#ARTMOMENT: The Six-Legged Dog

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The ubiquitous logo of the oil and gas company Eni (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi) was the result of a 1952 nation-wide competition and brainchild of sculptor, artist, and designer Luigi Broggini. He did not take credit for the design as he deemed it beneath him to participate in a commercial competition. But compete he did, and with the help of Giuseppe Guzzi, who formally presented the design, this mysterious creature became an instant sensation, symbolizing energy, past, future, power, and myth. Or as the Eni website puts it, “Metaphorically, the six-legged dog explores the relationship between man and nature with power, courage and nonconformity.”

Whatever that means. Broggini himself did not explain his creation, leaving it to the rest of us to interpret it through our own lenses of time and culture. Poet Emilio Tadini wrote a thoughtful piece on “The fable of the dog,” which you can read here.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

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#ARTMOMENT: Fountain for the Faithful

Medeci Fountain

Outside the walls of Assisi, and down the hill, lies a beautiful little chapel which was one of St. Francis’ favorites. He had rebuilt it with his own hands, like many others in the area. Around 1211 the small chapel and surrounding area was given to Francis by the abbot of Saint Benedict of Monte Subasio on condition of making it the mother house of the new Franciscan Order. This little “Portion of Land” (La Porziuncola) was to become one of St. Francis’ most treasured places, and when he knew he was dying, he asked to be brought there.

After his death, the little chapel on the little portion of land attracted so many pilgrims that a larger church (actually, basilica) was built over it, and a long fountain was built on one side of the church to provide cool drinking water to those waiting in line. The fountain was donated in 1610 by Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany and decorated with his family’s (the Medici) coat of arms.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Festa di Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia

Every December 13th, Italy (and the rest of Europe) celebrates the feast day of Saint Lucy. She died in 304 A.D. during Winter Solstice when Italy was still using the Julian calendar, and because of this people say “Santa Lucia, il giorno più corto che ci sia” (Saint Lucy, the shortest day there is).

In southern Italy the saint brings gifts to children while the grandmother prepares a special dessert of wheat and hot chocolate, consumed only during that time of year. In the rest of the country the saint rides on her donkey distributing sweets, the children leave carrots for the animal. Across Europe, especially in Scandinavia, the saint is loved and celebrated in many different ways. #saintlucia

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.

#ARTMOMENT: Sagra: Local Festivals

Sagra

“Le Sagre” are folk festivals celebrating local culture and food. Throughout Italy and especially in Umbria, you can find wonderful local specialties cooked and served up by local volunteers. These hard workers are very proud of their heritage and tradition, and cheerfully offer their time. My favorites so far have been for both the sagras for duck and snails — not cooked in the French way (which I also love), but in a spicy tomato broth.

Usually there is a live band and dancing as well. Rich in history and culture, these festivals are a beautiful way to engage in #ladolcevita.

#ARTMOMENT: An interpretation of Italian culture and history through the mind of an American.