacione (big kiss) ragazzo (boy) – ragazzone (big boy)
la porta (door) – la portone (the big/main door)