Although we have left 2020 behind us for good, we’re still dealing with lockdowns and quarantines. That’s why I believe that travelling with your imagination is a good idea. Maybe this is the reason #awalkwithMarco has been met with such enthusiasm: so many of you got in touch and told us your story about that time in Rome, or Venice, or the next trip you are eagerly planning. It puts a smile on my face!
So, come on. Today the sun is shining over Le Marche and I feel like administering a dose of good old healthy optimism – my favourite medicine. Are you ready for a new trip using your imagination? Let’s go!
About a month ago we paid a fleeting visit to Urbino, a place that really warranted more attention. There is nothing like the beauty of this town when you're in need of optimism and good vibes.
Last time, we visited the Ducal Palace, which left me dreaming of having my very own wood-panelled study. But I didn’t have time to talk about Raphael. The great painter – one of the most acclaimed artists of all time – was, as a matter of fact, from Urbino. And fittingly, today, we are visiting Casa Raffaello (Raphael’s birthplace). The light stone facade, the small courtyard, the doors with their beautiful marble lintel, the coffered ceilings, the irregular terracotta tiling… Visiting the home where he was born in 1483 and spent his youth is like time-travelling to the Renaissance. It is here that he learnt to paint – his father, Giovanni Santi, was also a painter and a much-admired intellectual at the Montefeltro court. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree ;)
I am standing in front of the exquisite Madonna and Child fresco in “Raphael’s Room”: it was previously believed that Jesus had the features of Raphael as an infant, and the Virgin Mary those of his mother; recent studies, however, have attributed the small fresco to Raphael himself. I could look at it for hours…
I am fascinated by the lives of geniuses. Raphael, for example, lost both his parents when he was still a child: his mother died when he was eight and his father at eleven. Despite this, not only did he carry on in his father’s workshop – taken over by his assistant, Evangelista da Pian di Meleto – but he was able to invent and develop his own, very personal artistic language, and it was this style and workmanship that brought him fame in the courts of popes and aristocrats, who were enthralled by his renowned Madonnas.
I leave Casa Raffaello with one thought that has engrained itself into my head: no amount of adversity necessarily thwarts true talent. The young Raphael, though still a child, managed to learn the techniques and a curiosity from his father for the arts and all the influences of the Flemish, antiquity and other painters making waves in the various Renaissance courts of Italy and Europe. Globalisation did not exist yet, but ideas went around anyway.
I also chose to pursue my career because I saw my father work in this sector. Still young, I understood that his world would become mine too. And after a few decades, I’m still here, thanks in part to his influence. ;) Okay, maybe the comparison with Raphael is a long shot, but walking through these rooms really struck a chord in my heart.
Leaving emotions aside, it’s time for some refreshment. In keeping with the artistic theme, today I am trying some Casciotta di Urbino, a semi-soft cheese made from a combination of sheep's and cow's milk. What role does art play here? Apparently, Michelangelo was quite the fan of it…
After our fresco and our snack, we have run out of time for today. Remember: keep on being careful and #staysafe