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Italy and design go hand-in-hand. Or, perhaps, they were made for each other. The easy-going, simplistic Italian lifestyle seems to naturally invite in a taste for the finer things in life. On one hand, you have the countryside, a masterpiece of gently curved patchwork hills and villages that has grown with its inhabitants presence over millennia.

Then, you have to consider the delicately and intricately constructed duomos and basilicas, that seem to be an eternally-standing veneration of God.

Then, there’s the slow-cooked food that while simple in ingredients and preparation method, enchants the senses in the way only a Grandma’s cooking does.

The quality of integral components of food – wine, olive oil, tomatoes, herbs, vinegar, bread, cheese, and so on – tell a rather romantic story of values and contentment in sync with daily life.

Visiting Italy is very much a passionate affair, so be careful not to fall too far in love.. You won’t return home the same!

Our entrance into this country began through Rome’s Fiumicino airport, which boasts some of the finest examples of advertising I have ever seen. Throughout the hallways, from ceiling to floor, the simple, yet eye-catching and modern graphics draw attention to fashionable names. It was apparent, even then, that Italians enjoy quality. This greatly excited me for what laid ahead.

Perhaps one of the things you look forward to (or up to) the most in visiting Italy are the abundance of frescoes that grace the ceilings of some of the most inspiring locations – even if they aren’t necessarily architectural marvels.

As fitting for a country full of philosophers, explorers, and world conquerors, the detail of the artists’ conceptions are almost immaculate in a way. Incredibly clear, sharp, and crisp, as if the image came from a photograph of the heavens themselves. However, that is only a minuscule observation of this exquisite craft.

The pure perfection of the frescoes is obvious in their geometric layout, with some possessing absolute symmetry, and others drawing attention to specific features or figures of the frescoes through skewed design.

Additionally, geometry was used for conveying philosophical or spiritual concepts, as seen in the images from Villa Farnese at Caprarola below. We later discovered, while watching Godfather III, that the Room of World Maps (not pictured) is used as the Pope’s study in that film.

While frescoes are often found inside churches, they are a number of other features of churches (Chiesas, Duomos, Basilicas) that are more than fascinating and awe-inspiring, especially relative to design. Many medieval churches boast black and white striped exteriors, which make them appear as simple, or plain buildings.

However, the Duomo di Orvieto seems to have a front mounted on that came from a wholly different world of construction.

The parallels that wrap around the building are met at the entrance with great magnificence on a level of detail that seems far too intricate for its size.

The key to it is a layout that directs your focus on one area at a time, telling a story from beginning to end, with an incredible frame surrounding the contents. The perimeter of this giant is marked all the way around with the Star of David, consecrating its presence.

This style of design is wholly different from that of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in Venice, which is essentially a colossal dome structure containing huge pillars and 12 apostles from atop their pedestals. Here, the focus is not at all on the front of the building, but on the center, which was consequently roped off.

A massive pattern swirls towards the center on the floor, and in between the pillars on every side of the circle lies another alcove with artwork to appreciate.

The high altar arrangement, where services would be held, is filled with intimacy and, unlike many other forms of art in the structure, is highlighted in fact by its dramatic, asymmetrical sculptures depicting The Queen of Heaven expelling the Plague.

Naturally, the architecture of every-day life is not built to mimic heavenly scenes, but to serve its purpose. The villages we passed through were hundreds of years old, if not many thousands, and varied substantially as our venture took us through middle, to Northern, to Coastal Italy.

In Italy’s dying city, Civita di Bagnoregio, nature’s touch was visible everywhere.

Crumbling walls held together with vines, flourishing gardens, and flower filled vantage points decidedly revealed that it is near the end of its life cycle, slowly being reclaimed from the earth that it came from.

In Venice, minuscule, towering alleyways, connected by bridges, form a matrix that is precisely what it sounds like – a maze that can only truly be experienced by getting lost in its twists and turns.

The takeaway here is that there are hidden gems around every corner, and they linger, obscured by the few places that visitors congregate from all over our planet to see. Venice seemed to slowly grow us as we learned more and more about it, through working for it, step after step.

The further North we drove, towards Southern Austria, the more obviously Germanic our surroundings became.

The Dolomites are littered with many villages that have piqued, tall roof lines, matching their neighbouring mountain tops.

Precariously perched villages here were no less ubiquitous as we drove down in elevation and found many groups of houses to be far too high, off seemingly too steep and small roads to reach. The network of people there is sparse and free-form, the opposite of Venice, where people are piled on top of each other on the constant.

At the coastline, in Monterosso al Mare, the buildings became brightly colored and much like the terraced hills they sat on – uneven, and whimsical in nature.

The cobblestone streets and houses are all you see when in their midst, until you manage to meander further to meet the ocean breeze and cool turquoise waters.

That, my friend, feels like an utter rejoice. Italian sunshine, coastal winds, and neon blues of every shade surrounding you. It makes you wonder – is there even a reason to leave? And yet, we embarked on the journey home, with hearts soaring in spirits of inspiration. 

2018-06-02T17:43:54+00:00

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